Thursday, September 25, 2008

Christmas is coming sooner than you think...

As a graduate student, I think its almost a prerequisite that you live a great distance from home during your studies, I'm currently holding a 600 mile buffer-zone myself. Anyways, Christmas has always been a stressful time for myself, not because of finals or worrying about gifts to give...its those people who want to buy me gifts I have had the problem with. I had trouble communicating with both families, people got upset with me and other people because they had bought me both the same thing. Not only that, that also meant returning stuff, which is every person's dream right after Christmas. Talk about a waste of time, money, and energy mending the wounds of Christmas chaos.

This year, I have taken a new approach with the help of At this website, it allows you to create a universal registry of items for any occasion (or none at all), including Christmas. You can even get a button added to your browser tool bar so that any time you are browsing a webpage and see something you would like, just click on it and a small window will pop up where you can edit the title, price, add any notes (like, "Won't be released until Dec. 12"; "Would prefer in white"; etc.), and designate the priority of the item. The viewable list will also provide a picture and link to the page you took the item from.

Then, when you are ready to share your list with all of those people who wish to shower you with gifts, you can share with them through email available. You can put a password on the list or make it entirely private if you are worried that too many people would buy you things ;) Anyways, so now your mom can look at your list, and can make the choice to buy an item from the site you provided, or choose the "Offline Reservation" button, which means they are going to either buy it in person or somewhere else online. Either way, it will let other people know the item has been bought.

"It will take away the surprise!" I hear you say. Have no fear, simply modify the list and click the option that says "Suprise me!" and you won't be able to know who has bought you something or what has been bought, just like Amazon's wishlists. In addition, having these lists are always helpful because you are asking for things you would actually like, want, or need. Theres nothing like faking that smile and bringing your item back or perhaps throwing it in the closet. I have especially made a point this year to not just put fun things on my list, but also more practical items like an electric toothbrush or a blender.

I'm excited to try this one out, and I am hoping this will reduce the conflict and stress of previous years. If you know what I am talking about, give it a look if you have technologically connected relatives. Heres to the start of the Christmas season!

Verdict: The Diva Cup - Two Green Thumbs up!

After spending the past few days with my little silicone cup, I found that I have come to like it a lot! I was incredibly skeptical, just because I think all women have issues down there, and we're all different. I wasn't sure if this would work with my weird body. It does take a few days to get the hang of using, and it will seem a little strange to use at first, but it has been VERY effective in its purpose. I desperately want to tell people how great this invention is because I feel that much better about producing less waste for the environment! Anyways, here are some of the pluses and minuses experiences I have had this past week with the Diva Cup.

Plus: No, absolutely no, leaks. Not even a little bit. I'll have the confidence to possibly ditch the pantyliners next time around. Hands down though, I've never seen anything like this before, and its friggin' awesome!

Minus: I'm still finding a bit of difficulty with removal, but again, I think that's something that takes time to get the hang of. It usually doesn't take me longer than a minute to remove after using it only a few days.

Plus: The cup can stay in place for 12 HOURS! Which means that if you are in a place where you don't have access to a private bathroom and sink, you likely won't need to remove it until you get home. However, the Diva Cup comes with a full set of instructions on cleaning and changing your cup in places other than your own bathroom, don't worry!

Minus: If you sleep with it in, it might take a few hours in the morning for gravity to pull it down, which can be a little scary, so I would recommend trying the cup out first during the day time hours rather than at night. With experience, you'll learn how it will work with your body.

Other pluses: Talk about less waste! This cup provides all of the benefits of tampons without the waste or TSS risks. Every year, an estimated 12 billion sanitary pads and 7 billion tampons go into our landfills, furthermore poluting with some of the toxic ingredients used to make these products. Think of the difference you and a few of the friends you tell (and the few friends they tell) would make a difference by not contributing to that waste. You don't need to get a hybrid car to make an impact on the environment. In addition, we are also talking about great money savings too! Women spend on average $150 - $200 a year on disposable feminine hygene products. I payed $30 for my Diva Cup and will expect to see a savings of $50+, and the following year will see even more because the Diva Cup can be reused again and again!

I want to thank the fellow reader again who suggested this idea, it is such a wonderful alternative and it has been a great inspiration for my blog these past few weeks. I hope this will encourage fellow female readers to look for healthy alternatives for feminine hygene products for the environment. Check a couple of posts down if you missed it!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shopping Smart for Clothes

One thing that I have been trying a lot recently when I purchase clothes, shoes, anything I wear, I will first and foremost try it on in the store. Although trying things on in the store is often times a pain in the butt, it will prevent you from buying a lot of things that are impractical or don't fit. Dressing appropriately is difficult to discover when you are looking at an item on a hanger. Its about body shape, color, fabric, fit, etc., and it will be impossible to see these things without trying on your own body. In addition, if the clothes don't fit, always always ALWAYS return them. Commonly, when I buy new pairs of shoes that end up giving me blisters, I just throw them in the closet and forget about them, which is basically like throwing money away. Barry Schwartz talks about in his book, The Paradox of Choice, that we will often hold on to things that we don't use until the "psychological value" has worn off. We feel this need to keep these items, because we spent money on them, but we don't use them. The main reason to try things on in the store is to prevent you from bringing an item home so that it won't end up in your closet for the rest of its life.

A common suggestion from the folks at What Not To Wear on TLC is to bring clothes that may need a more appropriate fitting to a tailor. And if it makes the difference between wearing or not wearing clothes, or even being more satisfied with how a piece of clothing fits, consider having the items alternated for your own body. We're all different and don't fit the designer's size!

When you shop for clothes, shop as smart as possible and make sure these clothes fit you personally! You will get more wear out of your clothes, and spend less on the ones you never wear!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Follow Up to Friday

For those of you who read Friday's post and was left curious, I decided to investigate further for more green feminine hygiene products at my local co-op today. While I left the store with a Diva cup, which I am excited to try out, there are a couple of other products out there for "greener" periods. First, there are washable pads. You would likely have to buy a decent store of them, and at my co-op they were about $10 each, however, you will have to see them as an investment, just like those who use cloth diapers, which I also hope to write on eventually as well. If the idea of washing them grosses you out, a lot of times there are services out there that can do the dirty work for you, like places that clean cloth diapers. For an online directory, check out this website. Next, there are pads and tampons that are "chlorine-free" and organic cotton pads. Obviously these are an option, however, they will cost you some chunk change every month, since most organic products cost more than their regular counterparts. Since I am all about saving money and the environment at the same time, I opted for the Diva Cup since it fits the bill.

When I actually get to try out the Diva Cup, I will leave a product review here, for all of you who might be contemplating the switch as well. Thanks for all of your feedback and ideas!

Friday, September 12, 2008

For Ladies Only...

So ladies, I know you have all seen commercials on TV for "shorter, lighter periods" with oral contraceptives, and there are also birth control pills like Seasonique that only give you periods every 3-4 months rather than every month. I have always been super-conscious about doing this, I figured, "Hey, this is going up against what the body natural does, and since it sounds like one of those ideas that is too good to be true, it probably isn't healthy. I bet when you do get periods, they are for like two weeks, too." However, I recently had the annual exam with my nurse practitioner, and I decided to ask her about them. She told me not only is it okay idea, but your period is typically lighter when you do have it.

So now I want you to think about how much you spend on those lovely "feminine care" items every month. I consider myself an over-user, since I am paranoid about the smell, leakage, TSS, etc. I would say I spend at least $5 monthly on those items. Times that by 12, that's roughly $60/year. Also, if you buy wipes or any other accessory-like items, add those in too. Now times that amount by 4, instead of 12. That's roughly $20 rather than $60. I know you're probably thinking, big deal, $40, but that can be used for a lot of things, including a savings account with interest!

If thats not enough to make you think about finding a way to have less periods, consider how much waste goes into the environment every time you have a period. Applicators, tampons, pads, wrappers, plastic bags, wipes, the list can go on. All of these go into a landfill like any other garbage, unless you are one of the rare, super-environmental conscious women that uses washable forms of feminine care products. Imagine the amount of waste you use for periods goes down by two-thirds. For me, thats close to 4 garbage bags. Think about what you might be using.

Not to sound like a drug commercial, but check with your doctor if you think one of these options might be right for you.

I know this choice is not for everyone, and I hope no one is offended by my mentioning of oral contraceptives here. While I am liberal, I understand not every one is, or agrees with the use of birth control. Due to the nature of my blog, I am always looking for ways to save money, and save the Earth, in ways not thought of by most. This posting in no way advocates for particular sexual lifestyles.

Fellow reader Melisma, posted a comment regarding another form of feminine protection...

"I'm a HUGE fan of the Diva Cup - check it out here: (Think of it like switching from plastic to canvas bags!) It's a little silicone cup that you tuck up there and empty a few times a day during your period. Surprisingly little mess, and super easy. It lasts for many years. It takes some getting used to, but it eliminates virtually all that garbage created by tampons and pads. Anyone can use it - it doesn't have any hormones and I can't imagine a way it could conflict with moral beliefs."

What a great way to go green! I'm definitely looking into it, thanks Melisma!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bill is Back!

I was incredibly excited this past weekend to see Bill Nye is back on TV, (and I sit and remeniss about the good ol' days of kids programming on PBS), only now he has a new series on Planet Green called "Stuff Happens". It looks at how things are made, and how they effect the environment. Also, some green tips are slipped in too, of course. Its almost like his original show, only minus the annoying kids, the narrator dude, and the lame-o music video at the end. So mostly pluses. Anyways, check it out or DVR it, I learned a lot about bathroom products during the last episode.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tips for this week

I have been thinking about some things I have been telling people to do over these past few weeks, and forgetting about my lovely readers here at Frugal Green Girl! Anyways, here is a summary of some tips for saving some money from my experiences over the past few weeks:
  • If your a woman (or a high maintenance man), hair products can cost a load of money every month, especially wearing top brands like Paul Mitchell. If you are looking for a cheaper way to get these same products without the ungodly price, check out your local Sally's Beauty Supply. They offer a whole section of "generic value products" (come in black and white bottles) that will even say on them "Compare to: Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum". There is literally a whole wall of these products and I would recommend to give them a look especially if you have a daily assortment of expensive product.
  • Podcasts. If you haven't been around this area on iTunes yet, give it a look. There is a podcast out there for everybody, and the majority of them are absolutely free. I had a friend who didn't have a radio with him at the gym but liked to listen to NPR while he exercised. They had NPR podcasts, problem solved! You can take Spanish lessons, catch up on shows you missed, or find out ways to be more green! Ask for a subscription and it will automatically download new podcasts everytime you open iTunes, or ones you don't have yet. If you ever wanted to take a class in your spare time, podcasts are a great place to find what you are looking for without the price.
  • I've also been disturbed lately by the high amounts of dog crap I see around my apartment complex, which allows dogs. For some reason people believe that since it's waste matter that it will decompose on its own and be okay just leaving it, since its done in nature too with wild animals. Well, those animals do not eat processed foods or human food for that matter, and it will not decompose properly. So be sure to pick up after your animal with biodegradable bags, they make them quite handy these days. For more ways to green your pet, check out this article at Planet Green. A lot of these tips are easier than you think, like adopting from a shelter, spaying or neutering your pet, keeping your dog on a leash or the cat inside, or simply putting ID tags on your pet are many ways to be green.
Hope your weekend has been treating all of you well, and I hope to post again sometime this week.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Measure your ecological footprint!

There are tons of places online where you can measure your "ecological footprint", I happened to try this one from Conservation International. Helps you think of and learn about more ways you can help the environment in the process. Thankfully, I scored a 50, which shows great progress for me! Give it a try and see where you fall...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day!

Hello everyone, my apologies for fleeing off this week, but it has been a crazy week. Right now I am currently studying for my Master's degree examination, which is on the 19th, in addition to starting new classes and jobs, so my future apologies for my less frequent entries on here, they will likely be once or twice a week. It comes with the craziness of a new school year.

Anyways, here are a couple of things I have been trying/doing lately to help the environment and/or save money:
  • Cutting down on appliances used to do my hair. On weekends, since I don't have to look so amazingly beautiful, I don't dry my hair with a blow dryer or use my straightening iron. I know not all of us can get away with it, but I have actually had people tell me they like my hair better without all the product and finesse. It takes less of my time to work with too!
  • Spending less time in the shower. I do this by either cutting back on shampooing (not everyday) or just trying to do things quickly. Shampooing everyday can actually harm your hair since it is removing the natural oils that make your hair smooth and pretty.
  • Take a look at what your city provides in terms of recreation facilities. My husband and I just took advantage of using the local indoor aquatic center, and found it to be a great facility where kids can be separated from adult swim, and we can work on all of those strokes to be the next Michael Phelps. And the great part is, because it is run by the city, it won't cost you an arm and a leg to go every time.
  • In addition to facilities, our city also runs adult sports leagues, which are also quite cheap. We are looking to play some old-school dodge ball this year, and they also offer kickball, softball and other fun sports that you can enjoy. Its a great way to meet and socialize with friends without spending a lot of money to go out.
  • Devising recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes. I have put together a potential recipe for Pizza Hut's Meaty Marinara Tuscani pasta, and that will save me some money since I love to eat it so much! I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out!
  • Michael's craft stores have teamed up with Wilton cake decorating to provide classes at a very cheap price. During September, tuition is 50%, from the usual $36 4-week class. I consider this an investment, especially for what cakes today cost. You can make your own amazing cake for a made-from-scratch price. Plus, the compliments are always great to boost your self-esteem. The only disadvantage is it makes me want to quit school and open a cake shop. They should have offered that in home ec.
  • Catch stuff at the end of the consumer season. I have wanted patio furniture for a long time now, but I didnt want anything big since we will be moving in a year. Going to the local department stores, I found some nice $7 lawn chairs on clearance with it being the end of the summer season. Now I can sit outside with out being uncomfortable in the grass from bug bites.
Well, that's most of what I have been discovering lately! You should be covered for a little while ;) Happy Labor Day everyone!