Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More small changes

I was ready to post this and then noticed that a blog I follow, Condo Blues, writes about making small changes also.

Yes, they do add up! I've been thinking a lot about what more can I do. Of course, huge, structural changes are needed. For example, many people are car-dependent, as I am, because public transportation options are limited or they have health challenges.* I hope, hope, HOPE the Gulf Oil catastrophe will get our country to more seriously address our oil-dependency.

In the meantime, I continue to search for non-BP/Arco stations to buy gas from. I keep hearing too many bad things about Chevron, so although Chevron's gas is often comparable in price, I decided not to buy gas there either. I filled up at a Valero station last week, which was cheaper than Arco but it's not close to where I live or frequently drive; thus, not a good regular option. Many 76 stations have gas that is only a few cents more a gallon than Arco, so I've been getting gas there. Likewise, Costco's and Safeway's gas are often the same price as Arco or only a few cents more. Therefore, I do have alternatives for buying gas without spending a lot more.

OK, small changes. I bought a set of dining room chairs about two years ago from a thrift shop (my in-laws left us with a table, but no chairs). The fabric, worn to begin with, had become really frayed so I decided it was time to upholster. I had never done any upholstery before, but I asked advice from a woman shopping in the fabric aisle at Goodwill. She helped me pick out a nice, thick material (price: $3) and gave me some pointers. I purchased a staple gun and staples at a nearby sewing store ($7 total), unscrewed the seats, pulled up the old staples, measured the new fabric, and went at it. I'm pleased with the results. On an added note, the seats all had yellowed tags stapled to them that read they were made in compliance with some law dated 1929--how cool is that? It made me wonder how old the chairs were.

I recently purchased a Misto, a handy little kitchen spritzer gadget that allows you to fill and refill it with olive oil and use it in place of disposable cooking sprays.

I have long wanted to buy reusable sandwich bags and reusable Swiffer dry and wet pads, but the ones on sale at stores are a little pricey. Then I thought about checking out Etsy, an online marketplace for items made by craftspeople. Searches on the site yield dozens of handmade reusable snack/sandwich/produce bags and dust/mop pads, often starting as low as $2-3. I will purchase some in the next few days, and begin make that much less garbage.

* "What about biking?" someone might ask. Well, first, you need a good bike, something I can't afford right now. The bikes for sale on Craigslist are mostly children's bikes; the adult bikes I've found in thrift shops aren't in very good condition. Second, fear, travel time and route, and physical fitness play a big role in whether commuting by bicycle is realistic for someone. Tacoma is a very hilly city, which requires strong legs and great lungs, neither of which I have right now. And yeah, I'm a little scared of biking in traffic. (Colin Beavan's wife Michelle was as well; she got a scooter to power around on NYC's sidewalks instead. Later, she is loaned a large tricycle in which her young daughter can ride in the back).

At the Livable Communities fair back in April, one of the vendors was demonstrating electric bikes, which you recharge overnight. Cool stuff: the small engine makes tackling Tacoma's steep hills a breeze. However, the cost is 2-3 times more than purchasing a very good, new bicycle.

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