8 Reasons to Buy Local

I’ve written before on the benefits of buying handmade, but today I wanted to point out a few benefits to buying local. This goes beyond just buying at craft fairs and boutiques during the holidays, and extends year round to using local mechanics and shopping at your corner grocery store.

I know the familiarity of chain stores can be far more appealing than navigating the products, services, people, layout, and general unknown that accompanies new places.  I still encourage you to give a try, even if it’s just one new place. The benefits far outweigh the initial discomfort.

Gotta love the local bakery–yum! Photo credit, Trazomfreak

1. Keep money in your community.

Studies show that locally owned businesses recirculate more money back into the local community than chain stores (per foot occupied). So a space filled with a local business puts more dollars back into your neighborhood and helping to boost the economy.

2. Celebrate and embrace what makes your community different from every other community.

Local businesses are unique, and often only exist in your town or maybe a few surrounding places.  They give character and personality to the community and offer personal connections you won’t often find at a large chain store.

3. Get better service.

Part of the personal connection you get at a local business is the great customer service.  The person who owns the business may be the same person you see at the grocery store every week, or that eats breakfast at the same diner you do each morning.  You get to know each other, and the owner has a deep understanding of the needs of his or her customers.

4. Create and keep good jobs.

Small businesses are the largest employer nationally, and are much less likely to move overseas or transfer operations out of their local area.

5. Support diversity.

Small businesses cater their products and services specifically to the needs of their customers at a local level, rather than nationally, which means you’ll have far more diverse offerings than the same old stuff at big chain stores.

6. Help out the environment.

Always a big selling point for me, is that local businesses often make more local purchases themselves, meaning supplies and equipment have less distance to travel.  This means less pollution and transportation cost.  Additionally, small businesses often set up in existing buildings and downtown areas, instead of building large new sprawls of concrete and parking lots.  This preserves habitats and further reduces production.

7. Support community groups.

Small businesses support community groups and non-profit organizations more often and with more donations than non-locally owned businesses.  And if you think about it, you see this all the time. Think of the sponsors for kids’ sports teams, raffles at the fair, and donations to soup kitchens.  Most of the time those are small local businesses.

8. Invest in the community.

Local businesses are owned and staffed by people who live and work in your community.  They go to your schools, shop at other local businesses, visit your parks and have more of an investment in the health and happiness of the community than just the money that can be made.


 

Need a place to start? Small business Saturday is November 29th this year, and it’s a great way to get in the habit of shopping locally.  Put it on the calendar!

Photo Credit, Mike Licht

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Green Alternative to Single-Use K-cups

Oh how the weeks are flying by.  Seems like summer just started, but it’s already the middle of August! With a new day job and plans to move, I haven’t been knitting nearly as much (hence the lack of posts), but I did want to share another eco-friendly product with you.

I love coffee, and back in the spring, Nate and I got a great deal on a single-serve coffee maker that uses those little K-Cups. Now, K-Cups themselves are outrageously expensive and super wasteful.  You get one use and then throw away tons of plastic and foil packaging.  But we like the idea of making just one cup at a time. We waste less coffee (vs. dumping out the last few cups in the bottom of a large pot that sat for too long), and the coffee is always hot when you want it (vs. re-heating in the microwave all day).

Instead of being wasteful, we invested in a simple re-usable K-Cup.  It may not be the “perfect” eco-friendly product (it is made from plastic after-all), but I will say it’s much better than creating all that waste with single-use cups. I’ve been using it for a while, and am very happy with it.  If you have a coffee maker that uses K-Cups, I suggest getting one.  You can fill it with you own flavored coffees or even loose leaf tea!

I picked mine up at Wal-Mart, but you can just as easily get them online if you want something fancier.

A few months ago, I finished my last post in the series, Guidelines for Greener Living.  Using my posts as inspiration, I expanded my ideas and compiled them all into an awesome new eBook! Yes, that’s right, you can now get the Guidelines for Greener Living book through the Amazon Kindle store!

You can click the affiliate link below to go to Amazon.  Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can use the Kindle app on your phone or computer to read it.  Thanks for all your support!

Guidelines for Greener Living: How to Lead a More Eco-Friendly Life (affliate)

Guide to Eco Friendly Living

 

Note: I am part of the Amazon Associate program and will occasionally post affiliate links to Amazon products that I believe will assist you on your journey to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.  Any proceeds I receive from these affiliate links goes into growing Knitting Naturals and researching new eco-friendly products.  Thank you for your support!

Product Review: Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Griddle

This past Christmas I got this awesome cast iron griddle as a gift.  It was definitely on my list (I’m a huge fan of cast iron), and was intrigued by the idea of a double-burner griddle/grill when I read about the one Tammy and Logan Strobel use in their tiny house on wheels.

I’ve been a big fan of Tammy’s blog, Rowdy Kittens, for a quite a while.  That lead me to her husband’s blog, and ultimately this post about their kitchen, where I clicked on a link for “a perfect fitting cast iron griddle and indoor cast-iron grill for the stove.

I found a slightly larger model, the Pro Grid Reversible Griddle, on the Lodge website and immediately added it to my gift list. It quickly became a staple in my kitchen.  Ok, so on to the review.

cast iron grill pan

Photo Credit: Lodge Manufacturing

This griddle is awesome.  Here’s why:

  • Covers two burners to increase your cooking surface
  • Is reversible so you can grill veggies or burgers on one side, then use the other side for pancakes
  • Roasts veggies in the oven PERFECTLY
  • Is a great way to grill indoors
  • Both sides have a recessed ridge to catch any grease or drippings
  • Cast iron is basically indestructible and will hold up for years and years and years (so I’ll have this the rest of my life)
  • Heats evenly and holds heat better than other metal cookware
  • Pre-seasoned and easy to clean
  • Lodge is the only remaining U.S. manufacturer of cast iron (my patriotic Buy American sentiment)
  • Lodge has been around since 1896, has a strong reputation, and makes a high quality product
  • Bonus: I get a nice arm workout (it’s pretty heavy)

Since January, I’ve used this pan more in the oven than the stovetop (though I’ve used it on the stovetop plenty too).  It’s essentially replaced my baking sheet, which was unexpected.  Though I haven’t attempted to bake cookies on it, I now use it to roast all sorts of veggies or make potato wedges on it. So far, every dish has turned out amazingly well–better than my previous non-stick baking sheet.  The even heat makes sure the veggies are nice and brown, but none of them burn (even the smaller or thinner pieces), which was a problem with my baking sheet.

I’ve used it on a glass stove without any issues, and have made pancakes on it quite a few times.  If I was still eating meat, this thing would be even more versatile, but I find plenty of uses for it with my plant-based diet–like these delicious roasted radishes.

roasted radishes

Now that summer is here I’ll be using the grill side much more often–I’m thinking black bean burgers and grilled zucchini. Yum!

When I started downsizing and simplifying my life, I knew the kitchen would be the hardest part. It’s my domain; it easily has the most items of any room in the house, and it’s where I spend a lot of time.  So part of my goal was to whittle down to a few key pieces that I love, that are versatile, and that will stand the test of time. This pan fits all that critera, and will be in my kitchen for years to come.  Another item that makes the list: my crock pot.  But that’s for a future post!

Until then, happy cooking!

A Thrift Shop Find

On this journey to live a simple, eco-friendly lifestyle, I often make deliberate choices to purchase an item that will eliminate my need to buy disposable products (such as the Moon Cup, glass straw, and Pyrex storage dishes).  I consider these items an investment–although I spend a little more on them now, I will no longer need to buy tampons, straws, or plastic GladWare, which all inevitably end up in the trash.  Each of these items I researched, budgeted for, and bought with consideration.

But sometimes you just have to be on the lookout.  Sometimes you find an item that you weren’t even looking for, but will help eliminate waste in your life.  Case in point: The reusable lint remover.

Found at Goodwill for $1.99.  This model is actually a lint remover, brush, and shoehorn all in one.  A pretty good find if I do say so myself. Thankfully, this will now eliminate our need to buy disposable lint rollers, which I think is really just masking tap rolled on a plastic handle.

While most days I just live with my clothes covered in cat/dog hair, there are times when I need a lint remover, and I’ve always wished I had a nice one.  Probably a weird thing to wish for, but my mom had an awesome one that last throughout my whole childhood, into my teenage years, and likely is still in use today.  For years I searched, but the ones I found just fell apart after a few uses.  Of course, they were inexpensive and mostly plastic, so I shouldn’t be surprised. But at last, I found one!

The moral of this story/post, is to always be on the lookout.  Always be thinking about how you can eliminate waste from your life, even if it’s something as trivial as your lint roller. Every little thing counts!

I challenge you to find one disposable thing you buy on a regular basis, and replace it with a reusable alternative.  Not only are you helping the planet by reducing your waste, your saving your own money at the same time. Win win!

DIY Dry Shampoo for Dark Hair

DIY dry shampooSo I have a dirty little confession to make–I don’t wash my hair everyday. It’s a lot of work to wash, dry, and style so much hair every single day, and I’ve read it’s healthier to not strip the natural oils out of your hair all the time anyway.

On days I don’t wash my hair though, I don’t want to look like a greaseball, so I use my own homemade dry shampoo.  Previously I simply used baby powder, which worked well to soak up excess oil, but white powder on my dark hair always left my hair looking a little grayer than I would like.

I wasn’t about to spend a ton of money on store-bought dry shampoo, which is expensive and can contain all sorts of chemicals that I don’t want in my life.  I was thrilled to find this recipe for a homemade version tailored specifically for dark hair, which is just ridiculously easy.  Ready for it?

  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional, great if you have red in your hair)

Yup, that’s it.  I already had it all in my cupboard.  Put all ingredients into an airtight container, shake well, and use an old makeup brush to apply to your roots.  I used a mason jar and store it in my bathroom medicine cabinet.  After applying, I simply rub it in, then finish by running a brush through my hair a few times to make sure you can’t notice the powder.

Quick, easy, affordable, and ecofriendly (no chemicals, no extra packaging, no waste!).  What could be better than all that? How about you?  Do you use dry shampoo?  Any tips/tricks that you’ve found work better than others?  I’d love to hear your opinion!  And to know that I’m not the only one that doesn’t wash my hair everyday 🙂

Downsize and Simplify to Reduce Your Footprint

Simplify Your Life

Photo Credit, Robert Benner

Downsize to Save the World

You may be wondering how simplifying your life will help the planet.  It may then seem counter-intuitive to throw things away in your effort to downsize (though I recommend you try to reuse, repurpose, or donate items before they go in the trash). But I think having less stuff goes hand-in-hand with being ecofriendly.

  • Living in a smaller house consumes less electricity, gas, and water.  It takes less energy to heat and cool, and leaves a physcially smaller imprint on the earth.
  • Fewer things to wash, clean, dust, and scrub means less water used, fewer cleaning chemicals washed down the drain, and fewer cleaning supplies that you need to buy.
  • If you can downsize to one (or no) car, then you save on gas and produce fewer emissions into the air.  You reduce the amount of oil, antifreeze, and other car fluids polluting the planet.

An Even Greater Result of Simplifying Your Life

The effect of downsizing certainly impacts the planet, but I believe it impacts your mind even more. When you have less stuff to take care of and worry about, you have more time to find meaningful things to do.  Spend time with loved ones, volunteer, find a satisfying hobby.  When you are happier with life, doing things that you want to do, I believe you’ll be less compelled to fill your life with meaningless STUFF.  You won’t need a new car to make you feel proud and accomplished, you won’t need that brand new kitchen appliance to be the envy of your friends, you won’t need that great new grill the neighbors have been wanting to get for months. You’ll be content and happy with what you have and focus your energy on what really matters in life.

This translates to less consumption, and therefore a reduced carbon footprint.  You’re being ecofriendly by doing almostnothing–by NOT buying and NOT consuming.  Yes, you should take action and research products you do buy, take action to reuse and repurpose, take action where it’s needed to help the planet.  But sometimes being ecofriendly is as easy as doing nothing.

So think about all the benefits of having less, of downsizing and simplifying, and hopefully that will make the journey a little easier.

Boat on the Water

Photo Credit, Gianni Cumbo