Condo Blues

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Remake Your Swag Challenge Link Party

Where some see trash in those free promotional items you get at a street fair, summer festival, or convention, called swag in the PR buiz for Stuff We All Get, I see it as something to remake into treasure.

Now that the summer is almost over - sob! - I have several free stainless steel water bottles I got from various events. I like that the metal bottles keep water colder longer than my BPA free plastic water bottles. However free doesn't always come with cute,  like this water bottle I got from Crystal Light at Blogher.

Free and functional.

A little Modge Podge, scrapbook paper, paper punches, laser printer, and smarty pants attitude later I remade that water bottle into something I want to show off around town.

It says My other water bottle is 10,000 Styrofoam cups.


Do you think people will laugh with me or beat me with a stick when I take my new water bottle to my next green event?

Let’s see what you came up with! The rules are simple. Use the Linky below to submit your reuse/revamp/remade or swag thing you find useful blog post to Condo Blues. Please put a link at the bottom of your post back to Condo Blues so everyone will know that you are participating in my Remake Your Swag Link Party.

I made a button if you want to use it to make it easy for you!

Condo Blues Remake Your Swag Challenge

Reminder: You can still enter my 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse Book Giveaway until midnight tonight!

I can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with!

Did you enjoy this post? Get more like it by subscribing to the Condo Blues RSS Feed  or to Condo Blues by Email.



Thursday, August 19, 2010

11 PVC Plastic Free Shoes for Back to School

When I buy a plastic item, I check for the recycling number 3 which stands for PVC (polyvinyl chloride.) If the item is made from PVC, I don’t buy it.

It is unlikely that I will lick my shoes and inject PVC. If I do I think my problems are bigger than ingesting PVC plastic! However, I might if I handle those PVC shoes by putting them in the closet and then inadvertently put my finger in my mouth or eat an apple or something. Then I’m transfer PVC particles from the shoe to my hands to that apple and right into me.

Pin this post to your Pinterest boards for later! Share it with your friends!

It’s just easier to avoid buying shoes made with PVC. Fortunately, many companies make PVC free shoes. I was happy to find that many of these shoes are already in my closet including my husband's favorite brand of running shoes!

1. Adidas (learn more about them here) Their sandals the have EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate), rubber outsoles; their sneakers have molded EVA insoles and midsoles. I personally have a pair and love them. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this pot for your convenience)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Make a Woven Ribbon and Washer Bracelet

I open the email and sat there, stunned. Martha Stewart Omnimedia invited me to their Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Bloggers' Night Out! party to meet the Martha Stewart creative team!


Mindful Momma said we should make something to wear to the party.

Dare I?

Inspired by the belt on my new dress, I grabbed some washers left over from the cornhole game boards I built in the garage, a bit of ribbon from my sewing stash, and made a woven washer bracelet using A Steno Pad for My Thoughts woven washer necklace tutorial.

Another project that perfectly illustrates my tool girl side and my girly girl crafty side.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Good Green Fun at the Ohio State Fair

Husband and I spent a day at the Ohio State Fair. When we were not eating local food – which is crazy easy to do at the State Fair, we were checking out the sites and acting silly.

There were things to do for kids of all ages. Even goat kids! I thought of Nanny Goats in Panties and snapped a photo of the goat playground for Margaret.

The goats weren’t feeling playful because it was early
 in the morning when we visited them.

The animal, food, and craft judging were all in full swing. We saw and were allowed to pet many animals. Our favorite was the Highland cows. Husband and I call them McMoos because we are convinced that they moo with a Scottish accent. Mac-moooooo.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

6 Thrift and Shopping Scores!

I finished my Saturday errands and found myself less than a block from the Ohio Thrift Store. I had to go in. Ohio Thrift is one of the better thrift stores in the city because in addition to the regular thrift store finds they also accept donations of new closeout items that do not sell from major retailers. I purchased a couple of new tank tops there for a couple of dollars that were originally from a major retailer that goes by the nickname Vickie who is very Secretive about things. Thrift store score!

The Thrifting and Shopping Bargain Fairies were good to me. I think they were being kind after that depressing and horrible bathing suit shopping trip earlier this summer. Everything in every store I went to was either dental floss or granny and all looked awful on me. It still gives me nightmares just thinking about it.

Let’s look at the spoils of war!

I bought this cute sundress for $3.99.

Festive, fun, and flirty.

I didn’t realize it was a reversible sundress until I got it home.

This dress is perfect for traveling!

The Big Game Bargain Huntress kill came with this purse. Like the sundress, the condition was excellent; it was $20, which is high for a thrift purse. Then I saw it was a Kate Spade purse! I love Kate Spade!

It's a little tacky to keep the price tag on
 but wanted to prove I wasn't just dreaming.

Green? Yes. Cheap? Yes. Cute and in style? Yes and yes! Mine? – You betcha!

A week later, I was floored with an invitation to a very nice special event during BlogHer this weekend. I wanted a new dress to wear while I networked my face off at a place I consider Mecca. I thought my best bet would be at a consignment store. I always find something that fits and that I like at Clothes Mentor when stores selling new clothes let me down, which is often.

Consignment store prices are higher than a thrift store but I think it is worth it because Clothes Mentor has dressing rooms (unlike Ohio Thrift), everything they sell is in fashion (no revamps needed other than hemming), is in excellent condition, and they sell designer clothes at the fraction of the price. I feel a lot better cutting off six inches of designer consignment store pants to hem them than new designer pants.

As a green blogger, I know I should not be so concerned with name brands but I guess I am that shallow. I like how certain designers fit and their clothes look better on me than others do. I tend to mix and match thrift, consignment, and sale items in the same outfit because I like to live big and look nice on a little budget. Going to a high school that was straight out of the movie Heathers  makes me think more about my appearance a little more than I should I suppose.

I decided to check out TJ Maxx first because I have to pass TJ's on my way to Clothes Mentor so TJ's is more convenient.  Shopping at a closeout store is less green than shopping at a consignment store depending upon what you buy at the closeout store of course. It also means I'll spend more money. Based on the bathing suit fiasco I didn't expect to find something I liked at TJ's either.  I just wanted to rule them out because Husband went shopping with me. He isn't a big fan of shopping from store to store to store like most women I know like to do.I wanted to make it a little easier on him by trying a store close to home on the off chance I'd find something on the first try.

Boy I am I glad I went! TJ’s had a summer clearance sale and they had clothes that fit me that weren't hoochie short or granny moo-moos. Yay! 

I bought this kicky sundress for $25.00.

I needed new shoes to go with the dress. Famous Footwear was also having a super duper clearance sale. I got the sassy pink vegan cha cha  heels for $20 and the pink silk flats for walking to the event for $15.Since New York is a walking city most ladies wear flats to ride the subway/walk and then change into heels right before they step into a party.

The heels fit nicely in the Kate Spade purse.

Both pairs were regularly $50 – bargain! Not shopping in the children’s department for shoes this summer ? Priceless!

However the Big Game Bargain Huntress Score of the Day came with this top I grabbed on a whim on my way to the dressing room back at TJ Maxx. The blouse had the original store tag on it with a price of $168.00.

How lucky is that? Pinch me! I'm dreaming!

TJ Maxx had it marked down on clearance for $15.00! I said it was a serious shopping score. Husband corrected me and said it was a steal.

Thank you Universe for making these two shopping trips much more fun than buying my bathing suit! 

Do you have any favorite shopping places where you know you’ll get a bargain? What was your best Bargain Shopper Score?

Hey FTC: I paid for everything I purchased at these stores with my own money.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Think You Know What’s in Your Cosmetics? Think Again

This year my New Year’s Resolution is to green my health and beauty aids. So far, I have switched my foundation , shampoo, lotion, body soap , sunscreen , toothpaste, mouthwash, and facial wash. To do this I read product labels.

Turns out that while I think I am a careful shopper, read ingredient labels, and buy accordingly, when it comes to my health and beauty products there is no law or rule that says everything inside the bottle has to be listed on the product label, unlike the food I buy.

That means there could be just as many or more harmful ingredients in my toothpaste as there are in the degreaser I use on my car’s engine block. The only difference is that the degreaser has a warning label. I have no idea if the ingredients of my toothpaste have been tested for safety or not.

To put this into an easy to understand and entertaining way, Annie Leonard of The Story of Stuff fame, created a new video The Story of Cosmetics.

I’m not trying to be a scaremonger. I think it’s up to you to decide on whether you want to avoid something in your products or not. I can honestly tell you that not everything in my medicine cabinet is 100% green, nor will it ever be. To me, it’s all about balance.

However, I do not like the fact that it is hard to make an informed choice as a consumer because the federal cosmetics law was written over 70 years ago and has not been updated since. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:

"The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1936 has only two pages that relate to cosmetics, and it has not been updated despite a sea change in the industry. The fact is, the Food and Drug Administration has no authority to make cosmetics companies test products for safety or recall products that are found to be harmful."
One of the biggest secrets about what chemicals (or not) is in a product is what makes up the product’s fragrance. Last summer, I had the chance to talk to a representative from a large personal care company. She claimed that even her company didn’t know what was in the fragrances of their products because they buy the fragrance from a special fragrance house that has a super secret formula and ironclad nondisclosure agreement that says the fragrance house won’t tell the company what's in the signature scent of their brand of shampoo.

I call shenanigans. I find it very hard to believe that a huge personal care company with a research and development team of chemists and scientist types cannot reverse engineer their signature fragrance and figure out what makes their product smell like their product.

Buying an unscented product won’t solve the problem either. Most unscented products have masking agents in them to cover up the sometimes nasty scent of combining their raw ingredients.

What’s a Consumer to Do?

  • First, I would watch The Story of Cosmetics to understand the situation in basic, real world language.

  • Next, I would email my congressperson and encourage them to vote yes on the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, which would close the labeling and ingredient testing holes in current federal law.

  • Finally, I would start reading the product labels of my personal care products and research any unfamiliar ingredients.

What would you do?

This post is part of the Green Mom’s Carnival where our topic is The Story of Cosmetics hosted by Organic Mania. Pop on over there Wednesday 28, 2010.