Wow. January flew by really fast. If you recall from a previous post, my wife and I accepted the challenge to buy nothing for a year. In addition to a few exemptions for things we were already going to buy, we had planned to be mindful of our purchases through conscious consumerism. So, how did we do? Pretty good if you ask me. Below is a recap of our purchases.
I know, I know. Nothing consumable (and this includes food) counts for the buy nothing challenge. But I am including food because if you remember from my New Year’s resolutions, we are challenging ourselves to not eat out more than three times a week and to keep our food budget to less than $500 a month. We succeeded in both!
My wife goes out to eat only once a week during her lunch hour at work. All other times she brings her own food (usually left overs).
While I’m at work, I never go out to eat for lunch because there is not enough time to leave the hospital in between surgeries. Luckily, my employer caters a healthy lunch for me that is sent directly to the operating room lounge ready for me to eat. This is at no additional out-of-pocket cost to me. It’s a pretty sweet deal. I did go to one happy hour after work, but all I had was a local craft beer.
We only went out to eat at a restaurant together a total of three times. This is exceptionally impressive considering it was my birthday in January! All in all, we spent a total of $120 going out to eat at restaurants this month.
The rest of the meals we made at home. Our total grocery bill for the month was $320. And no, we are not just buying cheap, low quality processed food. We buy whole food vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes, mostly organic and in bulk. Many times, we buy produce in season and on sale. Avocados at six for a dollar? Yes, please!
There is a misconception that cooking and eating healthy food is prohibitively expensive. In reality, it’s not. And it’s not tasteless or boring either. Far from it.
Okay, now you’re probably wondering what we eat.
On the weekdays, I practice intermittent fasting. These days I typically don’t eat breakfast. However, on the weekends, my wife and I prepare a beautiful breakfast. Here are some examples from this month.
Our default breakfast is oatmeal. Cheap, nutritious, and delicious.
Like I mentioned earlier, I typically have healthy lunches catered directly to me at work. Here is an example.
We make all kinds of interesting dishes for dinner. Below is only a select few from our repertoire!
Snack and Desserts
Because my wife and I are healthy eaters, we generally do not snack or eat desserts. But when we do, we make it worth it and with gusto!
Okay, enough with the food pictures. I could have devoted an entire post on our food in and of itself. I was just trying to prove the point that while our food is exceptionally cheap and healthy, it is NOT bland or boring.
HA! Made you look.
Of course we didn’t buy any clothes. We haven’t bought new clothes for a while. This year is no different. No new clothes. Period.
Things we bought
We did pretty good. We bought five things in January. Not even toilet paper or disposable personal care items.
Just to be clear, we do not have a financial relationship with any of the products mentioned below. We purchased the following items because my wife did extensive research on what she believes are the best products for us as conscious consumers.
1. Naturepedic Mattress ($3600)
A new mattress and bed were some of the things that we planned to buy this year. Therefore I listed them as exemptions in my previous post.
We bought a king-sized Naturepedic EOS Classic mattress. $3600 sounds like a lot of money for a mattress. But if you go shopping for high quality mattresses these days, this is well within the acceptable price range. And a lot of the commercial mattresses that are being sold may contain toxic chemicals that the average consumer is not aware of. Naturepedic, on the other hand, only makes mattresses with all organic latex and certified organic cotton without the use of toxic chemicals such as phthalates and flame retardants. In addition, the company has an excellent reputation for being green and sustainable. The mattresses are entirely made in the U.S.A.
Since we are expecting a baby soon, we want to buy the best non-toxic mattress for our baby’s health and well being. For us, it is totally worth it. And it qualifies for all ten of the justifiable reasons that I previously outlined in my guide to conscious consumerism. We could afford it, we have the need and space for it, we fully support the company, and it will positively affect our health.
In case you were wondering, we did ask the sales person for a discount. The answer was no. Naturepedic never discounts their mattresses. What you see is what you get. This is unlike other non-organic mattress stores that will offer a lot of “discounts” to their heavily marked up prices.
To soften the blow of the $3,600 price tag, we paid part of the final price by using four $200 gift cards that I had earned from manufactured spending a few weeks ago. Plus you cannot put a price on good sleep!
2. Urban Woods Bed Frame ($500)
This was more than a great deal. It was a steal!
The bed frame retails for $3,198 when you search well-regarded organic bed stores such as Coyuchi. Why is it usually so expensive? There are many reasons.
First, the bed is made of reclaimed wood from local vintage buildings slated for tear down. Thus the making of this bed was not a result of deforestation and therefore is sustainable and better for the environment.
Second, the wood is high quality and solid, which has excellent stability and resistance to future distortion or structural movement. We are talking about cheap IKEA particle board wood here. It’s the real deal.
Third, the wood is finished with low volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), water-based, non-toxic stains. And only formaldehyde-free glues are used. Many consumers do not know that indoor air can be up to three times more polluted than outdoor air. The EPA considers indoor air pollution of VOCs a significant hazard to human health. Not quite sure what VOC’s are? Think of that fresh paint and carpet smell when you first move into a new house. Or that “new car smell” when you buy a new car. Those are VOC’s. They are common in household products, paints, varnishes, glues, air fresheners, and cleaning supplies. There is toxicity everywhere. This is why we try to make our own natural products free of toxic chemicals.
Lastly, all of the furniture is made in the United States of America. It definitely feels good to buy and own American goods. It’s definitely patriotic. Additionally, the labor laws are more fair and the craftsmanship is noticeably better in the U.S. compared to other countries such as China. And since the furniture is built in Los Angeles, we are supporting our local California community.
So how did we get the bed for such a low price?
First of all, retailers like Coyuchi (known for luxury organic bedding) heavily mark up their products. We definitely did not want to pay full retail price. After some thorough investigation, my wife found out that the bed frames were manufactured by a company called Urban Woods. When she discovered that the company is located nearby in Los Angeles, she decided to contact them directly to see if we can get the bed at a wholesale price.
My wife called Urban Woods and the owner informed her that they were actually in the process of relocating to a new, smaller location. Urban Woods typically sells to companies rather than individuals. They have a small show room, but they will not have one in their new store. They needed to sell all the furniture in their show room before their move. The owner told us she had a king size bed, which normally goes for $1600 wholesale, but she would sell it to us for $500. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse!
We drove up to the store that weekend to see the bed in person. It looked great so we bought it. It will be delivered to our home next week and we are very excited!
Originally, our plan was to buy a solid wood bed frame secondhand. For many months, we kept an eye on websites that sell used furniture such as Craigslist, Nextdoor, and 5 Miles. We also checked out several consignment stores. However, when we found out we could buy a bed from Urban Woods for $500, it was too good to pass up!
It was easy to justify this purchase. Urban Woods is well-regarded, local, and environmentally friendly. The bed is non-toxic and made from sustainable, high quality wood. We are thrilled to be able to buy a quality product that aligns with our values and at such a great price!
3. Luxe Bidet ($35)
I have to admit, I was skeptical and weirded out when my wife told me she wanted to buy a bidet. I thought it was something only people in Europe used.
My wife gave a compelling argument and convinced me that we should buy it.
Now that we have been using it for a few weeks, the benefits are clear:
- Much cleaner and more hygienic. It cleans your bottom thoroughly and much more effectively than dry toilet paper. Plus it practically eliminates the potential of contaminating your hand with fecal matter. When you think about it, using dry toilet paper merely smears poop around your butt hole. Why smear poop when you can rinse it off?
- More environmentally friendly. By using the bidet, we have significantly reduced our toilet paper usage. Now, we just need a little bit of paper to wipe our bottoms dry. Using toilet paper kills a bunch of trees so that people can wipe their butts. In effect, trees are being flushed down the toilet. Thus, using a bidet can help reduce deforestation and protect the environment.
- Potentially healthier. A lot of commercially available toilet paper is bleached with chlorine, which is toxic and potentially carcinogenic. And a lot of the paper in toilet paper could contain BPA, which is toxic and a known endocrine hormone disruptor linked to infertility and other problems. Do you really want to wipe your butt with toxic chemicals that could potentially disrupt your hormones and cause cancer? Not me. No thank you. Using a bidet will help lower your exposure to such toxicity.
- It’s cheaper. The cost savings of severely reducing your toilet paper consumption is significant and could add up in the long run!
- It’s more convenient. Reducing your toilet paper usage results in one less item to buy and store in your home.
All of the reasons listed above makes buying a bidet a very justifiable purchase.
4. Silicone brush ($8)
Silicone is antimicrobial and environmentally friendly compared to alternatives. This is a justifiable purchase because we needed a long brush to clean reusable water bottles and glass mason jars effectively. Plus we didn’t have anything similar to it prior to this purchase.
5. Pura stainless steel reusable water bottle ($25)
My wife and I like to use stainless steel reusable water bottles for many reasons.
First of all, the plastic of bottled water can potentially leach toxic chemicals, like BPA, into the water. Obviously, this is not good.
Second, plastic is a material that takes forever to degrade. Even though many plastics are labeled as “recyclable”, the truth is that plastic can only be down-cycled to an inferior (and more toxic) product. Plastic is toxic and never goes away.
We have a reverse osmosis water filtration system in our home and this is our primary source for drinking water. The water is pure and tastes great. My wife bought the Pura water bottle because it is the only non toxic certified reusable bottle. We did not have one prior to this purchase. Additionally, Pura makes non toxic, medical grade silicone nipple tops. We can eventually use this for bottle feeding our baby after she is done breastfeeding. Again, a very justifiable purchase.
I was happy that we were able to maintain our food budget AND only buy five things this month. We will continue our intentional practice of mindful spending and conscious consumerism for the rest of the year and beyond. And I plan to update everybody about what we buy after each month.
Remember, the goal is not to be extreme cheapskates or extreme minimalists. We want to create the healthiest environment for our baby. And at the same time, we don’t want to be wasteful of our money and of the world’s natural resources. While not a primary goal, saving money will be a good financial side effect since I plan to work less in order to spend more time at home with the baby.
This challenge helps us deliberately live in a way that aligns with our values.
Readers, what do you think? Are we too extreme? Would you consider us overly cautious California hippies? Would you consider practicing what I call “conscious consumerism”? Do you at least like the food pictures? Share your thoughts 🙂