Get Fit for (practically) Free!

My dad and I this past September after we completed our second half-marathon together. 

The most common excuses people use to avoid working out and getting fit are generally: a lack of time and/or money, or not knowing where to start or what to do. While I cannot solve your time issue (although, Tim Ferris can!),  I am able to point you in the direction of free, or almost free, resources for working out sans the gym.

I have personally used, or currently use, the following resources with great success. And I, like many of you, get bored easily using the same workout plan or movements. After about ten years of trial or error, I’ve finally found a routine that works for me and has got me feeling and looking great!

The below is my typical weekly workout plan, and I’ve provided links to all of the apps and websites so that you can try them out too!

(Disclaimer: You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs).

Monday: Bikini Body Guide Workout by Kayla Itsines

There’s an initial cost to purchasing the 12 week guide, but I highly recommend it and it is 100% worth the price. I got in the best shape of my life using this three month program, and continually go back to it year after year. My 65-year old father has even had incredible results by doing it three times a week. Kayla’s Instagram account is also very inspiring and she has created a body-positive, health-minded community of people all over the world.

Tuesday: Run

I’ve started to run home from work once a week, and I love it because it is free, I get to explore my city, and I feel like I’m being super productive by exercising, commuting, and listening to an audiobook all at once!

My favorite app for running is MapMyRun because it’s fun to not only track my mileage and pace, but I also get to compete against my boyfriend, dad, and other friends in various challenges. (I’m currently kicking everyone’s butt in the two week step challenge!)

Again, there’s an initial cost associated with running; namely shoes and workout clothes, but once you’ve bought them, the cost per run is minimal. I always run with a lightweight athletic hat and fanny pack too, so I can protect my face and eyes from the sun, and carry my keys, cards/id (just in case), cell phone, chapstick, bandaids, and pepper spray (yep, I’m a woman). I tend to be overly prepared wherever I go, but you never know when it will come in handy.

I also love running around D.C. because I get to explore places I would normally not go, and I enjoy the interactions I have with people on the road. I always make a point to smile and at least say “hi” to the people I pass. While “community building” is not something that one would normally associate with outdoor exercise, it’s amazing how much more comfortable and connected I feel to my community by engaging in meaningful, albeit brief, greetings with random strangers.

Wednesday: Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines

Thursday: Run

Friday: Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines

Saturday and Sunday: Depending on how I’m feeling and what I have going on during the day, I will either choose to go running, do some yoga, enjoy a rest day, or do a shorter strength building workout using the 30 day workout phone apps.

Yoga with Adriene: is my all-time favorite yoga teacher and YouTube channel, and best of all, it’s completely free! She has amazing 30 day programs, and searchable videos of all different lengths when you want to work on a specific pose or part of the body. It’s perfect for everyone, from beginners to advanced. She’s really sweet and quirky, and I always feel wonderful after doing her videos.

The 30 day workout apps are fun because they target specific parts of the body, and are a perfect way of easing back into working out if you’ve been away from it for a while. During my summer of travel, these apps were my primary method for staying in shape, and I was really impressed with my level of fitness post-trip. It definitely helped me maintain my strength and I didn’t have to start from square one after returning to the U.S. All of the apps are free and you can do them anywhere; no equipment necessary. I didn’t even use a mat when I was abroad, just a towel sometimes when doing certain floor exercises.

Other great YouTube channels for easing you back into exercising, or for targeting specific muscle groups are:

Blogilates

POPSUGAR Fitness

Last word: getting fit is hands down one of the best ways to stay healthy, improve your confidence, happiness, sleep habits, sex drive, and avoid the doctor and high medical bills! Even if you start by doing it ten minutes a day, you will see results and a positive impact on many facets of your life.

 

New Clothes Will NOT Make You Happy

Think for a second: can you remember what your co-workers wore yesterday? Or even the day before that?

I didn’t think so.

So you can imagine that it is very unlikely that they even noticed, let alone remembered what you wore either. Amazing how getting dressed- a task that many of us agonize over daily-  can become inconsequential in a matter of minutes.

What does matter though, is that you felt comfortable and confident in your clothes, not the brand, price tag, or how they rate on the “trendiness” scale.

With that being said, like many Westerners, I’m somewhat obsessed with clothes. Thanks to our lovely system of capitalism and the control exerted over our society by corporations, we have become a culture engrossed with our appearances and social media presence. But, like most consumers, I’ve reached a saturation point where I have too many clothes, and my overflowing closet feels like more of a burden than a boon.

This fact really hit me in April when I was checking in for my flight from Boston Logan Airport and found out (too late), that I was going to have to pay a whopping $90 to lug it the first step in my journey to Europe. All I could to was shake my head and try not to explode with frustration at the realization that I was paying money to carry my possessions around. Why hadn’t I packed lighter and brought fewer clothes!?

Well….clothes, like food, are complicated. We have complex relationships with these material things that we need in order to survive and function in society, and yet, it is far too easy to succumb to the in-your-face advertisements and buy clothes that we don’t need, and food that is both cheap and unhealthy.  We’re tricked into thinking that a new pair of shoes will make us happy, that the trendy blouse will make us attractive, and a flashy suit will make us successful. However, those are downright lies. You will make yourself happy by having fulfilling relationships, you will make yourself attractive by exercising and practicing self-care, and you will become successful through hard-work and determination. The short cuts that the companies sell are pure smoke and mirrors.

In fact, take it from me: when it comes to clothes, less is truly more. I am loving my closet and it is loving me right back now that I’ve given it room to breathe, and have only kept clothes that I actually want to wear, are in good condition, and fit me well.

My mantra now is quality instead of quantity, and I do not buy something unless I 100% need it, love it, and will wear it. Sure, the anticipatory “high” of shopping and buying online is intense, but I guarantee your life will improve if you open up your closet to find only clothes that make you feel your best. Ditch (donate/reuse/mend) the rest!

Here are some of other guidelines that I’ve found helpful:

  • Only buy clothes made from natural fibers: cotton, linen, bamboo, wool, and silk. My favorites are linen, bamboo blends, and (merino) wool.
  • Never purchase clothes made from synthetic materials (polyester, viscose, modal, etc.)  [More to come on this in the next post]
  • Avoid “fast fashion” brands (Forever21, Zara, H&M, etc.) and big corporations (Victoria’s Secret, GAP, Macy’s, etc.), and buy from local, small designers.
  • Buy U.S. made products over foreign-produced.
  • Buy used, second-hand, or consignment unless it’s undergarments/bathing suit.
  • I have to be able to wear it with what I already have in my closet.
  • No impulse shopping! Put it down, leave the store, and take a while to think about it before making the purchase. When I do this, the likelihood that I’ll buy the item drops from 100 to 1.

Be patient with yourself as you work to break your addiction to clothes and consuming. It’s not going to be easy, and you’re not going to be perfect. Most importantly, be mindful and conscious of what you’re buying, and the rest will fall into place.

Additional Resources:

If this is your first foray into cleaning out your closet, and cutting back on buying clothes, check out some links below to get started:

 

In case you’re still not convinced that fewer clothes will make you happier, stay tuned for my next post on the environmental cost of “fast fashion”.

 

Self-Reflection: It’s Not Just for Socrates

When was the last time you had a substantial amount of time to yourself and by yourself? And I don’t mean binge watching Netflix or sleeping. Rather, I’m referring to a stretch of hours where all you had for entertainment, or someone to talk to was you, yourself, and thou. If you can think of a time, congrats! If not, don’t be too hard on yourself about it. In our current society with its insane schedules, iPhone addictions, and frenetic activity, quiet time for contemplation and reflection is seldom discussed or prioritized. (To be clear: I am not talking about meditation, although I find this to be of tremendous value as well; and something I practice daily).

In my opinion, Socrates got it right: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Without taking the time to be alone and even be bored (gasp!), we rob ourselves of the opportunity to let thoughts, feelings, and memories bubble to the surface of our consciousness. We miss out on vital cues from our body and heart, and we maintain the rat race that is 2018. Not to say that self-reflection is easy or enjoyable. Because, it’s not. There were countless times over the past five months where I found myself in fits of tears and anger as I confronted things about myself that I disliked and swam through deep wells of pain that I hadn’t realized still existed. But, it was entirely worth it. The hours I spent wandering around in foreign cities provided me not only with immense cultural enrichment but also a mental quiet in which to experience personal growth. Indeed, one of the most valuable takeaways from my entire trip, was the thing I least expected: having the much-needed time and space to reflect on the past ten years since I graduated college, and where and who I wanted to be for the next decade.

Before my extended traveling this past summer, self-reflection was something that I practiced infrequently and sporadically, but now it is something that has become a habit, thanks to my current lifestyle choices. I am alone when working from home; I take long runs and walks by myself, and enjoy luxurious baths where I let my mind wander. Other times, I lay in my bed or meander through museums and parks; all on my own, alone with myself. And those are the times when I experience epiphanies and have “light-bulb moments”, where I dwell on the things that I am grateful for, and, analyze if I am on the right path.

To be honest, if I had not created time for reflection, I’d still be working my corporate job, buying crap I didn’t need, wasting time on unproductive activities, and eating unhealthily.  I found that change is possible, but not if one doesn’t even have the time to think about what needs to be changed.  With that, I encourage you to to take ten minutes today and just sit with yourself and your thoughts. I can almost guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. Then, try it tomorrow. And the next day. You’ll slowly see how different and more fulfilling your life can be.

Let me know how it goes 🙂

Do You Want Time or Money?

I’m back! After traveling for three and a half months overseas and spending a month with my family in Maine, I’ve returned to D.C. and am currently in the throes of sorting out my life.

*I would like to preface this post by saying that I am fortunate enough to have the privilege to switch career paths due to the safety net of my family and their willingness to lend me money if I don’t get my sh*t together fast enough; even though I’m going to try and avoid it if at all possible and be an “adult” like the 30 year old I am.

Now that that’s out of the way, on to the age old discussion of the tension between time vs. money. It’s a “struggle” because the majority of us never seem to have enough of both at. the. same. time. Before I embarked on my grand summer adventure, I had plenty of money, but no time due to the fact that I worked full-time and had an hour long commute to and from the office. Now, it’s the opposite. I’ve had all the time in the world these past five months, but I’m practically out of money, with no quick inflow coming my way anytime soon.

Every day I confront this tension between time and money within myself. Do I sacrifice my time (energy, freedom, social life, etc.) for a big paycheck, but end up missing out on important events in the lives of people that are important to me, sacrifice my passions, and inevitably compromise on self-care and adequate rest? OR, do I take a big risk and ride the discomfort of not knowing where my next paycheck is going to come from in order to invest in my long term goals and ambitions? Some days I’m scared and I just want the money and comfort; other days I’m feeling liberated by the newfound hours in my day, and I can’t imagine going back to work full-time.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I managed to quit my job and travel for the whole summer, and after I told them (blog post coming soon), their response is always: “Oh, I could never.” And my response is always: “Yes, you could if you really wanted to, and were willing to make the necessary life changes.” In a comical twist of irony, I find that I’m repeating the very words that I’ve uttered to others as a reminder to myself that if I really want more time and freedom, then I have to fully commit to it; cut down on my expenses, and dedicate time and energy to my passions, at the same level as if it were my full-time job.

I share this, because it’s safe to conjecture that many people feel the same internal desire to engage in work that’s meaningful, but might not pay the bills. I know, because that’s what I’ve done for the past few years. I settled for jobs that funded my lifestyle but left me wishing for more. I filled my apartment with “stuff” and bought clothes I didn’t need. I worked in order to go out to overpriced restaurants and wasted my paycheck on tasty, but unhealthy alcoholic drinks. I worked that hard, but for what? To be exhausted and drained, with little energy left to engage in activities that sustained and excited me.

All I know, is that I can’t live like that anymore. I felt like my soul was being sucked dry from my work as a government contractor, and I want to use my skills and passion to help people and animals.  So, yes, that leaves me with the stress of not having money – a complete 180 degree pivot from where I was a year ago. But, the upside is that I feel free. I’m excited about life, and while I know that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get to where I want, I proactively choose this path because I refuse to be another cog in the corporate machinery, a hamster on a wheel. I want time, and I want lots of it.

Indeed, it’s the most valuable resource we have.

Next up on my reading list: “The Four Hour Work Week” by Tim Feriss

I’d love to hear from you:

Are you experiencing burnout from your 40 your a week corporate job? How do you cope?

Or are you taking the risky route and making sacrifices in the finances department in order to live your dream job? Any tips? Advice Help me! I’m new to this!

Fake News, the MSM, and Independent Journalism

 

Preface: While I 100% support the investigative journalists and writers/authors/vloggers/bloggers etc., who dig up and reveal noteworthy events and behind-the-scenes information essential to an informed public, I’ll explain below why I do not wholeheartedly support main stream media (MSM) sources (in this case, MSM refers to such mega-conglomerates such a ABC News, Fox News, NBC News, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times).

An interesting and unexpected side effect of Donald Trump’s “fake news” craze is the fact that more people are doubting the integrity and truthfulness of MSM, and the motives behind government officials, like never before.  At face value this may seem like a catastrophe of epic proportions, but, I beg to disagree.  It is, of course, dangerous when the first amendment rights protecting free speech and journalists come under fire; and, unfortunately, it seems that under Trump’s America, this is is becoming more normalized; however, I believe it is both positive and productive when citizens question the information that the corporate media produces and widely disseminates. I make this assertion because MSM is, at its core biased, although, not in the way that Donald Trump asserts. The bias, and accompanying hazard to society, lies, rather, in the nature  of its ownership and size of the companies. As the below graphic highlights, a majority of the local and smaller print and television companies have been acquired through mergers and buy-outs by larger mega-corporations such as Disney and Fox, as well as the Rockefeller and Rothschild families (for more on these oil tycoons, see these two posts).

media

*A similar infographic regarding the CEOs/owners and their subsidiaries can be found here.*

As a result, the U.S. has lost a great deal of independent news organizations that have gotten swallowed up, and pushed out of the industry due to the prohibitively high costs involved with competing against these media giants and staying afloat in the digital era. As this occurs, the messages become more watered down, more homogeneous, and more  controlled by an ever-shrinking number of individuals. This trend,  not necessarily the accusations of”fake news” is, in my opinion, one of the greatest threats to a free society. Let us not be naive in thinking that the CNN and Fox News executives only started to flex their power in the past few years, this, unfortunately, been a trend that has been occurring for many decades as seen in the below infographic:

infographic

If this doesn’t give you shivers, it should. The pivotal role that the independent media in holding the government, elected officials, and companies accountable to the public and our health and safety cannot be overstated. Without them, it becomes nearly impossible to uncover the truth and be informed about the inner workings, and behind-the-scenes actions that affect our community, family, jobs, environment, and health. Sadly enough, we cannot trust the government or companies to keep us healthy and safe anymore, so we have to take it into our own hands, and independent journalists are a major part of helping us do this.

Actions you can take today:

  1. Can’t believe I would hear myself saying this, but do like DT says and avoid MSM.
  2. In its place, support your local newspaper. Yes, it’s going to cost you, but the few dollars each week that you’ll pay is tiny compared to the price of entirely losing independent and investigative journalism. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to learn about local issues happening in your community, and find ways to get more connected and involved.
  3. Research the owners of news sources that you consume. Be a responsible consumer of news just as much as you are a responsible consumer of other goods and services. These two websites will save you time and energy since they’ve already done the research for you.
  4. Be an active consumer of news. Don’t just let information passively flow in without thinking critically about it and discussing what you hear/read/watch with others.
  5. Write letters to the editor. Don’t be tricked into thinking that your thoughts and opinion don’t matter or don’t deserve to be heard. They do. And I guarantee that if you’re thinking it, then others are too. Who knows, may you’ll start a movement too. Here’s a useful guide to get you started.

I’ve provided some news sources that I find to be (relatively) more independent than MSM sources below.  But PLEASE remember that just like people, no news sources is going to be completely unbiased. With that being said, a quick and dirty way to determine the level of influence that is being flexed over their journalistic integrity is to a) look them up on one or both of the websites above in #3; and b) take note of whether they’re asking for donations and state that they’re reader/audience-supported. If they are, then you can feel relatively safe in knowing that they lean towards being more independent and outside the realm (and control) of the MSM.

If you have any sources that you find to me informative and (less) biased than MSM, PLEASE share them here and help your fellow Counter Corporation-ists!

Valentine’s Day, the Non-Corporate Way

This year — skip the expensive dinner, and store bought cards, candy, giant stuffed teddy bear, and standard flower arrangements, for something much more special, unique, and good for your wallet and the environment.

This February 14, my plan is to buy some ingredients from the local market and cook a nice dinner at home with my boyfriend. For his presents, I purchased a shea butter bar from Lush and a book from Powell’s. We’re keeping it cozy and will be doing our good deed for the day by babysitting his brother’s adorable one year old daughter while her parents go out for a much-needed date night.

For you though, the possibilities are endless!

Instead of buying a cliche, mass-produced Hallmark card, you could: 

Make one yourself! Not only is it more eco-friendly, cheaper, and more fun than buying a $5 card, but there’s no better way to communicate exactly how you feel or what you want to say, than by making a card to your personal requirements and specifications. Don’t know where to start?

  1. Grab a few magazines (and/or old cards, newspaper, photos, stickers, etc.), a pair of scissors, tape and/or glue, and some paper or cardboard from the recycling bin, and get to work!
  2. I generally begin without a set idea or direction in mind, and then cut out anything that feels “right” or makes me think of the person (or an inside joke, shared memory) for whom I’m making the card.
  3. After I’ve compiled a decent set of pictures, photos, words, and/or stickers, I start playing around with them on the paper. Keep an open mind, and you’ll see that a theme starts to emerge, and at this point you should start to get pretty excited thinking about the person’s reaction when they read it.
  4. From there, finish it up by using a pen/glitter pen/paint/marker/crayon to complete the sentiment, and put it away somewhere safe to dry.

I can almost guarantee-or-your-money-back, that the individual receiving your homemade art, will treasure and remember it for years to come.

Instead of ordering a dozen roses or expensive bouquet of flowers, you could:

Put together your own succulent or potted plant arrangement. I personally love succulents because they’re incredibly easy to keep alive — infrequently (minimum every two weeks) pour a tiny bit of water into the soil and keep it near a light source — but they’re also more eco-friendly than buying flowers that are going to shrivel and die within a few days. Unlike stemmed roses, a cactus lasts, my friends.  As an added bonus, cacti are, for some unknown reason (maybe because they’re Millennial-friendly and low maintenance) very trendy at the moment, and oh-so-Instagram-worthy.

  1. Start by first looking around your house for a container. Mason jars are super cute, but even other old jars or containers can be used as-is or, if you’re feeling extra-crafty, you can paint or decoupage the outside for some added oomph and personalization. I’ve even seen plants potted in old shoes, so, really, the sky is the limit with the container you could use. Let your imagination run wild, and make it special for the recipient.
  2. Next, head to a plant nursery to pick up your new green friend. Avoid the plant departments of Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, and Home Depot, and instead opt for a locally owned store. A quick duckduckgo.com search should turn up some viable options.
  3. Before you leave for the store, make sure you have your container AKA the plant baby’s new home, with you. This really helps with picking out the right size plant since you need to ensure there’s sufficient room for the plant’s roots to grow and expand. If you need help, the folks at the nursery will be more than eager to assist you in selecting the best plant for your container and the recipient’s lifestyle.
  4. At this point, all that’s left is to remove your plant from the plastic container it arrived in and repot it in the container you prepared.
  5. As a finishing touch, you could create your own instruction care card and tie it around the container with a ribbon, piece of twine, string, etc. that you have lying around the house.
  6. Then, just be sure to keep it alive until you give it away to its new owner!

 

Instead of buying a box of Dove/Lindt/Godiva chocolates, you could:

Make your own chocolate-dipped strawberries or truffles! There are a million and two recipes out there for both, and trust me, they’re much easier to make than we’re lead to believe. You can also customize them based on the recipient’s taste preferences, and get really creative with the box in which you give them.

  1. Find a recipe. A quick duckduckgo.com search will yield myriad results.
  2. Head to your local shop to pick up the ingredients. The standard required items will most likely be baking chocolate, flavoring (e.g., vanilla extract), and, if you’re planning on making dipped items, the fruit, pretzel, bacon, etc.
  3. For those who have yet to venture into the kitchen, rest assured that there are plenty of cooking shows out there that will guide you every step of the way.
  4. Make your items.
  5. Let them cool for a sufficient time as directed in the recipe. I would even recommend letting them sit overnight to ensure completeness.
  6. Find your box. It could be an old jewelry box, cardboard box that you decorate, vintage container/cigarette box, etc. Again, let your imagination run wild.

 

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? I would love to hear about what you did to celebrate the non-corporate way!

4 Rules for Anti-Corporate Living

1) Whenever possible, buy local and buy small.
2) If you see the product everywhere (e.g. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Exxon), you can make a safe bet that it’s a mega corporation, and should avoid it.
3) Download the Buycott and/or Better World Shopper applications. These will make your life significantly easier because they’ve already done the research on the companies for you!
4) Research! Take time to learn about the products and companies from where you buy your products and services. Find out if the company is reputable, treats its workers well, practices environmental stewardship, and is not a cog in the mega-corporate machine.  Yes, it will take more time than clicking a few buttons on your Amazon app, and yes, you’ll go down some rabbit holes, and most likely get frustrated. But, I promise you, it is WORTH it. You’ll feel better knowing that your morals and values align with your spending and you’ll buy fewer, more high quality, not to mention unique, things (it’s about quality, not quantity, people!).
And, of course, check out this page for an ever expanding list of acceptable/unacceptable companies to buy from. I hope that you will contribute to the list as well!

Shower Curtains & Starbucks

Christmas and New Years have come and gone, and along with it a massive tax break for American corporations, and continued political chaos. Despite the highs and lows though, I’ve stuck mostly to my anti-corporate living. Here’s a brief synopsis of the past months’ successes and failures.

(As always, I am not getting paid by any of the companies mentioned below)

  • Whenever I’m go out to eat with friends or family members, I cajole, push, and, when forced, whine, until I persuade them to eat at a local, small restaurant or coffee shop. And in most places that I’ve been to since my last post, it’s been relatively easy to do this (Washington, DC and Portland, ME) considering the vast array of affordable, yummy, and available options. However, the one place where I found this to be challenging was in the St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN region. Indeed, the Mid-West section of America is a land of strip malls and chains. The weekend I was there I experienced my biggest slip-ups since I started avoiding corporations a few months ago. With my head bowed down, hoping that none of my faithful followers would see me, I found myself becoming a customer once more of Target, CVS, and Starbucks.
    • I will say though, that stepping back once more into these chain, cookie-cutter, big-box stores reminded me exactly why I have been staunchly avoiding them. To me, they were, and are, nauseatingly boring, wasteful, and stuffed to the brim with products lacking in both quality or uniqueness. But, but, but! They are readily accessible, and, in some parts of the country, literally the only option for the things I and my family needed at the time: poster board paper (Target), gluten-free breakfast options (Starbucks), and contact lens solution (CVS). And, I will say, that it was comforting knowing that I could easily and affordably buy the above items when I needed them. Thinking about how the convenience and cost factor often play such a mammoth role in one’s shopping decisions reminded me about why it’s so difficult for us to cut corporations out of our lives completely. T=However, this lifestyle is like a diet: you HAVE to get back on healthy eating train right after you cheat, or all is lost. Therefore, despite my failures, I learned from it, and was even more inspired to avoid them in the future.
  • One of recent successes was finding an eco-friendly shower curtain. Random, I know; but I needed it since my current one is discolored, old, and very unappealing to the eye. I started my internet search by searching for (on duckduckgo.com, of course) “eco-friendly shower curtains”, since I knew from the start that I didn’t want one made out of plastic or anything that would eventually have to end up in a landfill. This immediately generated quite a few results, with Amazon (no surprise there) heavily advertising its products in the topmost position. I scrolled past seven corporate results until I found one that highlighted “5 Options for Eco-Friendly Shower Curtains” that provided information about hemp, bamboo, linen, cotton, and DIY curtains, I decided to go with hemp for its durability, lack of synthetic compounds, and the fact that it is naturally resistant to bacteria and fungi. While there weren’t a ton of non-corporate websites selling hemp shower curtains, I finally stumbled upon arenaturals.com and purchased these curtains in sea foam (while the sea foam color itself ended up being more green, than blue, I’m very happy with the quality of the curtains, and love how my bathroom looks now!)
    • I tell this story because I find it’s a fairly standard example of what I go through now when purchasing products. Whereas, before I would open up my Amazon Prime application on my cell phone and quickly scroll through a few choices before clicking “buy now”‘, I find myself spending a greater amount of time researching and browsing until I find an item that fits my requirements. I will be the first to admit that my new process takes more time and money, but on the flip side, I find it more rewarding and fun to support small, socially conscious, and distinct businesses……Don’t get sucked into the trap of thinking that Amazon is the only option!

I would love to hear from you!

Have you been somewhere recently where you felt suffocated by corporate options and couldn’t find the little guy to support? What did you end up doing?

Or, have you had any success finding an anti-corporate option to a product you needed to buy? Do you have any research techniques or resources to share?

Thanks for reading!

-Abigail

Day 9

If I’m being honest, I’ve been actively avoiding taking a trip to the grocery store since starting my anti-corporate challenge. However, I was forced into it today due to the fact that I volunteered to bring a quiche to my office holiday party this week.

While I have a theory that I will end up with overall savings by buying less items, in general, I have still been scared of the costs involved with only buying from small, local businesses and ethical companies. At some point I’d like do a one-for-one cost comparison between a corporate”basket” of goods and against similar anti-corporate goods, but for now, I’ll just have to go with my gut telling me that I definitely spent more money than normal. Granted, I’m also gluten-free, so those items are always more expensive (for no good reason, in my opinion. Since when does rice cost more than wheat? But that’s another story) no matter where one shops.

With that being said, my total bill from Yes! Organic Market (locally owned and operated) for the items listed above (+ a Medicinals peppermint tea and second chocolate bar, that I had already put away, and started eating, respectively) came to $71.32 for 14 items. The most expensive things being the honey ($8.99) and baguettes ($7.29). I felt the honey was worth the price considering it is 100% local, raw, unprocessed honey; and I tend to use honey a lot on my face as a healing mask, so I was comfortable with paying that price. As far as the baguettes go, for anyone living that gluten-free lifestyle, these babies are to die for! I make a mouth-watering avocado toast using the baguettes and it is worth every penny.

 

IMG-4302

Another point to note from my trip was that it took me a lot longer to shop even though I bought a reduced number of items. However, I don’t expect it to take as long in the future as I become more familiar with companies and products that meet my conditions. This time around many minutes were spent grabbing items off a shelf, to only put them back from whence they came. I relied heavily on Buycott to provide me with information about the products’ parent companies corporate structure, all of which could be found by scanning the barcode with my phone’s camera in the app. I will say that the business nerd in me was intrigued by various company “family trees”, and there were a few surprise products that I didn’t expect to find in such large corporate structures. While not food products, are two examples that I stumbled upon today:

Tom’s of Maine and Burt’s Bees; at one time they were small family businesses, but now they’re owned by Colgate-Palmolive and Clorox Company, respectively, and should be avoided. For additional information about brands one would think would be a quality choice, but have been “green-washed”, check out this Huffington Post article.

Be wary, friends; and do your research.

A casual observer will notice that I only bought one item of produce: mixed sprouts. And, yes, I admit to loving my carbs and chocolate, but I do, as a matter of fact, consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables. These though, I get delivered weekly by Hungry Harvest. For $25/week I get a big box of seasonal produce dropped off on my front porch. Not only that, but they use “rescued” produce, i.e. items that aren’t “pretty” enough to be sold at a grocery store, and would normally go to waste. Furthermore,

“For every delivery, we empower a family in need
by providing access to affordable fruits & veggies through our Produce in a SNAP program and donations to local organizations.”
Read more here.

Highly recommend it since it’s a win-win-win all around. Visit the website and plug your address in to see if they’re delivering in your neighborhood yet.

Day 4

Days 2, 3, and 4 of my new anti-corporate lifestyle have been mostly easy and fun with just one slip-up that I’ll divulge below. I don’t know about you, but for me the past few days have been an intense whirlwind as the Republican-backed tax bill narrowly passed the Senate, paving the way for significant tax cuts for wealthy individuals and businesses. In the face of this fact, I find that the timing of starting this blog couldn’t be more perfect, and the oppressive political and economic environment in which we live, all the more inspiring for me to fight it by proceeding on my anti-corporate journey.

Friday, 12/1

In the evening, I attended a fundraising party for 734 Coffee – a D.C.-based company that uses its profits to fund education efforts for South Sudanese refugees living in the Gambela region of Ethiopia. If you’re looking to replace Starbucks, or your mass-produced-coffee-brand-of-choice- then this is it!

The event took place at Bar Deco in D.C. and it  was a great night of dancing with friends while sipping the Divinita Cabernet Savignon from Italy. I mindfully avoided big-name liquor companies such as Svedka (owned by Constellation Brands) that are most often owned by large, international conglomerates and mass-produce their alcohol on an enormous scale*.  Otherwise, I munched on their tacos, and purchased $20 of raffle tickets in support of the cause.

Saturday 12/2

In the morning, I grabbed breakfast and a coffee at one of my favorite local, neighborhood spots – Capital City Cheesecake in Takoma Park, M.D. This bakery is owned and managed by two sisters who provide delicious breakfast-all-day and sandwiches, along with scrumptious mini (and full size upon special order) cheesecakes. The restaurant itself is warm, inviting, and very family-friendly. I always feel really great spending my money here since I know that the revenue not only stays in the community, but also supports local jobs and markets. Panera Bread got nothing on them!

Confession time. I’m not proud, however, I’ll cut myself a bit of slack given that when it comes to fueling a car, the market is essentially monopolized and controlled by the oil oligarchs of our time: Shell, Exxon-Mobil, and BP**. So, yes, I bought gas from one of the mega-corporations that I adamantly despise.  Unfortunately, the existing alternatives: Tesla or powering a car using vegetable oil were unavailable to me at the time, and I was left with no choice in the matter (insert loud scream here). I definitely foresee transportation and travel being problematic in the future, as I love to travel, but small, locally-owned options are either cost-prohibitive or near-impossible to find. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it though and see what I can do.

I ended my Saturday with a refreshing iced tea from Sweetgreen. I love this company for their affordable, healthy, and environmentally-friendly options. Their very mission is to:

 “inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food. We know that sweetgreen is a critical link between growers and consumers, and we feel a responsibility to protect the future of real food. To that end, we’re committed to supporting small and mid-size growers who are farming sustainably, to creating transparency around what’s in your food and where it came from, and to creating more accessibility to healthy, real food for more people.”

Furthermore, they are independently-owned and operated, so, with that in mind, I feel comfortable and confident in spending money on their food and drinks.

Sunday, 12/3

Today, I’m staying home all day and not spending a cent. Imagine all of the time and money we would save as a society if our lives centered around relationships and activities/hobbies we enjoy instead of being consumed with consuming? It’s been absolutely exhilarating to remove myself from the hamster wheel of spending on cheap goods and cheap foods, and instead focus on de-cluttering my home and mind to make space for the things that I really love and value.

 

*Stay tuned for a post on anti-corporate alcohol.

**For more information on how it got to be this way, check out The Corbett Report: “How Big Oil Conquered the World”.