Spread the Love of Water and Win Water Saving Swag

 

“The more motivated you are by love, the more fearless and free your action will be.” – Dalai Lama

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My husband Michael whispers the words, “love and “gratitude,” into his glass of water each morning.

Japanese scientists found water responds to feelings, words and intentions.  Water forms intricate snowflake-like shapes when positive and loving words are said or felt while chaotic and rough shapes emerge with negative words and intentions. Michael’s words transform the water molecules in his glass into spectacular asymmetrical patterns.

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Love and Gratitude expressed in water molecules

 

Protection of our planet’s water sources will not come from fear, obligation, regulation, or necessity. A sweeping change will arise when we approach the problems we face of dwindling clean water supplies with gratitude and love of our most precious natural resource. We protect that which we love. Love motivates us to action.

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Let’s spread our love and gratitude for water this month. In honor of your action(s), I will gift one person a box full of water conservation swag that includes the following:

  • One set of three water collection buckets. These are great to collect water in your kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower. I use the water to water my outdoor plants. These buckets are in a shape of a water drop and collapsible for easy storage.
  • One shower curtain. This shower curtain is printed with water conservation messages to remind you to keep your showers short. This curtain also includes curtain hooks the shape of water drops.
  • Ten sand shower timers. Place a four-minute shower timer in your shower stalls (adheres with a suction cup) and give the rest away to the ones in your life who can use it most. Spread the love for water.

Here is how it works:

Your name will be entered into the drawing once every time you spread the love of water in the month of February. Do any of the following.

  • Like the Eat Less Water’s Facebook page.
  • Like, share, or comment on a post on any Eat Less Water Facebook post in February. Do all three and enter your name three times in one action.
  • Retweet this Eat Less Water post
  • Follow Eat Less Water on Twitter
  • Become a subscriber of my Drought-Friendly Cooking Channel. A new video is coming soon- how to make drought-friendly bread.
  • Subscribe to the Eat Less Water Newsletter.

Do all of them and your name is entered dozens of times. Talk about great odds.
There is power in the collective.

Eat less water at the kitchen table!

Be well,
Florencia

What Does An Omelette Have To Do With Clean Water?

Half the world population will experience freshwater shortages, referred to as water scarcity by 2030. Water scarcity is at our shore now.

Supply and quality are the two leading causes of water scarcity according to the United Nations. Ask the people in Central Valley California who don’t have running water today. Or the people of Flint, Michigan who have running water they can’t drink today. (Click here to read Michael Moore’s open letter on the situation of contaminated water in his hometown of Flint.)

Change for abundant, clean water begins at the kitchen table. The ingredients we choose has a story written in water, soil and air. Our food touches thousands of lives. From those who grow, harvest, and prepare our food to those who live near those same farms and factories.

In my forthcoming book, Eat Less Water, I follow food back to the rivers, lakes, aquifers and oceans to understand the impact food systems have on our world’s water. But the story I’m writing goes much deeper. I ask you to approach your daily food choices with awareness.

Deeper connection, my 2016 New Year’s Resolution. I resolve to deepen the relationships I most care about, and that includes my food. The food taste so much richer when I remember the good story it tells.

Here is a recipe to get you started. It meets the Paleo, Atkins, Vegetarian and Eat Less Water standards. It is how I begin my days. And it keeps me full until lunch, minimizing unnecessary snacking.

Buen Provecho!

Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective.

Be well,

Florencia

Chard or Kale and Cheese (optional) Omelette

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Ingredients:

2 stems of organic chard or kale

2 organic eggs

organic pasture raised cheese of your choice

slice of organic butter for the pan

salt and pepper to taste

 

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Sauté chard and/or kale in butter in a small frying pan. Cook on low to medium flame.

 

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Beat two eggs in bowl and pour over the chard/kale. In 1-2 minutes flip omelette to second side until cooked to your liking.

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Slide omelette onto a plate and sprinkle grated cheese. Add the pepper and salt to taste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does your New Year’s Resolution Include Doing Good In The World? Here Are Some Ideas

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“Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink,” wrote poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his 1834 epic poem about a crew lost at sea without any fresh water aboard.

It is what came to mind as my children splashed and dove in the water at the shore of the Pacific Ocean. They left the warm water only to run a few paces to the beach towel to take a gulp of fresh, clean water from the water bottle before they returned to the salty sea.

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The poem continues…

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

Experts who met at the World Water Forum in Istanbul in 2009 predicted two-thirds of the people living on this planet in 2025 will experience water scarcity, a situation expected to result in the deaths of millions and an unprecedented rise in military conflicts. The World Economic Forum brings together the world’s business, and financial elite warned, “We are living in a water ‘bubble’ as unsustainable and fragile that which precipitated the collapse in world financial markets.”

Of all the crises coming to a head — global warming, dwindling energy reserves, pollution, nuclear reactor meltdowns, even financial crises — water scarcity is the least appreciated.

It is what drives me to continue the work I do around water conservation. Why I sold water conservation products like shower timers, and why I now write about farming practices that save water.

Let me introduce you to three organizations who are working to bring fresh clean water to communities in great need around the world. In South Africa alone, it is estimated that the women and children collectively walk the distance to the moon and back 17 times in their daily search for water.

Like, follow, sign up for newsletters, volunteer and make a financial contribution to these organizations so they can continue to bring fresh”water, water everywhere.”

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Blue Planet Network– Their mission is to increase the impact of safe drinking water programs for people around the world.

Due to Blue Planet’s work, 2 million people in 3,611 communities have access to safe drinking water and the chance for more productive lives due to the efforts of our members.

Buy for yourself or gift the Blue Planet Run hardbound, full-color book (only $20). The images captured in these pages are spectacular, inspiring, maddening, frightening, informative, and breathtaking. Here is the link to buy your copy.

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Charity Water–  Their mission is to bring clean drinking water to every person on the planet. By leveraging donations from individuals, corporations and foundations they funded 17,673 water projects in 24 countries. 100% 0f every dollar donated goes to a water project.

They provide three ways to help: fundraise, donate or volunteer. Fill out the volunteer page today. If you live in NYC, you can become involve with the Charity Water meet-up group. Or if you are in need of a big change in 2016, quit your job and join the Charity Water team in NYC. They are hiring.

The Samburu Project-This Santa Monica, California-based organization, builds water wells in the Samburu District of Kenya. Since they began in 2005, this non-profit organization has drilled 73  wells, providing clean, fresh drinking water to 70,000 people.

Their website provides different ways to become involved, including my favorite, “Pledge Your Birthday.” With a few clicks of a button, you can start a Samburu Project fundraising campaign. You can attach the link to your birthday invite. Do you need another gift card to Target, Starbucks for your B-Day? As little as $20 provides water to one person for life.

There is power in the collective!

Eat Less Water at the kitchen table.

Be well,

Florencia Ramirez

 

 

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The True Cost of A K-Cup

 

 

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The top complaint of organic food is cost. I admit that I too get sticker shock on organic food at times. A recent example was during a farm visit at Hawaiian Cloud Forest Coffee Farm on the Big Island of Hawaii. A pound of coffee cost me $28 before shipping.

But is organic coffee more expensive? At my local Von’s grocery store, I did a little comparison shopping in the coffee aisle.

I looked at the cost of the K-Cups, those small single serve coffee pods found in many home kitchens and workrooms across America. Even my father-in-law, once a grind-it-himself coffee guy prefers the ease and speediness of the K-Cup.

I looked at Starbucks and McCafe (the McDonald’s brand). Even the cheapest McDonald’s brand cost $2 an ounce on sale, a quarter more than the bag of organic shade grown coffee. When shipping is added, the organic coffee is .10 more an ounce than McCafe but still lower if you purchase more than a pound (because you save on shipping).

The non-organic Starbucks is $2.85 an ounce, $1.10 more than the organic shade grown coffee per ounce (pre-shipping).

 

You can argue that it is an unfair comparison since a premium price is placed on the convenience of the K-cup (it is estimated the number of mostly non-recyclable single cups can wrap around the Earth’s equator 10.5 times).

If we pay a premium for convenience why wouldn’t we pay a premium for food that conserves and preserves clean water for the planet?

Returning to the initial question, is organic coffee more expensive than the conventionally grown variety? No.

We pay the same or more for convenient coffee without blinking, as 9.8 billion K-cups sold in 2014 alone according to an article posted on the Kill the Cup website.

And according to my husband, my family’s resident coffee connoisseur, the flavor of organic coffee varieties he purchases from small coffee estates are heads and shoulders above the coffee sold under the popular conventional labels.

Michael covets the bag of Hawaiian Cloud Forest Coffee, he compares the flavor to Jamaican Blue Mountain. I don’t think anyone will claim that comparison to the McCafe or Starbucks K-cup.

To purchase Hawaiian Cloud Forest Coffee visit their website. And instead of reaching for the K-cup box reach for a pound of certified organic shade grown coffee. You’ll save money, drink more flavorful coffee and support sustainable agricultural practices.

Eat less water at the kitchen table!

There is power in the collective.

 

Be well,

Florencia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Is The Year I Finish My Book Eat Less Water

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Five years ago I had an idea to write the book Eat Less Water. The idea arrived while I was reading another book, “When The Rivers Run Dry.” The book written by Fred Pearce, introduced me to the concept of water footprint and virtual water and educated me to the fact that globally 7 out of every 10 gallons of fresh water flows to food production. It was at that moment I recognized I was saving water in the wrong room of the house. 

Up until that time I had focused my attention on indoor water conservation with the start of a small water conservation business. The inspiration for this venture came during the drought of 2007.

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I attended trade shows, met with retail buyers and water agencies. Earth Day festivals became our new family vacation. Michael, my husband, pitched the white canopy tent, Isabella covered portable tables with billowing blue cloth and stacked star and duck shaped shower timers in neat displays. Our two youngest children, Joaquin and Estrella, helped by napping in the double-stroller. Isabella soon became a sales associate. She rattled off statistics of gallons saved if you shaved four minutes off your shower time, “You can save 2,500 gallons of water in one year,” she’d tell anyone who slowed down. Ultimately, I sold 80,000 shower timers.

But 2,500 gallons of water saved by shaving down the minutes of your shower time is a drop in the bucket in comparison to virtual water of food. Check out some of these totals:

One pound of beef = 1,851 gallons of water
One quarter pound burger (only the meat) = 462 gallons of water
One year of beef for the average American = 118,464 gallons of water

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One slice of bread = 11 gallons

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One pound of pasta = 230 gallons                                                                          One year of pasta for the average American= 4,370 gallons

One glass of milk (8 ounces) = 45 gallons of water
One pound of cheese = 414 gallons of water
One gallon of milk = 720 gallons of water
One pound of butter = 3,602 gallons of water

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One cup of cooked rice = 50 gallons of water
One pound of uncooked rice = 300 gallons of water

For the past five years, I’ve dedicated myself to understanding how to save water with my food choices, by supporting farming methods that conserve fresh water resources. I’ve met with farmers and food producers around the country.

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I’ve interviewed farmers around the nation to understand how our food choices save water.

My bags are packed to leave for one of three final research trips for the book. Tomorrow, I fly to Hawaii to meet with Erik Gunther owner of Cloud Forest Coffee on the Big Island. In the Spring I travel to Illinois to visit an organic pig farm. In May, I travel to Portland, Maine to visit the only fair trade, organic beer company in the U.S., my final trip.

Exciting things are in the pipeline in 2016, including an article published in The Atlantic and a meeting with a publisher. I will find a publisher for this book in 2016. Cross your fingers for me.

Stay connected with me. Subscribe to a newsletter (NEW). Find me on Facebook, twitter, and on YouTube with a Drought-Friendly Cooking Channel.

Happy New Year to you. May this be the year we all reap what we’ve sown.

There is power in the collective.

Eat less water at the kitchen table!

Be Well,

Florencia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climate Change Talks and You

IMG_1656“All water is off on a journey unless it’s in the sea, and it’s homesick, and bound to make its way home someday.”- Zora Neale Hurst

“Climate change is felt in the ocean first and ripples throughout our global environment,” said Rick Goche, fisherman, and owner of Sacred Sea Tuna, a sustainable tuna label, named a Top 10 Pantry Essential by The New York Times.

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Rick and I held our climate talks in Winchester Bay, Oregon, worlds away from Paris, the host city of COP21. We met on his dry-docked boat as it was readied for the start of the albacore tuna season.  Rick has spent his lifetime on the water in three of the largest fisheries; albacore, salmon, and crab. Fishermen are at the front lines of Climate Change.

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“Some of the apocalyptic projections I read about regarding the impact of climate change on the oceans are terrifying,” he said. Scientists agree with Rick. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a 2 to 3-foot sea level rise by 2100. A 2015 study published in the journal, Science Advances, reports an additional 10-foot sea level increase in the next century unless we move away from buying fossil fuels. Florida, Louisiana, Texas and large parts of the East Coast will be underwater. The British Isles, coastal Asia, and the European Plains will be washed away like the mythical city of Atlantis if this scenario is actualized.

Ironically, marine life totals will shrink as the ocean grows. A study funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), found CO2 absorbed by the world’s oceans to be detrimental to marine life. The ocean absorbs one-quarter of all CO2 emissions. Scientists once believed this discovery good news. But scientists are learning water isn’t immune from greenhouse gas after all. CO2 gasses held underwater has decreased the water pH, causing ocean acidification. Sea-life with a hard structure, as much of our favorite seafood; oysters, clams, scallops, lobsters, shrimp, and crabs are particularly vulnerable. Oysters are the first victim to ocean acidification, with a loss of billions of the slippery mollusk in the Northwest.

Crab season is canceled until further notice due to contamination of the crustacean from a toxic algae bloom fed by warmer than average ocean water off the Pacific Coast.

Our vast oceans are what sets Earth apart from every planet in our solar system and possibly the entire universe. All life hinges upon the water. And ironically, water is what may take life away. Species by species, square mile by square mile, will “return to the ocean,” as Zora Neale Hurst wrote. But the story can be rewritten. It begins with our active engagement in our choices.

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The climate pact signed by 200 nations in Paris is hailed as the most far-reaching in its history. But climate talks needs to continue to make any lasting change. The discussion need to occur in boardrooms, governmental forums and our living rooms, kitchens, classrooms, and dry-docked boats.

I challenge you to draft your personal climate change pact with your family, a group of friends, co-workers, classroom and include a timeline to reach goals.  The United Nations website offers action ideas. I plan to draft one with my family as a New Year’s resolution. As Rick reminds us, “Whatever we do, wherever we are on the planet ultimately impacts the rest of the planet.”

There is power in the collective!

Eat less water at the kitchen table.

Be well,

Florencia

 

 

 

 

HOUSE

Drought-Friendly Cooking: Stir-Fry Vegetables with Baked Tofu Recipe

 

I’m excited to announce the launch of my Drought-Friendly Cooking Channel on YouTube with a Drought-Friendly Stir-Fry Vegetables with Baked Tofu Recipe (recipe below).

In the video, I teach you how to make this simple stir-fry recipe, and discuss strategies to save water with your cooking, impacting water systems world -wide.

Why drought-friendly cooking? Water experts predict 2/3 of the world’s population will experience water scarcity by 2025. I believe you and I can change this frightening trajectory by insisting food is cultivated on farms with methods that conserve and preserve freshwater.

Change begins with our individual food choices.

Help me spread the word. Share, comment, and subscribe to the Drought-Friendly Cooking YouTube channel and the Eat Less Water newsletter.

There is power in the collective!

Eat less water at your kitchen table tonight.

Be Well,

Florencia

Drought-Friendly Stir-Fry Vegetables with Baked Tofu

Serves 5

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Ingredients

Vegetable Stir-Fry

A selection of seasonal and organic vegetable ideas:

Broccoli, bell pepper, carrots, green beans, squash/zucchini, snow peas, bok choy, snap peas, yams, onions, mushrooms

I use the following:

1 medium head broccoli cut into small florets

1 red bell pepper sliced

4-5 carrots cut into strips

1-2 zucchini cut into strips

1 handful of green beans, cut in half and ends cut off

2 tablespoons organic olive oil or organic canola oil  for cooking

salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

optional toasted sesame seeds and red pepper flakes

Rice

Purchase organic rice from non-flooded paddies. I recommend Lotus Foods Rice found at many grocery stores and Cajun Grain (purchase online).

Find your favorite recipe for rice. I put the rice to cook as soon as I place the tofu in the oven and before I start on the vegetables.

Baked Tofu 

2 packages organic or non-GMO tofu (firm)

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1/2 cup organic toasted sesame oil

4 tablespoons honey from a local beekeeper

juice from 1 organic lime

salt

optional: 1 tablespoon crushed fennel seed

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Mix the ingredients for the baked tofu together in a small bowl

Drain the water from the tofu packages and cut it into small cubes and place in casserole dish

Pour the sauce over the tofu cubes, gently turning the tofu to coat the tofu on all sides

Bake the tofu at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, an additional 10-15 minutes longer if you like it slightly crispy

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Vegetable Stir-Fry

Heat oil in a large pan

Add root vegetables first (carrot and yams)

After 2-3 minutes add the rest of the vegetables

Toss vegetables together and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, (red pepper flakes and toasted sesame seeds (optional))

Do not over cook. Stay nearby. The vegetables should preserve a sharp color and remain al dente, slightly firm.

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Serve vegetables over cooked rice, and spoon tofu over the vegetable.

 

 

 

 

 

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Save Water and Make More Trash? It Is What City Leaders of Fort Bragg,CA Suggest

When did saving water come to mean, make more trash? It seems two weeks ago. That is when the Northern California city of Fort Bragg issued a water rule mandating city eateries to serve food on paper and plastic.

The banning of silverware, glass and ceramic is in response to the historic low flows of the Noyo River, providing 40% of the cities water, reported in today’s LA Times. The lowered supply of water is coupled with the comprised quality of the river from salt water delivered during high tide from the Pacific Ocean. Supply and quality are the two leading causes of water scarcity according to the United Nations. But ushering in the red solo cup is not the answer.

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 With sinks and dishwashers empty the trash cans will overflow– with virtual water instead.

The virtual water footprint is the embedded water used during the lifecycle of a good or product. Based on water footprint totals, a ceramic cup takes .8 gallons of water to produce, and the plastic cup slightly less at .6 gallons. But is it a savings? The ceramic cup is re-used hundreds, if not thousands of times where the plastic cup is used once. Let’s instead examine the amount of water required to wash the ceramic cup. I estimate it takes to wash each plate, cup, bowl, about 0.23 gallons, based on the average 11 gallons used in a dishwashing cycle.

For every 100 customers served a beverage in a disposable cup, it takes 60 gallons of virtual water and leaves 4 pounds of plastic. It requires 23 gallons to serve the same amount of customers in ceramic, and no plastic waste left behind.

Here’s the math:

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In America, we throw away enough plastic, spoons, cups to wrap around the equator 300 times every year. According to a recent study, 90% of all seabirds have ingested plastic. The last thing we need is to add to the growing pile of trash to save water.

I like the creativity of the Fort Bragg city council BUT why not harness that same “out of the box” thinking to find long-term solutions that doesn’t involve making trash. I have a few ideas.

Instead of focusing on dishwashers, focus on increasing the river flow of te Noyo River. Rivers are fed by rain, snow and underground water tables. We can’t control rainfall. We can implement strategies to increase the soil’s capacity to draw water downward, recharging water tables. An effective strategy to reduce runoff and evaporation is the replacement of roads, parking lots, alleyways with porous pavements. Another strategy is to ban chemical pesticides and fertilizers on public land. And educate business owners and home owners to do the same. Chemicals diminish the soil’s ability to hold water

Partner with eateries to scrape food off plates (saving water) and start a city-wide composting program. Schools can be involved too (anyone in the schools can attest to the gross waste of food). Offer free or reduced cost compost to residents, businesses, schools, and public-owned land. Compost builds the soil’s organic matter, able to hold water up to 10,000 times more water than chemical fertilizers or dirt. So when the rain does return, the soil will be ready to receive and hold it.

The restaurants of Fort Bragg can be part of a regional and global solution, by purchasing more foods raised using water-sustainable methods. Water-sustainablefoods, I define as food that minimally diverts the natural water flow during it cultivations  include dry farmed and rain-fed crops and pasture raised meats to name a few. Organic foods help to keep the soil healthy and water absorbent.

“We all live upstream,” an organic dairy farmer told me. Water issues may be felt local, but hey are connected to a system that extends around the globe.

These are water-saving strategies we can toast to with a re-usable glass.

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Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective!

Be well,

Florencia

(Source for water footprints were based on the Big Blue Book and the following paper.)

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How To Decorate With Less Water

I’m taking a quick departure from food to discuss another water guzzler, our furnishings and home decorations. According to “The Green Blue Book,” the non-edible stuff in the average home has a water footprint of 200,000 gallons of water (this is a low estimate for many of us). This total reflects the virtual water embedded in the 10,000 or so things packed away and displayed in our homes.

Here are some water footprint stats to chew on:

Leather Couch= 35,600 gallons of water

5×9 Rug= 9,531 gallons of water

Leather Chair= 11,000 gallons of water

Queen-Size Mattress= 2,878 gallons of water per mattress

Television=3900-65,000 gallons depending on size, make and model

Sheets (400 Thread-Count Queen Set)= 6,663

5×3 Wood Table= 57 gallons of water

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When I need furnishings and other home stuff, I look to a marketplace of “used” items. All the furnishing in my living room (excluding the artwork) were found on my local craigslist website (couch, lamps, ottoman, chairs, side tables and throw rug). Not only did I save water by purchasing “old” versus “new,” but I saved a whole lot of money. All the furniture cost me just shy of a $1000.

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When it was time to move my youngest daughter, Estrella, into her room, I again looked to Craigslist for the furnishing. With Pinterest as my inspiration for the look and feel I wanted in her room, I pieced together her room for less than $500. Instead of purchasing a new bed at IKEA, I found the same one on Craigslist 15 miles away and for a third of the price. The retro kitchen and play-house table, IKEA desk, baby crib, Pottery Barn dresser were also craigslist finds.

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Purchasing furniture made with organic textiles and reclaimed wood/Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood is another great option. For me, I’m willing to put in the time involved to find used furniture. And when it’s time to redecorate, I place the items back on Craigslist to re-sell.

Purchasing used furnishings is the reduce, re-use, recycle H2O model to decorating.

Eat (and sit on) less water at the kitchen table!

There is power in the collective.

Be well,

Florencia