Two Ways To Shop Bambootique With No Shipping Costs

We’re now officially in the holiday shopping season and you may be starting to cross some names off your Christmas shopping list.  You can still make Bambootique part of your holiday gifts without paying a cent in shipping costs, at least through December 14th. Use coupon code lipship at checkout and you won’t pay any shipping costs for orders over $25. You’ll also get a free holiday lipbalm to boot! This offer runs out December 14th.

If you’re in the Portland, Oregon area I also welcome shoppers to make appointments to swing by my home, either to browse or to pick up an emailed order. Sometimes it’s nice to see a product in person before choosing so you’re welcome to email a wishlist, come by and look it all over, and take home what you like. Please call (503-781-3244)  or email ( at least 24 hours in advance to arrange an appointment.  I’m available most afternoons and many evenings, as well as some Saturday mornings. A hot mug of tea will welcome you as well as Christmas music and no shopping crowds! Little ones are welcome to accompany you too and play with Grace while you shop.

Here’s to a peaceful Christmas season focused on family, friends and Christ, the true reason for this season.

Audited, Energetically

IMG_2189Last week we were audited and it was great! In fact, we initiated the audit. No, I’m not talking about inviting the IRS into my home. I’m talking about an Home Energy Review from Energy Trust of Oregon.  Signing up for a home review has been on my mental to-do list for months. I finally got around to it after seeing our very high August electric bill thanks to our heatwaves.

At no cost to us Energy Trust sent James to spend an hour at our home measuring temperatures, crawling in the attic, examining window seals and generally figuring out where we can improve our home’s energy efficiency. They scheduled it at a time convenient for us and, unlike the cable guy, gave us a tight one-hour window of James’ arrival to which he was perfectly prompt.

Here’s what we learned through the process:

1) Our 4-year old home is quite energy efficient.  We have great insulation, efficient appliances and insulating window shades that help keep our home cool in summer and warm in winter.

2) Our water heater temp was a tad high so James turned it down just a few degrees, from around 128 to closer to 124. So far we haven’t noticed a difference in the shower temp in the morning and he said even a few degrees difference can save a few dollars.

3) Our flat screen TV uses 25W even when turned off. This is equivalent to running 2 compact florescent lightbulbs all the time. That amounts to only about $2/ month but, during times when we’re gone for a week or two, it makes sense to unplug the TV.

4) Our laptop computers are the same, using about 25W of electricity when in sleep mode (the mode we generally leave them in when we’re not using them). Instead James recommended we shut them down at night or even if we’ll be away from them for an hour or two. That should amount to savings of a few dollars a month as well.

5) James switched out 10 regular lightbulbs to CFLs for us. For free. As I recall from the last time I bought CFLs, they cost around $5 each so that’s a good $50+ of free lightbulbs.

6) James also noticed we did not have low-flow water aerators in our sinks or showers. He offered us free water aerators but, since his didn’t match ours, we opted instead to head to Home Depot and pick up aerators for a few bucks ourselves that match our hardware. Again we should see savings of a few dollars on water and electric bills for reducing our hot water usage, without noticing a difference in performance.

7) Much to my chagrin I learned that unplugging the toaster and Kitchenaid mixer does not result in any energy savings. Zip. Zero. Nada.  How many seconds of my life have I wasted unplugging both appliances when not in use? Even worse, how much goodwill in my marriage have I eaten up nagging my husband to do the same?  He was delighted when James tested both our toaster and mixer to inform us that, when plugged in but not in use, they use 0W of energy.  Who knew.

James also found a few spots where the ducts could be sealed better and gave us names of contractors to follow up with. He introduced us to the tax credits available for solar power, something that might be worth investigating for anyone who knows they’ll be in their home for 10 or 15 years. There are a boatload of state and federal tax credits available that make expensive solar systems much more affordable.

While we didn’t find any major ways to knock down our energy bills, it was reassuring to learn we’ve already done most everything we can to be energy efficient. And those little things James pointed out to us will help us save a few dollars here, a few more dollars there, all which adds up both in our pockets and in caring for the planet.

Have you had an energy audit of your home? What changes did you make as a result? Did you end up saving money?

If you haven’t had a Home Energy Review, give it a try. If you’re in Oregon contact Energy Trust. Elsewhere check with your local utility companies to see if something similar is available in your area (or move to Oregon).

Crazy Coupon Shopping

Today I saved $254.65 on my family’s weekly groceries!  However did you manage that? I hear you ask.  It took a lot of prep, two hours of shopping at two different grocery stores, lots of bribing Grace, plus a trip through the Burgerville drive-thru on the way home. My deeply discounted purchases included organic beef, wild caught salmon, organic fruit and vegetables and organic milk, and I saved big on every single one.

Before I tell you how I did it, let me tell you who inspired me. I read this article in our local paper a few months ago about Louise Jaffe, a local coupon guru who regularly saves 75% off her grocery bill just by shopping smart. She blogs about it so I turned to her site for advice last week to see if I could do the same while still shopping sustainably.

I’ve always been a coupon clipper from the paper but now I’ve gone hardcore, at least this week.  First I perused my Sunday Oregonian for grocery store ads and manufacturer’s coupons.  I compared what was on sale at different stores to my grocery list and made a list for each store.  I chose to focus on just two stores as I knew my schedule (and sanity) couldn’t accomodate more. I chose Safeway and Thriftway since they’re both reasonably close and had the best prices on the things I needed.

My list for each store was made almost entirely of items on sale at that store that I needed. I also found I had a number of matching manufacturer’s coupons plus both stores offer double coupons. On top of that, both stores offered $10 off your order of $50 or more this week through coupons in the paper.  I stocked up on items that were really, really cheap and would store or freeze easily.

Here are some examples of my favorite deals today:


  • Buy one, get one free on organic blueberries and organic grape tomatoes (neither available yet in the farmers’ market but both coming soon to our yard!)
  • Wild Atlantic salmon for $9.99/ pound. I bought 5 pounds, had the butcher wrap each pound separately for easy thawing and froze them all.
  • The clearance section was full of organic beef tenderloin at 50% off. I bought four packs (about 10 pounds worth $76) for $38. It’s all in the freezer.


  • Organic Valley milk is on sale for $3.69. I printed off $1 off coupons from Organic Valley’s website (you can print the coupon up to two times) plus used double coupons to get a total $1.50 off each half gallon, or $2.19/ half gallon.
  • Kettle chips are on sale 3 for $5  or $1.69 each. I was kicking myself for not having anymore $1 off coupons from the Chinook book. If I had I could have doubled them for 50 cents more off (the max Thriftway will double a coupon) and paid $0.19/ bag. Alas I did not have any more but $1.69 is still a great price.
  • While not organic, I did save really big on my husband’s favorite Raisin Bran Crunch cereal. The Thriftway insert in Sunday’s paper had a coupon for buy 3/get 3 free. Then I had 3 manufacturer’s coupons totaling $3.50 off. My double coupon gave me another $1.50 off. All 6 boxes cost a total of $7 or $1.25/ box. He’ll be happy with that for quite a while while I enjoy my Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls.

My total bill between the two stores was still higher than a normal weekly shopping bill.  After all the savings I still spent $228.44. However we’re now stocked up on really nice meat and fish for at least 2-3 weeks. We’re also headed to the beach with friends this weekend so my bill included several meals for 12.

I don’t think I could shop this way every week but I don’t think I’ll have to to still save big. If I do crazy coupon shopping (my new moniker for it) every 2-3 weeks I can stock up on canned goods, cereal and meats I can freeze when they’re on sale. We’re growing a lot of berries and veggies and buying the rest of our produce at the farmers’ market so I figure I can shop there weekly for fresh items.  Now that I know how much money I can save if I just put some thought into it, I’m pretty sure I’m hooked.

I’d love to hear what deals you’ve found and how you manage to save money for your family while shopping for sustainable foods. What do you do? Have you tried this kind of crazy coupon shopping and does it work for you?

Taking It Outside

IMG_6205Why does linedrying our clothes seem so quaint, so old-fashioned, somehow backward?  Some communities even ban line-drying saying it’s an eyesore or some other benign hazard.  My unofficial survey of friends across the globe tells me that 98% of the world line-drys their clothes, at least in good weather.  Basically the whole world except North America. When I lived in Japan, everyone dried their clothes outside no matter the weather. When I lived in Australia ditto. And two summers spent in Europe tell me they do the same there as well.  And during my family’s trip to Turkey last month we found ourselves, you guesed it, hanging up our clothes to dry.

And why wouldn’t we? Dryers use up vast amounts of energy, even the Energy Star ones. According to a 2001 Department of Energy Report, dryers account for 6% of US household electricity. Why would I put my clothes in a machine to dry when today it’s 75 and sunny on my back deck? After returning from Turkey I was inspired to unwrap the drying rack I had bought last summer at Ikea that has been since hiding out in the garage. I put it out on the back porch and hung a full load of clothes to dry in the yummy spring sunshine. Within a matter of hours they were dry and smelled so fresh. They were even soft thanks to some ancient liquid fabric softener I’d found shoved in the back of my laundry room cupboard.ikea_dryingrack

My husband thinks line-dried clothes feel too crispy, even with fabric softener, so we don’t line-dry his clothes.  The rack from Ikea only holds one load and we usually do 3-4 loads at a time in our house. I can’t have mountains of wet laundry sitting around so, so far, I’m drying about 1/4 of our laundry outside and the rest in the dryer. I guess it’s all about baby steps but maybe the next baby step I need to take is to invest in another $6.99 drying rack from Ikea.

Do you linedry your clothes? Year round or just in the summer? Have you noticed a cost savings?

Bambootique Celebrates World Fair Trade Day

wftd09_imgThis Saturday May 9th is World Fair Trade Day, an international celebration of fair trade with events taking place in over 80 countries. Did you know that retail sales of fair trade products in the US surpassed $1 billion last year? The movement is growing every year and YOU can be part of it.

If you’re new to fair trade, start with the things you consume the most – coffee, chocolate, sugar, gifts. If you’ve been buying fair trade for a while, why not switch to one of the newer products now available fair trade, such as rice, vanilla,  or wine?

My gift to blog readers and Bambootique customers is 20% off your entire order of $25 or more from Bambootique‘s selection of fair trade items. Between today and midnight PST on Saturday May 9th, just enter coupon code WFTD2009 at checkout and your discount of 20% will be automatically applied to your entire order!

What are you doing to celebrate fair trade this World Fair Trade Day?

Celebrate Earth Day, Shop Fair Trade This Saturday: Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show!

silk-bags-fair-tradeEarth Day is Wednesday April 22nd, but lots of folks will be celebrating our planet this weekend at all kinds of events across the globe.

If you’re here in Portland, head on over to Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance, all day Saturday (10am-4pm). You’ll find a huge array of fair trade products, all as good for the planet as they are for people. You’ll find bags made from bamboo, jewelry made from recycled soda cans, handmade paper journals, candles made from vegetable waxes and dyes, plus hundreds of other purses, jewelry items, soft toys, and more, all made by hand which means a very low carbon footprint.

What: Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance (10-75% off throughout)

When: Saturday April 18th, 10am-4pm (open house – drop in anytime)

Where: My home in Tualatin, OR. Email me for address/ directions or call 503-781-3244.

Who: You and all your friends, family, anyone you’d like to bring to shop fair trade!

Oh, and did I mention free chocolate chip cookies, homemade by my mom with fair trade chocolate chips?

Spring Trunk Show And Inventory Clearance – Saturday April 18th


Twice a year I open up my home for a Bambootique Trunk Show, where all Bambootique products are available for purchase in person and, for the first time, it’s ALL on sale.

If you haven’t come before, why not make this year the first? I have full_circle_messgr_bg_pnkoverstock from Christmas I need to move plus with the way the economy is, we’re all looking for a deal. Everything will be 10-75% off web prices. On top of that, I’ll have dozens of new products and trunk show exclusive products not available online. Like what you say? Gypsy bags from Honduras, woven baskets from Rwanda, and finger puppets from Peru to name a few.

It will also be your chance to grab one of our brand-new messenger bags from South Africa. These babies are literally flying out the door and I’m afraid there may be a waiting list soon. A new shipment is (fingers crossed) arriving from South Africa just days before the trunk show. If a messenger bag is on your trunk show shopping list, I advise you to arrive early.

The trunk show is not just a chance to shop, although a lot of shopping will go on. It’s a great social event and a chance to introduce your friends and family to the world of fair trade, even beyond Bambootique. Everyone will get a free sample bag of Strictly Organic Coffee (roasted in Bend, Oregon) and I’ll have samples of Theo chocolate,  not to mention my mom’s popular fair trade chocolate chip cookies, fresh-brewed fair trade coffee and organic Numi teas. Wear comfy shoes, grab your best girlfriends, and drop on by!img_5000

Mark your calendar!

What: Bambootique Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance (10-75% off)

When: Saturday April 18th, 10am-4pm

Where: Bambootique Founder Beth Sethi’s home in Tualatin, Oregon. Email me for the address (I prefer not to post it online, but everyone is welcome!)

Why: Because shopping is so much more fun in person than online, especially when it’s all on sale!  If you don’t come April 18th you’ll have to wait for (gasp) the Christmas trunk show.

Rainforest Alliance Flowers At Costco

Buying sustainable flowers at an affordable price may be easier than you (or I) think. My brother Caleb gave me a call the other day from his local Costco in Chicago just to let me know he found Rainforest Alliance certified roses there ra_seal2and he thought I’d like to know. I’m a Costco member but not a big shopper there, not on matters of principle but because I get so overwhelmed by the size of the place! If you’re in the market for sustainable flowers, love Costco and don’t want to break the bank, then go for these eco-friendly, people-friendly beauties.

Rainforest Alliance certification ensures the flower farms (usually in South America) protect native forests, waterways and soil and that they provide healthcare, education, fair wages and safe working conditions for workers. The flower industry, especially in South America, has been found repeatedly to exploit workers so this kind of certification is fantastic. So go ahead, indulge in something pretty next time you’re at Costco. You can feel good about it. (And pick some up for me while you’re at it, would ya?) Is My New Favorite Thing

Do you ever get stuck listening to the same old music but don’t have time to search for hours for new music you like? I do! Until I discovered the free music site I relied on my husband to introduce me to new music. Usually I’m a late-adopter when it comes to anything related to technology, but I jumped right in on this one. I’ve discovered all kinds of new music and I can’t stop listening!

Here’s how Pandora works. First you type in an artist you really love. Then the site creates a playlist of other songs and artists with similar characteristics you might like. I haven’t been disappointed yet.eastmountainsouth

The first band I typed in was “eastmountainsouth” and I discovered that I also love Patty Griffin, Matt Nathan, The Fray and every other artist Pandora has recommended for me. Really it’s fantastic.

You can’t download your Pandora playlist but you can listen to it indefinitely from your computer for free. I guess this is eco-friendly music at its best. No CDs or stereos needed, no ipods or anything else for that matter – just your computer and an internet connection. Give it a try and see if you don’t love it as much as I do.

Splurge For Your Sweetie – Affordably!

This Valentine’s Day I’ve put together several gift sets of Bambootique’s fair trade goodies, each priced right at just $19.95. Besides these gift sets I’ve pulled together a great list of suggestions of fair trade, eco-friendly Valentine’s Gifts she’ll love. Plus see below for a fabulous discount on all jewelry from our co-op in Honduras, ACTA de Honduras.


Indulge Me Valentine’s Gift Set



Pamper Me Valentine’s Gift Set



Yup, that’s right, through Feb. 14th all jewelry from ACTA de Honduras is 20% off! The cute Flor Maya earrings below are pewter made from recycled soda cans. Eco-fabulous! There’s a matching choker as well, plus a whole lot of other great pewter and ceramic bracelets, necklaces, and earrings from this gifted co-op of women.


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