Friday, January 17, 2014

West family buys nothing new in the new year

Here is our story. For some reason this was deleted from the blog (I could have very easily done this on accident) This is old but I thought it was worth reposting :-)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Up-Cycled House Project

It has been awhile since I last posted. Life's craziness grabbed a hold of my life and took over. In April of 2013 we bought a second home. We decided we would weekly vacation rental it out for the summer. This lovely spot of ours took our every morning into the late evenings. Cleaning, painting every inch of the house, roofing, pulling out a chimney, yard work and the list goes on. My goal was to furnish 2,400 square feet of home with buying as little as possible. This involved a lot of thrift shopping, dumpster diving and donations from friends. Just when we would think we were going to have to buy something new we would miraculously come across what we needed. An example being beds. We could not figure out how we were going to fill this house with beds that were nice enough and clean enough to use in our rental when some good friends that were down sizing their home gifted us all of the beds for the home. A similar situation happened as I was panicking about how I was going to fill the kitchen with all of the supplies needed for our guests when a good friend called and said they would be selling a family cottage and I was welcome to have all of the kitchen supplies. Call it luck, but when these things happen I feel so provided for. This awesome community I live in really supports the efforts to be eco friendly. In the end we bought new white towels and linens for the cleanliness of our guests. We also bought all of the paint and roofing supplies. Here are a few photos what our up-cycled home looks like. I look forward to posting more regularly in 2014!
This oven was given to me by my uncle. It replaced a huge double oven.
This funky orange chair is one of my favorite garage sale finds.
The chandelier we found and spray painted. My Mom made this fun mirror from old tile samples. 

We painted all of these floors for a fun, easy to clean option. The rugs were made of my friends child
hood clothing, 60 years old and just needed a few repairs.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A must read! Zero Waste Home - Arrives on Amazon tomorrow!

For those of you who have not been introduced to the Zero Waste Home blog, you are in for a treat.  Bea Johnson is an amazing person who has created a lifestyle with no trash.  She has been a huge inspiration to me over the last year and I strive to follow in her zero environmental impact footsteps.  Her book comes out tomorrow - you can download it on kindle as a pre-order on Amazon.  The link below should direct you to her new book:

If you want a look inside a Zero Waste Home, check out Bea's blog at

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Unwanted mail, unwanted waste

In an effort to expand on being paperless, it can be taken one step further in your own home.  If you are anything like me, you have been added to every mailing list possible.  I use to go to my mail every day and it was packed full of advertisements, credit card offers, useless magazines, flyers or anything else someone could possibly send through the mail.  Of course all of it would immediately go into the recycling bin and take time away from my family to sort.
In my mission to prevent waste, I found a website that really helped me through the process.  It is a company called Catalog Choice and their website is  This website offers an easy solution to ensure you are removed from mail service; you can search for the mail source and send them a notice through this service. 
I would take my unwanted mail in my bag to work and when I was stuck on hold, I would hop on the website and enter my junk mail.  Viola, after a couple months it was gone!  It was so nice to just get the essentials and no extra waste.  Of course we try to pay all bills through electronic banking, but sometimes you get stuck with mail regardless of your efforts.  As a warning, you have to stay on it, otherwise other offenders find you.  It’s a never-ending battle, but it feels so good to have an empty mailbox and not create any garbage.
Although this usually solved most of my mailing issues, there was one remaining.  Some of the vendors were not on this website or they were not listening to my requests.  In that case, I would send an email to their customer service or call their customer service line.  The Red Plum advertisements were the most difficult.  It felt great to take a stand against Companies who add your name without your consent and create waste that is harmful to the environment.  Perhaps you feel the same way? 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Thrift Shop Style

I found these wool sailor pants for $1 while Thrift shopping this fall. I have gotten a ton of use an compliments on these babies. Very warm and fun. The only downfall is the bizellion button but they add to the look :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Paperless – It starts with you!

Businesses are one of the biggest natural resource abusers, especially when it comes to paper.  For years I told myself I couldn’t manage without paper, assuming my Company should be taking the lead-until I had enough!  My job includes a large amount of legal paperwork – especially while managing lawsuits or insurance claims.  I use to drag large binders, in a box, on wheels to proceedings and then bring binders with paper back to my office, which was overcrowded.  I became pregnant with my second child; I was managing several lawsuits and over a hundred insurance claims.  I just needed to simplify my life and cut down on the waste.  I couldn’t physically drag heavy binders and paper around, let alone spend time filing paper.  I decided to utilize what I already had available to make my life easier.  I soon discovered by best assets at work – a scanner and a large Company shared drive (on a server). 
I started small; each file on my drive had a name, date and location.  I organized each folder as if it was my binder or office drawer with files.  I contacted all of my vendors/business partners and notified them I could no longer receive mail – only electronic documents via email (this cut down on my scanning activities and mail).  I took any spare moments available to scan and organize documents.  All old documents were placed back in my printer, to print on the other side and then once both sides of the paper were used, they were shredded and recycled.  When I receive an email, I drag and drop the attachment or email into the folder, then hit delete!  I must admit, it took about 2 years to become completely paperless.  It also allowed me to share documents with remote co-workers.  I could also reduce my annual budget for office supplies, because paper, printer ink, folders, binders, etc. are no longer needed.  I donated all of my office supplies to other co-workers and I have an office of empty drawers and clear desk top space.  Ahhhh, it is so nice and simple.  Also, if I am remote, I have all of my documents at my fingertips through logging into my drive.
I have reduced my impact on the environment through reducing business waste.  Don’t want until your Company claims they are “paperless”, it starts with you.  Even the small steps make a difference.  Reduce paper, reduce stress!
-Heidi Bastien
Cousin to Melissa West & Guest Blogger

Green ER Days

I recently joined a crew of awesome people that have one common goal... making the little town of Elk Rapids a green community check them out at  I am hoping that this will inspire you to get involved in making your community green. Here is a awesome mini documentary   by