Second Hand Shopping & Dumpster (Curb) Diving in NYC

Second hand shopping has been a passion of mine for a while now for two reasons. First, there’s the positive environmental impact of reusing an item that would have ended up in the landfill and negating the negative impact of production costs for a new item – especially if it’s clothing or furniture.

Secondly, there is the thrill of getting a great deal on an item that someone didn’t see the value in. If done right, there are no cons in thrifting, second hand shopping, dumpster diving, re-using and re-purposing, whatever you want to call it!

Before you get too excited and head off to a local vintage store in Manhattan, prepare yourself. Not all second-hand stores are made equal. The first time I decided to go shopping in the city, I was browsing racks of second hand jackets that ranged from $50 to $300… that is when I realized that second hand doesn’t mean cheap. This is not a bad thing.

Shopping for used items isn’t just for people on a budget. Entering a second-hand store is like gambling. You do not know what you will find, if you will get ripped off or if you will go home with a steal! That’s what’s so thrilling about it.

Although, as I’ve mentioned, thrifting isn’t jut for those on a budget, I happen to be on one. In about two months I will no longer be blogging about New York because Isaac and I are moving to our very own house in Rhode Island.

It’s funny to mention buying a house in an article about second hand shopping. Unless you are buying a brand new house or build one just for you, you are technically buying a used or second-hand home. Just like with any other gently-used item, you can outfit the home to suit your needs and match your style!

Anyway, going from a shoebox New York apartment to a four bedroom house (which will ironically save us money FYI) comes with its perks as well as challenges. We will need a ridiculous amount of furniture to turn the empty shell of a house into a home.

If we had the budget for it, we’d be visiting antique stores and buying beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces for hundreds of dollars. This is something we will work up to as we shop Savers, my favorite second hand store, and while we scavenge the streets for the biggest risk of all – free furniture.

My next article will be exclusively about Savers, the closest one to New York City is on Long Island near Hempstead. Let me end this post with the pros and cons of finding free furniture on the street.

Brooklyn, and specifically Bushwick, where we will live for two more months, is littered with free furniture all year round. As exciting as finding free furniture is, it happens to be a hit and miss as well as quite risky when it comes to your health.

Pros: it’s free! You can find perfectly clean, high quality and even antique furniture that someone was too lazy to sell or take to a second hand store. Some of these items are the very same you’d be spending hundreds of dollars on at a fancy vintage store. These items, however, are rare and you have to be incredibly lucky to find them.

Cons: bed bugs. There are other cons like, it may be dirty, bad quality, peed on by a passing dog (or human). But nothing is worse that the risk of bed bugs. There are articles on signs of bedbugs that you can study and examine. Bed bugs can live in wooden furniture as well as sofas/mattresses.

Pro tip: find out what day trash pick up is. Since leaving furniture out on the curb is technically illegal, people are more likely to sneak their furniture out on these days because they are less likely to get caught.

I have heard my fair share of horror stories related to bed bugs and some kind people who throw out furniture will stick on a note on if there is a potential bed bug risk. But not everyone is that nice and they may not know. Make sure to watch a YouTube video on what to look for. Make sure to check every crack, corner and crevice before you bring anything home.

If you want to avoid these dangers, stick to Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and garage sales. Although it’s still possible that you will buy something with bed bugs in it, people are less likely to sell something that they know will get them bad feedback/angry reviews.

Garage sales are especially great for buyers because the sellers just want to get rid of stuff and will likely sell things at ridiculous prices – like our new incredibly comfy, barely used, leather computer chair for $20. Something that a second hand furniture store would re-sell at at least $60+.

Stay tuned for my article about Savers including info about the type of items they sell, prices and their twice a year 50% off all item sales. If you have any comments, complaints, tips about second hand shopping or dumpster (curb) diving, leave a comment bellow!

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10 Reasons NOT to get a Tesla

…and why they’re all FALSE! You may have some doubts about buying a Tesla, or maybe you’re considering grabbing yourself a Model 3 but your brother-in-law told you it’s a bad idea. This list will dispel some of the false rumors and misconceptions about this beautiful car! Don’t forget to scroll to the end and use my referral code to get 1,000 free miles of charging!

1. It’s only for the super-rich

Not anymore! Yes, the first Tesla Model S had a base price of $60,000 and didn’t have any financing options. However, a couple years ago, Elon Musk promised to produce a $35,000 Tesla in the near future. It took quite a bit longer than people expected, and many didn’t even believe him, but finally, that vision has been realized, with the base price of the Tesla Model 3 now standing at exactly $35,000. Of course, this is without all the bells and whistles, and without the coveted autopilot feature, but the reality is that you can now get a fully electric vehicle that will take you 220 miles per charge for a relatively affordable price. If you put $5,000 down, you’re looking at as little as $485 a month, according to Tesla’s estimation tool. Want to add the autopilot later? You can do that with the click of a button and $4,000 any time you want ($1,000 more than buying it initially).

2. There’s a long waiting list to get one

Also false! This was true several years ago, when the waiting times could be over a year, but now you can get your hands on the Model 3 in a matter of weeks. If you’re going with the base price, the “Standard Range,” you’re going to be waiting 6-8 weeks if you live in New York. If you spring for the “Standard Plus” for a couple thousand bucks extra, you’ll be behind the wheel in as little as a week!

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3. It’ll be outdated in a few years

With high tech gadgets becoming such a large component in cars these days, especially Teslas, it’s easy to worry that the car will be outdated in a couple of years, much like a computer or a smartphone. Tesla goes out of their way to produce hardware that is capable of being upgrade though software patches and updates. Take this huge performance upgrade for example. You don’t need to be jealous of the newer model your cousin got last week, because chances are your older model will still get the same upgrades. Maybe some minor tweaks will be made to future models, but I don’t expect any that will outdate a Model 3 in less than ten years.

4. It’s unsafe

First of all, this is ridiculous. Tesla has been granted a five-star safety rating by the NHTSA, making it one of the safest cars in the world. You might also be thinking “Wait – we have all these laws that you can’t look at a phone while you’re driving. Now they’re putting a 15-inch touchscreen on the dash? One you’re supposed to operate while driving?” Well, all the information you would normally have on the dash are displayed on the screen, and changing the climate and audio controls has been on touch screens in cars for years. Once you are used to it, it won’t be difficult to adjust the radio or climate using the screen. You need to look at the knobs in a normal car anyway, so this isn’t any more distracting. For more in-depth things like plotting a route or making a playlist, we recommend pulling over or doing it ahead of your trip, us tike you would on a smartphone.

5. There’s no way the auto pilot can be accurate…

Letting the car drive itself on the highway can be scary. But after spending some time behind the wheel, it’s definitely accurate enough to trust. You should absolutely never take your eyes off the road in case something does go wrong though, and in case you need to, disengaging the autosteer and cruise control is as easy as tapping the brakes. The car even reminds you to put your hands on the wheel every few minutes, to make sure you’re paying attention.

6. Road trips are impossible

If you’re opting to at least spring for the Standard Plus on the Model 3, you’re looking at 240 miles of range per charge. That’s just enough to get from Boston to New York City. But what if you want to take it further? What about a road trip to the Keys for Spring Break? Hello, Supercharger Stations. Tesla will automatically plan your route to stop at Supercharger Stations along the way. In August 2018, there were 10,836 Superchargers in operation at 1,339 stations around the world. Tesla has announced that is plants to double this by the end of 2019. If you were to charge from 0% to 100% it would take around 75 minutes, but that isn’t the most time-efficient method since the car will slow down its charging after around 75%. The recommended way to do it is to charge up to 80% whenever you get down to 20%. This can be done in about 30 minutes, giving you just enough time to grab some food and use the bathroom every 150 miles or so. Admittedly this takes longer than filling up on gas, but it’s worth the money saved.

7. They’re tiny and have very little storage

When you first look inside the Model 3, it does seem that there isn’t much storage space. Open the trunk, and the space seems pretty small. But upon closer inspection, you’ll see that the bottom of the trunk opens up to more storage space. Added to that, in the place where an engine would be on a traditional car, there’s an additional storage compartment. You’re still looking at a bit less storage than a typical sedan, but it’s not too shabby.

Tesla

8. Electricity costs the same as gas anyway

Nope. Let’s say that on a 2019 Honda Accord, you get around 26 MPG on average. That’s about 4 gallons to 100 miles, costing about $11 as of this writing. The Tesla Model 3 takes 27 kWh to go 100 miles, which currently costs $7.56 at Supercharger Stations. Rounding down, that’s a savings of around $3.50 every time you go 100 miles, or about 3.5 cents per mile. It may not sound like a lot, but after a year of driving 15,000 miles, you’ve already saved $525. And that’s just at Supercharger Stations. Charging at home can be much cheaper, depending on the price of your electricity at home.

9. It takes forever to charge the battery

This is both true and false. As previously mentioned, it would take around 75 minutes to charge from 0% to 100% at a Supercharger Station. You wouldn’t ever really do that, but that’s the maximum you’d ever wait. The car’s navigation system will automatically find the best route for you to charge along the way, including recommending how long to charge for. At home though, it can take as long as four days to charge on a standard 120 v outlet. With a “Level 2” charger, the kind many washers and dryers use, you can get 9-52 miles of range per hour of charging, which should be enough to get you to and from work the next day. Consider what kinds of plugs you have at home, and how close you live to Supercharger Station before you buy.

10. They’re just as bad for the environment as a traditional gas car

No way! There seems to be a lot of people out there who claim that the generation of electricity for electric vehicles has just big of a carbon footprint as any other car. Well, a little research is all it takes to show that gas cars produce, on average, twice as much carbon as electric vehicles, including the cost of producing the car.

There you have it! 10 Reasons Not to get a Tesla, and why they’re all just plain wrong!

Interested in getting a Tesla, and want 1,000 free miles of charging at Supercharger Stations? Use this code!

Have any of your own tips? Any other concerns about buying a Model 3? Leave them in the comments below!

Go Green in NYC with Green Mountain Energy

According to Green Mountain Energy, their customers have avoided using over 69 billion pounds of CO2 which is the equivalent of planting over 8 million trees. You can see the climbing numbers on their website. By the time you check it out for yourself, it’ll be over 70 billion and we can only hope that it keeps climbing!

Green Mountain Energy had a booth by the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and they got our attention for waving a $5 discount coupon for the store we were about to shop at. We decided to listen to what they had to say, and ten minutes later we were signing up to change from coal to renewable energy.

Edit: we have since canceled our subscription because we had been paying more than we should. We did get money back for all of our overpayments but we were unhappy with the situation. 

The company boasts being the longest serving renewable energy retailer. They offer competitively-priced electricity products that use wind and solar power. According to their website, the traditional production of electricity from fossil fuels is the largest source of industrial air pollution in the U.S. This fact is supported by the EIA – the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Changing over was very easy, we just needed to find our Consolidated Edison identification number and fill out an online form. Con Ed has a monopoly on providing electricity to New York City and they offer the option for using green energy instead of coal. We didn’t know about this so we never thought of changing it. Since coal is the cheapest and easiest for them to provide, that is the automatic option.

The change to Green Mountain Energy will cost us just a few dollars each month for the service fee, but the actual rates are basically the same – for electricity. We also ended up switching to a sustainable gas source as well, which is supposed to reduce our gas bill and cancel out the extra electricity costs. Basically, going green is going to be free and changing it was the easiest thing in the world.

Like so many of you, Isaac and I do so much to try and minimize our footprint on this planet but we were missing this vital step that will make more of a difference than saying no to a bag at the store! If you would like to make the change but need more information, call your electricity provider today. It can be scary signing papers handed out by strangers, go through your provider directly for peace of mind.

We’ll be receiving our first utilities bills this week, so we still can’t confirm that this change was practically free. But we only have one Earth, so even if it costs us the price of a coffee or two to reduce just a little of the damage that’s being done to the planet, then we’re willing to pay it.

According to Green Mountain Energy, their customers have avoided using over 69 billion pounds of CO2 which is the equivalent of planting over 8 million trees. You can see the climbing numbers on their website. By the time you check it out for yourself, it’ll be over 70 billion and we can only hope that it keeps climbing!

 

 

 

 

Mealworm Monday: First Pupae in the Hive by Livin Farms

This weeks Mealworm Monday features our first pupae from the Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms!

Read more about it at Livin Farms:

The Hypocrisy of Singapore’s Green Initiative 2018

Yes, the Gardens by the Bay are an amazing green initiative that uses waste from the city and turns it into energy to power the entire park. Then there’s the tap water, that is cleaned using reverse osmosis which turns sewage into safe drinking water. It’s absolutely genius and the epitome of zero-waste. But…

Our recent travel adventures took us to Singapore! A city known for its cleanliness, passion for sustainability and of course, the Super Tree Grove at the Gardens by the Bay. Although Singapore was beautiful and I could spend weeks exploring it, I was a little disappointed by its hypocrisy when it comes to protecting the environment.

If you’re having that strange dejavu sensation right now, then I’m sorry. You’re not going crazy, you did actually read this before if you’re a follower of The Travel Bug Bite. The video at the bottom of this blog post is different and I believe the topic is important enough to discuss again – so please bear with me.

Yes, the Gardens by the Bay are an amazing green initiative that uses waste from the city and turns it into energy to power the entire park. Then there’s the tap water, that is cleaned using reverse osmosis which turns sewage into safe drinking water. It’s absolutely genius and the epitome of zero-waste.

Although on a grand scale, Singapore is doing a lot when it comes to sustainability, they don’t focus enough on changing the habits of their people or businesses. Example: When you arrive extra early for your flight at the Changi airport because you want to see why it’s considered the world’s best airport, you may run into a cool wall displaying information about Singapore and local customs…

One of these is the “correct way to drink kopi (traditional Singaporean coffee)” where they tell you to do as the locals do and order it in a plastic bag and drink it with a plastic straw. Facepalming did not suffice, I wanted to head table when I read this…

During my visit to Singapore, I got to meet up with an old friend who I hadn’t seen for years. I told her all about my new zero-waste lifestyle and vegan diet, telling her how amazing it is that Singapore is doing so much to promote sustainability. She smiled and nodded but even she agreed that unfortunately, Singapore focuses too much on the details instead of the big picture.

Visiting the Gardens by the Bay was one of the highlights of my trip. But I was immediately disappointed by what I saw happening in the park. Restaurants, fast food places and other vendors selling food and items unnecessarily wrapped in plastic with no biodegradable or re-usable alternatives. I’m shocked at the slap in the face that these places are to all the efforts made to create this environmentally-friendly place.

Once I get the chance and find the right people to contact, I will issue a complaint to the Gardens of the Bay. They put so much effort into educating visitors and making a step forward but then you can’t even eat there without creating waste.

  • Is it really that hard to at least use paper instead of plastic?
  • Or how about creating a deposit system for nice re-usable containers to eat from?
  • Perhaps with a logo of the place, that can be bought as a souvenir or returned after use? If they can do this with beer cups at festivals in Europe, why not do it at a place that literally exists to promote sustainability and ways to save the planet?

Okay, rant over. Here’s one of the videos that you can watch at the Super Tree Grove about global warming and how we can still prevent the destruction of our beloved Earth.

Creating a Zero-Waste Kit: It’s Easy and Cheap!

In the morning, you stop at Starbucks for an iced coffee. You like it sweet, so your stir in some sugar. You’re late, so you grab a quick bagel off the street for breakfast. Next you stop at the local deli to grab a sandwich and a bottle of water to have later for lunch, plus a couple mustard packets to spice it up. By the time you get to work, you’ve inadvertently used a paper cup (lined with plastic), a plastic lid, a straw, a plastic stirrer, two sugar packets, a plastic bottle, a plastic bag and packaging for your bagel, plastic wrapping and a plastic bag for you sandwich, plus two plastic mustard packets. Statistically, 10% of that will end up in the ocean.

Am I asking you to give you your coffee and street food in the morning? No! Am I asking you not to get your favorite sandwich for lunch? Absolutely not! Can you enjoy all these things without single use plastic? The answer is a resounding YES! You might even save some money. Here’s how to create a zero waste kit that’ll fit in any bag or purse.

-Water bottle – By far the most important thing to have on you at all times. Why pay money for a single-use bottle when you can bring your own? I tend to prefer drinking from glass bottles like these but you can carry a BPA-free plastic one if that’s too heavy for you.

  • Coffee Cup: Whether you like it hot or iced, it’s easy to carry a cup for your coffee. Some places, like Starbucks, even offer a discount! Try this one for iced or this one for hot.
  • Cutlery Kit: Instead of using plastic knives and forks, carry around a portable cutlery kit like this one. This kit is less than 150 grams, making it easy to carry around in any purse or bag!
  • Collapsible container: Fan of street food? Like to order take-out? Carry around one of these silicone collapsible containers. They’re BPA free, can withstand very hot and very cold temperatures and can be thrown in the dishwasher after use. They’re great to use at home too!
  • Aluminum straws: If you’re a fan of smoothies, juice, cola or iced coffee, you no doubt use a lot of plastic straws. Not anymore! Just grab a set of reusable aluminum straws! Just remember to remind your server that you brought your own!

Now, let’s go back to your morning commute:

You stop in at Starbucks and hand them your cup. You get a 10 cent discount on your coffee, which will add up to $20 a year in savings. You kindly ask the barista to add some sugar for you, which they do from a glass jar. You stir the iced coffee with a spoon from your cutlery kit and pop in your aluminum straw. Now you’re headed to the bagel shop, where you kindly ask them to hand it to you without any packaging. You eat your bagel on the way to the deli, where you order your sandwich for lunch. They know you by now, so they accept your reusable container with a smile and even offer to wash it for you. They know you like it spicy, so they add some mustard from the deli counter. You put your boxed sandwich in your bag or purse and head to work, having used ZERO single-uses products. No new waste will end up in the ocean, and at lunch you’ll be a constant advocate for your new lifestyle as your friends and colleagues watch you take out your container for lunch and fill your water bottle from the tap.

Mealworm Mondays: Intro to Entomophagy (Eating Insects)

Entomophagy is the practice of eating insects that I will be telling you about in the upcoming series of posts called *cue drumroll* Mealworm Mondays! If a picture says a thousand words then a video must speak millions, so whenever I’m not in the mood to write out long explanations or you’re too lazy to read my babbling, I’ll be sharing humorous information-packed videos about one of my favorite topics!

If you’ve been following The Travel Bug Bite for a while now you might be asking yourself. “Wait, what? Eating insects is NOT vegan.” And frankly, you’re right, it’s not.

I’ve referred to myself as a vegan for a long time now, mainly due to the fact that I not only avoid all animal products (with the exception of insects) but I also only use cruelty free products and I’m attempting to convert to a 100% zero-waste lifestyle. Yes, I’m one of those people, get over it. As you might understand, calling myself a vegetarian felt like an understatement so I chose to call myself a vegan until people asked more questions and I’d explain that I’m actually an entovegan.

I discovered the term entovegan after weeks of struggling to find a label for what I was (not am… was, keep reading). I finally found the website www.entovegan.com where someone living on the other side of the world was dealing with the same issues. Josh decided to raise awareness about this unique, yet slightly contradictory, diet.

So once I received my Hive from Livin Farms, I ran around telling the world all about entoveganism. I didn’t just get the Hive (the worlds first edible insect desktop farm) to eat insects, as I felt the need to explain to my purely vegan friends. I got it to find a solution for my food waste (Chinese apartments are tiny, I can’t even fit an apartment-sized compost in here…) and I strongly believe in spreading the world about entomophagy to encourage meat eaters to replace some of their meat meals with insect protein – even though as a vegan, I can reassure you that you can get all the protein you need from plants. You see? Even supporting entomophagy makes me a bad vegan 😉

Sure, it’s an honorable mission and many vegans supported my decision with one complaint. You can’t call yourself a vegan if you eat anything that doesn’t consent to being eaten, it’s a contradiction. Well, I’m no longer an ento-anything, except an aspiring entomologist perhaps, because the Hive changed the way I look at mealworms.

While my husband is excited to munch on our mealworms once they mature, I’ve been watching them grow, feeding them and worrying about them from the minute they came to live with us. Although the reasons to eat insects are endless, I found it impossible to justify eating them myself. And that’s totally okay.

I’ll still keep calling myself a bug-biting blogger bitten by the travel bug because that’s incredibly catchy, but I won’t be doing any bug-biting personally. I’m still going to write about it and support the movement because I believe that it can literally change the world. So stay tuned for some crunchy (or should I say C-R-O-N-C-Hy) blog posts and videos!

Feel free to share any stories you have about trying edible insects or your opinions about the topic in the comments below!

*Disclamer: If you are allergic to shellfish, please stay away from edible insects! There have been various cases of people who are allergic to shellfish to also react to edible insects. Read more about potential allergies here.