The choices that we make as consumers are powerful ones.  The system is simple.  The more you buy of something, the more it will be produced.  When you get picky and start to demand higher quality, sustainable products at affordable prices, and you start to apply your money toward this end, manufacturers will take notice and start to answer the call.  I hate to shop, but when I do, I know how to stretch a dollar.  I am not above buying re-purposed items, slapping a new finish onto a used dresser or wearing lightly used clothing.  This is a normal way of life here in Portland.  It is sort of frowned upon NOT to engage in this type of consumerism.  You couldn’t pay me to shop someplace like Sam’s Club that engages in animal cruelty by selling factory farmed meats and that sells “organic” produce from China.  No way!  Any careful shopper has alternatives, even if it appears that these types of places are the only affordable places available.   I am writing this today to share some of my best shopping tips.


1.  Sample Boxes


Conscious Box


All-natural products can be pricey, so it is a good idea to know exactly what to buy.  I subscribe to a number of services that deliver sample boxes of all kinds of goodies pertaining to beauty and health care  each month.  That way, I can try them out and decide what I like.  Then, I go on the bargain hunt for those products.  One of the best  services of this type is the Conscious Box from   I use Pangea Organics cosmetics because they are high quality, all-natural and use sustainable ingredients, and my Conscious Box often contains samples of their products.   Their retain prices are high….so I try them out and buy the ones I like on Ebay or on at substantial discounts.


Love With Food


When it comes to all-natural snacks, Love With Food at rocks!  I give these subscriptions to people that I love….because I love them!  🙂  Starting at only $10 per month, this company will send you  a box of eight or more delicious healthful snacks.  This way, you can sample foods, decide whether or not you like them, then pick them up either on their website or at your local natural foods store.  You can purchase more of what you tried or redeem them with points in the online Love With Food shop.  The great thing is that for every box or item someone buys, Love With Food will donate a meal to feed a hungry child.


2.  Online Shopping Clubs

When it comes to fashion….well, I love it!  I have a beautiful wardrobe that would be worth thousands and thousands of dollars if I had been dumb enough to pay retail for it.  I hate malls, and avoid them like the plague.  Instead, I opt for online shopping clubs that enable me to buy top designer fashions at discount prices.  One of my favorits is Vente-Privee at   

Mind you, you’re not going to find a lot of sustainable products through this venue, but there are some….and if you shop responsibly in other places, it won’t create tremendous damage if you go off the good path every once in awhile, right?  Every time you get someone else to sign up, you get a $20 discount when they purchase something!  I did a good deal of my Christmas shopping from this company, purchasing exquisite cashmere sweaters for my daughters, an incredible jacket for one of my male friends and several pairs of nice slacks for my husband.  Even discounted, this stuff can be very expensive, however, but it is absolute top-of-the-line merchandise that you would pay much, much for if you paid retail prices.



Now, if you’re looking for more down-to-earth prices for excellent current fashions, I highly recommend Twice at  Twice buys and sells gently used clothing.


If you have something you’d like to sell, simply request one of their pre-paid mailers and they will send it to you.  You can fill it, send it in, and they do the rest. (They buy your items outright.)   I have purchased several items from these people and everything has been in like-new condition.  They sell some great brands at extremely affordable prices.


Image 6PM is a fantastic online shoe venue.  Good example….My favorite brand of shoes is El Naturalista.  I like these shoes because they are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn.  They are a little edgy in appearance, and the company uses sustainable elements in their production.  The red shoes circled above retail for $170.  I bought them on 6 PM (at for only $52!

Now, here is a little trick.  I like to go into high end shoe stores and try on the shoes that I find attractive.  When I find something that I like, 9 times out of 10, I can then find it on 6pm!   So, I find the right fit and style in the high end shops…but I spend my money online at!

One Kings Lane


For high quality household and miscellaneous items, I shop One Kings Lane (at  As a die-hard foodie, I am very particular about my kitchen equipment.  One Kings Lane often sells great kitchen items like gourmet knives, indoor grills, pillows, rugs and all kinds of great things for the home at exceptionally discounted prices.


Brad’s Deals

brads deals

One of the best non-specific online shopping sites I have found is Brad’s Deals.  ( .

This is how it works.  You go to their website and sign up, free of charge.  After that, Brad’s Deals sends an email each day that highlights some of the best deals on the Internet.  Could be anything, from clothing to kitchen implements to camping gear to cosmetics.  You never know what they are going to feature next, but the prices are always low and the quality is usually (but not always) high. It all depends on what you get.   For instance, I recently purchased a $200 pair of Uggs summer wedges for $29!  They are stylin’ and comfy and look like a million bucks!  I like North Face brand outerwear, and Brad’s Deals frequently features their stuff at very reasonable prices.


There are many, many other online shopping clubs and bargain deals out there, and I use a lot of them.  I also shop at local Farmer’s Markets for fresh produce, go to our local Portland Saturday Market for handmade artisan crafts to give as gifts and make a lot of things myself!  No room for a garden?  Plant in pots!  No time to make those pillow covers that you want?  Use the Japanese fold and tie method.  In other words, you don’t have to have a lot of money to get high quality, earth friendly (for the most part) things that you adore.    Your consumer choices do make a big difference….so please make them wisely.