Sunday, January 24, 2010

Super easy FREE ways to be a little greener

I used to think being green was going to be expensive and a task in itself. But you know once the ball started rolling, it really was so easy. I was just over thinking it like I do with every other thing in my life. You see, I'm what you call an indecisive person. I know, it sucks. Whats worst is that my best friend is also one. Not a good combo lol.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, going green. I started this whole thing and eventually my husband jumped on board. Once he started seeing our money stay into our account he took notice. And now its funny because he will catch me sometimes going into my old habits. He will see me throw something away ( I obviously was not paying attention to what I was doing or my children were at my heels..) and he will say "That's not very green of you!". Drat! But I'm glad he does this. Over the years we have been adding to our list of green decisions. Maybe some you have done, and hopefully there are things you can get inspiration from. So here we go....

Find a greener job-What I mean by this is maybe look for work closer to your home. Then you could walk or bike to work . You pay less gas, get exercise, and the more your car stays at home the better. My husband started a recycling program at his work and I couldn't be more proud of him. Last year we moved so close to his work that the only time he drives is if he is sick. This has saved us over $200 a month in gas alone. Just keep these idea's in mind when your looking for a new job.

Just say no to styro-Styrofoam that is. Its made from petroleum and rarely can be recycled. Its just bad all around. You can avoid it easily. When you buy meat, insist its wrapped in paper which can be recycled. Work use Styrofoam? Bring it to their attention and insist on paper items instead. If you get them to switch, encourage people to bring their own reusable items.

Choose recycled paper-You can get virtually any paper product recycled now days. Its the "in" thing to do now. I was amazed how many recycled items they were selling at school time this year. When I say recycled I mean the product was made from recycled paper or one product waste turned into something useful. For example my daughter bought a pencil pouch made from lays potato chip bags. Super sturdy and look so cool. Think about these items when you buy gifts. My daughter bought her friend recycled paper pencils, note book and a pencil pouch for her birthday. For Christmas that same friend bought my daughter a cool spiral made from recycled paper and a cool paper pencil. See how it starts? Just gotta get the ball rolling!

Use less paper-Since were on the subject I thought I would throw this one in. When I print things at home, I reuse any of the paper I can. When I print color pages, I use both sides of the paper. My daughters bring home a ton of paper from school. I go through it all and any of the paper that's blank on one side, it goes into our printer. You can also use less toilet paper by doing the clothe challenge. Simply take an old flannel sheet (or find one at a thrift store) and cut it up into squares(no sewing needed). Simply use these squares when going #1 (or #2 if you dare!) and wash with your laundry. This alone will save you a bundle each month. We use toilet paper for #2 in my home so don't feel bad if you cannot do the challenge all the way.

Turn it off! If its not in use, unplug it or turn it off. I cannot even count how many times I have to turn off lights in rooms with no kids in them. Did you know that even when an appliance type item is plugged in but off, it still uses energy? Very little but that little bit adds up. So start unplugging items when your done. It turns into a habit once you start. Sometimes I wont even turn on the lights if its a bright day. I will open up all the drapes and that's just enough light for us.

Lets talk thermo-To save on energy we keep our thermostat at 58 degrees. During the day its at 64 degrees. At first it was too cold for me but after a while we were used of it. If we have a fire going it gets turned off completely. During the day is perfect because the kids are not in their rooms. We shut all our room doors so it keeps the heat in the main living area. By doing this simple step, we save a bundle in energy cost.

Be neighborly-I have amazing neighbors. We take turns walking or driving the kids to school. This saves us gas and sanity. lol. My next door neighbor and myself go back and forth on who can be more green or save money. Its so much fun egging each other on. This is not only fun but we inspire each other. We now share our garbage service and during the summer we swap produce. Currently were looking into sharing a paper. All the neighbors swap clothing, daycare, and if were looking for something in particular we let each other know. I was able to get a wagon this way. So get friendly and be a good neighbor.

Buy local-I'm not just talking produce from the farmers market. Yes you should do that too! I'm talking when it comes to anything. Have a local hardware store and a big chain store? Choose the local store. Chances are the owner is a local of your town and has to support his family too. Also they would be more likely to carry local products. Local compost, bark dust, etc. Always support local business when it comes to anything. Need a gift to send to a friend? Buy something local. We have a Made In Oregon store that I just love. They have great products to give as gifts. Maybe your state has a specialty cheese? Who wouldn't want cheese? I love cheese.....

Get used-Buy used is what I really man. How about this year you challenge yourself. Instead of heading out to the store to buy a lamp, head over to your local thrift store instead. Since my childhood I was a thrift store rat. So much so that I just love the smell of a thrift store. It really gets my heart going. It was an option for me in my 20's and now in my 30's its my only option. Why buy new items when there are perfectly good used items to get? Your not only saving things from going to the landfill but your saving money. Make it a challenge and stick to it. Only rule in my home is personal items like undies are bought new. Otherwise everything else is game.

No packaging-Instead of rummaging through the inner aisles at the store, try hitting up their bulk section. I invested $2 at my local Dollar Store for 2 packs of 4PC mesh bags used for putting sports stuff in. They look very much like the net bags you wash your bra's in. I use these for my bulk purchases like noodles or beans and also use them for my produce. They weigh just about the same as a plastic bag they have everywhere in the bulk section. Yet you can reuse them a zillion times, wash them, and never have to worry about recycling the plastic bags again(wishing that you do recycle them...). Why buy no packaging? There are two huge reasons why. Number one you save some tree's from being cut down. You get the idea. Less paper you have to take home and recycle. Number two you save a bundle of money. Why pay $1.09 for whole wheat noodles prepackaged when you can buy it for 90 cents per lb in the bulk section? Your saving 10 cents per package. Get the idea? Good for the earth, good for your purse. Now days you can find just about everything in the bulk section. Here in Oregon Winco has the largest bulk section Ive found. Love it!

Shower me with savings-This is the simplest idea out there. When I worked, for some reason I had to take a shower before my shift each day. I think its was just my mind routine because I really didn't need to take one each day. How about taking a shower every other day. Your water bill will be lower which saves you money. Have kids? Combine them in one bath. I have 5 yr old twins and I have given them a bath together since birth. I cannot do this anymore since they think the bathtub is a pool. So now I give one a bath, take her out and put the other one in. I still use 1 bathtub full of water. We also have a rule when it comes to bath. Once the water passes your privates, water goes off. No need for a full bathtub and less mess for mommy. Not a bath taker? Put a kitchen timer in the bathroom. Set to 5 minutes and take your shower. When it dings, time to get out. How easy can that be?

Foaming at the mouth-Another great way to save money is using a foam dispenser. I bought mine years ago from Pampered Chef but you can do it even more cheaper. Now days you can find liquid hand soap in a foam dispenser. Once it runs out, simply fill it up 25% with soap and 75% with water. Shake it up a bit and your ready to go again. If your kids are like mine, they use a ton of soap when they wash their tiny hands. I keep one dispenser in my bathroom and one in my kitchen. Back in the day I would buy 1 liquid soap every 2 weeks. Now I refill ours maybe once every month or so maybe. Still washing their hands and getting the dirt and germs off but using the appropriate amount of soap.

Kick your plastic habit-Stop buying zip lock style bags. These things are plastic first of all. Who knows what these things are actually made of so putting your food in them is not the best idea. Remember the days before these bags were made? Glass containers with lids can still be made, safe plastic containers also are made (not recommended), or what about good old Tupperware? I choose to use glass. If I do not have a container I use bowls with a plate over the top. Its been almost 2 years since I quit my plastic bag habit and its been nice. Now days you can find fabric sandwich bags for kids lunches or snacks. Reusable water bottles and stainless steel small containers are big sellers now. For NW locals you can find all of these items at Whole Foods or New Season and pay no shipping cost as you would with purchasing on the net.

I could go on and on about this subject but this should be good enough for now. No worries, I will be bringing you more easy ways to be greener eventually. So chew on these for a while.


Pam said...

Just wondering what the PC in "PC mesh bags" stands for?

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

I believe it means Polycarbonates-A polymer used in modern chemical industry. Research by Ana M. Soto, professor of anatomy and cellular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, published October 2006 in the online edition of Reproductive Toxicology[8] describes exposure of pregnant rats to bisphenol A at 2.5 to 1,000 µg per kilogram of body weight per day. At the equivalent of puberty for the pups (50 days old), about 25% of their mammary ducts had precancerous lesions, some three to four times higher than unexposed controls. The study is cited as evidence for the hypothesis that environmental exposure to bisphenol A as a fetus can cause breast cancer in adult women.[9]Not a good thing for sure. Read about it here