Our best tips come from you, our readers. Each week during October, we will be giving away a RubbingNickels.com Reusuable Tote Bag in a random drawing. To qualify, simply share your best eco-thrifty tip with us at RubbingNickels.com.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.
You might be surprised to find out that there is actually a brewing debate over whether and how soon we will run out of space in our landfills. The debate is quite similar to the global warming debate, with the conservatives taking one side and the liberals taking the other. In the great landfill debate, environmentalist claim that the more we increase our landfill size, the more likely we will all get to have landfills in our back yards. The conservatives claim that landfill technology will save us, even as the landfills grow out of control.
I have to land in the environmentalist’s side on this one and for that reason, I have done a little research on what we can do with our extra “stuff,” so that we can decrease the volume that goes into the landfill. It is amazing how many great sites there are for recycling. Here’s a sampling of what I found in a book called The Virtuous Consumer, by Leslie Garrett. I highly recommend this book as a resource for reducing, reusing and recycling:
Dressforsuccess.org – Recycles gently worn business clothing, coats and briefcases.
Wildize.org – Collects hiking boots through their Boots for Rangers program for African rangers who patrol park boundaries and wilderness areas.
Nikereuseashoe.com – Turns your old running shoes (they can be gross and nasty, even!) into athletic surfaces.
Worldcomputerexchange.org – Recycle your PC to be used in a school in a third world country.
Suitcasesforkids.org – This site helps give foster kids a place to keep their stuff as they move from place to place.
Lions International – Donate your used adult and kid’s eyeglasses for use in third world countries.
Darcy Ratner and Julie Arnheim
After a recent storm in Los Angeles County, it was estimated that at least 2.3 billion individual pieces of trash floated out into the Pacific. I read about this in an article in Sierra Club magazine that talked about the “flotillas” of plastic and trash that are currently floating in the Pacific Ocean and how they are killing the sea life and polluting our oceans and beaches. As consumers, we can help remedy this situation, family by family. Here are five Eco-thrifty ideas that you can incorporate into your household to help decrease your contribution to the trash “flotillas”.
Plastic Water Bottles – JUST SAY NO to plastic one-time-use water bottles. It does take water to clean the reusable bottles but if you have a filter on your fridge or a Britta filter pitcher, the water you drink will be perfectly safe and taste great. This will also save you a lot of money.
Laundry Soap – Consider going back to a traditional powder laundry detergent. Tide HE Detergent is a highly rated powder and works in the new front-loader machines. You can recycle the cardboard box which is already made from post-consumer cardboard.
Plastic baggies and zip-style food storage – In our house, we try our hardest to use a tupperware or other reusable container to store leftovers and or freeze foods. For packed lunches, we use gladware rather than baggies whenever we can for sandwiches and snacks. Reach for the reusable first and save money!
Plastic Milk Cartons and Bottles – When we lived in Colorado we had a milk delivery service that brought milk in old fashioned glass bottles once a week. What a treat! No plastic coated cartons or plastic gallon bottles were being used to provide our milk. If you can get a service like this in your area, give it a try! The bottles are completely reusable.
Plastic bags in the produce section – Once again, JUST SAY NO to these bags. They are a complete waste! Do you really care if your produce gets mixed up in the bottom of your grocery bag? If you are completely addicted to these bags, you can re-used them many, many times if you pop them into the bottom of your reusable grocery bags after you unpack your groceries.
Keep cutting back on the plastic and the world will be a better place…
The Dinner Garden is an unique non-profit organization that was started in San Antonio, Texas with the idea that the best way to battle hunger in this country is to get people to grow more of their own food. To this end, they provide seed packets for free to anyone who is interested in starting a “dinner garden”. They have free distribution sites all over the country but they also mail packets of seeds, postage-free, to anyone who wants them. In addition to providing free seeds, they also are a good resource for gardening information, including battling the pests that will try to eat your dinner garden before you can.
How can you get involved? Here are a few ways:
Order some free seeds and start your own garden. If you can get to one of the seed pick-up spots, you can save this thrifty non-profit their postage costs.
Help find and create a seed distribution center in your area. Churches, temples and other community agencies are good choices. If you find a potential host, you can contact the Dinner Garden through their website.
Part One: What IS a locavore?
A locavore is a person who seeks out locally produced food. There are differing intensities of locavores, including those who grow their own food, those who only eat seasonally grown fruits and vegetables or those, like me, who make an effort to purchase foods from within a 100 mile radius of my home when I can.
Why eat locally, you ask?
According to locavore.org, “our food now travels an average of 1,500 miles before ending up on our plates. Because uncounted costs of this long distance journey (air pollution and global warming, the ecological costs of large scale monoculture, the loss of family farms and local community dollars) are not paid for at the checkout counter, many of us do not think about them at all”. Moving towards local food sources has many benefits, including providing us with a “connection and responsibility to a particular locality”, and helping us to understand about the “foodshed” that we live in.
How do you start?
According to an eco-friendly website called simple-green-frugal.blogspot.com, finding resources “is, by far, the most difficult part of being a locavore. The good news is that once you identify your sources, being a locavore is almost as easy as shopping at those big-box stores. Except now, your food will taste better, it will be more nutritionally-dense, and you’ll be helping the environment and your community in the process”. As you expand your cooking ability, you will be able to incorporate more local food sources into your favorite recipes.
But how is it thrifty?
Consuming high-quality, nutrient dense foods is definitely a good choice for frugal families. When you shop at the big box markets, much of what you get is low in nutrients, high in calories and less than satisfying to your hunger. Serving slices of local artisan bread with local butter, on the other hand, will fill up your family with high quality calories and help the environment in the meantime.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, as we do, we have a short list of our favorite companies that we like to buy from. Here are a few:
Straus Organic Yogurt
Point Reyes Farmstead Original Blue Cheese
Willie Bird Turkeys
Beckmann’s Old World Bakery, Santa Cruz, CA.
Wherever you live, there is a lot of information on the internet from the locavore communities regarding eating locally. To find information about your geographic area, Google the word “locavore” and the name of your city, region or state and see if you can find some helpful links. Here are a few sample websites we liked from around the country:
Chicago – http://www.thelocalbeet.com/local-eating-links/
New York City – http://www.localfork.com/locavoreguidenyc.aspx
New Hampshire and Vermont – http://uvlocalvore.com/
Good luck becoming a locavore!
Our utility company, PG and E, has a wealth of information on their website when it comes to money saving tips for around the house. As we all become more thrifty, it is good to know that many actions we take to save money are also good for the environment. We call these tips “eco-thrifty”. The majority of these 10 ways to save money are totally free, but a few require a nominal investment that will pay for itself in the long run.
Wash only full loads in the dishwasher and use the air-dry cycle whenever possible.
Lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees (especially if your dishwasher has its own heating element).
Clean the lint from the clothes dryer after each load.
Eco-thrifty is Rubbing Nickel’s nickname for something that is easy on the environment but also easy on your pocketbook. It is always nice when you can choose the “organic” or “all-natural” version of a product you use, but often, these products cost as much as three times the amount of a comparable product. We’ve done some research and are providing you with a list of health and beauty products that meet our criteria for Eco-thrifty which, in this case, is under $9. I found a number of them at Safeway so they are easy to find as well. We hope you choose to use them whenever you need products.
Method Body Wash Marine Naturals – Safeway Club Price – $5.99 – Smells fresh and clean.
Shikai Hand and Body Lotion Yuzu scent – Safeway – $6.99 – Shea butter gives it great feel.
Burt’s Bees Lip Balm – Vitamin E and Peppermint – Safeway – $2.99 – Put it in the pocket of your ski jacket.
Organix Anti-Breakage Hair Serum with Coconut Milk – Safeway – $6.26 – The perfect smoother to use after blow drying.
Tom’s of Maine Crystal Confidence 24 Hour Deodorant, Citrus Zest – Drugstore.com – $3.19 – Great scent.
Jason Natural Cosmetics Powersmile, All-Natural Whitening Toothpaste, Peppermint – Drugstore.com – $5.99 – Whitens with bamboo powder. How Cool!
Freeman Good Stuff Organics Foaming Facial Cleanser, Antioxidant Rich Pomegranate Extract – Drugstore.com – $8.99 – Antioxidants to help slow aging in the skin.
Nature’s Gate Organics Organic Fruit Blends Shampoo, Color Protecting, Persimmon & Rose Geranium – Drugstore.com – $9.99 – Sunflower Seed Extract protects color.
If you have other Eco-thrifty products you like, please post to this blog so we can share the info with others.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.
An Eco-thrifty blog from the Green Dad of GreenMoms.com.
Where have you been GreenDad? I’ve been busy repairing my house and household items during my ‘free’ time. I’ve found that Do It Yourself is easier and more rewarding than I remember. By rewarding, I mean financially, emotionally and environmentally rewarding. Here’s a recent project that shows how you can save money and the environment:
Project #1: Kitchen Aid Mixer: Following a huge loaf of bread mix, our mixer started making a horrible noise then stopped. Thanks to the wonder of the internet, I was able to diagnose the issue as a stripped/broken gear. It was a $12 part that was actually designed to break under extreme stress to save the much more expensive motor. With the help of a step-by-step guide (which even included pictures) I found online, I was able to take apart the mixer, replace the broken gear, and rebuild the machine to working order. Cost: $12; Savings: $220 for new mixer; Environmental impact: kept mixer from the landfill, reduced need for replacement mixer.
So, next time you or your GreenDad have something that’s broken and a little extra time, look for a way to repair or reuse. You’ll help the environment, save money, and even surprise yourself with how easy it is.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.
For me, feeling that something is clean is closely related to its smell. Take the leading name-brand laundry detergent, for example. I LOVE the smell that it gives to the clothes. Unfortunately, my son and I are severely allergic to the perfumes that give it its fragrant scent. In cleaning the home, I also love the smell of bleach and lemon-scented furniture polish, but are they the best products to use in our fragile environment?
There are other cleaners on the market that claim to be “green”. Whole Foods has some that are fabulous, though paying $8.00 for a bottle of cleaner seems excessive. Chlorox is also trying to be more “green” with its line called Green Works, which I actually use (when I can get it on a club card discount). But for this holiday’s housecleaning, let’s rub some nickels and talk about the tried and true natural cleaners that we know are safe to breathe and will be safe going down the drain.
According to Whole Foods Magazine “simple ingredients like soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax and a coarse scrubbing sponge can take care of most household cleaning needs“. So how, specifically, should we use these household items?
Glass Cleaner – Use ½ white vinegar and ½ water.
Oven Cleaner – Make a paste of baking soda, salt and hot water.
Wood Polish – Mix two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice.
Floor Cleaner (ceramic, stone, marble and tile) – Add 2 tsp. of liquid dish soap to a bucket of warm water.
To Brighten Your White Tablecloth – Tie up the peel of one lemon into a cheesecloth and add it to your washer.
Using these natural products will make you feel much better when your kids drop food on the floor and use the “five second rule” or your dog licks the inside of the oven while you’re bent over cleaning it. We hope you have a green and clean holiday.
Darcy Ratner, MPH, lives in the Bay Area and is trained in Community Health Sciences.
References: Country Home magazine, April 2008, p. 34, and Whole Foods Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 2.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.
Is your utensil drawer starting to look like your junk drawer? Do you have a pile of Tupperware with no lids? Is your fridge so full that you don’t have room for your leftovers? If so, you need a Quick Kitchen Re-org to boost your meal prep potential. If you stay focused, this should take between 45 minutes and 90 minutes (depending on how many phone calls, Facebook posts or emails distract you) but will give you more room to function and a feeling of Zen when you open your fridge, pantry or drawers.
To get ready for your re-org, you’ll need three or four paper bags. Label one with “Goodwill” or a charity you know will take kitchen items, label one “recycle,” label one “trash” and label one “food bank”. Make sure your dishwasher is empty so that you can toss in containers and jars from the fridge once they’re emptied. Clutter-free counters are essential to provide a good “staging area” for emptying out drawers and sorting items. Put on some music (I prefer disco when organizing) and zip down this list of areas that will need the most attention.
Refrigerator – You would be surprised how quickly things go bad in the fridge. There is an informative webpage called whatscookingamerica.net/Information/FreezerChart.htm that will help you decide what is still good. Some shocking examples include the fact that chili and soups only stay good in the fridge for 3-4 days and ketchup and chili sauce last only one month. Pull out those crisper, cheese and meat drawers as well for who knows what lurks in the bottom. If you’re really ambitious, pull everything out and wipe down the entire fridge with Fantastic or Windex.
Utensils – This is the drawer that is usually the most problematic when I do a kitchen re-org. Pull out all of your utensils and put them on the counter. If you have doubles or triples and things that you never use, put them in the Goodwill bag. Sort the remainder by how you use them. I keep stove-top utensils in a crock on the counter so I can reach them quickly when I’m cooking. I keep baking and food prep utensils in a drawer, organized in shallow baskets so they don’t get tangled.bookmark it, RSS feed.
Wouldn’t it be great to reduce the Utilities line item in your household budget? The first step in achieving an energy-efficient home requires an understanding of how your energy is being used on a daily basis. Makes sense, but how?
Most energy suppliers around the country now offer Energy Analyzers. These are simple to answer questionnaires or “audits” about your home. They ask questions about the size and type of appliances you own. To answer the questions, collect your most recent Gas & Electric bills (as few as 2, as many as 10), and input the information requested about your actual usage. The Analyzer will compare you to average users, as well as give you very specific tips for how to reduce expenditures in each category (i.e. heating, cooling, hot water, lighting, and appliances).bookmark it, RSS feed.
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