Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Being Green and Thrifty

I’m committed to the best of my ability to lightening my steps on the planet and living as simply and naturally as possible. In regard to the environment I believe what I or others do really does make a difference. I guess you could me an environmental optimist? Of course if one doesn’t believe it matters, then they likely feel there is less reason to make the effort. But for me it’s just part a part of life, so I decided to make note here of the steps I take to conserve and live simply and frugally with less environmental impact. I thought it might actually help me to see where I might make some additional changes and it might even inspire others.

Keep indoor light use to a minimum and use low energy fluorescent bulbs. Lights out completely at bedtime.

Appliances and electronic devices such as microwave, computer, tv are shut down or unplugged at night to halt electric usage.

Keep toilet flushes to a minimum. Flushing causes the water pump to run (electric) and flushing often uses unnecessary amounts of water. We also keep the toilet lid down to lower bathroom humidity levels in the summer especially.

We try to wear our clothes until they actually need washed. That means a pair of jeans can be worn several days or more depending on use. Wash clothes (only full loads) in cold water. When weather permits we dry them by hanging them on the clothes line. In winter I will hang lighter weight items on hangers and hang from hooks above the heat registers in the living area. We use environmentally responsible and natural products to wash and treat stains with. No fabric softeners. Most of our clothes are cotton so softener/anti static is not necessary. I do occasionally toss a lavender sachet bag into the drier.

Keep a compost bowl in the kitchen for vegetable scraps, peelings, etc. This gets set out for the ducks to munch from daily. What they don’t eat gets tossed into the compost bin. Other scraps when available are given to Shadow and Mr. G.

Keep a recycle bin in the kitchen into which all recyclable items go. This is taken to the garage when full and sorted accordingly. By purchasing consciously and recycling we keep our trash to a maximum of one bag or less per week. When bins are full, we drop at local recycling center, combining that trip with other necessary errands to save fuel.

Keep our trips in the car to a minimum to conserve gas, emissions and an affordable way of life. When fueling the vehicle, we try to do so when air is cooler to prevent evaporation.

Use hand cultivator in the garden when we can rather than use gas powered rototiller.

Avoid the use of pesticides or herbicides in our garden and yard.

Raise plants from organic seed, grow a garden and preserve as much as possible. This means eating fresh, nutritious whole foods as well as spending far less on food throughout the summer and winter.

Buy organic and purchase items from local small retailers and farmers as much as possible. We purchase milk, eggs and butter from our neighboring Amish.

Use energy efficient appliances.

Avoid doctors and prescription medicine as much as possible.

Make my own herbal teas.

Make my own natural deodorant.

Shower 2-3 times per week as opposed to daily and sponge bath in between.

Use our bath towels more than once before tossing in the hamper.

Cook from scratch.

Use dry beans instead of canned beans for soups, chili, etc. Much, much cheaper!

Mend our clothing.

Care for what we have.

Avoid buying plastic food bags, but save food safe plastic bags of all kinds (bread wrappers, baggies, etc.) and reuse. Wash large baggies for reuse rather than throwing them out unnecessarily.

Save and reuse glass jars and plastic containers

Use canvas bags when shopping.

Save buttons, fabric, old jeans to mend with, makes patches or recycle into other items.

Although we do have area rugs, we don’t have carpet in our home. This keeps dust, dirt and the need to vacuum to a minimum. I shake out throw rugs and use a dust mop or broom elsewhere and vacuum the big rugs when necessary.

Make my own items for gift giving.

Purchase clothing and household items second hand whenever possible.

Use cloth rags and natural products for cleaning rather than paper towels and commercial products.

Don’t own an air conditioner. Close windows and use blinds to keep heat out in summer.

Open blinds and use passive solar heat in cool weather and adjust thermostat to allow furnace to ignite less often but run longer when it does. Dress warmly, too!

Don’t use cosmetics, perfumes, air deodorizers (other than all natural ones I make) and other unnecessary and toxic items. (Witch hazel is a great and inexpensive facial toner and aftershave splash.)

We use an answering machine in place of extra phone company features like call waiting and caller ID.

Save our change. Once I had saved change for several years and when I finally got around to sorting and rolling it up to take to the bank I had over $400. That was a real nice chunk of spare change!

Rather than going out for coffee or stopping on the way for coffee, we make our own and carry a cup or even a thermos when out and about.

Dine out rarely and if we dine out we usually cut the bill by using coupons and ordering water.

Use scrap paper and the backs of used paper and junk mail and used envelopes for notes and lists.

Buy in bulk when it’s a deal we can’t pass up and we know we’ll use it. (I have 8 lbs. of pasta in my freezer!)

Freecycle…need I say more?

Other General Money Saving Tips

If you must borrow from your savings, consider it a loan and pay it back immediately.

When you get to the bottom of the shampoo bottle, rinse it out. The same applies to dish soap, cream rinse, laundry soap. You’ll be surprised how much is still in there.

Cancel your newspaper. Read the news online. The same applies to magazine subscriptions. Tap the wealth of info online.

Share and borrow when you can if it’s an item you need to use or loan only once in awhile.

Eliminate satellite or cable tv or opt for the economy package. Or, consider an online movie rental subscription like Netflix as an alternative to more costly cable or satellite.

If you take family vacations, gear them towards spending quality time together as opposed to spending lots of money (and energy). Keep it simple and you’re more apt to feel you’ve really had a vacation.

Avoid shopping altogether unless you have a specific need…not a specific desire, but a specific need.

Bring new life to old garments by embellishing and accessorizing.

Borrow books and movies from the library.

Never make spur of the minute purchases.

When it comes to gifts, tell others what you really want.

If you get a raise or income increase, act as if you didn’t and manage without it if possible. Put it away into your savings.


  1. I was thinking that you might like the Homestead forum I hang out on. They're part of my family :)


    I'm crowweaver there, if you ever drop by.


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