Friday, August 14, 2009

Which came first, the frugal or the green?

This is my contribution to the APLS August Carnival and the topic is Green on the Cheap. You can find the carnival on August 19th at Going Green Mama's blog.

A few years ago, when hubby and I decided I would stay home with the kids, we needed to find a way to save money. I scoured the internet looking for ways to save money. Somewhere along the way, I started to realize that most of these things not only saved money, but the planet as well. Let's look at a list of money saving ideas you might find on the internet.

1. Buy in bulk. Bulk buying does lots of things. It lowers the per pound price. It reduces packaging. It allows you to have a constant supply of certain things, thus reducing the need to drive to the store.

2. Cook from scratch and eat at home. These tips just go together. The meal you make at home from scratch (using bulk items of course) costs far less than anything you would get at a restaurant. You don't have to worry about leftovers being thrown into a styrofoam box. There is no driving involved to get to the dinner table. If you are truly cooking from scratch, there will be very little in the way of packaging to dispose of.

3. Hang your laundry. Why pay to dry your clothes, when Mother Nature will do it for free? Plus, you get the added bonus of sheets with the heavenly smell of the outdoors. For the small amount of time it takes to hang clothes, the savings in energy can be quite significant. In the winter, hang your clothes over a heating vent. You get rewarded with clothes that dry quickly and help humidify that dry winter air.

4. Reset that thermostat. When we lived in apartments, the heat was part of our rent. As a result, we kept the thermometer on 72 or so. Looking back, I'm amazed that I could live like that. When we bought our house, we had to buy oil to heat it. Oil is expensive. Oil is nasty, polluting stuff. Once, the oil delivery man let the hose overflow. It got into my flower bed and killed everything in it. Yuck. Now, we lower the thermometer every year. Last winter we had it at 64 during the day and 54 at night. This year we want to have it at 62 and 52. Huge energy savings.
The AC is the same. We have central air, but you might not realize it if you come to our house. It is only used a few days of the year and even when on, is set at 75, mostly just to get the humidity out of the air.

5. Grow your own fruits and veggies. Anyone who reads my blog regularly, know how much I love this one. Gardening doesn't have to be pricey. You don't need fancy beds, pricey fertilizers and insecticides. Done right, it can be quite inexpensive. Start a compost pile. It reduces what is going into the landfills and produces wonderful fertilizer for free! You don't need a fancy contraption, just a pile. Find an out of the way place and fill it up with all your scraps and lawn clippings. Start your plants from seed. Most things in the garden are quite easy to start from seed. The fussiest would be tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Buy those from a local farmer and start the rest directly in the ground. You'll be amazed at what you get.

6. Use it up and wear it out. One winter I was looking for fabric to make more cloth napkins for our family. I didn't want to go out in the snow to the store, so I was going through my stash of fabric. Next to it was a pile of Hubby's old polo shirts. They had stains, were faded or were otherwise unwearable. I didn't have the heart to throw them away, but wasnt' sure what to do with them. It occured to me that they would make wonderful napkins. I cut the sleeves and top off and made 2 rough squares from the body of the shirts. I hemmed the sides and ended up with 8 napkins from 4 shirts. The kids think its very funny to wipe their faces on Daddy's shirts.

In the end, being green isn't about replacing everything you own with the latest new green gadget. If you follow the tenets to Reduce and Reuse first, you will end up saving yourself lots of money in the long run. Look back to how our Grandparent's did things. They would be horrified at what we waste our money on. Live simply and lightly on the earth.


Green Bean said...

Hear hear! I love how much money we save by being green. Or vice versa. This week, with the garden throwing off more produce than we can handle, we're eating almost for free at every meal. Plus it tastes delicious, is waste free and is healthy for us.

kitsapFG said...

With the exception of drying my clothes by hanging - we practice almost all of those concepts. I think it is best summed up by the saying: "Live Simply - So That Others May Simply Live".

Rjs said...

Good ideas - I'll have to take up the one on making your own cloth napkins. I have some outgrown kids clothes with a couple of stains that might just make it a little longer...!

The Mom said...

Green Bean, isn't it wonderful having all that produce everywhere?! I love it.

Kitsap, you summed it up perfectly.

Rjs, let me know how it works out. My kids love them.

Steph @ Greening Families said...

We were obviously on the same wavelength for the carnival! Thanks - it always makes me so happy to know my family is not odd for living this way, just odd for our town!

The Mom said...

Steph, you are certainly not odd as far as I'm concerned. However, I'm kind of odd myself!

Lisa Sharp said...

I love all your tips. This is such a great topic as so many people think you have to spend a lot of money to be green. I always tell people if you aren't saving money by going green you are doing something wrong. :)

The Mom said...

Thanks Lisa, I agree that green is certainly frugal. Otherwise its just another aspect of consumerism.