Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Being Green can help you save green

I never realized how being frugal and being green go together so well. I have spent the last four and a half years trying to be as frugal as I can without being cheap! I have also spent the last few years trying to be greener in our lifestyle. And recently while reading a few articles about each of these topics, I realized that being green is often the same as being frugal! With being green I don't mean going organic. Going organic is not really a frugal choice. You can be organic and be frugal, but it is not always easy. I would love to buy only organic foods, however I do not have the budget to feed my family solely organic foods unless I really change our lifestyle.

What I am talking about with going green is how much we don't waste, and how much we reuse in our effort to buy less. Buying less is a green choice, however there are many specific things I do that are frugal and green.

1. I use cloth diapers. I buy a product (and you can buy these second hand) and reuse it. I have used many of my diapers for two or three of my children. Over time they do need to be replaced, but not four or five times a day! This is green because the production is lower, the materials are fewer, the transportation happens much less often (disposable diapers need to be manufactured and then shipped to the stores) and I am not adding to our landfills. Also, there are far fewer chemicals used in treating cloth diapers than in disposable diapers.

2. I use cloth wipes. This is green and frugal for the same reasons above.

3. I use vinegar to clean my kitchen and bathroom floor as well as in my laundry. A LARGE bottle of vinegar costs me less than $4 and can last me several months. No chemicals that are in other house cleaners and I don't replace it as often.

4. I buy second hand clothes for my kids and hand off what they do not destroy. Frugal because I LOVE hand me downs and their price, and second hand clothes at stores and tag sales are far cheaper than new clothes in stores. I can still buy from some of my favorite stores (cute clothes and often long lasting) but not pay that high sticker price. Less clothes are manufactured (less pollution) and transported to the store when we do this.

5. I turn lights off when they are not being used. This cuts down on electricity usage and it cuts down my bill.

6. I have a garden. I love fresh produce (who doesn't?) but it can be expensive. Having a garden cuts down on the cost and it really cannot get any fresher than right out of your own backyard. And there is not transportation! My garden turned out better than it has in years but I still found many things I can do to make it better and larger next year.

7. We compost. This cuts down on our trash (and in some local areas you pay by the bagful) and also provide nutrient rich soil for my garden. No chemicals and I don't need to buy fertilizer for my garden!

8. We recycle. Again this cuts down on our trash. And recycle isn't just putting things in the blue bin rather than the green. I re-use things in my own house. Many items can be used in crafts or for storage. Newspaper can be shredded and used for packing fragile items away safely or shipping them safely. Empty cool whip containers make great lunch containers for Jon and ones I don't worry about coming back because they were free (he is really bad about bringing his lunch containers home).

9. Using re-usable containers. This can be higher cost up front, but down the line you save. I recently bought several reusable fabric lunch and snack bags from Etsy. It was more to buy them than a bag of plastic bags at the time. But I will not be buying plastic bags every few weeks. And I will not be adding to the landfills. And they are WAY cuter than plastic bags. We also use lunch boxes. No brown bags here! And we bought several of the grocery totes and use those rather than plastic grocery bags.

10. I often cook from scratch. I try not to buy prepackaged meals. They are not nearly as healthy as things I can make in my own kitchen. And often then are over packaged. Instead I buy ingredients that I can make several meals from and save on the packaging and the price.

11. I try not to buy prepackaged individual sized servings. Unless these things are on sale and i have coupons it is ALWAYS less expensive to buy the large container and portion the food out myself. There is less trash this way as well. It may take a few extra minutes but it is worth my time.

I am sure there are other ways I am green to save green but I can't think of them right now. How are you green and saving green?

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