Thursday, April 19, 2012

9 Sneaky Green Ways to Save Money

I always struggle when it comes to writing an Earth Day post because everyday is Earth Day around here.

Frankly, my mind is more on trimming the fat from our family budget to pay for Blitzkrieg’s medical bills, and rebuilding our emergency fund which keeps getting knocked back after last year’s Back Luck Summer

A conversation with my newest sister in law Mrs J2 last weekend lit the CFL light bulb of inspiration over my head. (What other kind of light bulb would expect to go off over my head? An energy wasting incandescent? Pea-shaw!)

She and her new husband (I never get tired of saying that. I’m a gushy romantic - sue me.) are in Newlywed Money Saving Mode. I started kicking around ideas with her from Condo Blues. She politely said she wasn’t into the green thing so much because it is expensive. Her new family is more interested in saving enough money to buy a house.

The funny thing is, back when I was a newlywed and in Newlywed Saving Mode most of the things we did and still do to save money are green, only back then green was a color, not a movement.

Sister in Law, here’s a little list of  ways that save money and just so happen to be green. This isn’t a I Do All of These And I’m So Much Greener than You list. Everyone is different, has different priorities and preferences, and some green ways conflict with other green ways (which most people don't mention.) Consider this list a Swiss Army Knife of Money Saving Green Options, Not Absolutes.

9 Stealthy Green Ways to Save Money

1. Make Laundry Detergent   I couldn’t find a laundry detergent I liked and worked in my HE washing machine. I ended up making my own. It works great, the price is right, I know exactly what is in it,  and I still use it.  

2.  12 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bottles (Because I am an over achiever.)  In my sister in law’s small town they don’t have a city wide recycling program and not as many plastic free shopping options as I do in Columbus.  If you can't do without or recycle, than find a way to reuse it!

I love this idea!

3. Ditch the Plastic Wrap.  During almost every visit, my mom asks me a question about how my friend Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life doesn't use plastic for something. Her latest question was, “what does she do for Saran Wrap to keep leftovers?” I answered Mom’s question by grabbing the plate of deviled eggs with toothpicks stuck in them and covered with a sheet of not so sticky plastic wrap from her, put the deviled eggs into a reusable container and snapped on the lid. I haven't spent money on plastic wrap or zippered baggies for at least two years. I think reusable containers keep leftover cheese, lunch meat and food fresher than using a plastic zipper bag or wrapping a plate or bowl with plastic wrap anyway.

I bought a set of Pryex containers like these and like them so much better than the BPA free plastic containers I have.  The glass containers don't eventually get icky and scuffed up like the plastic containers. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)

By the way Mom, I’m going to slide a copy of Beth’s upcoming book Plastic Free (learn more about it here) (under you nose after I buy it and read it. I'm sure it will answer many of your "how does she..." questions. Also one of my DIYs might be in it! Cool, huh?

I'm so ordering this book!

4. Learn how to hem pants into shorts.  My mom used to cut and hem my pants and jeans into shorts when I blew out the knees as a kid. I recently used this trick to turn a pair of paints I accidentally scorched while ironing into Capri pants because of course I ruined the pants only after wearing them once. Now I can keep wearing them.

5. Use a Reusable Furnace Filter. This one is all on Husband. For the price of a package of the super duper allergen sucking disposable furnace filters we bought every month, Husband bought a super duper allergen sucking washable and reusable furnace filter that works better in my opinion because I can clean it as often as I need to during pollen season.

This is our reusable furnace filter. It is adjustable to fit any furnace. You can learn about it here.

6. Seal  Your Heating and Cooling DuctsThis one isn’t sexy but it’s a cheap fix that saved us hundreds in heating and cooling bills. I sealed the joints of our heating ducts with aluminum tape and sealed any air leaks with spray foam in a can. The most profitable 20 minute DIY I ever did.

I think my ducts are showing. 

7. Use Cloth Napkins. I never understood how two people could go through a package of 100 count paper napkins in one week. I caught Husband on more than one occasion by passing the kitchen counter sponge (color coded for counters only and sterilized in the dishwasher every time I run it) and paper towels for a wad of paper napkins. I put my dressy causal cloth napkins in the napkin basket on the counter and saved myself at least $10 a month in paper napkins and that many more trees. I buy my cloth napkins by the dozen from here.

 8. Upcycle Cardboard Boxes into Cute, Matching Storage Boxes. Don’t get me wrong. I like to visit the Great Temple of Drooling Over Organization  too (although you may call it The Container Store.) However, stylish little fixes like how I turn six pack caddies into clever storage boxes mean I have the extra money to sometimes actually shop there too.

Not only do paper towels make the environment cry
 (a tweak at Husband's nose) but they also cost you money

9. Add a Draft Dodger to Doors  I grew up in homes that used draft blocker on the front door during the winter. It wasn’t until I did a DIY energy audit that I realized I needed a draft snake on my doors year round to keep the summer air conditioned air as well as the winter heated air from escaping from the house and driving my bill through the roof.

What sneaky green ways do you do to save some green?

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Robj98168 said...

I like your ideas. One way I save $$$ is reusing everything I can in the garden- Pop bottles (thats a tricky one since I don't buy them) for planters, as well as shopping bags. I made a fantastic pea trellis using an old metal head board in my allotment plot,
Another thing (if you have the option) is to downsize your garbage can saves the trash flow ib my case and saves mey $18 and change every 3 months! Thats almost $80 per year! ANd save the water- use low flow shower heads and faucet aerators, Using less water means saving water and money, and my bet is you would never notice the smaller flow of water until the water bill comes!

Mistress Nine said...

I love these!! My favorite is the label on the towel box!

Anonymous said...

Great ideas and want to cheer you on in your money saving adventure. We have been "going green" for 30 + years now and it is such a blessing to be dept free!

Unknown said...

It's always interesting to me when people say that living green is expensive. Sure, there are aspects of it that can be spendy (just saw a new LED lightbulb for $60) ... but for the most part, I've found living green actually saves us money. For example, we try to reduce energy for the planet and save money ... we use non-toxic, homemade cleansers (vinegar, baking soda, etc.) and save money. So I really don't get the "expense" excuse. Here are a few more ideas ... unplug everything except the refrigerator and save all that phantom energy ... lower (or turn off) the water heater and save, save, save ... get creative in reusing food containers (use them for storage, planters, gift containers, etc.) and yep, save!

Thanks for linking up at our Meet & Greet! :-)

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I fought it early on. I changed my mind when I developed an elearning course at work about saving money and eliminating debit. One of the exercises I created asked students to calculate how much extra they were paying on loans and credit cards due to the interest payments. It's a good thing I sit down when I work at a computer! That got me on board the Cash Only spending bus.

Anonymous said...

Great ideas. You don't need to buy reusable tubs either - I was up the butter boxes etc and use them.
Thanks for sharing.

M. said...

Great tips! I'm going to have to try some, so clever & so simple! Found you through WFMW

Jane Anne said...

I really enjoyed reading these ideas. I am going to have to do some of these. I bought reusable lunch containers this year and I haven't missed having to buy sandwich bags for my 4 kids.
Thanks for the ideas!

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