In light of all the goings on (rising prices and the sad shape our Earth is in), I have made some goals for myself. Prices are not going to stop rising any time soon, and I am not going to become rich any time soon, so something(or someone) has to give. That would be me. I am also sadly aware of the waste that households create, and of the need to do something about it.
Hence, this new category for the blog. How do I combine pinching pennies everywhere possible, and the need to generate less waste and help our Earth? Well, below you will find information on where I am starting. Where will you start?
Feel free to post any helpful information you have, or information on your efforts in these two areas. All posts are moderated, and I will send through positive posts that will be helpful to others, or that show your efforts to make these necessary changes.
Here are my goals:
* Unplug what I can when the appliances/electronics are not in use.
I saw on either HGTV or DIY a nifty idea. You take a shoe box with a cover, cut holes in the sides for different cords, place your power strip inside the box (feeding the cord out one of the holes and plugging it in to the outlet), and then feeding into the box the plugs from the appliances/electronics. Plug these into the power strip and cover the box. You can decorate the box before doing this if you would like. The box can be placed anywhere accessible so you can easily turn the power strip on and off, and should not look gaudy.
I suppose that we could also try to attach the power strips to the wall/entertainment center/cabinets. I wonder if this would work, and how. I will have to look into it.
These appliances/electronics use electricity even when they are turned off, so it will save money to use one or more of the techniques above.
My dishwasher is portable, so it is unplugged after each use so that it can be rolled back to its place in the kitchen.
I always keep the small appliances on the counter unplugged when they are not in use.
We do not leave cell phone and other chargers plugged in when not in use.
* The desk top and laptop should be turned off and unplugged when not in use, as long as I will not need them again withing a half-an-hour.
* My daughter and I will be purchasing Diva Cups next week. This will save a lot of money each year that we otherwise would be using to pay for tampons and pads. Though they cost more than I would like, we will recover the cost of them before the first years use is up. We understand how to use them and how to keep them clean, and each one will likely last 10 years. Using the Diva Cups will also enable us to throw less trash into landfills, save money on toilet paper, and not flush tampons into the sewers. Plus, they are healthier for us.
* Though I am not 100% sure about the Infinity Razor for women, my daughter and I decided that we will each give one a try. Supposedly, these will last many years, and will be replaced free if they do not. This could save quite a bit of money. It could also help our Earth by us not throwing all of the used disposable razors and blades into the landfills.
* Less toilet paper goal. This one I will be doing, not my daughter, the daycare children and company. I am going to be doing a sort of trial, using premade cloth wipes instead. This won’t even be as bad as changing cloth diapers, as I am not collecting waste, just wiping. Sounds gross, yes. But it will be helpful. I will keep a covered bucket in the bathroom filled half way with water and baking soda for soaking. I will make the cloths myself, and reuse a bucket (instead of throwing it out). If I decide I don’t want to continue with this, I don’t have to. But, if I decide to keep using theis method, I will be saving more money on toilet paper, and flushing less waste.
* Household cleaners. I recently found a recipe for for powdered dishwasher detergent. Though I haven’t tried it yet, I am planning to soon. I already use vinegar in the rinse cycle.
I am still looking for a liquid dish detergent for sink washing. And, I need an environmentally safe, non-toxic substitute for bleach.
I have already made posts for the household cleaners and laundry detergent that I make.
These cleaning products are cheap to make, and are not harmful to the environment.
* Batteries. The neighbor gave us a small battery charger for AA and AAA batteries. We will have to invest in the rechargeable batteries. I would also like to see if I can find a charger that will take 9-volts, C’s and D’s as well. If I can, I will give the small charger to someone else who wants to help our Earth. How many time can a rechargeable battery be recharged?
* I have begun hanging out laundry again, which will help to lower the utility bill for the spring/summer and fall. My goal for next winter is to hang the lighter things to dry somewhere inside the trailer.
* Saving water. We already wash full loads of laundry, so therwill not be much of a change in this area. I am sure that there are some articles of clothing that I can wear more than once before washing. Tops mostly. Maybe pants every so often. I only use one towel to dry off with, and really prefer to wash it after each use, but I am willing to hang the bath mat rather than washing it each day.
When I am gardening, I do a few things to help save money and water. First, I dump the dish pan water in the flower gardens. For the herbs, fruits and vegetables, I will use the cold water I run while waiting for the dish water to heat, as well as the cold water from the tub. This year, I plan to put a bucket in the shower to catch water as well. I will place it under the shower head. I will also use the water left in cups, and the water from cooking hard boiled eggs, pasta and vegetables in the gardens.
We will take shorter showers. I will teach my daughter and the daycare children to wet their hands and then turn the water off until they are ready to rinse their hands off. And to do that quickly.
I already use the shortest wash cycle in the washing machine, and we do not flush every time we use the toilet. Just for #2’s. And I swish the toilet each day so that it doesn’t get yucky!
We turn of the water while brushing our teeth.
* Plastics. I will try putting the yucky faucet water into a pitcher in the sink, whenever I can’t get well water from my mother or sister. I hear that, after leaving the water in the refirgerator over night, the chlorine is supposed to evaporate when you do this. This will not only save money on bottled water, but it will also mean that people will not have to use precious resources to recycle these bottles.
I wash and reuse all plastic baggies that we use. These are great for freezing and for storing foods that you do not want a lot of air getting into. I will not likely stop using these all together, but I will cut down on the need to buy so many.
We have enough reusable water bottles so that we do not have to buy drinks in plastic bottles at the store.
I do have reusable plastic silverware and snack containers for picnics. I am actually purchasing as much of this stuff as possible at yardsales. Saving them from the landfills…(I also have a fabric table cover, napkins and placemats for our picnics, as well as reusable totes and lunch boxes.) I am working on this area.
Less plastic in landfills would be a good thing.
* As for food, I purchased a box of those bags that they are advertising on television. The reusable ones. We waste a lot of our precious food dollars by throwing out things that we do not have time to eat. These bags should help to keep our fruits and vegetables frehs longer.
I would also like those lids that they are advertising. The ones that you press down on to keep foods fresher. They would work nicely for things that we cannot put into the bags.
Okay. I have to be more disciplined. I have all of these canvas totes for shopping (not just for food), but I need to remember to actually grab them on the way out the door. I cannot keep them in the car, as there is no car. The sad thing is that I have them hanging on a hook near the door, and I still forget them!
I want to buy more fresh produce from local farmer’s markets and roadside stands. I purchased a bag of potatoes last week from a man who parks over town. I paid only $1.50, and they are so much fresher than what I can get at the grocery store.
I plan to grow as much food as I can on the tiny lot that we live on. Here are some places for affordable seeds:
I will also scavenge the materials to make a few garden beds. And, I will do the same at some point (this year or next) to make cold frames. I will also need a trellis or two. Maybe three or four.
I want to learn to grow more herbs. I plan to give dried herbs as gifts to people at the holidays, and sharing with my daughters when they have their own places. Then they won’t have to purchase so many herbs themselves. I also want to learn herbalism and home remedies.
I also have to learn to dry and/or freeze the herbs. I only know how to do this with parsley.
I want to try to eat vegetarian for a week to see if I can take it. If so, we will eat a (mainly) vegetarian diet here, with minimal meats. I will have to learn to cook some new things.
I may not be able to do this this year, but I plan to purchase (hopefully second hand) the supplies necessary for canning and water baths. At the very least, I could be making the following:
apple pie filling
apple crisp filling
I also plan to compost so that the food we grow will be more abundant and healthier. I plan to build one or two bins this summer, but will have four or five before I am done. I will place these at the back of the far end of the trailer. They will not be seen from the road, and will prevent the neighbors and their children from walking by my bedroom window. I will be sure to leave enough space to put the banking through in the fall. I will scavenge the materials for this project.
I will drink more tea instead of powdered drinks. This will save money and be healthier.
* I plan to collect water in buckets, to at least water the flowers with. I know that this is not a well thought out idea yet, but it will serve my purpose for now. I do not have a gutter to collect by, so I am counting on the rain itself going inot the buckets. I think Mother Nature can handle it. The buckets will be put where they will not be noticed.
Later, I plan to have a more thought out system set up.
* Electricity will be saved by using the dryer less, and by unplugging things. I do use flourescent light bulbs, and would like to use solar lighting for outside when I have the extra cash. We use natural sunlight as late as possible every day.
* Do you know that many people do not use soap? And, they don’t stink! I have also read that many people with skin problems don’t use soap, and their skin balances itself so much that they don’t have problems with it any more. These people have skin that looks and feels better.
Will I try this? Maybe, but not fully (at first, at least). I have such skin sensitivities, that I think showering without soap may be helpful. However, I think that I will continue to use soap on certain important areas, just in case.
At any rate, I do plan to start making my own soaps, even if they are only used on the important areas, as I have sensitivities to store-bought soaps. Oatmeal and goats milk soaps work quite well.
* Now, can someone tell me how a person who does not use deodorant does not have smelly arm pits? I would really like to know. A famous guest on Oprah does not use deodorant, not sure who she was. Julia Roberts? I can’t remember. I missed the episode, and would like to know what other things she does, or doesn’t do.
* Heating is another area that I am not happy with. I have oil heat. I know that this is not good for the environment, but I cannot afford to switch to anything else. I would never switch to electric because it is just too expensive. Here are some things that I do:
I clean the filter on the furnace door twice a year.
I vacuum out the vents twice a year.
Bank the trailer each fall, plugging in heat tape.
This year, the dryer vent came unhooked, so it was venting under the trailer all winter.
Here is what I plan to do over the next couple of years:
Make/purchase at yardales: draft stoppers and wall and window quilts.
Get register heat blockers
A long-term goal is to replace my windows.
* My nephew and I will be trying to make candles from the stubs of used candles. The plan is to purchase wicks, and scavenge candle holders. I recently received a bunch of holders with mostly used candles. I am using the candles as long as they can still be used, then saving the leftovers and washing the holders. This will be a fun project.
* Yardsaling is a great adventure. Not only can you purchase things that you need very cheaply, but you can also prevent those items from ending up in landfills.
I plan to look for blankets, quilts, afghans and comforters at yardsales. We are also in need of fluffier pillows again. If I purchase a couple, then I can open the old ones and combine their contents. If I can only find flat pillows, then I can do the same to combine more than one to make fluffier pillows. This can be done by lightly sewing together the tow filling pieces.
There are other things that I will be looking for as well.
* I have to stock up on lamp oil and wicking, as well as get a new one of those globe thingys, for the oild lamps. These will be nice during the winter evenings when we do not need a lot of light.
* I will be re-teaching myself to crochet. I need the simple stitch to finish the scarf that my neighbor started. She gave me the started scarf and yarn before she moved, and a new scarf will come in handy next winter.
* I want to learn to make braided and/or rag rugs.
* I need to make curtains, placemats and cloth napkins.
Here are some things that I do that have less of an impact on my purse and the environment:
~ I purchase a lot, if not most, of the things that we need second hand.
~ I shop resale/consigment/church shops.
~ I shop yard/garage sales.
~ I take what people offer me. If I don’t need the items, I pass them along to someone who does.
~ I give things away rather than throw them out. If no one that I know wants them, I put them on my front lawn with a big free sign. Usually things go pretty quickly. I also donate things to charities, and if I leave things by the dumpster someone will usually snatch them up.
I may add more goals to this categorie in the future, and I will post updates as well.
Happing saving and helping!