Friday, October 3, 2008
Lean and Green: Money and Earth Saving Tips
No, I'm not going to give you yet another suggestion to change your light bulbs. I get that eco-fatigue has some of you wishing you could donate to Bono's causes or buy those $200 organic sheets, but you just can't afford it. And yet, other greenies will ride their bike to work no matter which way the winds of the economy blow. I swing back and forth depending on my mood, cynical one day, optimistic the next. But whatever my inclination, I always love saving green. I love a sale, a deal, and every bargain.
Here's how I'm cutting back on spending and helping Mother Nature at the same time. Feel free to add your ideas.
Saving With Solar. For many years, adding solar panels was too expensive for me to install. But new leasing programs like those offered by Solar City help people with utility bills over $150 save money switching to solar, as NBC points out in their recent coverage. As a penny pincher, I get very excited watching the dial spin backwards on my utility meter. Take that APS!
Throw in the Towel. The average American has $497 worth of cleaning products in their house and only uses three of them more than once a year. Paper towels and tissue costs go up every few days. I've given up 80% of my cleaning products and paper towel use.
Dura-hooked microfiber clothes and hot water can replace chemicals and cleaners. I didn't believe it until I tried it, but it cleans better than abrasive cleaners or fume-filled sprays for most cleanups. As for getting rid of the unused products, if I have just a small amount of cleaner left, I wash or flush it down the drain with lots of water. For large quantities, I check Earth911 to see how to dispose of it. My neighbor sold her cleaning products at a yard sale! Didn't help the planet to keep those products in use, but in the long run Mother Nature wins because she won't be buying any more cleaners.
Give it Up. Cutting back on spending for me means less cash to donate to my favorite causes. Instead of feeling guilty, I'm cleaning out closets and clutter to recycle unwanted, unused household items through Freecycle.org. Artwork that no longer fits my decor and jewelry I no longer wear goes to the local silent aution.
I gave up shopping alone and joined a warehouse club with friends. BJs, Sam's Club and Costco can take a big bite out of shopping expenses. They also allow member's to bring a guest. I drive and shop with my friends for more fun, less gas, and lower fees. I also pick up tips about coupons and specials and new items by shopping with someone else.
The nearest health food store is 20 minutes away from my house by car. I've cut back on driving by buying in bulk from Amazon.com. Shipping is free when you sign up for auto delivery.
Cut the Plaque. Research makes a connection between poor dental health and heart health. Realizing that keeping your teeth clean now might prevent bill health care costs in the future, some health insurance companies have started offering inexpensive dental plans. Steve and I spent $600 on routine cleanings on our last visit to the dentist. All of that is covered in our new plan for $10 a month, no co-pays. We have to use the HMO providers, but there were two green dentists on the list which made going HMO easier to swallow.
All Washed Up. I switched from my expensive, organic soaps to Kirk's basic bar and saved $4.97 a bar. Available for $1.57 a bar on Amazon. But watch the shipping, if you're not in the Subscribe and Save program, the shipping is a ridiculous $6.00.
Check what food is in season locally and therefore, usually less expensive. Lime.com has a map for the entire US to help you find it.
For me, eco luxury is about making life easy on me and the planet, it's not about one or the other, it's both.