Tuesday, June 30, 2009

#33 Close Those Shades (summer)

The sun can really heat up a room quickly. If you are able to block the sunlight from entering your home you can help keep the temperature much cooler. If you can afford them, you can buy insulated shades that absorb the heat. I have them on one of my south facing windows and they are wonderful. This is my first summer with them and I think I may need to purchase some more. They do a really good job.

And if you are looking to still let light in but limit the amount of heat, then it is important that you close the shades on the windows to the south and west in your home (at least in the area of the world that we live in.) Light still enter in through the north and east windows but they won't be in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day, which is when you really want to have those shades drawn.

Monday, June 29, 2009

#32 Put on a Sweater or Use a Blanket

Instead of raising the thermostat to feel more comfortable on those chilly days, put on a sweater or cover up with a blanket. Something as simple as adding more layers to yourself can help save money. Remember the posts about your thermostat, well, let me refresh your memory – for every 1 degree you keep your thermostat lowered for 8 consecutive in colder months, you save yourself 1 percent on your heating bill. And another little tip, if your feet are cold, just run a little warm water over them quickly to warm them up and then put on some warm socks & slippers. They will be feel toasty in no time.

#31 Install Sink Aerators

This is a very inexpensive solution to conserving water. You will easily make up the amount of money you spend on your water bill by installing these on all your faucets
and your will be conserving the amount of this precious natural resource you are using.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

#30 Save Shower Water

(while warming it up) to Water Plants

don't do this and I know I should. I also let the water warm up too long, which annoys the hubby. But hey – my daughter gets me distracted sometimes.

But if I were to do it, I could place a bucket I the shower to collect water and use it to water my plants. You obviously wouldn't need to do this every day, unless you have A LOT of plants.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

#29 Unplug Unused Appliances & Electronics

My husband gets annoyed that I am constantly unplugging things behind him and in turn I am annoyed he doesn't unplug items he is done using. I am trying to prevent that phantom power-load that occurs when appliances & electronics use, even while turned off. I am not convinced that even though and item does not have a “power light” on it doesn't mean it's not drawing power. I would rather not pay for and waste any money/energy if I don't have to.

But think about the electronics your may have in various parts of your home that are used infrequently. Do you have anything in a guest bedroom using up energy when no one is there to enjoy it? Unplug it until you have guests again.

It is also suggested to use power strips to plug in your electronics that tend to accumulate on one area (like your entertainment systems or computer systems), so that you can turn off the power strip to stop the flow of electricity, yet still keep everything plugged in so it is not such a hassle to plug everything back in.

Friday, June 26, 2009

#28 Install CFL Light bulbs

This may cost you a little bit initially, but over time you can save that money plus some. Check with your utility company, as some will give you some for free for asking and some have rebate programs where they give you money back for purchasing them. Also, keep your eyes our for coupons or rebates for CFL light bulbs, they do exist.

And since summer if fair time, your utility company (or some other one) might be passing them out. Keep your eye out for those fair freebies!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

#27 Plant a Bush or Tree

Planting a tree has so many benefits to us and the earth. For starters, a plant/tree will release oxygen back into the air (yes! That stuff we need to breathe). A tree can provide an pleasing aesthetic view for you. An evergreen tree will provide protection for your home from wind and drifting snow and the less wind to reach your home in the winter the better your helping you have better control of your heating. A deciduous tree will provide shade for your home which will help to cool it. Any tree or bush planted near enough your central air compressor that it will provide shade for it will help your compressor to run more smoothly because it will not overheat in the sun.

Trees can help bring structure to your landscape and prevent runoff. Trees can help provide shade to you while you are outside or can become a natural barrier/fence. Trees can provide food & shelter to area wildlife that you can enjoy watching. Trees can provide entertainment for your children (to climb in, hang a swing from, etc.) Trees can provide a sound barrier from busy streets (or neighbors).

Plant a tree today!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

#26 Use a Space Heater to Heat Single Rooms

Seems funny that my back-to-back posts revolve around heat. One about staying away from it and one about getting it.

Space heaters don't lose energy through combustion or the transferring of heat, so all the heat generated goes right into the room. Often people turn up the heat for the entire house when using a space heater in just one room, the room them are in, would be sufficient.

You are just wasting money, gas and/or electricity by heating the entire house when you will only be a in a couple rooms. I really like the digital space heaters that sense the temperature, so they turn off within a degree or two above what you have it set for and will turn back on again within a degree or two below what you have it set for. That way the space heater is not continuously running.

On really cold, windy days in our old house, I like to “pre-heat” our bedroom at night, but then turn off the space heater. By the time the room cools I have warmed myself nicely under the covers and am not bothered by the crispness in the air outside of the covers.

We also sometimes use a space heater just in the living room when we first wake up on those winter mornings. Living in a Midwest Northern climate can make for some chilly mornings and the house with it's hot water heat doesn't heat as fast as those homes with forced air, so we will turn on the space heater in the living room while we are in there to take the bite away from the chill while the house warms up. In the meantime, I usually have a batch of muffins or bread going in the oven because the heat from cooking will help warm things up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

#25 Hang Out in the Basement on Hot Days

Our basement is generally below 70 degrees and lately with this high humidity we have been having it has been so great to go hang out down there. I am pretty happy that we made a play room in the basement for my daughter, because I think we will be playing around down there a lot this summer (whenever we are not at the community pool).

The more we hang out down there, the less concerned we get with the heat and/or humidity upstairs and don't feel the need to turn on the A/C's. The longer we can keep the A/C turned off, the less electricity we use. And we all know the goal is to cut down on our electrical consumption & save some green.

Monday, June 22, 2009

#24 Use Fans

Fans use less energy to run than A/C or your central air system. Before turning on your a/c or turning down your thermostat in the summer, see if using ceiling fans will help. Ceiling fans will hep circulate the air around you, which as it passes your skin will have a cooling effect. Set your ceiling fan to rotate counter-clockwise in the summer.

Also, don't shy away from box fans & circulating fans. These too will save you more money on energy costs that using your A/C. A well-placed box fan in a window in the evening can help draw in that cool air. Just be sure to remove the fan by mid-morning when it starts to warm up. That cool air you drew in from outside can keep your house cooled for quite a while, especially if you keep the shades drawn so that the sun isn't quickly heating up your house through your windows.

Fans used in your house in conjunction with you A/C unit can help you push air through the house so that the coolness reaches more areas, thus cutting down on the need for additional air conditioners. And if you have cooled your house down, turn off that A/C and let the fans push around the cool air to keep you feel comfortable.

In the winter, you can also use your ceiling fans. We all learned in grade school that hot air rises, so a problem in heating our home efficiently revolves around using that hot air that is being wasted at ceiling height. Set your ceiling fan to rotate clockwise during the winter months and it will push some of the hot air down to you.

#23 Raise Your Thermostat

This is a post for all those people living comfortably in their central air who have their homes set at a constant temperature all year long. Basically, the formula is the same but in reverse as lowering your thermostat. During the warmer months you will save 1% for every 1 degree your raise your thermostat during an 8-hour period. During the day, when you are away, raise the temperature by 5-10 degrees (just as you would at night) and when you are home keep your temperature raised a couple degrees and enjoy the savings in your pocketbook and the peace of mind know you are reducing CO2 emissions.

If you are like our family & have hot water heat and your cooling system is window A/C, you can still take advantage of your thermostat by monitoring the indoor temperature on there. Turn off your A/C when you leave the house.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

#22 Lower Your Thermostat

They say that lowering your thermostat by 2 degrees is supposed to save 4% (on average for 16 hours). It is also suggested to lower your thermostat at night by 5-10 degrees (depending upon where you start from during the day) to save 5-10% on your heating bill during that time. And if no one is in your home during the day, set your thermostat to a lower temperature during the day as well.

Invest in a programmable thermostat so that you can easily program it to change temperature on a schedule that works for you. There is no reason to heat your home so warm when you are not there, so set your thermostat to begin heating up the house before you normally get home so that you can enjoy the warmth, but not have to suffer with the cost of heating it to that temperature all day.

Also, remember to lower that temperature on your thermostat when you go on vacation. Set your thermostat to 55-60 degrees. You shouldn't go lower than that because you don't want your pipes to freeze. Plus, you have to consider the welfare of your pets. You decide how low is appropriate for your pets.

The formula to figure out how much money you will save is 1% for every 1-degree lowered for an 8-hour period. So, with knowing that formula, you can figure out when it is best for you to lower that thermostat. And if you are just starting off, start out slow and lower it 1-degree lower for a week and then lower it another degree for a week. It might be too much of a shock & discouraging if you try to lower it too much too fast. Most people will not notice 1-degree difference.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

#21 Buy in Bulk

Make sure you check prices before buying items in bulk. Sometimes the cost is the same (or more) and the retailer is hoping you won't notice. The best way to buy food in bulk is from the bulk bins at your grocery store. You may need to look at organic/natural food section to find these bins. But buying in bulk helps cut down on excess packaging. Some places (or for some items) they do allow you to bring in your own containers (with you knowing the weight of the container to subtract), so take that into consideration because you will be cutting down even further on packaging.

Or just consider by larger sizes. There is much less packaging & materials used on a container twice the size. You get twice the amount of product for less money and less wasted materials. But just be sure you are going to use that product in the time. It doesn't make sense to buy larger sizes if the product will go to waste & you unnecessarily purchased a larger container.

Also beware of packaging at bulk stores like Sam's Club & Costco. Sometimes your “bulk” items are each individually wrapped (like paper towels) and then wrapped again as a package. You are not saving on packaging here. Look for items that are not individually wrapped & wrapped again.

Friday, June 19, 2009

#20 Walk

I think this bears repeating:

Hey – not only do you cut-down on the carbon emissions released through your exhaust system, but you also are getting “free” exercise.

We don't walk as much when it is my daughter & I because we can get places faster on the bike, but when friends/family join us we walk because there isn't enough bikes, so our feet must be our mode of transportation.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

#19 Ride Your Bicycle

Hey – not only do you cut-down on the carbon emissions released through your exhaust system, but you also are getting “free” exercise.

My daughter loves to ride in the burley or carrier while I pedal. I can strap a backpack of stuff to take along on my back or put it alongside of her in the burley and we are set to go to the park or community pool to play. We live in a sleepy town w/o many businesses, so there isn't much to bike too, but I do try to bike when we can. There is little reason to drive my car a half mile to go to the park.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

#18 Shop a Farmer's Market

If you can't plant a garden or didn't plant some things you wanted, go check out your local Farmer's Market. Your money stay local and helps someone you may know. Often times the prices at a Farmer's market are the same or cheaper than the grocery store. And like I mentioned before, the average gardener tends to use less pesticides & chemicals than a large-scale grower. Plus, by buying locally you cut down on the carbon emissions related to transporting items, as well as locally. Often, farmers at the farmer's market will re-use strorage containers to transport their items and have plastic bags or other items for you to reuse to bring home your items in, or better yet, bring your reusable shopping bags.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

#17 Plant a Garden

Personally, I think reasons why some don't do a garden is because some people are intimidated by gardening and don't know where to start and so don't even bother. Other people I think have too high of expectations and find themselves let down. And others start out strong but finish weak and then are not happy with the experience.

I think lack of space is a poor excuse not to garden, which goes back to the too high of expectations. There is so much out there about container gardening that even in a small space (patio, window sill, countertop, etc.) Gardening can be as small as a couple of small pots with herbs.

I have a large space and I do a big vegetable garden as well as containers by the house. For the most part, I start my containers and garden from seed. It's definitely more cost effective to start from seed. Oh, and don't be fooled by the sell-by date on the back of seed packages, that is for stores. As long as you keep your seeds stored in a cool, dry spot they will keep for years. Case in point – I planted some spaghetti squash seeds that are a good 5 years old. There were 5 seeds left in the packet, and even though they were the last seeds to sprout up this year I did get 3 plants out of it (ironically, I planted 5 zucchini seeds from a brand new seed packet and only 1 plant sprouted. So, save those seeds, don't waste money on buying new ones next year when you can use up what you already have.

I did buy tomato and banana pepper plants from the store because I wanted a few of several varieties and didn't get seeds started early enough, although I did start cherry tomatoes inside (a little late though) and they are outside in a pot now and are doing well. Those too were “old seeds” from two years ago.

What else do I have planted? In pots of I have tomatoes, banana peppers, spinach, salad green, cilantro, basil, & nasturtiums (pretty flowers that you can eat!).

And don't be fooled into thinking you need expensive seeds. At some retailers you can find seed packets for 10/$1 of 5/$1 (like Wal-greens, Ace Hardware, Big Lots or True Value). I have had just as much luck with cheap seeds as seeds that cost almost $2/packet. You will be limited in varieties/types with cheap seeds, but it can be a good base. I have to splurge on my salad greens, which were almost $2/packet but when I consider that it costs about $4 for a 5oz. Package in the grocery store, and that $2 packet will give me 5-10 times more, I think I got a pretty good deal.

In my garden I have tomatoes, turnips, yellow wax beans, green beans, peas, watermelon, canteloupe, pumpkin, yellow squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash, cucumber and that lettuce “paper” Kraft had for free, which doesn't seem to be sprouting on it's mound and I will soon plant some other greens of lettuce there.

Once these plants are big enough & start producing fruit, there will be little needs to go to the grocery store for vegetables and I should have plenty to freeze/can for later in the year. And when you consider I do not use any chemicals & fertilizers, I am essentially raising my own organic vegetables and we know how much those cost in the store. Just one meal of each vegetable saves me more money from just buying seeds than buying them in the grocery store.

And if you save your seeds from your fruit (pumpkin, beans, squashes, & tomatoes are easy to do that with), you don't even have to buy new seeds the next year, which cuts down on your cost the following year.

So, how are we helping the environment. Well for starters, you will need to make less trip to the grocery store to buy these items, thus saving on the carbon emissions released. The plants themselves help put valuable oxygen back into the air and if you let the plants compost back into the dirt after they die, they will give back nutrients to the soil.

And even if you do use chemicals or fertilizers, the average homeowner puts much less on than the crop owners do on the products you buy at the grocery store.

Don't be fooled into thinking you need these chemical fertilizers, there are plenty of other ways you can naturally fertilize your plants if your ground is not supplying enough nutrients, but much of the time your plants will be hearty as long as they are getting plenty of sun & water and you keep up on weeding (weeds in the garden will steal the water & nutrients away from your plants, thus causing them not to thrive as well and potentially die.)

Plus, I have to add – gardening can feel so therapeutic if you have the mind-set for it. And another huge bonus is teaching kids about gardening. My 3 year old has been loving helping mom plant seeds & plants. She's not hip on helping weed, but she stays out of my way (picks my flowers instead), but she will be a big help again soon when we start harvesting vegetables. She loved watching the cherry tomato seeds we planted sprout & grow and soon she will get to try them and maybe this will be the time she finally develops a taste for raw tomatoes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

#16 Skip the Plasma or LCD & Use An Older TV

I am sure my husband is shivering at the thought of this, but turn off the plasma or LCD and use an older or smaller tv. Your old tube tv is going to use less energy than any newer tv and the smaller that tv, the less energy it will use. Take a look at the annual energy costs different types of tvs have: http://cybernetnews.com/2007/10/15/cybernoteshow-much-energy-does-your-tv-consume/

I hate to admit that we have a Plasma. I wasn't educated about the costs associated with a plasma when my husband convinced me that was the tv we needed to buy. So, how does one correct that? Well, I limit the amount of tv watched on it during the day and encourage my daughter to watch programs on the small 13” tube tv we have. Unfortunately, the DVR is hooked up tot he plasma, so most of our evening television watching is on there.

#15 Rinse & Re-use Sandwich Bags

Ok, so it would be better to use re-usable storage containers, but sometimes a bag works better. First, determine how you will dry your bags. My husband made me this bag drying rack after he saw I had one on my xmas list that cost around $20. He spent a fraction of that cost and I have something prettier that he put forth the effort into making.

Then just save your bags and rinse with water (& soap if necessary). I generally wait until I have enough bags to fill up all the dowels so that I am not wasting time rinsing just one.

Now one could argue that you are wasting water with this and you might be. I'm not a scientist and don't figure out those impacts (just do online searches to see if anyone else has). But you are preventing yourself from consuming more plastic bags, so they are not ending up in the landfill and you are not adding to the production & shipping of more and you in turn do not have to spend another $3 to buy another box again.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

#14 Carpool

Carpooling to work can save a huge amount of green, especially if you are commuting quite a distance. By sharing the cost of gas or participating in a ride share program you not only are saving yourself money on gas, but your car is being used longer and will have less wear on it which will hopefully mean there will be less maintenance and less oil changes and other routine maintenance to pay. In the process of saving all this green you are also limiting your contribution to carbon emissions released.

But think beyond just carpooling to work, what about when you & a friend are going out, or you are going to the zoo for a playdate. Be open to the possibility that there are many other times when carpooling might present itself.

#13 Use the Library

Why come people don't use the library, even if occasionally, I don't understand. Essentially, our tax dollars are paying for it, so why not use it's services. It's not like my tax dollars will be decreased if I don't use it.

Anyways, we use the library for so many services. We request books & movies for both my daughter & myself. I am even able to request new releases of both books & DVDs. I may have to wait several weeks (or months), but I have saved myself the cost of a rental fee. Plus I am able to check out a movie for a week, as opposed to a daily rental fee.
Think about how often you will actually re-read a book or re-watch a movie. I seriously cannot come up with a fiction book that I would re-read. There are some non-fiction books that I would use as reference that I would choose to buy & use over & over, but it is helpful to “screen” them from the library so you know exactly what you would be buying.
We also go to storytime and many other special events for kids that are planned. We participate in the summer reading program and my daughter is earning prizes for having us read books to her.

For those that don't have computer access, the library is a great place to get free internet access. Our library also has movie screenings on big screen, so you can enjoy a theater-like experience for free. Another perk our library has is it's wonderful selection of Melissa & Doug and Montessori toys that are available to checkout (just like a book). It helps extend our toy selections and after having them for three weeks, my daughter loses interest and we return them and can pick out some new ones. It's almost like having a rotating toy box without the cost involved. Our library also has wonderful play area with bins of blocks, marble-works, dinosaurs, Little Tikes Explorer computers, a huge equipped dollhouse, etc. A visit to the library to check out books also becomes a play destination.

And what I love best is that I can plan out a theme for the month to teach my daughter and can request books, videos, curriculum books from the library and they contact me when they are in. I save myself time and energy by requesting them online and having someone else find them for me at our libraries or other libraries in our system.

You can also check out magazines from the library or read the newspaper there. The library saves us a tremendous amount of green while we share items with many other people and do not create the need for increased production & shipping.

Oh! And if your library or library system does not carry a particular book or video you may be interested, don't be afraid to suggest it to them for purchase. In the past few years, I have done this four times and all four times they decided to purchase the book.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

#12 Shop Rummage Sales, Thrift Stores & Ebay

The idea here is to buy used things (or sometimes people are selling new items they bought & didn't need) so that you are preventing items from ending up in a landfill and not adding to further production & consumption of new goods, while in the process saving yourself some green.
I find these places the best for picking up items for your kids who go through toys & clothes so quickly. It could cost you a small fortune if you had to clothe and entertain them their whole lives at retail prices, plus imagine the landfills if no one ever bought used. How many times has your child (especially during the first couple years of their life) worn an item of clothing only to grow out of it or have it shrink before they could wear it again?
Of course there are lots of other items at garage sales besides kids items and you never know what you might find at one.
To maximize your gas money, plan ahead and map out garage sales you want to go to by checking out your local paper, looking at the garage sale listings on Craigslist, or finding a website dedicated to garage sales. A neighboring community has a free website, http://www.owatonnagaragesales.com/. By mapping out ahead of time you are not driving all over town using up more gas.
I like to go to garage sales when it is a city-wide event because then I know there will probably be the maximum amount of garage sales in one location on that particular weekend. Check out some garage sale tips here. http://www.northerncheapskate.com/2009/06/strategies-for-garage-sale-season.html

Friday, June 12, 2009

#11 Freecycle.org

It amazes me how many people do not know about Freecycle. Freecycle is an online place where you can post items you have to give away or are looking for that are FREE! Go to the website and find a Freecycle in your area. The one in my area spans 2 counties. I have given away a ton of things we no longer needed on here and have gotten several things as well. Just be sure to know where you are driving to, since the gas to go pick up an item might cost you more than you would have spent buying it somewhere closer.
But the great thing is that you are reusing items people no longer want instead of those items ending up in a landfill and instead of you purchasing something new which have environmental impacts related to production and shipping.
You can also try the Free section on Craigslist. Or your community might have other places that free items are listed online. When we lived in the Twin Cities we would use Twin Cities Free Market.
Just remember to always use caution when meeting strangers.

#10 Use Re-useable Containers

Rather than using tons of plastic bags, plastic wrap, tin foil, wax paper, etc. invest in some re-usable containers. You may even be able to pick some up at garage sales for little money or even check out the free box – I find tons in there. Not only are you not adding trash to our landfills, saving money on your trash bill, but you do not create a demand for more of those disposable items to be created and the creation of more products have hug environmental impacts on our earth. And if you purchase and reuse these re-usable containers from a garage sale or thrift store you are also minimizing the demand for the creation of more of those products as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

#9 Run the Dishwasher/Washer at Night before you go to bed

Most people don't realize that electricity rates are lower in the evening when the demand is lower. So, if you can wait to run dishwasher until you go to bed it will save you some green. Not sure you are really doing anything different here to save the environment. Also, start your laundry the night before. Wash your first load while you sleep to take advantage of lower energy rates and then hang that load on the line first thing in the morning. You will also save yourself time because you are washing clothes while you sleep and you don't have to wait to do the next step in your laundry routine. The clothes will already be washed and ready to be hung when you wake up.

#8 Only Wash a Full Dishwasher

Ok, this may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people run their dishwasher every day regardless of whether or not it is full. Having the maximum amount of dishes in a dishwasher will reduce the number of times you need to run the dishwasher which will cut down on three things:
* Amount of dishwasher detergent used
* Amount of water used
* Amount of electricity used

Saving all all those items will save you green. This is supposed to save you $40 a year on electricity costs alone.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

#7 Brush Your Teeth Wisely

I have 2 suggestions for how to conserve water and cut down on your water bill in regards to brushing your teeth. The first is to turn off the water when you brush rather than leaving it running (which is what we taught my daughter to do) or what I tend to do is brush my teeth in the shower (when I shower by myself). Since the conditioner sitting on my hair needs to wait 2 minutes and we are supposed to brush for 2 minutes, I figure it the perfect time to brush my teeth. I admit, I don't turn off the shower while I wait for my conditioner to work because frankly, I don't want to get cold. But during the time I will wash up with soap and brush my teeth.

#6 Shower (Together)

Showering uses considerably less water than taking a bath, especially if you install a low-flow shower head. And if you shower together you get 2 people clean with roughly the same amount of water. So, whether you shower with your significant other or a young child. My daughter is still young enough to take a shower with me. I usually hold her through the shower, she still likes her bath, so I plug the drain so that the shower water will accumulate and become a bath (with half or less the amount of water) and she can play in a bath.

So, not only are you conserving the amount of water you are using but you will also be able to lower your water bill.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

#5 Compost

Ok, you may have to invest some money in this, but it should pay off in the long run. And you can choose the level of investment, you may even have the materials lying around your house, in which case your investment cost will be minimal. To build a compost bin on the cheap you can use a garbage can or wire mesh.

The materials for your compost come from the foods you eat, your newspaper, grass clippings, leaves, and many more items. Check out this list to get an idea of the things you can compost.

And what's more is that you will be able to use your compost to fertilize your garden without chemicals. So, you save money on not having to purchase compost or fertilizer. And what's more is it decreases the amount of your trash, which helps save costs on your trash bill (see #4 for more info).

#4 Recycle

Seriously, recycling doesn't cost you anything (unless you have to transport your recyclables to a drop-off facility) and it can actually save you money. We recycle or reuse as much as possible (even if our pickup doesn't pick up all plastic numbers) and we have our trash cut in half. With half the trash we only need a trash bin half the size and our trash bill ends up being a little more than half the cost than what it once was. And not to mention that you can usually get your recycling bins for free from your city hall.

Monday, June 8, 2009

#3 Don't Use Bleach

This is a great article to read about why you shouldn't use bleach.

I know you are thinking, "Bleach it cheap, I can get it in a store brand for $1 gallon on sale. How is not using bleach going to save me money and keep my clothes white?"

Well, the cheapest way (as I mentioned in the previous post) is the hang you clothes outside in the sun. The sun is a natural disinfectant & bleacher. That's completely free.

But if you are like me and don't have access to outdoor drying all year or you have some clothes than need help while in the wash you can use borax instead. Borax is cheap and you don't need a lot in a load, so the cost per load is similar to using bleach. Borax is color safe and can be used to brighten your colors as well. I use 2-3T of borax in a load on my front loader. 

Vingar works well too. I use about 1/2 cup of vinegar in my front loader washer. When I have clothes with a really tough stain I will use both vinegar and boarx. Vingear is inexpensive as well. It also helps to get rid of odors from clothes.

If you have access to free lemons (other the cost of lemons could be too much) you can use lemon juice to soak & whiten you clothes (if you hang them in the sun too.)

And if you must purchase a bleach alternative, Seventh Generation makes a bleach alternative. This option won't save you money. I have a bottle I have been using for almost a year. I rarely use it because I use the other methods, but I wanted to try it. It works ok, but honestly I like how borax (or borax & vinegar) works better.

Oh! And the biggest way bleach costs you money is in healthcare costs from being exposed to the toxic fumes (or if a child were to ingest some). The affects of the fumes are cumulative and vary from person to person, so there is really no way to calculate how much bleach could cost you in healthcare costs (although, I am sure someone out there might have done that and I just need to find that article), but with rising healthcare costs at both the doctor's office and in our insurance premiums, do you really want to expose yourself to these fumes when you can change to something that is free or the same cost?

#2 Install & Use a Clothesline

I live in a northern climate, so there will be a certain percentage of the year when it's frozen and I can't hang clothes on the line outside but I am already planning how I can remedy this to an extent for the upcoming winter.

They say it costs over $100 in electricty costs to use a gas or electric dryer each year. That's the money out of our pocket, but what about the impact it cost to create that electricity in the first place. We can't all afford to have our homes solar powered or have access to utility companies that are utilizing wind, hydro, or solar power.

But we can use solar & wind power for FREE (or almost free as the supplies pay for themselves over the year) by drying clothes outside.

About a month and half ago I purchased an umbrella clothesline at an area store during a shopping trip where I purchased many other items. I didn't need to pay shipping costs or have a shipping company make a special trip to my house to deliver the product. Granted, stores only carry limisted quantities of seasonal items, so you need to plan in advance.

In addition to the already assembled clothes line I needed to buy a bag of Quik-krete, some clothespins (buy wooden rather than plastic, they are cheaper and contain a renewable resource rather than causing more plastic to be manufactured) and I bought a clothespin bag. The clothespin bag was the splurge and not necessary since I could have found bucket around the house to use or waited until we finished the gallon of ice cream in the freezer, but I wanted the convenience of not having to bend over so much (which will be appreciated as my belly gets bigger & bigger with this pregnancy.)

My total cost for the clothesline, concrete, clothespins & bag was about $50. I expect to save about $50 this summer alone on electricity, even more if I can use it longer in the year. After this summer it will be saving me green.

My plan for the winter is to use my drying rack more. I have owned it for years, so I am sure it has already saved me the money it cost to buy it. So, drying clothes on there will be free. The other part of the plan is to install a rope & pulley clothesline in the laundry room/ back entry. I had actually purchased this a few years but had not installed it because the line would have been too short to reach between trees or house & trees & I would have had to install at least one pole in the yard. It cost me about $10 in supplies. I never gave too much thought to installing it inside until this year. So, it may only take a month of using it this winter to have that starting saving me green. And remember, I still have my clothespins & bag from outdoors which I will bring indoors for the winter.

One more thing - the sun is a natural disinfectant and naturally bleaches clothes as well. So, you save money on bleach, save your lungs from having to breathe in the toxic fumes from bleach, and save money on costs to natural resources it costs to manufacture bleach. Plus your clothes will last longer from not having bleach break down the fibers. Drying in the dryer removes more fibers and clothes repeatedly dried in a dryer wear out faster than those hung on a clothesline or allowed to airdry. 

I persoanlly don't use bleach in our house anymore. I stopped a few years ago when I had my daughter when I realized the respitory impact it had on us, as well as how it was for sensitive skin. But I will save that info for the next post.

#1 Keep a Blog

It doesn't take too long to type up a blog post, especially if you had been thinking about what you wanted to type before you sit down at the computer.

I keep a blog for my daughter and for my pregnancy and this helps me keep our family & friends up to date on what is going on in our lives. I upload pictures all the time and it helps people to feel like they are watching my daughter grow up even if they live in another state.

It would cost me more money in postage, stationary, pens, & picture printing costs to keep people updated the "old-fashioned" way. Not to mention how much time it would take to write the same letter. 

Even though this isn't a "green" statement, but I have to wonder, does the travel costs/impact of that letter really matter. The postman is going to stop at my house every day regardless of if I send a letter or not and it will stop every day at the destination that I would be mailing to. And really, the whole system it follows in between those locations would happen anyways. Has there ever been a day where your postman didn't deliver something to your mailbox. Until companies stop sending out so much material, there will never be a day when my postman doesn't stop.

So, keep a blog. The short time you are using the energy from electricity to power your computer to keep in touch with many people will cost less than all the supplies & postage you need and you can share more information and pictures more often with more people.

Newest Blog - Save Green Being Green

I like blogging. And I like to have different blogs for different things, like they are different books. So, today I was thinking about having a direction for my tweets on twitter rather than just telling people random thoughts or what I am doing. I follow several people that tweet about hot deals & freebies and it already seems like there are a lot of people out there doing that. I thought a couple of things I like to do (not just out of necessity, but because I enjoy it & have a passion for it) is saving money and doing what I can to save our precious earth.

Sure, there are lots of ways you can save money but some of those things are at the expense of our natural resources. And then there is the flip side, there are plenty of ways to save our natural resources but they can cost quite a bit of money. The challenge is finding ways to save money while saving our natural resources, hence "Save Green Being Green".

My first goal of this blog was to post something every day for this summer (doubling up on Mondays) so that I have 101 ways to save green and be green at the same time. Since I am starting this now I guess I have a little catching up to do for the previous week. 

I am not sure if I will blog with as much frequency after school starts and I have my daughter to go there and as I near the end of my pregnancy and start of being a mother of two. But I guess we'll see.

So, let's get this started.