Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Done Doubling - Time for a Rest

Ok - today was my last double posting for a week. We are taking a little vacation and I will be back again on Wednesday next week to start posting more tips and finish out my 101 tips and ideas by the end of the August.

#72 Install Weather Stripping & Caulk Around Windows/Doors

By installing weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors you can prevent cold air from getting in and warm air escaping during the colder months and cold air from escaping and warm air getting in during the warmer months. No to mention you will feel more comfortable if you are able maintain a more constant temperature keep out drafts.

#71 Keep Your Fridge & Freezer Full

The more you can fill your fridge or freezer, the more efficient it will run. If a fridge or freezer has empty space it has to work harder to keep it cold, thus using more energy and costing you more money. So, why not pay attention to the sales at grocery stores and stock up on items for your fridge and freezer. Save money on energy and save money by stocking up on sale items.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

#70 Cook Using a Slow Cooker

This one may be a wash depending upon the size of your slow cooker. Just be sure to match the size of your slow cooker to the amount of food you are cooking. Larger units will cost more to use, so make sure you are filling that crockpot. And check out the wattage listed on your slow cooker, you may be able to find ones that are the same size but have a lower wattage, thus using less energy. The real way to save money with a slow cooker is by being able to buy cheaper cuts of meat that may be tougher but are tenderized through cooking all day. Also, slow cooker recipes tend to use more whole foods and less processed foods, thus reducing the preparation and packaging put into creating those processed foods. My favorite slow cooker recipe book is the series of Fix It and Forget It Recipe Books.

#69 Use Old T-shirts, Athletic Socks as Rags

I mentioned this already when I discussed multi-uses for t-shirts, but don't forget your athletic socks. These are great for just slipping them on your hands & dusting or wiping away. They work really well for when children want to help with cleaning because they just have to wipe and don't have to worry about holding on to the rag as well.

Monday, July 27, 2009

#68 Crafts with Reclaimed Lumber

This project was made with reclaimed lumber from an old barn. We went to a festival at which someone was branding numbers onto board for you to do what you wish with. We went with the birth years for our children and added hooks (that I bought at some time a while ago and had sitting around the house) so that we can hang it at an appropriate level for them & have a place for them to hang their jammies & robe (hanging from the hook over the door is too high, so this makes them more independent in taking care of their items.)

So, this can give you an idea of how to use reclaimed lumber to make a hanging rack or decorative piece. We chose to use the side with the weather paint on it, but the other side was wood grain & unfinished, so think about using wood from an old barn or shed.

Here is another idea of making a headboard.

Or how about a birdhouse made out of salvaged wood. Just follow these basic instructions from Lowes, but use salvaged wood instead. Often, you will see these types of birdhouses also reusing old license plates for the roof. These birdhouses can cost quite a bit of money if you buy them at a specialty or craft shop. Or here is another set of instructions.
This was actually posted about a week ago, but I noticed that my numbering was off & I had one number twice, but 2 different tips. So, I needed to move one and wanted it in numerical order.

#67 Give Up Paper Towels

I admit, I still have paper towels in my house, but for 2 reasons and the first is so that I can pick up & throw out those disgusting hairballs the cats puke up. It's disgusting enough as it is that I am not going to re-experience it by handing the cloth again when it gets washed. Gross! The second reason is because I know there are moms out there that have a “clean” issue and don't like to use hand towels to wipe their hands or towels. I only have paper towels in the kitchen, but I do want to be considerate of my guests and have them available if they think they need them.

But in our house, we used hand towels & washclothes in the kitchen and bathroom. I use reusable rags and towels to clean the house with as well. I know some may argue it still costs money & energy to wash them, but seriously, how often do you not have room for 1-2 rags in a load of laundry. When you are adding it to an existing load you are not accumulating anything extra. I have a basket by the washer (which is is just outside the kitchen, so it's convenient) that I throw my kitchen towels & cloth napkins in and I can easily grab what is in there every time I bring down a load of laundry from upstairs. And you are saving yourself money and the world natural resources by not continually consuming paper towels.

#66 Use Cloth Napkins

I love using cloth napkins. We started using them about 10 years ago and have never looked back. Actually, I still have & use those napkins we have bought back then, but we have accumulated more over the years. I actually think it's funny that some people think we are being “fancy” when I set the table with cloth napkins. But why shouldn't we feel “fancy” when we are enjoying our food, let's make the whole experience enjoyable and light a candle or two as well.

But back to cloth napkins – I personally like using cloth napkins so much better than paper napkins because they don't rip or soak through. I'm a dabber while I eat, just can't stand feeling something on my face. And if we are out somewhere where they give us paper napkins, I tend to use more than one, but at home I have just the one cloth napkin and it works perfectly and soaks up everything I dab or wipe.

By not buying napkins I am saving myself money and precious resources in the environment. And as I have mentioned, I still have & use the ones from 10 years ago. They do last! The few dollars you spend buying napkins will easily be re-cooped that first year of using them. And if you have some simple sewing skills, you can save even more money by stitching some yourself; are they are is a simple square. You might even have some leftover fabric from a project that you can reuse.

And you don't need to worry about napkin rings, unless you want to. But those too you can make yourself. Stay tuned for a post about homemade napkin rings as my daughter & I get creative. Not sure when we will do this craft, but we are reusing materials and will have some fun with it and I am sure she will be very proud of her project.

Also, consider reusing your cloth napkin for several meals. If you only wiped a small spot on it, flip it over & use it for the next meal. Most families/people have their “spots” at the table – you know what I'm talking about – just leave the ones that are mostly clean in their owner's spots and wash the ones that need washing.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

#65 Water Garden in the Morning

You should water when the air is coolest in the morning or evening in order to prevent too much evaporation. But you need to be careful about watering at night when water will sit on the plants for hours which can lead to rot & fungus in some plants. So, as a general rule of thumbs it's better to water early in the morning. And make sure you use a rain gauge or set a timer so that you don't over water your plants.

#64 Use Ceiling Fans & Other Fans Instead of A/C

Fans use less energy to operate than any type of A/C. The simple act of blowing air across your skin can provide you with a cooling sensation without the need to reduce the temperature in the room. Of course, this won't work well if you spending your days inside an air-conditioned place or if you are consistently keeping your home at a low temperature.

There was a day not too long ago that a neighbor friend was over to visit and she had a hard time tolerating the temperature in our house with the fans blowing because she has become accustomed to much lower temperature at her work and in her home because of central air. I had to laugh, because I thought it was just fine in our home and checked the thermostat after she left and it registered 78 degrees. But I guess it just goes to show you that it takes time to adjust the temperature in your home and you need to do it gradually or you could become discouraged.

#63 Open Windows @ Night to Cool Off House

Here in MN in July, there is a 20 degree difference between the daytime high and evening low. Why not turn off the A/C during when you go to bed and let the evening breeze push in cooler air that is probably cooler than what you have your central air set to. You could also stick a box fan in the window to help bring in more cool air and help circulate it more around the room (also, have those ceiling fans turned on to help circulate the air.)

Once it starts to warm up in the morning, be sure to take those fans out of the window so that you are not circulating in warm air. You might even consider closing the windows if it starts warming up. As long as your home is sufficiently insulated and you are not coming & going a lot & you keep shades drawn, you can help keep the temperature down in your home without having to turn on the central air.

#62 Use Rechargeable Batteries

This is a great article on why we all need to switch to rechargeable batteries where we can and the scientific research to back it. Here are the highlighted benefits to the environment that rechargeable batteries have according to this article:

  • Up to 23 TIMES less impact on non-renewable natural resources
  • Up to 28 TIMES less impact on global warming (CO2)
  • Up to 30 TIMES less impact on air pollution (ozone pollution)
  • Up to 9 TIMES less impact on air acidification
  • Up to 12 TIMES less impact on water pollution

Plus, you have the added benefit of not purchasing batteries continually. You can save money in the long run.

Friday, July 24, 2009

#61 Make Your Own Kids Art Supplies

You don't have to spend a lot of money to buy art supplies (& now with back to school sales it is a good time to buy some items). But not everything gets super cheap and you might need something mid-year. These aren't supplies you would send your kid to school with, but they are great to use at home and you can make them on a whim because you will generally have the supplies already and the great thing is no chemicals or additives are used in making these products, so you know they are non-toxic.

#60 Reuse Materials for Toys/Art Supplies

What do you do with all those plastic items that are not a #1 or #2 and your recycling facility won't take them – think about giving them to your child to create a project with.

I like to use small plastic or styrofoam containers to put paint or water for when we are doing projects. I have also reused the green plastic basket that comes with strawberries to make baskets to give away little items in. Magazines are great for cutting out pictures to make collages.

We also reuse our toilet paper rolls to make projects with them. And newspaper is used a variety of projects to do paper mache and create paper bowl.

Save those leftover fabric scraps, ribbons, or those extra buttons that come with your garments to make puppets (save those old athletic socks w/ a hole in the toe too!). Just set aside some other container (maybe an old whipped topping container) that you can throw these little items in as they happen and when it's time to create just put it out. Kids will love digging through it to see what they can choose from. You will be amazed at the things kids see in various items. They have fabulous imaginations.

And since it's summer, don't forget those popsicle sticks. Save them and create some popsicle are for free. Along with the summer theme, think about those small containers for yogurt or applesauce, they make perfect sized scoops in your sandbox or kiddie pool (or even as a bath toy).

I don't want to give you too many ideas quite yet, because what would I have to write about later. Actually, I was thinking that after I finish my 101 tips, I would continue with ideas for crafts to do yourself or with kids, but I don't know that it would be a daily thing, probably a weekly post. Anyways, here are 5 ideas of crafts/projects to make with your kids that we plan to do soon:

What other ideas do you have to share?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

#59 Choices for Fabric Softener

The cost of dryer sheets can add up over the course of a year. Ask yourself why you use it and what it is about dryer sheets or fabric softener that you enjoy. Most cost effective alternatives would be to add vinegar to the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener, cut dryer sheets in thirds, use dryer balls, or dab essential oil on rag & throw in dryer with clothes. You can also purchase eco-friendly made fabric softeners to use in the washer. When I need to, I use Seventh Generation fabric softener, but I regularly use my dryer balls and have used vinegar & essential oils. I haven't used dryer sheets in several years.

#58 Use Half a Baby Wipe or Make Your Own Reusable Ones

Seriously, you don't need a whole baby wipe most of the time. I will say “most” of the time, because sometimes there are jobs that even one or two won't suffice. You know, those times when you just want to cut the clothes off the kid and cut your losses on that outfit and then hose them down. But most of the time we don't have those types of incidents.

We're about to enter the baby wipe stage once again and I am sure my husband has forgotten about how I rip my baby wipes in half. In my book, I think he is wasteful with baby wipes, but I can't complain too loudly if he is changing.
You will find that some brands tear easier than other, so a pair of scissors might be in order.
If you are inclined to make your own reusable baby wipes, then try this website out, there are a bunch of “solution” recipes.

And the cloth part itself can be as simple as reusing your old t-shirts or sweatshirts. Just be sure to pick a fabric that won't unravel once you have cut it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

#57 Turn off unused lights

This is so simple. Leaving lights on wastes energy and money. When you leave the room, turn off the lights. If you are not in a room/closet/hallway then there is no need for the light. Why have it on? My hubby has been getting better at this, but there have been times I feel like I have to walk behind him to turn off every light he turned on as he leaves a room and will not be using that light anymore.

Monday, July 20, 2009

#56 Make Newspaper Bowls

Get creative with reusing your old newspapers and make a decorative bowl out of them. I took a class at our area nature center on how to make these and I thought it was such a fun project. I would say you need about two and a half hours to make one the size I did. The instructions on this website are pretty close to the ones we had in my class. You will use up quite a bit of newspaper, about three Sundays worth. See the picture at the bottom to see the paper bowl that I made out of rolled newspaper.

And if you don't get the newspaper or you need more than you have saved. Call an area hotel and ask them if you can get the leftovers they have, which is where ours came from for the class and they told our instructor to tell us to call & get some anytime we need some. They recycle their newspaper every week and always have leftovers that did not get distributed or were picked up by housecleaning.

Another use that I love for leftover newspaper is as a ground cover to trap out weeds before you cover with mulch, soil, rocks, compost, etc. The newspaper will eventually compost right into the soil but will be there long enough to help trap our weeds.

Another crafty idea for excess newspaper is to make a Newspaper Crown.

The paper bowl project I created with my daughter (in top picture) only uses a small amount of newspaper, but it's an easy one to create with kids. Unforunately, I don't have a picture of the dried product because my fat cat decided that while it was drying, it would be a good place to sleep, so it got crushed. Although, I think this next time we make it we will add a mittle starch. My daughter loved making this bowl and has asked several times in the last week to make another one.

#55 Separate Your Aluminum Cans

Yes, you can just recycle your aluminum cans with the rest of your recycling. But for a minimal amount of work, if you separate them you can turns them in to get some green for your pocket. Or if you feel like donating the aluminum cans, there are frequently non-profit organizations that collect them and turn them in as a fundraiser for their organization. Our church has a semi-permanent collection sit at a local grocery store called “Cans for Christ”.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

#54 Brew Your Own Coffee at Home

Why some people insist on spending $3-$5 a day at chain coffee shops will never be something I will understand. I appreciate it as an infrequent treat, but I have a hard time spending that much money every day when I can spend double that and buy a whole pound of beans from that coffee shop and make the same coffee at home. Or you can save even more money and buy a cheaper brand of coffee.

By making your own coffee at home, you eliminate the need for the production of a paper cup, a plastic cover, a stir stick and a cardboard sleeve or holder. That is a lot of waste for one cup of joe.

If you really have to get that coffee at a coffeeshop, consider supporting a local mom & pop business. Studies have shown that 60-80% of the money spent locally will stay local. And while you are there, order the organic and/or fair trade coffee. It generally won't cost you anymore and you are helping minimize your impact on the environment and are ensuring that workers are getting a fair wage.

And while you are at it, don't forget to bring your own mug so that you can at least refrain from creating more waste.

#53 Clean with Vinegar, Borax, Baking Soda, Water, Lemon, & Olive Oil

It's simple to make your own cleaners and you ensure that the ingredients used are non-toxic and biodegradeable. Plus all those items are relatively inexpensive and can create a cleaner that is not only safe to use but saves you money. I still have some Seventh Generation cleaners, but I use vinegar, borax, baking soda & essentials oils a lot in my cleaning. I have really noticed a difference in cleaning with non-toxic cleaners. If I am around people cleaning with the toxic stuff I notice it right away and my body reacts to it.

Check out this website for recipes/formulas/instructions on making your own cleaning supplies.

Friday, July 17, 2009

#52 Grill Corn in Husk Rather Than Aluminum Foil

This not only saves you money but time with food preparation. Corn grilled in the husk will create a steam effect and have corn that is cooked more evenly and is more tender and you refrain from wasting aluminum foil (which saves you from buying more aluminum foil.) And you also get the food from the pantry/fridge quicker since you skip the step of husking it prior to eating. This way everyone can husk their own corn. And don't to forget to compost those husks & cobs.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

#51 Use Reusable Car Air Filter

Rather that re-telling what is already out there on re-usable car air filters, I will just direct you to this website.

Not all makes/models have these available, but most do. I have one in my car and luckily, my husband takes care of remembering the regular maintenance on that for me. But I love that if I choose to take my car to a place with instant oil changes and they ask before they start “If your air filter is dirty, do you want us to change it” and I can say, “No, I have a re-usable air filter and will clean it at home.” If you regularly purchase air filter at these places as opposed to changing it at home with one you bought at a automotive store/department, you will see that you very quickly re-coup the cost. It will take a little longer if you purchase & install it yourself, but you will re-coup the cost and save money.
Whew! I am halfway done with my goal for the summer of 101 tips.

There will be several days coming up that I will start doubling up on tips because I will be gone a few days later on & won't have computer access. Guess I better start typing up access.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

#50 Use Reuseable Coffee Filters

For between $7-$16 you can find a re-usable coffee filter at your local Wal-Mart, Target or on Amazon. By buying a re-usable coffee filter you no longer have to buy the paper filters, this reducing your consumption of paper products, packaging & the transportation to get the product to you/your store. Considering that you spend $2-$4 on a package of paper filters (depending upon the size/brand you buy), it doesn't take long to re-coup your cost on this product.

Monday, July 13, 2009

#49 Read to your Child About the 3 R's

If you are reading to your child or grandchild anyways, why not choose some books that help reinforce the 3 R's. And while you are at it, check these books out of the library instead of buying them, unless you think it may become a beloved book or you may re-read it over & over. Here are some that we are reading that we got from the library or from our own collection at home:

  1. Lorax by Dr. Suess

  2. Whole World by Christopher Corr

  3. Earth-friendly Crafts by Kathy Ross

  4. Easy Earth-friendly Crafts in 5-Steps by Anna Plomer

  5. The Everything Green Book by Diane McDilda

  6. Follow the Line Around the World by Laura Ljungkvist

  7. Green Wilma by Todd Arnold

  8. I Can Save the Earth by Anita Holmes

  9. Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel

  10. Recycle Every Day by Nancy Wallace

  11. Recycled Crafts Box by Laura Martin

  12. Stuff: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Steven Kroll

  13. Trash & Recycling by Stephanie Turnball

  14. A Walk in the Rainforest by Kristin Pratt

  15. The Whole Green World by Tony Johnston

The impact we have on our children & grandchildren is amazing. If we start reading to them young, they will enjoy reading. If we teach them about recycling when they are young, it will become a natural part of their life that they won't even have to think about.

#48 Skip the Receipt at Gas Stations

This one is simple. Just press "No" when asked if you want a receipt when you pay at the pump. It's a very small step, but if everyone were to do it, it would add up to reducing paper & ink waste. The amount of reciepts you don't print won't add up to any savings in your pocket by reducing garbage costs (at least I hope no one is driving that much), but it's something simple that you can do that will have an impact on waste & production of paper & ink.

#47 Use Reusable Grocery Bags

These have become so popular. More and more stores are giving them away if you spend X amount of dollars or if you purchase a particular product and may other companies are giving them away in hope that you will use them with their logo sported on the side (giving them advertising opportunities). So, really this should not cost you anything if you keep your eyes open for giveaways. Since you didn't have to pay any money for the plastic/paper bags you break even with your pocketbook. It used to be that some grocery stores gave you money off your bill for reusing bags, but since the trend had become to use them they don't need to do that anymore and have cut that discount out. But by reusing bags, you are not contributing to more trash (lower trash bill), they are not filling up landfills, and you are not creating the demand to create more (which lower all sorts of costs related to production and delivery.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

#46 Share/Gift Plants

This reminds me that I do have some indoor plants that need to be split up. Some plants create their own babies. Currently, I have an aloe with lots of babies and a Mother-In-Laws tongue with a few.

We've already discussed the benefits of growing your own plants, but if you share or gift plants you are enabling your friends and family to receive those same benefits. And if you gifting a plant, you are cutting down on the cost associated with purchasing a new plant (not to mention not having to drive to buy it or to have it shipped to the store.)

I know this is spilling the surprise for some, but the daughter & I are going to be making plants/pots this year as Christmas presents. I found a nice looking pot that is embellished with wood slices that I thought she would enjoy creating with me. I found it initially in Natural Home magazine, but you can also find it in the book Eco Craft by Susan Wasinger. It is the same directions by the same person. Many (or maybe all) of the 30 projects in that book were featured in the magazine and I have already made a few of them over the years.

#45 Grow Plants in Your Home

This is just an easy one. Plants are readily available to buy and you don't have to have a green thumb as long as you buy the right plant. If you are one that forgets to water than a cactus might be in order, but I recommend starting out with a Pothos, Mother-in-Law's Tongue or an Aloe Plant. All three of those I have found the wonderful ability to bounce back when they are forgotten about and end up being in too cold of area or have gone a long time without water. The great thing about MILT is that is creates it's own baby plants so you can increase the amount of plants you have. And an Aloe will also provide you with aloe to help provide relief & healing related to cuts & burns as well as grows it's own babies. With plants you can instantly brighten up and liven up a room, as well as helping filter you air. A Spider Plant is another good plant to have in your home as it does a great job of filtering our air and making it cleaner to breathe.

There have been studies to prove that people having plants in the room of someone when they are sick heal faster and have an improved mood over people without plants. So, consider giving a live plant as a gift next time some is in the hospital. And move a plant into your room, you spend 8 hours (at least you should) breathing in there, why not get that air cleaned for free rather that using an air filter.

And remember, those pots can be reused over & over again. And if you don't have any pots, consider reusing some plastic container than may have just ended up in a landfill. Just be sure to poke some holes in the bottom for water drainage. And save the lid to use as a saucer underneath to catch the excess water.

Friday, July 10, 2009

#44 Multi-Uses for T-shirts Ideas

Don't let a t-shirt just be a t-shirt. Once you get a stain or it's not the right size, figure out a new use for it.

My preschooler daughter has recently gotten into sleeping in nightgowns, but we have not ever bought her one. She uses a women's t-shirt that her daddy won somewhere that is very small, but great as a night gown for a preschooler. And today she picked out this t-shirt that she really liked, only problem is that they didn't have any in her size and she was going to have to wait 4-5 years to wear it. No the meantime she can wear it as a nightgown and if it stays in play condition she will get to wear it again later on.

I like to use old t-shirts that have been worn out as rags for cleaning. They tear apart easily and you can make up a variety of sized rags. My husband likes to use his old sweat stained shirts as rags in the garage to wipe off dirty greasy hand & parts. Maybe later, after my daughter get 2-sizes worth of wearing her nightgown/shirt it will become a rag. Now that is what I can reusing & reusing & reusing!

Another idea is to cut them into squares/rectangles to use as homemade re-usable baby wipes.
Or make a reusable cloth grocery bag, like these instructions.

Some other ideas include using the fabric to making quilting squares, a pillow cover, or cut into strips to crochet a rug.

And if you still want to wear that old t-shirt, consider dyeing it a darker color to refresh the look and cover up any stains or you could iron/sew on a patch of an offending hole/stain.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

#43 Homemade Stickers

My mom just sent me the link to this one – Go Mom!

Make Homemade Stickers!

First of all, you are reusing magazine. Second of all you are not adding more waste from packaging of purchasing stickers. Usually sticker packages have plastic wrapped around them. And you can usually get flavored gelatin on sale for 3/$1 if you watch the sale. I doubt you need to use the whole package. I think I will start with 1/3 the package & 1 T of water and see if that makes enough, then I can continue to use the gelatin 2 more times on other stickers. This project will cost you about 11 cents each time, where as a small sheet of stickers can cost upwords of almost $2 or more.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

#42 Travel Locally (Stay-cations)

By traveling locally, you are helping stimulate your local economy. I think I may have mentioned before that the statistic is that 60% of the money spent locally stays local. And my traveling in your local area you are decreasing the impact that traveling has on the environment and the costs that would be associated with traveling further away.

Plus, if you stay to your local area you can visit those places you may not always visit when you are not taking a vacation. Many of us have places in our own backyard that we never visit or don't even know exist. And just by checking your local papers or getting area coupons (think about getting an Entertainment book) you can find out about happenings and find discounts on going to these places. When you travel away from your area, a person tends to pay the full price for admissions & eating out because they don't know where to look to find these discounts in this new area or it takes more preparation & time than they have to devote to this.

And if you really stay local & vacation at your own home (sleep & eat there) you are cutting out those costs and only have costs associated with your daily destinations.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

#41 Donate Unused Clothes & Household Items

If you have items sitting around your home it is just cluttering your mind & space and making it harder for you to remember & utilize what items you do have. And if you are paying to store items, you have costs associated with storage fees. By donating unused items you are enabling others to purchase items that they may have had to buy new if they weren't available used.

Reusing items lessens our impact on the environment by decreasing the demand for new items which will lessen the need for production & shipping of these items.

And when you donate your unused items, you can ask for a receipt to be used for tax reporting purposes, which will help you come tax time.

Consider donating to organizations that do neighborhood pickups rather than dropping it off yourself. The impact on the environment is decreased when there is just one truck driving around a neighborhood collecting donation on a specific given day rather than if each person drove the donations into a drop-off location themselves. If you do have to drive it in yourself, try to pair it with a day that you already driving by that location. You will save yourself from wasting any money on gas & time this way.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

#40 Pay Bills/Bank Online

There are several advantages to paying your bills online. First you eliminate the excess paper waste, which helps preserve forests and limits the resources needed to recycle the paper. Second the production to produce stamps & the adhesive used on the stamps is limited and thirdly, the transportation of your bill to you and your payment to them is eliminated which will help reduce carbon emissions. And to make it easier you can even set it up to automatically pay.

So, what do you save? Cost of stamps, cost of envelopes, cost of checks. time spent paying bills, transportation to go buy more stamps.

Many big companies offer online bill pay, so check with your company. And some even offer incentives if you sign up. Some will offer those incentives to you, others you may have to ask for them. We got some cable channels for free for a year for online bill pay. Also, check with your bank about their online bill pay. Some banks it may be free and some may charge. Our bank charges, unless you have a specific type of account. I asked how we got a “membership banking” account and it turns out we just had to work for one of the companies that was a “member” and at one point the parent-company of the company my husband worked for was a “member” and we got membership banking on all our accounts and now have free bill pay. It saves us about $6 a month and I rarely have to buy stamps, envelopes or checks anymore.

#39 Preserve Your Own Food

I like to preserve our own food. This helps tremendously on the pocketbook, especially if you grow your own food as well. But even if you can't grow your own food, if you purchase it locally you will still be benefiting from eating locally.

We recently made strawberry freezer jam, and where as I don't have strawberries to use, we went to a local farm and picked strawberries (we did this en route from an OB appt as to now double up on transportation costs, time & impact.) It did cost the same as strawberries in the store, but the resulting strawberry & it's jam is much sweeter naturally than strawberries you would purchase in the grocery store. And since I was making the jam I knew exactly what went into each jar and how much of everything. I was able to use a low-sugar recipe which will help on the waistlines and I know the only things in my jam are strawberries, sugar, & pectin.

Plus, when you preserve your own food you reuse your canning jars year after year. The only new thing you need to purchase is lids in order to ensure that the seal will work properly and wasn't damaged after use, but you can certainly attempt to reuse the lids as well, because they may seal again. If they don't you'll have to go through the process again of sealing that jar or just decide to use that jar first & put it in the fridge.

I do both canning & freezing. You don't need to buy expensive freezer plastic containers. Jars can be used in the freezer as long as you leave enough headroom for the freezing of liquids to expand. Or reuse plastic containers that you got other things in during the year (lunch meats, whipped topping, sour cream, etc.) or use freezer bags (which is you remember a previous post you can rinse & reuse.)

Another benefit of preserving your own food is knowing exactly how & where the food was grown. If you want to eat foods without pesticides or chemical fertilizers used, then it's important to know just where that food came from and if you grow your own food you can control if chemicals were used.

If you shop organically, even part of the time, you know that the costs associated with choosing to eat this way are higher than conventional food which is made in higher quantities at a cheaper price tag (but at what price tag to our health & the environment.) And by growing your own organic food & preserving it, you can keep some green in your wallet.

Another benefit of preserving your own food is that you are eliminating the need to make trips to the grocery store to buy these items and you are also eliminating the demand to have these items produced and shipped.

Which reminds me, I think I should get out into the garden and pick some rhubarb before it gets too old. Rhubarb will freeze and can be used in baked good as when it thaws it gets soft, so it isn't as good for some things as well as others. And since rhubarb is only really available during late spring, early summer, it's best to freeze a little if you would like to enjoy it at other times of the year.

#38 Eat Meatless Once a Week

Or more times a week if you can, but once a week should be easy.
Check out this article on the benefits of eating once a week.

To highlight the benefits:
* Reduces your comsumption of saturated fats by 15%, which can help lower your risk for heart disease and potentially lower your healthcare costs.
* Vegetarian cooking usually is cheaper than cooking with animal meats.
* Reduce the amount of greenhouse gases put into the air as a result of animal farming because the demand for animals meats has decreased.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

#37 Wash Clothes in Cold Water

You will save two ways by washing with cold water:
* Lower Gas/Electric Bill because you are not requiring the water to be heated before using
* Clothes last longer when washed in cold rather than hot, so you need to buy less clothes over your lifetime

90% of the energy used in a top-loader goes into heating water for washing, so you cut your costs considerably by using cold water. And if you use a front loader, which is more energy efficient, you will cut your energy costs & water bill even more.

Friday, July 3, 2009

#36 Use Dryer Lint to Make Firestarters

So, when you empty those lint traps, save some of that lint to make some easy firestarters. You also need an empty egg carton and some candle wax. If you are really smart of reusing items you will save the leftover wax from candles that had the wick burned away. This way you are using three different items that would have gone into landfills. Here are super simple directions on how to make these.

These would be great to take along when you go camping or to make as gifts to give to that camper-fan in the family. In fact, I think the daughter & I may make some this coming week.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

#35 Empty Your Lint Traps

There is a reason why most lint traps have printed on them “Empty After Every Use”. Your dryer (which is an electricity/gas hog) works more efficiently with am empty lint trap. If you have a full or plugged lint trap your clothes will take longer to dry which means you have to run your dryer longer which costs more money and has a greater impact on the environment.

Also, be sure to check your external lint trap as well as your internal trap. Or dryer exhausts outside and has a trap/filter there to collect other lint. This too can fill up and make your dryer more inefficient.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

#34 Open Those Shades (winter)

So, this is just the opposite post as the previous one. In the winter, you want to open those shades to the south & west so that the sunlight can help heat up your home. And with limited sunlight during the winter in this part of the country, you want to do all you can to help warm up your house.

Now, if your windows are drafty or very cold to the touch, you may want to keep those insulated curtains closed. We replaced most of the windows in our house, but a couple double-pane picture windows remain and one is right behind out couch and the coldness coming from the window and the little bit of drafty from our old house was too much, so we spent about $50 and bought some insulated curtains. I am not sure how much it saved on our heating bill, but it kept the room much warmer and isolated the draft. All of the rest of our south & west facing windows we open the blinds & shades. I still have sheers up, but that is because it gives me a sense of privacy.