Monday, August 25, 2008

Cheap And Green

August 25 2008

Saving money and the environment at the same time. What could be better? Here are some ways to be green while saving some green.

Let There Be Light
Changing out all of the standard light bulbs in your house to Compact Fluorescent Lights will definitely save you money. Just doing this simple task can save you 30% or more on your electric bill. These will also last 10X longer than traditional bulbs. (Yes, you might find a dud or two out there.) When the bulbs do burn out, do not throw them in the garbage as they contain Mercury. You can take them to any Home Depot store and they will safely dispose of them for free.

These bulbs do not have to cost you a lot of money either. Your local power company may offer coupons or discount sources for bulbs. Shop around, in my area there is a local drugstore chain that periodically puts these bulbs on sale for about 35 cents each.

If you can't find a good deal in your area consider shopping online. I have several lights in my home that are on dimmer switches that I needed dimmable CFL bulbs for. My local hardware store was charging $12 per bulb for these. I thought I was going to be sick. I got over it though, when I found a source on ebay and paid $2 each including shipping costs.

Is Your Refrigerator Running?
Okay, I learned this one the hard way. I had an old fridge - say maybe circa 1985 - and it did it's job, so why would I waste money on a new one? Because it turned out this thing was using huge amounts of electricity. I didn't realize this until after it finally died and was replaced by one with an energy star rating. My electric bill went down 50%. With the savings the new fridge would pay for itself in less than two years. Keep this in mind for other appliances as well.
Also check with your local power company as they may offer a rebate for buying an energy star appliance. Another good source to check for these rebates and possible tax credits is .

Clean Green
No more paper towels. I bought a bag of cloth rags and keep them under the sink so I can just grab one to wipe up a spill or just for general cleanup. To clean them I just throw the rags in the wash.

I no longer waste money on toxic cleaning products. I use vinegar, baking soda and maybe a little lemon here and there. There are tons of tips for cleaning with vinegar here . I also alternate using vinegar or baking soda in my laundry. (Never mix vinegar with bleach as it may have a chemical reaction.) These are not only great for cleaning but also act as natural fabric softeners so I no longer need chemical saturated dryer sheets. As an added bonus using vinegar or baking soda in High Efficiency (HE) washers eliminate that "smell" that develops from water collecting in the door seal.

Also for laundry try using cold or at least warm water instead of hot and line or hang dry your clothes instead of using your dryer.

Garbage? What Garbage?
It was a real eye opener when my local garbage company added food waste recycling to their program. We already had regular recycling and yard waste recycling, but it wasn't until we started recycling our food scraps that the light bulb in my head finally lit up. It not only made me more conscious of how much food was being thrown away, but I realized my garbage now consisted of only one thing: plastic.

Our recycling program does recycle a lot of plastics, but not plastic bags because they get caught in the equipment the company uses. So I'm trying to stop using plastics. I had already quit using plastic water bottles and installed a water filter. If I want to take water with me, I fill up my stainless steel travel mug. I do not drink out of plastic. I've actually been trying to avoid plastics for quite some time because of the health risks from the chemicals released. If you are not aware of this you might want to look into it. The internet is full of information on this subject, one such site is .
Aaannnyyyway! Back to the garbage topic. So where was I? Oh yes, my garbage is now all plastic. Okay, so this all got me thinking it was possible to not have any garbage if I could stop using plastic completely, or at least recycle it in some way. That's when I found out a new hot trend is making stuff from "plarn" or plastic yarn made from plastic bags. Research this - it's pretty cool. So maybe I can give away my plastic.

It also occurred to me that I could compost my food and yard waste and make my own fertilizer from it. This is actually what our garbage company does, we put our food scraps in with our yard waste and it is then sold to a company that turns it into fertilizer. I've also thought about getting a worm bin for this. I haven't figured it all out yet, but it's high on the "things to do someday" list.

So it's very possible to stop using garbage service all together.

- Live cheap and green - Cheap Cindy


judy ross said...

the plastic bags in the grocery store that you put produce in: you get too many of them gathering up, but how to substitute? i've found that a double layer tulle bag (tulle is a thin, nylon net, cheap) works beautifully. it doesn't weigh muchof anything and the checkers can see through it to see what produce is inside.

Cheap Cindy said...

Thanks - great idea!