Frugal Friday

In honor of Earth Day this week, I have decided to focus this week’s Frugal Friday on how to consume less (which is what being “green” is all about) and save money.

-Don’t buy any more of those disposable dusting cloths. Yes, they work great but anything that is a use once and toss is not much of a savings and hard on the environment. There are washable “microcloths” out there, but even better than that are plain old rags. I always found an old sock slipped over your hand, dampened with water (or lemon oil for dusting wood) worked very well. Its free, washable, and a good use for a worn out sock.

-Instead of buying expensive cleaners, try some of the myriad of “homemade” cleaners out there that are often made of things you would normally have in your house. I keep a spray bottle of water/bleach in the kitchen for spraying down the sink and other surfaces. I like to mop the floors with hot water, some dish soap, and a bit of bleach in the mix. No extra packaging was wasted on a fancy floor cleaner. No strong fumes from powerful shining chemicals, just honest clean floors. Plain old baking soda is a wonder cleaner. Dusted on the carpet and upholstery and vacuumed up, it absorbs odors. Mixed with a little water (or lemon juice for a nice scent) into a paste, it makes a great soft-scrubbing cleanser. I will try and make another post of just my homemade or on the cheap cleaners that work for me, but you can google homemade cleaners and should get no shortage of hits.

-Compost your kitchen scraps, especially if you garden. Even if you do not garden, you can make compost, and then maybe barter it with a local veggie gardener for some fresh veggies. Composting is not nearly as gross as you think. It can be as simple as a pile in the corner of your yard (how mine started) or as fancy as one of those tumblers you can buy. Almost anything can go in the compost; it is up to you. I generally avoid meat scraps (so as not to draw rodents), but any trimmings, peels, egg shells, coffee grinds (and filters), unused left-overs, dried up pasta and rice, and anything of that sort can go in, along with leaves (works faster if leaves are ground up, but I don’t bother), newspaper, some cardboard, and anything that will breakdown over time. Less in the landfill is a good thing and it is free to you. Plus, you use fewer trash bags, so that is how I justify it as being frugal.

-Do you use a coffee pot? To cut energy consumption, get a large carafe, and once your coffee is brewed, pour the coffee in the carafe and turn off the coffee pot. The carafe will keep your coffee (or plain water for tea) hot for hours while drawing no energy. This is especially important for the all-day coffee drinkers (like me) or the people who make a pot and let it sit and stay on until the auto-shut off is triggered. The same theory can be applied to hot water. Heat it in a tea kettle and keep it in a carafe for hours of hot water without running an appliance to keep it hot.

-Another coffee suggestion will be hard for some folks to even consider trying but hear me out. Instead of throwing out every used filter, retain the one from the previous pot of coffee. Use half or slightly more than half fresh coffee grounds in it as you would normally brew, and then run the pot. You will save a number of ways- fewer filters used (cheap as they are, you can make them even cheaper), less coffee used on each pot (a nice savings when coffee is not cheap), and you really won’t notice much difference in strength. I do this every day and I am a tried and true coffee drinker. It really does help cut down on the number of cans of coffee I can go through.

The key to all of this is to try and use less, stretch out what you have to go further. Buy used when you can to save money and cut down on things that are thrown away. Barter. Don’t buy something marketed as being “green” unless it helps your overall consumption; so many things being marketed as “green” are just more expensive alternatives that are not necessarily any better, just different.

Be green. Use less. It’s really that simple.

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