Extreme Thrift: Going Green on a Shoestring
Feeling the financial pinch of your planetary eco-commitment? Right there with you. Following is a list of ideas to go there on the super cheap.
I’ve written an article or two in the past on saving money while going green. And while I stand by the suggestions I made in those articles, I’m talking here about items that are either less “incidental” than some of the other ideas, or are so super cheap that when I thought of or was told about them, I had one of those slap my forehead, I could have had a V-8 moments.
An Arizona friend of mine turned me on to this. Slightly more crumbly than the kind you buy for a DIY shower pedicure, these are the ones that pool cleaners use to clean the build up that develops as the water meets the pool walls. Apparently, this is a trick that property flipping people and home renovators have been using for a while. And it’s also apparently what many of them use when all of the harsher chemicals fail. Great for build up under toilet rims, bathroom sinks, and shower tiles. Pool cleaning and supply stores should have them. If you happen to live near one of those 99 cent only grocery and home item stores, I used to get mine there. Doesn’t get much cheaper than that.
Skip the soap pads.
Plain steel wool or stainless steel / copper scrubbers will do the job without the non eco-friendly soap built in. If the fact that these products have fewer coupons to purchase with is of financial concern, there are strategies to increase the life of them that are relatively painless.
My fondness for these as a cash saving strategy is well documented. But even if you aren’t as concerned as I am with squeezing a nickel until cries, you may find you need to be more precise with your consumption rate when it comes to some of the pricier green products. Saving pennies here is something even my more financially independent friends have expressed concern about. Think laundry detergent, liquid eco-shampoo, and more.
Re-useable fabric softener sheet.
Yes, it’s possible. It involves a scrap of toweling and a spray dispenser bottle for liquid softener, but it can be done.
I’m as guilty as the next person of wanting to avoid wiping up the goop that can occur from having one of these by the sink. But really, with the bulk purchase deals out there, I’ve found it way cheaper than liquid pump – action hand soap. Extra bonus? Way less plastic packaging. Simple. Cheap. Green.
DIY Maxi Pads.
No. I’m not kidding. And while it’s not my idea of a good time either, if you are up against the wall financially, it’s definitely empowering to know you can avoid paying for these if you have to.
Grab a free composting crock.
Who knew? A close friend who babysat our dogs on a recent trip turned me on to this little trick while we were spending the night there. Want a homemade compost crock that doesn’t attract fruit flies? Rather than cut a section out of an empty gallon milk jug or vinegar jug (which is what I used to do), she saves those large plastic coffee containers from the grocery store. You know, those ones with the snap on lid and the nice large grip handle? Just remove the label and you can have one in red, green, blue or whatever other color you can find one in. Definitely one of those slap my forehead, why didn’t I think of that ideas.
Precision product purchases.
Figure out where you need to buy a premade product and where you don’t. For example, I have no idea how to make eco friendly dish soap on my own, so I buy it. However, I am perfectly capable of mixing some orange oil or grapefruit seed extract with a little white vinegar and water in my own handy-dandy spray bottle. So when I need a spray cleaner while watching a tight budget, that’s what I do. Power shopping on the green side.
Explore your kitchen pantry.
Many regular household items can be used for cleaning purposes. My top three picks are salt, baking soda and vinegar. I’m sure you all have other suggestions, which I encourage you to share below.
Do a bit of research.
Here are a few other posts from Wise Bread.
- Nora’s coffee cup revolution piece, and of course her piece on saving money and the environment at the same time.
- Repurposing the humble coffee mug.
- Linsey’s happening pieces on chopstick re-use and cheap building supplies.
- The plastic bag dilemma.
- Philip Brewer’s posts on sharing for budget and planet, and energy saving pressure cookers.
Got any other ideas for going green for pennies? Sound off. We’re all ears!