Ten More Ways to Go Green and Save Money
Loved the last list of ideas for going green and saving money? Here are ten more strategies to expand your green repertoire.
1. Save Money on Mailing by Turning Your Product Boxes Inside Out - I wish I remembered who turned us on to this years ago. I do know that this single strategy has really come in handy many times and saved us major bucks ever since. Basically, you need to open the box as completely as possible (including the overlapping top and bottom sections that are glued together) without cutting. When that's done, pick one corner edge and slice it open with a box cutter or other sharp edge. Turn the box inside out, retape the cut corner edge securely with packing tape, and re-assemble the box. You now have a container to mail or store things in that has blank sides for address labeling. Since the post office prefers clearly labeled packages and has gotten a bit pickier over the years, this tip is a huge help for those who have been caving and buying new boxes every time. Been getting by with rewrapping your boxes in brown paper? You can now skip that step as well, reducing the amount of packaging you are using when mailing out a package.
2. Cloth Napkins - Compared to the suggestion on my last 10 Ways to Go Green and Save list of giving up paper towels, this one is much easier. You only need to empty the basket or container holding those paper napkins and refill it with a washable cloth alternative. I stocked up on fabric napkins by visiting a few thrift stores in Arizona, but I suppose youcould either buy a cute set or make your own if you were so inclined.
3. Choose a simplified system for composting so that it actually feels humanly possible. Two things that would have made it easier for me in the beginning? A compost crock with a snapdown sealable lid, and one of those hand-crank, closed system compost tumblers. In the beginning, I was using a cut off plastic vinegar jug. This worked fine, but the fruit flies were beyond annoying. Also, the first time we tried composting the old fashioned way (pitch fork flipping), it was a colossal pain in the neck. Compost tumblers aren't exactly dirt cheap (no pun intended), but we carved out the funds one year from our tax return to commit to the process. The broken down compost is free however, compared to buying potting soil for home gardening.
4. Cloth Diapers - We're still getting ready to start our family, so I can't say we've personally taken this one on. However, I've done enough preliminary research on the subject to comfortably commit to trying it out when the time comes. A good friend of mine who lives in an urban setting pulled this off successfully via a diaper service. The monthly fee included the storage and soaking pail, enough diapers to get through between pick-ups and deliveries, and a re-stock of diapers when the other ones left the home for cleaning. I'm not sure how much she paid, but she did tell me that while it was more than she would have paid to deal with all of the cloth issues on her own, it was still less than she would have dished out for regular disposable diapers.
5. Experiment With Growing Herbs - Environmental experts are always saying it's important to get your groceries locally. It doesn't get more local than your own backyard, balcony, or window sill. My parents always had a garden while I was growing up. In all honesty though, if I had to rate myself on a scale from gardening virgin to gardening veteran, I'd end up closer to the novice end. That being said, one thing I've had repeated success with is herbs. We're starting a raised bed here at the lake and will be trying our hands at sage, garlic, rosemary, basil, parsley and cilantro, as well as a few vegetables.
6. Paperless Billing - Getting and paying your bills online when possible eliminates the need for a stamp (and driving to the post office), and also skips all the paper from thicker statements.
7. Try Your Hand at Sprouting - This is affordable, nutritious, cheap and achievable without a garden plot. They also make a really power packed addition to lunch sandwiches.
8. Programmable Thermostats - In Arizona, we earned back the money we spent on ours within one month of utility bills.
9. Low Energy Lightbulbs - These not only use less energy, but need to be replaced far less often. One thing I noticed with the ones we tried. . . they took a while to warm up, so getting lots of light right away was an issue. Not sure what luck others have had with any brands they've tried.
10. Re-useable lunch bags and interior containers - I think many people already use these, at least those who routinely bring their lunch to work or on the road. When I think about the amount of packaging that gets tossed from take out lunches every day, it keeps me motivated to continue with my efforts. Most of the time I work at home now, but we always used a re-packable bag when my husband was going to work each day, and of course when I was classroom teaching I always had to take a lunch. These containers really do make a huge difference.