Monday, July 28, 2008

#7 Shaving cream the old-fashion way

This is again one of my husband's ideas. He actually really wanted to go the whole way and shave with a straight razor as well as use the old fashioned type of shaving cream, but found he couldn't get the razor sharp enough. But the shaving cream is a big success. It's inexpensive, lasts a long long time, and he says it works just as well as the regular foam or gel. He even picked up his own "DAD" mug at a thrift store that fits the disk perfectly. It looks like round soap and yes, it can be purchased just about anywhere. Ours came from Fred Meyer, including the brush. Do you realize that when you are buying shaving cream, mostly what you are paying for is the container and the water?
Pros: Lasts a long time, inexpensive, no containers to dispose of, and works great!
Cons: Not as transportable as regular shaving cream for traveling purposes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

#6 Half and half moo juice

Here's one that I never ever thought that my family would go for. I think it's one of the oldest money-saving tricks on the books, though. Use powdered milk and mix and a half and half ratio with real milk. We use whole milk since powdered milk is fat-free. Really, I thought it would be gross, but I can't really tell the difference, as long as the milk is cold. We buy 25 lb. bags, but dry milk is available boxed in most stores, and in bulk bins at many.
Pros: Less plastic milk jugs, less trips to the grocery store, and save a lot of money especially with the rising cost of milk, and it's great to have extra dry milk around in case of emergency.
Cons: If you need it right away and don't have any mixed up, you then have to wait to mix it and it doesn't taste as good before it's chilled. Also, even though I wash the milk jugs before reusing them for mixed milk, sometimes they make the milk sour quickly. Recycle and replace the mixing jug often, or use a pitcher. I have to reserve some whole milk for the baby (under 2).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

cloth diaper contest

Cloth diapers will definitely be one of my future posts, but for now I just wanted to share a contest going on at 12 bumgenius diapers! Go and enter!

#5 Share a magazine

How many magazines do you subscribe to and read? What do you do with them when you are done? If you are like me, I browse through once and then it sits around, or gets tossed into the recycle bin. I recently discovered a great thing at my local library. A magazine exchange rack! Give a magazine, take a magazine! I now subscibe to a couple of magazines (home improvement/decor are my favorite). I am going to take them to the library from now on when I am done with them and pick up something new. Check your local library to see if they have this service. If not, why not suggest it to them?
Pros: Less paper waste, new and different magazines for free
Cons: Takes a trip to the library to get them, and there my not be any magazines you want to read there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

#4 Refill you ink cartridges!

How often do you have to replace your ink cartridges in your printer? Mine are quite frequently. I know they have a business reply envelope in most new ink cartridge boxes so that you can recycle the old one, but why not recycle your own? You can go to any office supply store and have the cartridge refilled for an approx. 25 to 50% savings. I take mine to Walgreen's. Actually I'm feeling a little guilty because as of yet I haven't paid for a refill there (I think I've had 3.) They keep telling me that it failed the print test, so there is no charge. But when I try it in my printer it works fine. So next time I run out I probably will buy new cartridges just in case there is something wrong with them, but then I will get the new ones refilled when they run out.
Pros: Costs less, and reuses plastic (better than recycling plastic,)
Cons: It takes a little more time than buying a cartridge (15 mins to 1 hour, usually) but I just leave it and pick it up next time I am in the store.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

#3 Getting Creative with Cork

Yes, cork is one of those wonderful environmentally friendly products (I'll save that for another time,) but that's not what this post is really about. It's about being creative so that things you have are not wasted. The lovely pieces of cork you see above are actually samples that I requested from a flooring company when we were shopping for a new kitchen floor. I didn't end up using any of them, and then I had these samples just sitting around. We were just going to throw them away. But then my hubby had the brilliant idea to make trivets out of them. All we had to do was cut off the lip that stuck out (because they were a piece of click-lock floor.) And Voila! Something really cool and different and useful. What do you have sitting around that you could make something simple and useful out of?
Pros: They go great with our kitchen decor, are great to put hot things on, and are made of a great renewable resource. And we didn't have to throw them in the trash.
Cons: They could possibly be ruined if water is gets spilled on them.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

#2- Cloth Napkins

Anyone who has eaten a meal with children knows that napkin use can get a little out of control.

My solution for this is to use cloth napkins! In fact, most of my napkins I made from a pair of my husband's linen pants that got a hole in the knee. The rest I had in a drawer I think since we got married. My kids think it's pretty funny to have pants for napkins, and never get tired of joking about wiping their faces on "pants" at the table. The non-pants napkins have even been dubbed "shirts" just for the fun of it, and probably because I am constantly telling the kids NOT to use their shirts as napkins.

Pros: Washable, reusable, durable, and less waste of paper products (especially important since used napkins are not recycleable.) They are also much more effective than paper at wiping grimy fingers and faces.

Cons: They have to be washed. But since laundry is pretty much always running at my house anyway, not a problem.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Goal and #1

I have been thinking about starting this blog for a while. If I get anyone to read it, great, but mostly it's for me to motivate myself and make a record. I know that saving the environment is a very trendy thing right now. Although I normally am an anti-trendy person, I think this is great because people are thinking about it. Just this year my husband and I have made a lot of changes in our lives as to how we think about the environment and money. We were enlightened starting with a book called, "Money, It's Not Just for Rich People." From there we went on to read the frugal zealot's books, "The Tightwad Gazettes." We have always cared about the environment, but never realized how easy it was to make a difference while saving money at the same time. This doesn't come from the need to be frugal so much (we didn't do these things while my husband was a student, but are doing them now as he has a full time good job.) But it certainly does help us to put more in savings, pay down school debt, and have money to put needed improvements into our home.

So, to start out my goal is to come up with 100 things that we are doing, have done, or will do to save the environment. Almost all of these will be money-saving as well. Some are big things and some are little simple things. I'm ready to start now!
So #1 is..... drum roll please.... only having one car! Having no cars would be great, however that's complicated with 3 children. So Russ rides his bike to work. All year round. Rain or snow, heat or ice. And yes, we live in the Northwest where it rains about half of the time. There is nothing better to motivate him to do it than not having another form of transportation. I would do the same if I were the one going off by myself every day. On the rare occasions that he is home with the kids and I have somewhere to go, I will bike. And occasionally we will go on bikes as a family, like to the concert at the lake last week. Our 6 year old can ride himself, the 3 year old in the bike trailer, and the baby in the bike baby seat.
The benefits: Only one car to register, insure, make payments on (although our car is paid off), less gas to buy, less pollution, excercise, and being outdoors