Thursday, August 28, 2008

#17 to 21. More ways to save trees

Since I'm on the subject, here are some more ideas on ways to cut down on paper use:

  • Recieve and pay bills online! This was difficult for me at first because I can't flip open the filing cabinet to pull out an old bill. I have to count on cyberspace to keep track of things. But it's quicker and doesn't require postage. This can also apply to documents/applications.

  • Put the paper right back into the printer. Do you ever print mistake pages? Or how about that page that has just the footer printed on the last page? Most stuff I print is just for my own use, so who cares what's on the back? I put it back in the printer so that the back side will be printed on with my next print.

  • Hand write things. A simple recipe, an address, or some other thing that you look up on your computer can be jotted down on a scrap paper (see previous post) instead of being printed out.
  • Use your debit card. No checks to write or pay for, and my bank actually pays me .03 for each transaction.
  • Buy recycled paper. Okay, so this may or may not save money, but it is worth it. I can usually get recycled printer paper on sale at office max- just keep your eyes open and buy when it's a good price and not when you need it because you run out of paper.

To read some statistics on what is required to make paper, go here. Scary, isn't it? So be a tree-hugger, and save yourself some money in the process. And when you do use paper, make sure it goes into the recycle bin instead of the trash

Sunday, August 24, 2008

#16 Paper paper everywhere, but not a scrap to write on?

Are you a list maker? I never thought I was, but lately I can't seem to accomplish anything unless I have a list. Or remember what to buy if it's not written down. The problem is that lists take paper. Not to worry! I get enough junk mail to keep me well supplied. The backs of the envelopes are perfect. I might as well get some use out of the complete waste of paper. I also use other pieces of scrap paper, like stuff I printed (like directions) and am no longer using. Then when I am done, it can go in the recycle bin where it would have gone anyway.

Pros: Makes some use of waste paper, and you don't have to use up a piece of new paper

Cons: My lists are more easily misplaced because they look like trash.

Friday, August 22, 2008

#15 Reusable shopping bags

I know it's not a new idea. Stores everywhere are selling reusable bags, there has been a lot of hype about it in the media, and we all know it is one of the easiest and best ways to replace disposable plastic. So why when I go to the grocery stores do I never see anyone else with their bags in tow? I confess, I don't remember every time. I hate having to answer the question, "paper or plastic?" when I know that at home or even in my car there are a stack of bags I could have brought. But I am making an effort, and getting better. It's about doing it until it becomes a habit. I try to return my bags to the car after I have emptied groceries, that way I know they are there for next time and for unplanned trips to the store. Some big cities, like Seattle, have started actually charging for the use of plastic bags. I wouldn't mind that, because it would push more people into bringing their own bags, but I am also grateful that here the stores offer a 5 or 6 cent refund per bag brought in for reuse. My favorite reusable bag I have is from Target, because it's big and it folds up nicely. There are also some great bags out there made of recycled material , but I'd like to have some like this:

Pros: The bags tend to be sturdier and can hold more groceries. They will prevent the waste of thousands of plastic bags over a lifetime. They will save you money (by either paying you or preventing you from getting charged.)

Cons: You must remember to bring the bags with you! I have yet to find a suitable replacement for garbage can liners. Also, if you giving something (such as garden produce)
to someone, it's much easier to give it to them in a bag they don't have to give back.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

#14 Wet Bags

This is must-have cloth-diapering accessory. It's called a wet bag, because you can put the wet, stinky diapers in it and zip it up, sealing it all in the water-proof material. Usually they are made out of PUL (polyurethane laminate) which can be purchased on ebay (I also saw some bags on sale there), or you can go here to purchase the bags online. In addition to going in the diaper bag, they can also be used as a diaper pail liner or in place of a diaper pail. And the best thing about these bags-- throw them right in the wash with the diapers!
Pros: Less stink and mess to deal with, it's durable and come in some cute patterns. A much better option than using plastic bags.
Cons: More expensive than plastic bags, but it is all part of the money-saving cloth diapering process.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

#13 Diaper wipes

I thought while I was on the subject of diapers, I would include some things that go along with cloth diapering. If you're using all cloth diapers, it really doesn't make sense to keep using those disposable wipes! You can use the same wipes containers that you have. They are available for purchase if you choose, or if you are like me, just use what you have available. My wipes are a mixture of baby washcloths that I never used, cut up burp rags that had holes, and a few other ratty washcloths. You can find a recipe for diaper wipe solution online. Or, if it doesn't bother you, just use water. I mostly just use water. Yuck? Well, to each his own-- you can choose how you want to handle it.

Pros: Very cheap, in fact free if you make your own out of what you have. No wipes to be thrown out, and you can just wash them with the diapers. Also, no plastic packaging that comes with store-bought wipes. Store-bought wipes have always seemed to irritate my baby's skin-- using home-made is very gentle to baby's bottom.

Cons: A little less convenient to have to make your own. I sometimes get too much or too little liquid in the container, and my baby likes to get into them and pull them all out (not that this is much different from disposable wipes.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

#12 Time to go cloth!

Cloth diapers have become a big issue lately. I decided to post about it today because I just read this at 5 minutes for going green. I have to tell you that even after making the switch from almost all other disposable paper/plastic products, I resisted the cloth diapers. After all, I was on my last child, he was several months old already, and cloth diapers are ICKY! Right? Well thanks to my friend Julie, I made the switch anyway. I had the advantage of trying out all of her different types of diapers that her oldest was out of and baby hadn't grown into yet. They really aren't that bad. A little extra stink, a little extra laundry, but over all a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. And trust me, my child has not been the easiest child to diaper. He is an extremely heavy wetter and blow-out pooper. Because of this, most AIO's (all-in-ones) and pocket diapers don't work for him. So I use prefolds with a doubler (I use microfiber washcloths) and good quality velcro covers. No pins, no snappis, just stuff it all in there and close up the velcro. Oh, and the biodegradable flushable poop-catching liners are a HUGE help (no dunking or spraying). There is a lot that goes into choosing your diapers and getting started. The best way is to find someone who uses them to get information (and I have never known anyone who uses them and doesn't want to convert all moms to using them.) There are also a lot of websites out there that may be helpful. Try this one to get some good info. My favorite site for buying diapering supplies is . I have even tried to make my own AIO diapers. They turned out okay-- but unfortunately did not work for my child.
Even if you just want to use them part of the time, like when you are at home, it is definitely worth it and will save you money.
Here is my baby with his cloth diapers doubling as a swimsuit.

Pros: Cloth diapers are reusable, long-lasting (very high resale value too!), soft, cute, chemical-free, and may help your child potty train more easily. The estimated savings per child is $2000 to $3000. And then there are the thousands of diapers that won't be headed to the landfill

Cons: The stink is worse, but not from poop-- the wet diapers can smell very strongly of ammonia. A little more laundry-- but who with a baby isn't doing laundry all the time anyway? The initial cost can be high. I suggest you try Craig's list for some used ones. For my child, it requires extra diaper changes because he wets so heavily. I keep disposables on hand for emergencies and traveling.

Friday, August 8, 2008

#11 More freezing fun

'Tis the season for freezin'-- food that is. As much as my family loves berries, we can't afford to go buy the little packages of pre-ripe picked berries that they sell at the grocery stores. So when they are in season-- stock up! In my opinion, really good fresh frozen berries are just as good or better than storebought, shipped-across-the-country, packed-in-little-plastic-packages berries that are available year-round. Buy the berries when their season is in full swing, wash and dry them thouroughly, spread them on sheet pan and put in the freezer. When they are frozen, put them in ziploc bags or food saver bags. They can then be used for the rest of the year. Blueberries are probably the best freezing berries. They make a great healthy snack. So head to the farmer's market, or the berry patch to pick your own! Yum!

Our latest blueberry pick. I wanted to get pics of the kids picking, but I forgot the camera when we went.

Pros: Yummy, healthy, and less expensive when purchased in large amounts. Picking berries is a great bonding activity for my family. It's more economical to run your freezer when it's full. There is less packaging to throw away.

Cons: It requires freezer space. If you don't have a food saver, the berries can get a bit freezer-burned in a few months.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

#10 Freeze to please

Is there anything kids love more in the summertime than popsicles? How much money have you spent on sugar water because it's frozen on a stick? So my tip is-- make your own. A plastic popsicle mold is very inexpensive and can be used indefinitely. No wooden sticks, plastic wrappers, or bags/boxes. If you're worried about BPA, you can get BPA-free molds here. (Tupperware doesn't use polycarbonate to make children's products.) You could also create your own molds out of jars or whatever you want.
You can make any kind of popsicles you want, including yogurt, fruit juice, or go cheap and do kool-aid. One of my kids' favorites is lemonade pops.
Pros: Healthier (if you want them to be) and cheaper. Less plastic, less waste.
Cons: My daughter keeps losing the sticks outside. Most plastic molds probably do have BPA in them.

Monday, August 4, 2008

#9 So much packaging, so little product

It's a world of convenience foods. It seems that everything has to come in single-serve packaging. It's so convenient! And so expensive! And so wasteful! I admit to endulging my kids with string cheese once in a while, but individual cookies, chips, crackers, and even peanut butter? You've got to be kidding. So just don't buy it. The funny thing about such conveniences is that you'll never miss them if you never try them. Also, the more you buy these products, the more things companies will produce because of the demand.
Pros (of not buying them): Less waste, less money, and less junk food (typically healthy food does not come single-serve)
Cons: Less convenience.

Friday, August 1, 2008

#8 Sqeeze every last drop

You're down to the end of that tube of toothpaste and you just want to toss it. But it's likely that there is still some toothpaste in the "hub" of the tube. So bunch up that tube, push with all your might, and you'll be amazed at how much more toothpaste you can get out. I know, there are a million different tube squeezers out there that are supposed to help you with this, but don't waste your money. They can't do anything your fingers can't already do.


Pros: I'd estimate about a tube of toothpaste a year in savings. One less to buy, one less plastic tube to dispose of. Over a lifetime, that's a lot.
Cons: At the end, I have to set the toothbrush down and use both hands to get that last little bit.