Friday, October 2, 2009

10 cheap simple things I to do to save the Earth and save some money too!

Remember that book that came out in the 90's 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth? I really enjoyed that book and I wonder what I did with it...probably recycled it! Ha!
Anyway, here is my little list of 10 things to do to Save the Earth or at least some money!

#1 Switch to dishrags for washing dishes. There are several really cute patterns for making your own, the one I like best is in the book Mason Dixon Knitting. Or you could make up your own pattern easily just get some of that peaches and cream yarn they sell in all the fabric stores, it's 100% cotton and get out some #5 or 6 knitting needles and knit up some squares. I was soooo attached to the Dobie dishwashing pads for years because well that's what my mom used and they worked so well, but now the company that used to make the Dobie pad Scotch Brite has a new product that is bio degradable called Greener Clean. Another excellent alternative to those plastic covered sponges, just make sure you don't throw your sponge into a plastic (non biodegradable) trash bag when you are done because the purpose will be defeated. You can put them into your compost, or put them into a biodegradable trash bag into the yard waste bin for trash pick up.
And this leads to...

#2 Switch to biodegradable trash bags. You probably buy trash bags anyway why not buy the good kind? They are available at this website...
OR another idea which would be better really...long ago, my dad used to line our trash bins with used newspaper. He read the paper everyday and would just fold the paper to fit into the the bottom of the bin. In our house we've actually gone through several incarnations with the trash issue. We used to have a square bin and the paper bags from the grocery store would fit into it. Then we stopped getting so many bags from the store and we just threw the trash into the can, but it got really gross and dirty quickly and I'd have to wash it, and the kids complained about why do we have to be so different all the time, why can't we just buy trash bags like their friend's parents. So I gave in and we got used to using the plastic trash bags, but it never sat right with me. So I'm super happy to have found a decent alternative.

#3 Use a clothesline! This is one of my biggest arguments with my family...why would you run the air conditioner and the dryer at the same time? Isn't that counter productive? Did you know the dryer is the 2nd most energy hogging household appliance? And when it's over 80* out and you can hang your clothes and they will be dry in the same amount of time? And I know where the hatred of hanging out the laundry comes from, I've been around long enough! As a small child I remember running back and forth through the sheets as my mother hung them out on the clothes line. I loved it but my mother didn't, she spent a long time washing, hanging and ironing all of our clothes. I also remember what a proud housewife she was when we bought our first house and she got a dryer! It was a sign of prosperity and having a good husband and a good life to have your own dryer. But these days most people don't remember that. Heck my husband is older than me and I don't think he remembers it...but maybe his mom got a dryer before my mom did. So it's no longer anything to do with prosperity kids! You don't even have to do it ALL the time! I put towels and jeans in the dryer and hang the rest, and I don't do it for every load. If you even do this once a month it will make a difference. And you will be rewarded whenever you hang out your sheets to dry, your linen closet will smell like a garden, it's amazing. And you get to sleep in this garden smell!
Here is a link to buy clothes lines & supplies...

#4 Use an ancient form of transportation! Your feet! Or you can even use a modern convenience and ride a bike! I recently bought a bicycle trailer and between the Trader Joe's, Riley's school and the library there isn't much reason for me to drive if I have errands inside of Newbury Park. Please be very careful of traffic, many motorists are not very conscientious of bicyclists.
#5 Go back to using a mop! Really, this is what stirred up this particular blog subject; I went to the store to buy refills for my swiffer mop, which I used all the time. I always felt bad about the chemicals in it but it was so easy to quickly just clean my floor at any given moment. I would use it and wish there was a way for me to refill the plastic bottle with a little soap and water, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. I've used this thing for at least 5 years. Well consumerism working the way it does it wasn't enough for the company to just sell me the cleaner refills and pads but now they had to go and change the design of the mop so that you have to buy a new one in order to use the cleaner! Well guess what makers of swiffer? I don't love your cleaner that much! It was the mop, with the convenient sprayer that I was interested in. I bought an inexpensive mop and bucket instead thank you very much!

#6 Take a bucket into the shower with you...or two. I got this one from my dad who was a master gardener. During the last big California draught he came up with this idea to have more water for his orchids and roses. He kept buckets in the shower to collect extra water and then took it downstairs to the garden to water every day.

#7 Wrap your water heater. That was Jasmin's suggestion...I bought one of those water heater blankets, now I just have to find it!

#8 Switch to rags instead of paper towels. Scotch Brite also has biodegradable bamboo wipes...ok I do NOT work for this company! I just found these in the store the other day and was so excited by them...true it does not take much to excite me! And I confess that paper towels are one of my biggest attachments, so I have cut down on them as opposed to giving them up. But at least I'm working on it!

#9 Buy 2nd hand stuff! Now when I was younger I bought everything 2nd hand because I didn't have much money...and now with the current economic situation I find once again I have little money! And I'm trying really hard to hold on to what little money I do have.... I like to buy things used. And anyway it's new to me! There are so many great sources for stuff you can go to craig's list or you could even barter for stuff you need. I also like to make stuff but that's not news!

#10 Grow a vegetable garden. It's fun, healthy, and sometimes frustrating. You could even do something as small as grow herbs or a tomato plant in a pot on your porch. For me digging in the earth and watching things grow is just such a joy I don't know why everyone would do it! I'm going to post a picture of the avocado tree I grew from a pit. Well it's the inside of the tree anyway, it's probably at least 15 feet tall now.
I just read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle, I'll just say it was amazing and inspiring and if you are reading this you should read that book too. You will be glad you did it!

These things are probably no big deal to anyone who lives in Europe or even many people in other parts of the U.S. but apply to our L.A. life style which is unfortunately is fast and competitive most of the time. And you know the thing is we have so many fabulous artists and creatives here but we are all struggling just to make it by, I don't's a shame.