Friday, August 24, 2012

How The Environmental R's Can Save You Money - Part 2

Let's put REDUCE to use for you!

RETHINKING automatically leads to REDUCING.  It's true.  Yesterday, I shared quite a few ideas with you that we already use here around the Suburban Prairie Home.  And today, I wanted to share some more.

  • When I buy kitchen sponges, I only buy the kind that have the scrubby on one side.  This way, each sponge does double duty.  This reduces the kinds of sponges I'm buying, which saves me money.  I also only buy the large packages.  This reduces my trips to the store.  And best of all, I cut them in half.  Yep, just take a pair of scissors and cut them in half.  Now I get 2 for the price of one, which reduces my budget!  I did some rethinking on this one afternoon, after scrubbing the counter and sink, and then throwing the sponge away, even though I really only used mostly the corners.  By making the sponge smaller, I now use the whole thing. No more wasted sponge!
  • I shop for pantry staples once a month.  By buying in case lots, I can take advantage of discounts where possible, and I reduce my trips to the store.  This not only lowers my grocery budget, it reduces my fuel consumption.  And at $4-ish/gallon, I'll take all the help I can get.

And speaking of reducing trips to the store...

  • The store near us that offers the case discount is a decent drive away from here.  So is our usual fabric store.  We ALWAYS combine trips, again reducing the gas we use.
  • I also don't go to that fabric store without a fistful of coupons, and a list of sale items.  And I use my teacher's discount card.  It's buying in bulk for our creative needs like we buy in bulk for our nutritional needs.  And I do mean needs, not wants.  Rethink whether you need those supplies or not, and you'll be amazed.  Remember in January when I took advantage of all those yarn sales?  Wow, did I save a boatload of money.  Now, I'm using up what I have on hand, and only filling in here and there (again on sale and with my discount) if I need something more to finish up a project.  Again, by reducing trips, we reduce our gas expenses.  So, shop your stash first.
  • Learn creative ways to use pantry items, like a cake mix.  You've seen lots of delicious, gluten free recipes here that start with a cake mix.  When you live gluten free, if you want to bake, you have to have lots of specialty items on hand.  They don't make good choices for pantry items because many of them go rancid quickly.  The gluten free cake (and other baking) mixes save the day!  They are also easy to store because they are boxes.  And, their main packaging is recyclable.

Some other ways we reduce:

  • Use a dishcloth or kitchen towel when possible.  This reduces the number of paper towels you will purchase and use.  Also, we all know that there are certain things (like cleaning mirrors and windows) that paper towels work better for.  Buy the kind that split into smaller towels.  By using these two tricks, we've cut our paper towel consumption by over half.  Reduce our paper consumption, reduce our budget.
  • I try to limit my baking to one day a week.  Because the oven stays hot, I don't use the extra energy to constantly be preheating it.  I also try to bake items that all bake at the same (or pretty close) temperatures, and I start with the hottest first when possible.  Now, I say try.  Life is what happens when we make other plans.  But by rethinking my schedule, I'm not only reducing my energy use (and its associated costs), but also saving myself time.  And that is my most valuable resource!
  • We use a drying rack for the majority of our laundry.  Towels and other hot whites still go through the dryer, but everything else gets hung up on the drying rack.  Sometimes, we have 2 or even 3 racks going.  Also, we wash whatever we can in cold water.  And we try to wash only when we have a full load.
For more great ideas, check out 1,001 Ways to Save the Earth by Joanna Yarrow.    Obviously, with 1,001 ideas, you're sure to find a few more that can help you reduce both your impact on the planet and on your budget.

Have a great day!

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