On Earth Day each year, I try to evaluate how I’m doing on cutting back on the resources I use and keeping our family as green as possible. The joy of going green for a thrifty mom is not only does it help the environment and make our home a healthier place for the family, but it can also be quite a cost effective strategy.
These are a few of the things we do to keep the family green:
1. Natural cleaners. I know I can purchase spray bottles of bleach type cleaners for under a dollar fifty when I shop with coupons and during sales; but I can get a huge container of vinegar for even less than that. And vinegar is a natural solution for cutting back on grime while disinfecting (plus it’s non-toxic!). I also use a lot of baking soda and lemon juice for cleaning with a fresh scent.
2. Glass containers. I traded in plastics long ago, after hearing of BPA scares. For Christmas that year, my mom bought me a great glass set of various sized storage containers. They cut back on costs while doing the earth some good. Plus, I can heat everything up without dirtying another dish, and rather than toss them out after several uses, I wash and reuse.
3. Reusable containers for lunches, too. I found a great reusable, BPA free sandwich box at Old Navy the other day; went back and they had added another sized container for carrying snacks! If you have kids who bag their own lunches, or if you do a lot of picnicking and traveling, check out BPA-free plastic containers. In the long run, they are cheaper than using sandwich bags, better for the planet, and probably healthier for your kids as well.
4. Old clothes make great rags . . . among other things. Rather than toss out old, stained shirts, use them for cleaning rags. I cut mine up and use them to wash bathrooms, clean windows and wash the car. Or tackle a sewing project with the kids by turning an old, too-small pair of pants into a purse, or puppets, or pillow.
5. Cycle rather than drive. If you are lucky enough to be located close to shopping, trade in your car keys for a bike helmet and cycle your way to the store. Take the kids along for some extra exercise. Unfortunately, we’d need to tackle a large, major road to do this; but we do try to get out and ride as much as possible.
Teach your kids to turn off the water when they brush. Keeping the water on while brushing teeth can waste more than two gallons of water at a time! Also, limit theirs – and your – time in the shower. My daughter would spend half the day under the water singing and soaping up; so would I, if I didn’t realize how bad it is for the earth. Put a timer on the shower and teach your children to get in and get out quickly to save money.
6. Eat local. As much as you can, purchase local produce. Not only can this save you money on your grocery bill (I find purchasing at famer’s markets is often cheaper than buying at the grocery store), you’re saving on the amount of gas used to transport produce from one state to the next. Have a local butcher? Dairy farm that delivers eggs and/or milk? Consider switching to these, too.
7. Filter your water – and carry it with you. I gave up bottled water years ago, when I realized how much plastic we were using and how the water we were constantly consuming wasn’t really any cleaner than what I could find if I turned on my own faucet – unfiltered. We now own a water filter and several reusable drinking containers; before we leave the house we fill up and take water with us.
What do you think? Go Greener for Earth Day!