Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth Hour 2008

From :

"On March 29, 2008 at 8 p.m., join millions of people around the world in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights for Earth Hour, an event created by the World Wildlife Fund.
Earth Hour was created by WWF in Sydney, Australia in 2007, and in one year has grown from an event in one city to a global movement. In 2008, millions of people, businesses, governments and civic organizations in nearly 200 cities around the globe will turn out for Earth Hour."

We're going to read stories or play board games by candle light (soy-based, of course!)
Consider participating!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Is Frugal Environmental?

I just read a great blog entry at Sound Money Matters called "Is A Frugal Lifestyle Always Environmentally Friendly?". It's a really good look at what we can do that's frugal AND helps the environment.

What I liked more was the examples of frugality that are NOT helpful to the environment. This made me feel better about choosing not to be cheap in some cases.

For example, the CVS Extra Care Bucks craze. Sure, it's great to get stuff really cheap or free, but I don't need to buy disposable razors that will end up in a landfill when I have a rechargeable one. I don't need tons of cosmetics, most of which have such harmful ingredients that I can't believe people even purchase them! (Did you know cosmetics do NOT need FDA approval?)

So as much as the CVS deals are tempting bargains, I opt out most of the time because I don't need them or they'll do more harm to the environment. Besides, not buying is being cheap too :)

More next time about eco-friendly, organic and SAFE cosmetics.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Inspiration: Little House on the Prairie

I've always been frugal, but a number of things seemed to converge at about the same time that made me more interested in the environment. I mentioned the class I took "Living Sustainably", but what really got me thinking was Little House on the Prairie.

No, not Michael Landon on tv (although I loved that show as a kid), but the series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Far less drama, more real life. It was amazing how much work those people did! No prepackaged in plastic products, no spray cleaners, no food with preservatives...I could go on and on. They used what they had and didn't waste a thing.

But they knew how to work in conjunction with the earth. They respected it and were really at its mercy. Drought? No wheat. For us, we can have what we want, when we want. Just go to the grocery store.

And have you ever watched the PBS's 1900 House or Frontier House? Modern people living in 1900 or the 1800s. Amazing shows, but enough "reality tv" drama to keep it interesting. I'd highly recommend watching them on dvd. Like the Little House books, they make you think about all the conveniences we have (and that people did, at one time, live without them).

Food for thought.

Paper towel challenge

My sister is also cheap and green. We exchange so many good ideas with each other and challenge each other. Most recently I mentioned I got a great deal on a 12 pack of chlorine-free recycled paper towels.

"I don't use paper towels," she said. What? How?!? I have a 6 year old and a husband who loves to cook but is quite sloppy. Without paper towels what would my kitchen look like (shudder)?

Ok, people existed before paper towels, so let's try it.

I bought Trader Joe's kitchen towels. They are pretty thick- almost like felt, and yes, they pick up stuff like nobody's business. Cool. I don't know about other people, but these get washed pretty frequently in my house...I can't stand that day-old sponge know what I'm talking about.

So, while I still have some paper towels to use up, we'll be using them more slowly because of the TJ kitchen towels. And we'll be saving money. While a 2 pack of these towels is $3.99, you might spend that on a paper towel 4 pack...and these will last longer.

"Reduce", recycle's less popular friend

We hear "reduce, re-use and recycle" a lot. By far, the most popular of these three guys is recycle. Why? I'm guessing that it's because it's the easiest.

Re-using takes some creativity...what am I going to do with the stack of 32oz yogurt containers that are coded #5... so far I can't find ANYONE to recycle these guys.

In my region, only plastics numbered 1, 2 and 3's can be recycled. I guess they could be used for some kind of storage if I was into beading or something...and they're too small for my son's Legos...

So while I haven't found out what to do with the stack of yogurt containers I have, I did figure out a way to stop accumulating them...REDUCE!!! So no more buying those containers of yogurt. Instead, I bought a yogurt maker. If that works out, it'll be 2 less containers a week (wow...that's over 100 a year...just for my family!) And the's cheaper!

And while we're reducing our use of products using non or hard to recycle containers, we're going to ditch the tub butter (also the #5 packaging). Instead, back to stick margarine.

And even recyclable stuff...well it takes energy to recycle. We're going to switch over to shampoo in bar more bottles to recycle after we finish our "pumpable shampoo"! I'll let you know how the bar shampoo works out.

Having all those yogurt containers piled up definitely made me realize recycling isn't the real solution...reducing my purchasing of this kind of packaging.

How do you REDUCE?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

5 Ways We Do Frugal AND Earth-friendly

Think it costs a lot to be Earth-friendly? Here are 5 ways my family helps the earth and saves money.

1) Shampoo: My husband uses a lot of shampoo...he could easily use a bottle in a week. Not only does that cost a lot, but think of all the shampoo bottles we'd use! So we put a pump on the shampoo bottle. Two pumps of shampoo is more than enough! Shampoo lasts a lot longer, which saves money and produces less waste (shampoo bottles to be recycled). It's been working great!

2) Unplug your large electronics when not in use. What a difference this made in our electric bill! We attached surge protectors to our computer and to our tv/dvd/cable box and when not in use, flip the switch off. More energy saving tips from BGE.

3) Close off seldomly used rooms. We have a guest room that is only used once a month or less. We close the heating vents and then close the door. Another surprising money saver.

4) Make your own food. It's surprising how much preprocessed, prepackaged food Americans buy. It's convenience. I make homemade hot pockets. Sure it takes a little time, but it's healthier (I use whole wheat flour, egg beaters and morningstar farm sausage). I make a batch, freeze and heat one in the morning before I leave for work. Way cheaper than hot pockets, and pretty tasty if I say so myself.

5) Low flow shower head. These are WAY better than they used to be, and they make a significant decrease in our water bill. I ordered the Chrome Handheld 1.5 GPM Massage Showerhead from Let's Go Green.

How do you do cheap and green?

So here's the first entry...

So what's this all about?

Well, pretty much the way we're trying to live our lives- frugally and environmentally. Yes, I'm frugal, or as my family and friends would more likely put it, "cheap". Yeah, I am.

And environmental? Well, a couple years ago when I was still in graduate school, I took a class with George Fisher called "Living Sustainably". An eye-opening, life changing course. Really.

So here's my take on things that are of importance to me and my family now...taking care of the environment and saving money.

Until next time :)