Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Keeping Your House Green Without Spending Much: Bathroom Edition

Wow, the economy is on everyone's mind these days. I know there are people out there who were previously trying to live green, but now are just trying to get by...but it is still possible to keep your house green without breaking the bank.

I thought I'd do a little overview of the rooms in my house and how we try to be green in each of them while still being frugal. Sure, I'd love to install solar panels and low flow toilets, but that's not in the budget now. Over the next couple of blogs, I'll let you know my little tricks around the house that helps my family stay green and cheap. Let's start with the bathrooms.

1) Save money while conserving water
-take a 5 minute shower (I use a kitchen timer)

-use a low flow shower head. I have one that has the long cord and puts out only 1.5 gallons per minute. I got it from Let's Go Green. They have a variety of shower heads that range from $8-$23. I also have (from the same company) sink faucet aerators on my bathroom and kitchen sinks. They are 1.5 gallon per minute as well.

-use less water to flush with. I'd love to have those fancy low flow toilets that have 2 flush levels! What we do instead is to fill up a gallon milk jug with some pebbles (just enough to prevent floating) and put it in the toilet tank. It takes up 1 gallon of space that was previously 1 gallon saved with every flush.

-and the good old "turn the water off while you brush" technique

2) Reduce waste in the bathroom
- use a rechargeable razor rather than disposables. Sure, it costs a little more at first but the rechargeable razor will cost less than many disposables in the long run.

- use bar soap instead of liquid in plastic pumps. Bar soap lasts SO much longer and doesn't produce the plastic bottle waste. I do keep one ceramic bottle filled with liquid soap for when guests come (some people feel weird about using someone else's bar soap), but for everyday use, we love the bars.

-reuse one of those old pumps for shampoo. My husband is a shampoo glutton. He could easily finish off a whole bottle in a week. So I reused a pump bottle and put his shampoo in it. Two pumps of shampoo is plenty and makes the bottle of shampoo last a lot longer...meaning it saves you money and reduces the number of shampoo bottles you need to recycle. Ideally, a bar shampoo would be great...I'm still looking for one that is natural and works well on my hair.

-make sure kids in the house use a proper amount of toilet paper. I know some kids that practically use half a roll! In addition, find a brand that is made of recycled paper. Marcal is one brand that is economical.

3) Try to use environmentally friendly and healthy products. Many "everyday" products are not as green or healthy as we'd assume they'd be. Check out the Skin Deep Cosmetics database to find out how your current brands rank. I've found I really like the Kiss My Face products. Green? Yes. Cheap...well not always. The way I afford it is to keep an eye out for these products on sale or clearance and then stock up. I found Kiss My face deodorant for half price at Target and bought four. There's a Surplus Outlet near my sister's in Pennsylvania that always has green products for SUPER cheap prices.

4) Use environmentally friendly (and inexpensive) cleaning products and methods. More on that in the cleaning edition :)

Do you have any bathroom cheap and green tips? Leave a comment!


Nancy said...

I use vinegar/water to clean my sinks, shower & tub. It is about $2 a gallon. For the toilet, I use a cup of borax, let it sit for an hour or so then scrub!

I read somewhere that you can use 1 tbsp of baking soda to 1 cup of hot water as shampoo. You mix until the water is clear. I wanna try this this week!

Jerry said...

We live in a place where Borax isn't available so we just use baking soda. It's great. You're absolutely right. When money and budget concerns on in the forefront, you can't do EVERYTHING you'd want to do. But, every little bit counts and hopefully provides some insurance for the environment in the long term. It leads to, at the very least, cheaper living. That's a good thing.


Cheap Like Me said...

We use baking soda instead of scouring powder, too (I put it in a plastic (nonbreakable) peanut butter jar with holes punched in the lid to use as a shaker), and baking soda and vinegar to clean the toilet.

How about instead of using a new (preferably recycled/biodegradable) plastic bag in the trash can every week, dump the bag's contents into another trash can or bag for disposal -- we re-use the liner bag for months. Or use no liner if you have no messy garbage.

Catch the water from waiting for your shower to get warm in a bucket and use it for watering plants or flushing the toilet (just dump it in the bowl).

And in addition to using greener products, use *fewer* products. Don't get suckered into buying something new that you don't need.

Lewis said...

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Anonymous said...

The bathroom comments are very helpful. After the terrific drought in 2007 particularly here in Nashville, my water bill went through the roof for landscaping. I did not want to lose my new landscaping so I did water 1 1/4 hours a day (sprinkler system) and although the ground dried up in 1-2hours anyway, it was worth it. I decided since I could not afford to not water the landscaping, I could cut down on water elsewhere. I now take about a 2 minute shower daily. During the 2007 drought, my hair dried out so much, I stopped washing it daily; now I only wash it with shampoo 1x week max and it is much healthier and fullier. Also, my water bill has dropped from about $34 dollars/month to $15.64/month. Also, I only use clod water to wash clothes 1x week only, too. Now to cut back on telephone bills. How to do that? I have a land-line I hardly use ($24+$6.00 for fax) and internet ($24.99/month). With tax though, my phone bill is about $62/month. To me, that is ridiculous (I found a check from 1988 when my phone bill was only $13.56/month but that was before the Internet). Any suggestions? Thanks.