Cheap is good, too
Having been raised by two farmers who grew up during the Depression, frugality and recycling are in my blood. Saving money is often good for the environment too.
Here’s a sample of things I refuse to buy because I have resources in the house.
Pot scrubbing pads: Plastic tabs from bread bags work better than anything you can buy to get gunk off a pot. When you’re done cooking, put a little water in the warm pan to soften it up.
Drain de-clogger: First, don’t let the drains go too long without a good plunging. If they do slow down, try a pot of boiling water first, then throw some baking soda down there and add white vinegar. Give her another plunge when that’s done bubbling.
Campfire starter bricks: Dryer lint stuffed into an empty toilet paper roll works fine.
Opportunities to save money and help the environment seem to present themselves every week in my house. Last week my 3-year-old washing machine made an ugly noise and refused to spin and drain. As I only paid about $300 for it, my first impulse was to do the math and figure out how many loads of wash I had done divided by $100 a year as rationale for buying a new washer.
Then I came to my senses and went on-line to see if I could figure out how to fix it. Sure enough, some genius has posted a Youtube site with audio of broken washing machines. When my main squeeze and I heard the sound that matched ours, we found another site with step-by-step instructions on how to take the machine apart and remove the broken part. It also gave the part’s name and manufacturer’s number so I could get a replacement at my local appliance shop.
In the end it cost $21 for the part and about two hours of our time, including finding the right noise on the Internet!
About the author: When she isn’t unclogging drains and fixing washing machines, Kathy Parker is a Gazette reporter in Ballston Spa.
Here are some other ways to save money and resources, courtesy of Greenpoint readers:
* Use fewer paper towels: Old T-shirts can be cut into rags. If you keep them in a cloth bag with a hole in the bottom (they used to make those for storing plastic bags), you can pull them out, one at a time, to clean up spills. Then throw them into the wash and use them again.
* Clothespin double duty: They not only work on the clothesline (save energy on the dryer!) but they can be used to close chip bags, to hang up dish-washing gloves to dry, or to hold dresses and skirts on hangers.
* Avoid plastic seed-starter pots: Just round up those paper coffee cups from the floor of your car to start your seedlings in. It’s easy to write information on paper — what’s growing and when you planted it — and by the time the plants are ready for the garden, the cups are basically compost.
* Don’t buy plastic forks and spoons: You can buy cheap stainless flatware — once — at a restaurant supply store or thrift store (I got a dozen metal spoons for 50 cents) and use them, over and over, for picnics or your in kids’ lunch boxes.
And speaking of lunch boxes, here’s a tip from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., on packing a waste-free lunch. It’s cheaper, too.
“When you go to the grocery store: buy chips, cookies, crackers, applesauce, carrots, yogurt, cheese, soup, and other food in bulk, not single-serving packages; buy juice in large bottles, not small boxes or pouches; and don’t buy plastic sandwich bags, plastic water bottles, disposable utensils, paper napkins, or paper lunch bags. (And don’t forget to bring your own reusable grocery bags to the store.)
When you pack your lunch: put sandwiches, small fruit, snacks, and other food in reusable containers, preferably glass; put juice or water in a reusable bottle; and put metal utensils, a cloth napkin, and your food and drink in a long-lasting reusable lunch bag or box.”
More tips from the zoo are here.
is a link from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, with a lot of everyday tips on sustainable living.
Do you have your own money-saving or earth-saving tips to share? You can add a comment below, or send an email to email@example.com.