In honor of Earth Day, I thought I would share some tips for having a greener household and also saving some green (money) at the same time. I am delighted to bring the first tip, since it was just yesterday that I discovered this one!
Tip #1- Recycling Flowers
While pulling into our neighborhood yesterday, I saw the lawn crew pulling up the pansies that had been planted not too long ago. They looked fine to me so I wondered why they were pulling them up. I stopped the car and asked one of the men what he was doing. He explained to me that they systematically come in and replace the old flowers with new flowers so the entrance stays looking new and fresh. I asked him if there was anything wrong with the flowers he was pulling out. He replied that they were fine so I asked if I could have them to plant in my own yard. He was delighted to provide me with all the flowers that I wanted – even digging them up, placing them in a bag and loading them in my car for me! The man also told me that he often brings the flowers back to his own house and plants them in his yard since there is nothing wrong with them. So, I ended up with enough pansies to fully fill 2 hanging baskets, 1 rectangular planter and 2 small islands in my front yard. I was so happy that this simple step of asking for something provided me flowers at no cost, kept the flowers from the landfill and gave the man working one less thing to dispose of at the end of the day!
Tip #2 – Recycling Home Products
My kids know that nothing goes into the trash can if there is a hope that it can be recycled. They often look on plastic packaging to find the recycling number to see if it can be recycled. You can even recycle some things that most people don’t realize – like the bag that bread comes in! We have a bin set up in our garage where all the recycling from the house goes. We have curbside pick up for recycling that is included in our garbage pick up, so all we have to do is put it out on garbage day and they do the rest. I also have a can in my office for paper waste only – junk mail, printer scraps, discarded schoolwork, etc. All of this also gets taken to the recycling bin during the week.
Tip #3 – Less Paper Products
I think I have spoken on this topic before but we work hard to keep our paper product usage to a minimum. We have a drawer in our kitchen that is full of rags that can be used for general cleaning and spills. The kids and even their friends know that I don’t have paper towels so if they need to clean up the mud on their feet or a glass of spilled juice, they go the rag drawer. I also keep a small plastic can under my kitchen sink for the dirty rags to go into. I wash the rags with the other towels in hot water and put them back when they are clean. We also use cloth napkins instead of paper. I have another drawer in the kitchen filled with napkins and treat it similar to the rags – when they are used or dirty, they go into the little bin, affectionally called the “rag bin”.
Tip #4 – Reusable Bags
I keep atleast 10 reusable bags in my car at all times. I take them with me whenever I go shopping for anything – groceries, clothing, household goods, etc. By doing so, I can cut down on the number of plastic bags being used and in turn cut down on pollution. I do, upon occasion, get my groceries packed in plastic but only so we can have the plastic bags to clean up after the dog. But hey, I figured this is a form of recycling too!
Tip #5 – Composting
I recently posted a picture of the new compost bin that John built for me. I have been using it like crazy and I love it! I keep a small plastic bin in my fridge that I place my kitchen scraps into (egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps) and then empty it into my compost bin once a day. I am not sure how long it will take to make usable compost for the garden but atleast it is keeping these precious materials out of the landfill.
Tip #6 – Gardening
My garden is growing like crazy and it makes me so excited to go out and look at it. The garden produces all summer long and helps us to save in our grocery bill. I spent less than $20 for the supplies needed including plants and seeds and it will produce way more food than that. I also have the peace of mind in knowing that my family is eating produce that I grew without any pesticides or chemicals. I have an all natural fish fertilizer that I sometimes use on the garden. It doesn’t smell very good but I know that it will not harm my family when they eat the vegetables grown using it.
Tip #7 – Turn off the lights and water
This is an easy step that save us tons of money and resources – teach your family to turn off the lights and water. This is a tip that we are still working on in my family. I have the water thing down pretty good with the kids but the lights habit is a harder one to break. If you can get your family to turn off the water when it is not being used (including when brushing their teeth) and turn off the lights when they leave a room, it can save tons of money in utility bills. Not to mention make our world a greener place because the best energy is one that is never produced!
Tip #8 – Use less gas
I am a homebody by nature. I can go days without ever leaving except to get the mail. One of the benefits is that I spend less money, after all you can’t buy something you don’t see, and use less fossil fuel, which also saves more money. If you aren’t like me and you have to leave your house, at least try to group errands together so that you use less fuel. The sooner we can wean ourselves from oil dependance, the better off we will be as a national and as individuals.
Brittany told me one day this week that our world would be such a better and cleaner place if people would do the same things we do. That made me feel so good that she was getting it all and creating habits that will last a lifetime for her. So, in honor of Earth Day, change one thing you do today to make it even greener. And if you can’t think of anything, one last tip to help – Starbucks is offering a free brewed coffee to anyone who brings in a reusable coffee mug. That is a delicious way to go green and save some green!