I want to share some tips with you on how I save money — and who doesn’t want to these days — while being kind to our environment.
1. Save cardboard, address stickers, and toilet paper rolls for art and craft projects
Growing up in Germany, I remember that my mother always collected little boxes and toilet paper rolls and would drop them off at our kindergarten when she had saved up a whole bag. We would use those materials for art and craft projects. Do people do that here as well? Landon is a little too young for elaborate art projects, but I have been saving cardboard and all kinds of things for his future craft projects. I have one designated box in the office for these supplies, and whenever I get another 50 address stickers from a charity that I will never use, or junk mail that includes a “Yes” sticker or a postcard with an animal on it, I throw those in that craft box. Oftentimes those address stickers have pretty little pictures on them, so I figure I just cut off the address part and Landon can sticker away — under my supervision, just in case he feels like eating them. While he has fun making something for Nani and Opa, I am recycling paper and saving on art and craft supply costs.
2. Reuse plastic food containers
I reuse the sturdy plastic containers some restaurants give you for takeout and leftovers. They are usually microwave safe (at least they say so on the bottom). I use the covers to cover food I reheat in the microwave (on a regular plate), and I reuse them to store all kinds of small items, like Landon’s crayons or my office supplies.
3. Reuse plastic bags from newspapers and bread
Don gets the New York Times every day (I think we will switch to the Weekender deal, Don can read the paper on-line during the week and save resources that way, and money), and I reuse the plastic bag around it if it is dry. I also save the extra plastic bags around bread; they come in handy all the time. I don’t like to use expensive resealable bags for something that gets thrown out; I save those for leftover food that gets stored in the fridge.
4. Buy household staples at the dollar store
Once a month or so I go to our local dollar store and stock up on things that would cost me so much more at the supermarket. Find out where the biggest and most well-stocked store is in your neighborhood, mine is in a mall. I love buying the toilet brushes with holder there because I like to replace them frequently (what choice do you have), and for just a buck (for both pieces) I don’t mind doing it. I also get dish sponges there, paper plates, birthday cards (10 for $1, how can you beat that!), wrapping paper, gift bags, and resealable plastic bags. A few months ago I was really lucky to find these cute finger puppets there for Landon (I had looked all over for them because I was going to be on a plane with Landon for 9 hours and figured they might keep him occupied. Well, they did — for about five minutes). Last time I went I got these beautiful silk pillow covers there. They were so beautiful; I bought 10, in several colors, to update my home. If one gets soiled, I’m not too upset because I got them for such a bargain price.
5. Unplug appliances
After last month’s $300 electric bill, I am much more aware of the cost of energy-sucking appliances on standby. Before going to sleep, I now unplug the TV, DVD player, and the microwave. I shut down my computer, all-in-one printer, and monitor. The more appliances you can unplug in your home, the better, and I hear that this is also so much better for your sleep, not to have all those waves going through your house all night.
6. Get compact fluorescent light bulbs
I just replaced many of our light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. I have to admit that I am not a fan of the light the ones I bought emit — it is a very harsh light and I put back the old bulb in the living room — but I made a point to replace the bulbs in rooms I am not in as much and for the outside lights.
7. Use stained, old clothes one more time
Instead of throwing out old socks with a hole or T-shirt with a stain I can’t get out, I used them to wipe the floor when I am cleaning. I especially like using socks for this job, just put them over your hands and go! It’s a great way to get into tricky corners and saves paper towels.
I hope these tips help you save some money and make you feel great about saving resources and being green!