Save Money At Home While Going Green
Getting Dirty for Going Green
In this article, and more to come, I would like to outline why I think that a budget-friendly and Eco-friendly house is not only important in this day and age, but also easily-attainable. From this point on, I'll be referring to this lifestyle as Earth Budgeting. That is to say, these tips will help both the environment and your budget.
When transitioning into an Earth Budget lifestyle, there are some things to keep in mind.
- There will be sacrifices. Just like with any budgeting or conservation effort, many things will be lost before there is an obvious pay-off. Conservationists and tree-huggers alike know well that the true benefit of reducing our waste this generation is for many generations ahead.
- Friends and family will begin to notice new things about you: they may consider you a hippie, or question your life choices. They won't see any outcome, much less than what you'll see. They may comment on your hair, or the 'state' of your bathroom. When any of these things happen, there is no need to toot your Earth Budget lifestyle. To justify your lifestyle to anyone would suggest that they should justify their lives to you-- and do you really care how often they clean their toilets and wax their new hard-wood floors?
- Your body will begin to change. While actively living the Earth Budget, I wager to say that you'll notice multiple changes to your skin, hair, and bodies of those participating with you. Keep reading for what I'm referring to.
Breaking The Yellow Ice
Here we have an example of one of the things your friends and family just might comment on in your new Earth Budget home. This toilet is saving 112 gallons of water a day. This toilet lives in a home with four family members, who only flush the toilet after they defecate. The average American has one bowel movement a day, (which many physicians consider less than healthy), but that means that you can maintain a lower water bill as well as save approximately 36,000 gallons a year. That equals, approximately $91.25 dollars in savings in flushing alone each year.
Why is everyone in a rush to flush? Well, in a society which compels us to use antibacterial, antimicrobial and 99.9% germ-killing efficiency, it's needless to say that bodily fluids are toward the bottom of our list of things to come into contact with. But when that fluid is nearly a foot beneath your tush, and you're not planning on taking a dunk into it anyway-- there's less risk than you would expect, especially in your own home. I won't touch the subject of public restrooms, though.
Let us know what you think
How do you feel when you see urine in a toilet?
This can be a sticky issue
I won't just gloss over the topic of 'Letting it Mellow', because it's still considered a taboo issue in the home. I'll be honest with you, if I'm in somebody's home and find the yellow in the bowl, I am still surprised. Beyond that, I begin to grow concerned that I may be the one to clog the toilet with that next bundle of paper. So below I have outlined some tips on how to make this ivory confrontation easier on all of us, including your pipes.
- Let me preface this by saying that healthy urine is supposed to be anywhere from clear to light yellow. That being said, I have used a couple drops of blue food coloring to turn the water a lovely teal until the next flush. This confuses the mind of a guest into thinking that you just have a fun sense of humor, or enjoy the hue of teal-blue. Either way, their first impression will be anything BUT disgust.
- This does mean that solid waste particles (even in the urine), will build up faster. This doesn't mean you need to break out the strong cleaners every week, considering that these toilets drain back to where the water originated, sooner or later. Sure, it's all filtered, but do you want to risk contributing to the chemical build-up we're experiencing today? Simply loosen the debris with your run of the mill toilet brush on a weekly basis. Some people forget that the more often you clean something, the less likely something will build up to the point of needing industrial cleaners.
- As far as a health hazard, there are is no conclusive evidence that it is any safer to flush after each toilet visit. That being said, you should know the facts of human waste. Upon exiting the body, urine is sterile. The moment that oxygen hits it, however, bacteria can begin to colonize and feed off of the waste. Feces, on the other hand, contain a multitude of bacteria from your lower intestine including E.Coli. I would never recommend allowing feces to sit in a toilet for any period of time. As for urine, if you experience any odor, a film on the surface of the water, or feel little beady eyes of micro-bacterium staring at you-- flush that yellow away.
- The key is to flush less, not to stop flushing entirely.
- You can also save water by using a special brick or similar object placed in the water tank to displace water-- tricking your toilet into using less water per flush.
More ways to maintain an Earth Budget
If you've only used a plate for some chips and a sandwich, odds are that the plate is reusable. This means that you can wait longer before running the dishwasher.
Sooner or later, you'll still have to wash the dishes.
Reuse food bags
When you find that you've just finished off that zip bag full of rice cereal, I challenge you to NOT find something to use this for. You don't have to replace it with more food, but if it's still seal-able, then go for it. But perhaps even dusting it out and using it to hold nails is an option.
This will not supply you with an endless supply of cereal.
Use less toilet paper
The obvious pros are practical: you use less TP, you buy less TP, you waste less paper.
I apologize, your bum will not be pampered with 15ply low-fives on the reg.
Take a walk while brushing your teeth
This is one that I have taken to heart. I dislike the dentist, so I avoid having to go. That means I brush my teeth twice a day or more, and brush them for at least two minutes. If you go for a walk around the house, perhaps watch a bit of that show you would have missed, then you get extra clean teeth, and never worry about leaving the water running.
There is a risk that you may fall down the stairs and choke on a tooth-brush. Just avoid stairs.
Re-use containers as many times as you can, like in a garden. After you're done, recycle them!Click thumbnail to view full-size
What you won't be missing
When you do laundry less, you may worry that things are too dirty or soiled to get clean with just one wash. But if you think about it, most of the clothes you're wearing don't come into contact with your face, bum or groin. These places are both the most easily infected as well as most bacteria-ridden. Solution to getting these garments cleanest? Simple, this is when you use hot water on your underwear and hand wash handkerchiefs and scarves. Don't mix these items-- things can only get so clean...
Air out your laundry
The following concept may be foreign to some readers, but not to all. Let us consider how often you do a load of laundry. I find that my friends tend to do laundry at least five times a week, those who have children and pets. The typical bachelor seems to do laundry about twice a week. After doing some calculations, it seems that the average cost of a month's worth of laundry is $22 dollars. ( I used this calculator http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/laundry.html).
So $22 dollars a month for clean clothes doesn't seem too shabby, right? But let us consider the resources used. In a single load of laundry you use about half a cup of detergent or bleach, about 45 gallons of water, 700 watts of electricity, and reduces the integrity of your clothes exponentially with each wash. This is more so with hot water, and bleach.
We all have certain clothing items which we wash less and some we wash more. It goes without saying that I recommend washing underwear and socks after each use. T-shirts and tank tops could probably be washed after being worn a couple times, unless noticeably dirty/soiled. Bras, pants, sweaters and the rest can be washed the least often. Doing this will save energy, water, detergent, and the life of your clothing.
These tips are best used when combined with your own discretion. If you feel that your clothes warrant a wash, then wash them. I've known some people, though, who wash their jeans daily, along with other garments, this will do no good for the life of your clothing, and as for the cleanliness of things, well I'll go into detail about that later.
Even if you don't want to change up your laundry routine, a couple of ways to reduce your footprint are choosing the best time to use water. Between the hours of 9PM-9 AM, while most people are either sleeping or at work, can be the best time to use water. If possible, toss in a load of laundry before work, instead of taxing the water main during the evening when a majority of people are bathing and cleaning dishes and doing laundry.
- Use cold water. Worried about sanitary clothes? Don't use the drier, put them out in the sun. The UV Rays will naturally sterilize your fabrics.
- Unsure of what's in fabric softener? Use baking soda in the washing machine, this both cleans and softens the fabric.
- Go commando while you do laundry. Less of a tip and more of a party.
Just a taste of the Earth Budget
I'll admit, I came up with the phrase 'Earth Budget' about an hour ago. But isn't it fitting? When we merely keep in mind the cost of living financially and ecologically, then we are sure to reduce our carbon foot prints by a bit. I will continue to supply you with information on how to do both at once.
Here are a few upcoming articles I will be bringing you about the Earth Budget:
- Personal Hygiene - the benefits of bathing less and saving more
- Sustainable Nutrition - how to re-purpose in the garden, and save money harvesting your own goods.
- Cleaning - the benefits of using natural cleaners, and how to use them.
- Sustainable Cooking - leftovers, 'smosh', and casseroles. (With recipes!)
- As many more that I can think of!