Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Things I do to save money and the world

I wrote earlier about a Women's Health article on planet-friendly living.  It is from an April 2009 issue and is on pp 92-94.  I read through the article and thought about what I already do and what I could try harder on.  Or start doing.  Ironically, the magazine is printed on glossy paper so I don't know how 'earth-friendly' that is.  It doesn't seem to break down in the worm farm!

So here is my list from the 43 suggestions in the magazine of things I already do:
  1. shop online where possible
  2. I use olive oil in a pump bottle rather than in an aerosol can (I decant it from a 4litre tin into the pump bottle and a smaller pouring bottle to keep in the panty)
  3. I try to reduce the amount of resources I would ordinarily consume - I really only buy the weekend paper as I read the news online or read the library copies.  I also have stopped buying weekly magazines.  I do subscribe to Grass Roots magazine, though.
  4. not using herbicides on the garden.  I do use white oil or pyrethrum spray but only when necessary on my vegetable garden.  I have 'sacrificial' plants that I don't care if they get molested by caterpillars or mealy bugs etc.  I figure if you give them something to 'eat' they'll stay away from the 'good' stuff!
  5. buy recycled paper
  6. buy vintage - I think this is funny because vintage has now come to mean anything from 'last season' amongst certain sections of society.  Unless it's something from my grandmother's or great-grandmother's era, it really can't be vintage!  I do like going op-shopping.
  7. don't buy more than you need.  In saying this, I do stock up on items I regularly use and need when they are on sale.  We in the North are fast approaching cyclone season so we need to be prepared for the inevitable road closures where the highways can remain closed for days or weeks.  No trucks equals no supplies to the shops.
  8. dematerialise.  I think this also relates to reducing resources.  At least I think so.  I also Freecycle as much as possible the things I no longer have a use for.  
  9. make a list of things you are grateful for.
  10. whip up a stir fry rather than a packaged meal.  My children and I love stir fry and I make spaghetti sauce in bulk and freeze it in portions.  It gives us months of meals as we usually have spaghetti once a week.
  11. buy fair trade, organic chocolate.  I do not always do this but do try and make a conscious effort to, especially when I go to the Oxfam shop (and also because the ladies who volunteer there are all so wonderful).
  12. disposable batteries.  One can never have too many when you have a power-hungry camera!
  13. banish individually wrapped stuff like cheese slices, dishwasher bars and coffee sachets.  I do not like processed cheese and so I don't buy it.  The only concession is little cream cheese portions I confess.  I use washing soda and vinegar in the dishwasher and a bar of Sunlight soap for the sink.  I do keep a small supply of coffee and sugar sachets in my bag as some schools I work at don't have communal supplies of tea/coffee/sugar etc.  You don't always know this until you get to a place and I've found some staff-rooms where teachers actually lock their supplies in their desks so nobody else can access it!
  14. I use bi-carb, vinegar, borax etc for cleaning rather than anti-bacterial products.  I do admit to a can of Glen 20 in the toilet because my children can be prone to tummy upsets and I insist on spraying the toilet and surrounds lightly with Glen 20 after every non-liquid trip to the toilet.  
  15. I use plain old water in the loo rather than the pretty blue thingys that cling to the edges.  I use a scrubbing brush and vinegar to clean the bowl.
  16. I don't use air-freshener.  Our house is quite breezy and the doors and windows are always open.  
  17. I use the microwave more than the oven or stove, and I use an electric frying pan or the bbq rather than the stove-top.  
  18. I don't preheat the oven and I turn it off about 10 minutes before I have to take the food out.  
  19. I use Tupperware containers to store food in the fridge instead of using cling wrap. 
  20. the list suggests keeping indoor plants, but my cat will tear it apart if I was to.  Instead, I have a vegetable garden and other plants outside to shade the windows and walls - my green thumb has always shrivelled up when it's in the house.
Oh, that seems pretty dismal, but then again, I skipped some of the hints because I do do them but not all of the time.  I don't always turn appliances off at the wall for the simple fact I can't always get to the power point if it's behind the tv cabinet or the fridge or something.  I do what I can though and that is all that matters to me.

There are other things that I do that aren't on the list.  We use cooking oil to run our cars, I hang washing outside and I probably only use the dryer a couple of times during the year when it's been raining for weeks on end and I must wash the sheets (we have a clothes line in our garage and also have some little foldable clothes horses - in really bad wet seasons our house often resembles a laundry with clothes hanging off door handles and backs of chairs etc), I don't iron unless absolutely necessary and only under sufferance if it's a going-out shirt or dress.  I can't actually remember the last time I used the iron, I think it's the newest looking 12 year old iron in the world!  So, these are just some of the things I do.  I would like to do more though, if not for the environment then for the hip-pocket.  Today I bought three singlets from Big W that were $8 and $10 each, but I justified that by having looked around at op-shops and couldn't find what I wanted (actually the Big W ones were cheaper in some cases), and that they all went with different skirts I have for working.  I'm happy with my purchases and know I will get plenty of use out of them over the years.

Today I am thankful that I have money available to me to spend and that I don't have to forfeit something else in order for me to buy the singlets.  I'm also thankful I have a husband who works hard for that money and didn't complain about me buying those three singlets!  Most of all, I'm grateful I have feet to carry me around places.  I saw a promotion for a show on tv about a man who was born without legs who has not let that get in his way of doing what he wants to do.

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