Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Easiest Green Switches You Can Make and shhh... They Can Save You Money!

Ok, so if you are new here you might imagine me as a lifelong green goddess or some super earthy mom and while I have adopted many green changes most of them are very recent- in fact many of them are happening right before your eyes via my blog posts.
Some of the changes are so easy I stop and think, "Why didn't I do this sooner" and some are more of an effort. I decided to share with you the changes that are so easy I think everyone should know about them so that you can *hopefully* choose to try them too. There is a bonus to some of these changes beyond the positive environmental and health impacts- some of these changes save some major money. These may not all fit your life but some just might make you feel like a green goddess too.
1. Cloth Diapers

Albert print from BumGenius
Ok, so I know the apprehension most people have about using cloth is the ick factor. But, if you have a kid you are dealing with ick whether you use disposable or reusable. You are going to or have been changing countless diapers and *gasp* some of them have poop in them and sometimes out of them! There is really no difference in using cloth except; they are way cuter, they don't contain toxic chemicals, they are more comfortable, they contain messes better, you wash them and save yourself MAJOR CASH!
Glow in the dark skulls!
Here are some tips to keep the ick down if that's what's stopping you;
If your baby is exclusively breastfed you don't have to do anything special just wash the diapers.
Once you move onto solids invest in some flushable biodegradable liners or diaper sprayer- then you can just flush the mess. *I don't use either and have no issues but you may want these handy helpers.
Buy some wet bags- keep one in the bathroom, have some extras for while you wash and have some travel sized wet bags. These bags keep smells and wetness in so you won't have a diaper pail smell.
There is a TON of info on cloth diapers out there- don't get overwhelmed, I'm including a link to a site with good, simple info. There are others out there but this is a great starting point- go to the new to cloth tab and watch her intro to cloth video- quick and breaks it down beautifully.

 2. Soap Nuts
What are soap nuts? A short answer is that they are berries from a tree. That's it. You want to make sure that you buy them de-seeded. What do you use soap nuts for? Everything.
Depending on who you buy your soap nuts from they should come with a small drawstring muslin bag. Put 5-7 nuts in the bag and toss in with your laundry instead of commercial laundry detergent. Easy, exactly the same procedures as chemical laced laundry detergent but you are helping yourself and the environment. You will want to find a stain remover since the only thing these things don't do is tackle stains but if you use a commercial laundry stain remover the soap nuts will remove the harmful chemicals during the wash. There are eco friendly stain removers available too. The soap nuts are reusable for about 5 washes- I usually get more washes before they are spent.

Soap nuts can also be boiled and used as an all purpose cleaner- windows, kitchen, bath, carwash, outdoor furniture, toys, body wash, shampoo, hand wash, you can even use the liquid to soak non-organic produce to remove surface waxes and pesticides- pretty cool stuff.

And, these things are super mega cost effective, even if you only use them for your laundry. I bought mine from a company called Naturoli- they can be found on facebook and Amazon. I have barely made a dent in my 4 lb bag and anticipate they will last a year- maybe longer?

3. Buy in Bulk
This is a simple idea, save money, reduce your footprint by reducing trips to the store and/or the environmental toll of multiple deliveries. I buy everything from our organic steel cut oats, grains such as quinoa, coffee, toilet paper and vitamins in bulk. Most of it through Amazons Subscribe and Save program- though be careful to check prices, sometimes they beat other sources, sometimes they don't. Also, the prices can go up and down but you control when and how much you get and can change your mind.

4. No-Paper Towels
This one is easy, don't buy paper towels. Ok, so I do recommend having one roll around for those times that, well, you know, your pet has an accident or some other beyond reusable nasty happens. But, otherwise this is a simple idea; use a real towel to dry your hands or a rag to clean. I keep some birdseye weave squares for kitchen use- storing leafy greens in the fridge so they keep fresh longer, drying out tofu, dry produce after cleaning, etc. If you have the desire there are some cool rolls of cloth no-paper towels that fit on a paper towel holder and function the same way.

5. Re-useable Menstrual Products
Yup, you heard me right. Same goes for the argument of cloth diapers- you're already dealing with the ick- no difference, except, comfort, health, and environment. See my post on  Cloth Menstrual Pads, there is also a coupon code. *Spoiler- there is a review and giveaway in the works for an eco alternative- make sure you follow the blog so you don't miss it!

6. Homemade
You can positively impact your health and the environment by making things from scratch at home- there are some labor intensive things and some really easy things. Start easy- I like crock pot yogurt, almond and rice milk and making homemade cleaners from soap nuts, vinegar, borax, baking soda- I will be doing a post on different options soon- the great thing is these items are natural, affordable and are easy to find if you don't already have them. I have recently replaced conventional shampoo for plain baking soda and water and conditioner for apple cider vinegar- so far so good!

7. Use Eco Friendly Brands or Alternatives
This one is the easiest thing to do- swap out big brands for eco friendly choices. Do this for everything from paper towels, toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, hand soap, diapers, etc. Anything that you are not willing to go reusable; go recycled or eco friendly. This won't save you money but you can break even and sometimes save a bit by using step 3- buy in bulk. We get a great deal on Seventh Generation toilet paper by buying a big pack that has lasted us well over 6 months. There are harmful chemicals in almost everything commercially bought and used, replace them for your health and the environment. *There may or may not be a few reviews and giveaways for eco friendly beauty and personal care products coming soon ;)

8. Conserve Electricity and Water
It's summertime- open your windows, line dry, turn off the tv and go outside! Only water plants in the early morning or just before the sun sets.

9. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
I have to admit that on this one I am starting to go more heavily on the recycle for fear of turning into an eco horder. If you aren't really going to repurpose or reuse something recycle it, sell it or donate.

Can you think of other easy switches? How do you go green?

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