Nancy's Green practices explained with savings:
Switch to natural cleaning agents - saving $800-900/yr. By natural, I mean: vinegar, baking soda, lemons, castile or natural soaps, peroxide, salt.NO BLEACH.
Create zero waste - saving $180/yr. The zero-waste effort led to canceling my trash service. In addition to a monthly fee, they charged per bag beyond 2 bags, which can happen if your put leaves and grass clippings out. All organics, wet garbage, yard waste, and shredded paper, compostable picnic table ware (rare) go into compost. I have two piles so one is in use while second matures and gets used up. I use the simple layer method which Cornell advocates. I take my recycling to the municipal solid waste transfer station every 3 months. I also take one (1) $3.50 large plastic bag with non recyclable, non compostable garbage once a year.
Drink and carry tap water - saving $500+ annually. I don’t want plastic toxins leaching every minute into my water. Plus, I want to eliminate CO2 emissions and costs of plastic bottles and transporting water world wide, often at the expense of poor people with little or no access to their own water supplies.In addition to saving money, I am expressing my personal values and beliefs in the face of big corporations that bottle and sell for profit water at the expense of poor people whose right to it has been stolen. (Here are some reusable bottle options.)
Buy $.99 reusable grocery bags, eliminating real costs of using and disposing of plastic bags - savings $100/yr. These bags are also often used for giving small gifts rather than purchasing gift bags or wrapping paper, tape, ribbon, bows.
Limit gift giving - saving $500. My gift giving is generally limited to a small gift to open and a donation for relief of poverty in some way (e.g. mosquito nets; poultry to raise, feed, sustain income for a family; building a school in Sudan; and now, for Haiti.) There's no over-spending for “just one more gift.” No environmental costs.
Drive fuel-efficient car less - saving an average of $100-$150/month, or $1200 - $1800/yr. As often as possible, I plan errands, appointments, and work travel so I can drive in a circle and save extra trips to buy food. There are always the unexpected trips but planning cuts down on fuel costs. If I need something at the home improvement store/mall I wait, if possible, until I have a list of everything I need from stores in that area (12 miles away). This has cut shopping trips to the mall area to 4 or less per year. I generally work from a home office which also cuts fuel consumption.
Buy no fragrances: no perfume, scented candles, or air-freshners - saving $500+ annually. I open windows or doors; use all natural cosmetics, limited to foundation & rouge (see Cosmetics Database). Bath and body products are w/o fragrance and generally cost less. The health benefits are related to avoiding carcinogens, nano particles, phthalates, and asthma-causing ingredients.
Avoid plastic wrap -- saving $150 annually. I use brown wax paper in microwave (limited use) and re-useable plastic bowl covers or lids for food storage in glass kitchen ware. I never purchase plastic food containers.
Minimize paper -- saving $300. I use compostable picnic ware for those few times I am unable to use washable ware. I read newspapers online. When purchasing subscriptions to journals or placing catalog orders I request my contact info not be rented or sold. I am registered on the Mail Preferencing services and have a note on my credit records. This effort dramatically reduces junk mail and the amount of recycling I need to do. All loose paper goes through my shredder and is added to compost pile. Magazines and journals are generally saved or shared.
Use compact light bulbs & other efficient appliances - saving $200/yr. CFLs, which last 708 years and use less electricity, power all light fixtures. I replaced my old refrigerator 4 years ago and purchased an energy-saving dishwasher recently. I turn off my computer when away from my desk for more than two (2) hours and overnight. I turn off and unplug all electronics not in use, including the flat screen TV. I only turn on lights in rooms being occupied by a person and have attractive night lights in rooms which we may need to visit briefly after dark. My TV use is limited to evening news and occasionally a PBS special.
Buy used, refurbished goods - saving $2,000/yr, plus gas, energy and time to shop. My purchases, beyond health and house maintenance, are generally confined to gently used, repurposed, or refurbished items.
Grow own food -- saving $450-$500 on food, garden chemicals. I have two “square foot garden” boxes in which I grow organic produce every year, and share with a daughter and family. I figure I save $700.00, of which I use $350.00 for a CSA share for fruits, potatoes, and other or, unusual, vegetables I don’t grow.
Conserve water -- saving $100/yr. I installed two free rain barrels, offered by our county storm water management for attending a course on storm water. The rain barrels collect roof water run off, which I use to water front and back, including vegetable, gardens. I have a small home but collected enough water to keep both barrels full all but a few days last summer, watering daily.
Installed gravel driveway -- saving $4,000. My paved driveway was torn up to install a dry ditch four years ago (for run off from a side hill). Hard surfaces cause storm water flooding and permit toxins to reach water supplies. Without hard surfaces, ground water is filtered by soil before it reaches water supplies. Consequently I choose not to repave the drive and instead have crushed stone. (I live in a traditional, residential neighborhood.)
It's fun to read blog replies from the more suspect such as:
Posted by Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:28am PDT
I don't buy any of this for a minute.
A single, older woman living alone would NEVER go through $150 worth of plastic wrap in one year. You can get 100 feet for around $2. Does this mean that before she started down her righteous path, she was using around 7,500 feet of plastic wrap a year? To wrap what? The Statue of Liberty? Ridiculous!
The crushed stone driveway causes problems of its own. First of all, the stone had to be mined out of the ground, crushed with machinery, and spread over her driveway. The act of crushing weakens the stone. When it rains or snows, it carries sediments down to the gutter, which are deposited in the storm drainage system and eventually in bodies of water. This buildup of grit doesn't allow for the natural flow of water, either. Also, on dry days, sediment is released into the air as dusty particles which could sicken someone with lung issues.
$500 a year on perfumes, candles, air fresheners? Again, I am supposed to believe a $3.00 can of Glade you might squirt once a day in a bathroom or a $10 candle from White Barn adds up to $500 a year? What was she doing before, burning a large candle daily or bathing in Chanel #5 every Saturday night? The numbers do not add up when you think of them logically.
Who are the poor people whose rights to the water has been "stolen" by evil water bottlers (most bottlers are US based and use municipal water systems)? Is there any community in the US where people do not have access to water? Where? Who? Proof?
In many places in the US, especially in the west, rain barrels are illegal. Personally, I think it's silly but it is the law so before anyone installs a rain barrels they should check their state and local laws. They are illegal in my state.
$800- $900 a year on cleaning agents? Again, what kind of cleaning agents cost this much money over the course of a year? She obviously must buy vinegar, lemons, baking soda, natural soaps, and peroxide so she spends some money. Still, she saves $900 a year because she won't buy a $3.00 jug of bleach every few months or some Scrubbing Bubbles? Doubt it! Again, for a woman who lives in a small home by herself, I can't imagine she makes horrendously dirty messes that require tons of cleaning solutions. Then again, she has a cleaning lady to clean up after ~just~ herself, so who knows.
I am all for not using water bottles, recycling (our family recycles everything recyclable), being sensible about car use, eating healthy. The numbers and certain assertions in this post are suspect, however. I wish people would use a critical mindset when reading things like this, rather than eating it up with a spoon made out of recycled picnic ware.