A lot of times, the idea of going green brings up two distinct and opposing thoughts: first, how can I afford to go green when green items are uber-expensive, and secondly, I should be going green because it is so good for the environment and my family.
Green products ‘can’ be more expensive than their competitors; organic clothing costs a pretty penny many times; and unfortunately if you eat a lot of fruits and veggies as our family does, going organic at the supermarket might break your bank.
Yet one part of going green and helping the planet earth, recycling, can actually serve to save your family some money. I’ve found some great money-saving techniques that have to do with recycling, and recycling in a sense that you might not even consider. So, I hope that today, on Recycling Day, I’ll be able to share some techniques that our family uses that just may save your family some money while doing some good for the planet as well!
Water: We all know that we need to consume massive amounts of water each day to stay healthy and hydrated, and if you have a family of four that can mean a huge intake of H2O. Plastic water bottles have been in the news lately because they may cause problems in the landfill and because there have been some issues concerning their safety due to the chemcials used in the bottles.
The answer? Purchase three things, which are a little costly at first but will save you money in the long run. First, buy a water purifier/filter to use with your sink water. A variety of these exist, such as water pitchers and those that you place directly on the faucet. They last quite a long time, at least several months, and I use mine not only for drinking water but for cooking as well.
Next, purchase a stainless steel water bottle that can be reused. This eliminates the need to buy bottled water. They are reportedly safer than plastic reusable water bottles because, again, they do not contain chemicals found in plastic bottles that have been shown to potentially cause harm. By using the same bottle over and over again you’re saving tons of plastic bottles from ending up at the dump! They aren’t cheap at $10-$15 a pop, but in the end you’ll save when you aren’t buying plastic water bottles.
Next, replace your children’s sippy cups and drinking cups with the same type of water bottle, or kids cups made with products that do not contain plastic. These can be found at most department stores and specialty shops.
Now you have a way to drink water, cut back on the plastic your family is using and save your family from some chemicals that could prove to be harmful! The initial investment of about $75 for filters and cups will be made up in a short period of time if you are currently buying bottled water at $3 for a 24 pack. Our family could easily go through two of these a week, or $24 per month!
Clothes: We all know clothes are expensive. In our old neighborhood, we had a great recycling routine: When someone grew out of clothes, those clothes were passed on to the next neighbor whose child was the right size. Those clothes were used for the four to six months (sometimes less!) that they could be used until the child grew out of them and then passed on to the next child. Some of the kids in the neighborhood wore all of the same clothes at different times!
Adults shouldn’t feel bad about doing the same thing! You can easily recycle, or just simply cut down on purchasing items by sharing clothes with friends. Also, buying used at a consignment store or thrift shop does the same trick and saves you some money in the long run. I know that some people feel uncomfortable purchasing used clothes, but chances are you can find a few gently worn pieces that are in great condition and can be used with your other brand new clothes. If you purchase your ‘staples’ used-black pants, skirts, a jacket or two-and then buy new for the accessories you’ll definitely save a few dollars and help the planet by recycling the old clothes!
Paper: We use it everyday: napkins, paper towels, toilet paper. While some of these are not easily reusable you can start thinking beyond the norm for other paper items. Books can be passed around and around and around; just check out most yard sales! Paperback stores that offer second (and third and fourth) hand books are pretty popular in the south, though not as easy to find out in California while we were there. Of course, the library is a perfect way to reduce the amount of paper that is used: Check out a book, for free! If you want, start a book exchange club. Meet once a week for a glass of wine or coffee or dinner, exchange books and ideas, and have fun while cutting back on paper.
Think there must be other uses for those zillions of pictures that your child has colored or drawn? You’re right! Tape them together to make cute and homemade wrapping paper this Christmas season, or for someone’s birthday. Cut out the pictures, glue onto construction paper and make cards. Have your children decorate paper bags from the grocery store and then use those paper bags the next time you shop-or for other things, like a library book tote.