Sunday, 21 June 2009

How do we change?

Little by little!

By Notes From The Frugal Trenches

In my last post, I shared how small changes really do add up when on a downshifting journey. I have had many people contact me personally about the post, sharing that they enjoyed it, but in their situation they felt they simply can't make changes. They asked me to share some more suggestions as to where to begin on a journey towards a more simple, green and frugal life. So today I thought I'd put together some sort of list with ideas of where to begin. I believe that we all help each other so if you add any suggestions, I'll put them into the post!

Remember, the key is to start small and build. No one becomes a simple, frugal and green expert overnight. I still have a long way to go and I've been on this journey for a year.

In The Home

Get yourself some sturdy bags (handmake them if you can, or support a handmade business) to bring to the shops with you instead of taking plastic bags.

Switch your lightbulbs to energy efficient light bulbs

Hang your laundry to dry

Switch to eco friendly soap, washing up liquid, shampoo/conditioner, laundry detergent.

Learn how to make your own soap, detergent, shampoo

Get rid of cleaning products and use vinegar, water, baking soda etc.

Get rid of paper towels and use a reuseable towel instead

Try growing herbs, basic fruit/veg.

Stop buying books and either borrow or go to the library


Limit activities to 1 or 2 paid classes/hobbies

Limit the number of Birthday parties they attend - 1 a month worked for us!

Get them involved in growing, cooking, chores around the home

Take your kids outside, making use of parks & nature instead of spending time at paid activities like jungle gyms, the cinema etc.

Play sports with friends instead of sitting infront of the TV

Join a toy library

Make presents for friends and family

Make videos, games, books birthday presents for your children not weekly or monthly treats

Get clothes and books from second hand shops

Have a clothes and book swap with friends

Use cloths instead of buying baby wipes

Use cloth nappies instead of disposables - even start with 1 or 2 cloth nappies a day



Try buying local - look at coops and farmer's markets in your area

Switch to organic if you can, choose which foods are the priority for your family to be organic

Buy fresh fruits & veggies

Get an allotment

Stop buying processed foods

Make your own baby food

Switch to drinking water instead of juice or pop

Make a food budget and stick to it

Take a calculator with you on your shop

Get into the habit of checking your cart & putting things back before you

Understand the difference between need and want

Buy in season

Make your own meals

In General

Try no spending days - give yourself a couple days a week where you don't spend anything - not on coffee, petrol etc

Try to use your car as little as possible. See if you can not use it 2 days a week

Join a car share organization

Get a bus pass

Bike, walk, hike as many places as you can

Make use of open/free days for the theatre, museums, galleries etc.

Join or start a book club

Volunteer (this saves money on socializing and let's you give back to your community)

Join or start a knitting/sewing club

Hold pot lucks/bring and share dinner parties with friends

Join free cycle - donate and receive free items

Regularly check your utility companies for any reduction in rates

Schedule time at home, time to relax and simply enjoy your family. Life doesn't have to be a mad rush from one place to another - a weekend spent at home is not a bad thing!

These are just a few suggestions of how to begin a more simple, green and frugal life. You can't start everything at once, consider wisely what you can do and simply start. Over time add in one new suggestion a week or month and you will quickly see the positive changes adding up!

Please feel free to share your suggestions!



Wow This is quite a list with many helpful ideas. Here's how I look at the whole "eco" thing:
Do the best I can with what I have. I'm not trying to save the world. I'm just not making as much waste in mine. Now, I'm a bit more self sufficient.

PS I glad you included the library. Excellent.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great list and ideas! Wow pretty incrediable if you have been only going a year! I've been trying longer, but still got ideas from you!! I'm middle aged, but am the first in my entire family to start going greener! I have a 2 year old thriving worm farm, have gone maddly recycling and cut down our bin rubbish by more than half, cook all from scratch that I can and only have takeaways every few months and then wash and recycle the containers, trying to fertilize my lawn once a year only in far it's fine,,grow lots of herbs and starting on vegies, have over 12 fruit trees and live in the middle of city, dry clothes on line, stockpile, clean house with vinegar and bicarb...why didn't I start decades really cheap!! turn off standbye electrical appliances and unused, making soap, jam. My big to do is to take cloth bags shopping this week!!
Nice to read about different ideas and get support from one another.

Rose said...

A great list. May I add menu planning? "Spontaneity" in the form of thinking about dinner ten minutes beforehand used to find me wasting food, time and petrol. A weekly plan allows me to use seasonal produce, use items from the freezer (stock, dough etc) and have hassle-free evenings.

Taking lunch to work and baking for morning teas are two other money savers and green actions. And all this contributes to better health.

Great post. Cheers, Rose

Jenn said...

Thanks for the list! I have already tackled a lot on this list, but recently I have been trying to go paperless - especially paper towels. However, when I use kitchen towels for greasy things, they smell when they come out of the laundry. Do you have any suggestions for getting oil out of towels? Or do you have an alternative for draining fried things - bacon, tortillas, zucchini...

jan m said...

I was thinking today about how I have made little changes this past year since I have been following frugal bloggers. I now make my own laundry soap, we switched to cloth napkins, we started a compost pile, we make our own dog biscuits, I stopped using fabric softener and use vinegar instead. I hang out my clothes, changed over my light bulbs, expanded my garden, cook more things from scratch, adding bread to that list most recently. It's been an evolutionary step at a time. I wonder what skills I will acquire in the upcoming year? It's very satisfying to implement these changes that makes us more self-sufficient.

NMPatricia said...

I may be pissing something but... what is an allotment?

I too have done lots of these things. There are still several I need to tackle. Thanks for posting a great list to which to strive!

NMPatricia said...

That should be missing, not pissing. Boy is my face red!

Notes From The Frugal Trenches said...

NM Patricia

Don't worry re the typo!

Allotments are small plots of land you can lease from your local government to grow fruit and veg on. They are very popular here in the UK, in fact in my area there is a 4 year wait!!!

Marie said...

What a great list! I'll definitely be sharing this around. Perfect for people already underway on this journey and looking for additional ways to make change.

I have found with many of my friends who express frustration and overwhelm about where to begin, that long lists are too much to handle. Something can trigger the "Oh my gosh! This is too much! I can't possibly accomplish all of this" kind of feeling, even when really they just need to pick one simple thing. One thing, to get going.

So, with that particular type of person. I don't offer lists or options. I sit and listen for awhile to them talking about their life and their priorities. And I ask them what are some of the things that they wish they could do but, can't manage. And then I help them pick one thing. From where they are, right now. Because wherever you begin this journey. That is the right place for you to begin.

For one friend it is remembering her reusable shopping bags when she goes to the market. For another it is starting to bring her lunch once in awhile. For yet another it is a first tiny raised bed in her yard for a few veggies. Perfect choices for each of them. So that is my best recommendation. Pick one thing and begin.

Christine said...

I totally just finished a No Spend Week and I didn't miss much at all. Plus i saved approx. $200 for the week that i would have otherwise 'wasted'. ;)

Dia said...

What a great list - & fun to see that I'm doing most of these (& have been 'thoughtful' for years, growing up with parents who went through 'the great depression' & who were recycling in the 50s & 60s).
I got one of those lightweight bags that folds into a pocket & attaches to my purse for those days I'm shopping but the other bags are in the car or on my bike! Very handy.
My dau-in law makes lovely 'all in one' diapers for & has been selling some thru her etsy shop & thru some local mid-wives.

Kelly said...

Love this list! I was pleased to see that I have "qualified" for most. Change does take time! I am looking forward to our new home in Ohio soon and implimenting changes there. I'm already planning my garden!

Love this Frugal Co-op! And..if anyone is interested in a 5 BR. farmhouse in Indiana..mines for sale! I'm ready for change!!

Anonymous said...

Great list. It seems in my own life I will be doing everything I think I can and then suddenly I have one of those aha moments where something really obvious hits me that we just didn't see before. I think my creative/thinking develops from adding little things to where I actually see more things that can be done that I didn't have the ability to see before. It really does become a big green frugal snowball over time.

Chookie said...

I agree with Rose about menu planning. I also think the issue with processed foods is not the processing, but the value of the end result. Milk and olive oil are processed foods. OTOH I wouldn't be caught dead buying the jars of flavoured glue that you are supposed to add to browned meat to create a 'meal'!

I also want to add wardobe planning along with menu planning. I know exactly what I need to buy my elder son in the next size up, because I have a master list.

Jenn, see if you can grill or bake things rather than fry them, or if you can dry-fry rather than shallow- or deep-fry. Fats are hard to break down, as you've noticed with your washing.

Melissa said...

This list will be very helpful! Thanks for posting it--it's a great reminder that there are so many little things we can change :)

Canadian said...

"allotment" more or less translates into "community garden" in North American English (though some community gardens are collective, rather than separated into individual plots).

Anonymous said...

If you are looking for an allotment in the UK don't just restrict your search to land your local authority has to rent out. There are lots of allotment sites where the land is owned by someone else ( a college in my case). And the wait wasn't too long either ( in London).

Queen of Chard

Hana said...

I want to elaborate on the "drink water instead of juices" theme: check if you can safely drink the water in your faucets, and if you can, do not bother buying bottled water! Not even when you travel: have some travel bottles and use those to carry your own drink.

Christina Cottingham said...

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