Wednesday, 21 January 2009

How Do We Choose Between Budget and Environment? Here Are 25 Ways To Do Both!

by Melinda

Change is brewing. Yesterday was a very powerful day for many of us, as we listened to the first African-American president, full of dreams for a better world mixed with the reality of what is at hand. I am thankful that a new hope has spread across the world. I am hopeful that we will unite together and bring our world into a new, mindful era. I have written more about these thoughts here.

The future holds many promises.  But at home, the reality of our economic situation is beginning to set in for most folks. Here in the United States, we're feeling the effects of the global recession every day. I've heard many people use the word Depression who wouldn't have dreamed of using that word only a few months ago. It is grim. It is getting worse. And it will get worse still before it gets better.

Unfortunately, this poses quite a dichotomy. The Recession makes it difficult to get by, to save, to spend any more than we have to spend.  Yet the pressure of climate change and the ethics we've taught ourselves says we must buy what is good for the environment and our communities.

Often doing our best to leave a lower impact means paying a little more, doesn't it? How do we stay true to our values while simply getting by during an economic crisis?  

So I made a list of the different things we do at home to save money and save the earth.  Some of these may be old news for you - in that case think of this as a reminder! - but hopefully each of us will find some gems in this list. Please do share other ideas that come to mind! 

25 Sustainability Changes That Save Money
  1. Take advantage of your local library for books, music, and videos.
  2. Walk or bike, use public transportation, carpool with neighbors and co-workers, and consolidate any car errands to one or two days per week.
  3. Think about getting rid of your car to save money on insurance, maintenance, and gas.
  4. Use a clothesline instead of the dryer.
  5. Replace paper towels & napkins with cloth.  You can make rags out of old clothing, and cloth napkins out of old sheets and curtains.
  6. Barter and trade with neighbors and friends.
  7. Utilize Freecycle, Craigs List, and other local free exchanges.
  8. Shop at thrift stores and garage sales, and arrange clothing swaps with friends and family.
  9. Make your own lunches for school and work.
  10. Stop buying snacks and take-out food, and instead cook at home.  If you need to save time, there are many quick seasonal recipes.  I've posted a few here.
  11. Buy in bulk: buy from bulk bins at your local market, buy large quantities of staples via special order from your local market or online, buy a whole case which generally comes with a case discount, and buy large packages of food you use regularly. If buying in bulk leaves you with too much food, go in on the purchase with a friend or set up a community buying club.
  12. If you are really needing extra help, go to your local food bank.  That's what they're for!
  13. Buy fruit and vegetable seconds and day old bakery items.  These are generally significantly reduced in price - often by 50% or more.  Generally you'll need to cook with them right away.
  14. Pick your own produce at a local farm.
  15. Grow your own food.
  16. Learn to preserve food by canning, drying, root cellaring, freezing, and pickling.  You can find books about how to do these things at your local library.
  17. Plan your menus.  If you plan your menus for the week, you will use all of the food you've purchased, you'll be able to shop just once a week, you can make sure to utilize seasonal items, and you can save time and stress by not having to worry about "what's for dinner."
  18. Recycle and compost as much as possible to reduce trash collection fees.
  19. Mend and repair.  You can pick up books from the library on how to sew, knit, repair furniture and cars, and so on.  And there are often free classes on such subjects - ask at your local college, community center, bulletin boards, and do a search on the internet. You may be surprised at what's out there!
  20. Make your own cleaning and body products from simple and cheap ingredients like vinegar, baking soda/bicarb, hydrogen peroxide, corn starch, cooking oil, lemon juice, and water.  You'll find several recipes here at the Co-op, and at Down To Earth.  I've recently shared my deodorant and hair washing methods.  Eileen just wrote about going entirely no 'poo.
  21. Unplug or turn off power switches to appliances when not in use, to save electricity.
  22. As they burn out, replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs.  They cost more initially, but they will save significant amounts of electricity and will last many times longer than an incandescent bulb.
  23. Reduce shower times, bathe less often, and use bath water to water outdoor plants and flush toilets.
  24. Turn off the television, get rid of your cable bill, and take up reading, knitting, and walking more regularly.
  25. Use coupons.  I recently bought a book of coupons for local shopping.  The book cost $20. The first coupon I used saved me $25.  I win!
Stay safe, healthy, and happy.  Things will get better.  In the meantime, the most important thing to remember is that we all survive better if we stick together.  Now is a great time to be a strong member in your community.  You are probably more knowledgeable and better equipped than most of your neighbors, so if you can, try to help them get through this crisis, too!

Thanks for reading.