I have a lot of kids. And with a lot of kids and not a lot of comparable income, I have to find ways to save money. So today I'd like to talk about all the ways I use in my kitchen to save money, while still living a greener lifestyle.
The biggest thing I have changed in my own kitchen to save money and live a greener lifestyle has to be stopping using paper towels and napkins. I've found that I don't have a great place to store napkins, anyway, and when the paper towels are around, they are used for everything. So I made the switch to cloth towels and cleaning cloths, and cloth napkins. It's not a huge switch for me, but an important one. I was already using washcloths for dishes, and wiping counters and the table, but I was using paper towels for things like cleaning windows, wiping spills off the floor, and other generally "dirty" work that I thought I didn't want to use my washcloths for because of germs.
Then I started using cloth diapers. If there's anything in the world that will cure you of your fear of germs, it's cloth diapering. The thought of throwing a cloth in my laundry that might have germs from the floor on it was nothing compared to throwing a dirty cloth diaper in the washer!
So now I use unpaper towels and cloth napkins. This has saved me from countless purchases of napkins and paper towels, saving trees in the process.
(These unpaper towels are from usualserendipity)
I just use a wetbag to store my soiled napkins and unpaper towels, as well as dish rags, and throw the whole shebang into my washer when I do a load of towels. Easy peasy! The following link shows a great example of how cloth napkins, etc. really do save money. How Green Living Saves You Money
Another big thing for me is cleansers that don't have a ton of chemicals and stink. I have little children, and I need to be able to clean without a haz-mat suit. Insert vinegar, baking soda and liquid dish soap. I love these three common household staples, and I can't clean my house without them! I mix up a batch of all purpose cleaner about once a week using:
1 24 oz. squirt bottle filled with about 20 ounces of water
4 ounces (half cup) of vinegar
1 squirt of dishsoap (I prefer old fashioned Dawn)
Shake and you are ready to clean everything from your counters to your microwave to your kitchen windows. Vinegar is an awesome superstar in the kitchen that can do so many things, mainly cutting grease and killing germs. The dishsoap helps in the grease cutting, and provides a surfactant that cuts the surface tension of the water and allows the vinegar to do it's work.
Baking soda makes a wonderful abrasive but not scratchy cleanser, and deoderizes everything. I use the cheapo store brand.
So for about $3.oo, I can clean my kitchen for a month with just a few commmon kitchen staples and no harsh chemicals! I love it!
Finally, some basic money saving tips that I have found to lower our grocery bill while also staying green:
1. Buy in bulk and repackage. But not in plastic ziplocks, please! Using reuseable sandwich and snack bags to repackage your snacks, you can save money and packaging, which is good for the environment, and your wallet!
2. Buy recyclable packaging, or re-use your glass. We don't get curbside glass pick up in our area, so I try to use packaging (cans or plastic) that can be recycled. If buying food in plastic doesn't agree with you, re-use your glass jars by removing the labels. Save the lids, too! You can repackage and store many dry pantry staples like beans and rice in glass jars. I even use glass jars to store my scrap book supplies (plus, it's purdy!).
3. Keep a paper recycling area right in the kitchen. I don't know about you, but my kitchen is the hub of our household. Everything that comes into the house (including the mountain of papers and mail) goes through the kitchen. Immediately recycle anything that doesn't need further attention. That way it doesn't build up in piles, and get tossed out of sheer annoyance. Then on recycling day, you just take the bag/bin/tote right outside. I keep a paper sack in my kitchen just for paper. I put recyclables (jars, etc) into a bag that goes out to the bin every day. This is my six year old's job! Make it easy, and you will do it more often. This isn't a money saving tip so much as time-management, but time is money (or so I've heard)!
4. Buy and use canvas or other sturdy grocery bags for bringing your groceries home. It saves you money, because many stores offer a discount for each bag used. After 20 visits to the store, and most bags are paid for. They hold a lot, and are sturdier than paper or plastic. Also, it saves trees, and keeps our landfills from becoming choking with plastic bags that won't biodegrade for thousands of years.
5. Don't forget the reuseable water bottle! Millions of water bottles are tossed out each year, again, choking our land with unwanted and nonbiodegradable plastic. One water bottle that can be reused can save you a ton of money, and save our planet. Really! If we all switched to a refillable reuseable water bottle, think of how many cases of water and all that plastic that would be saved. Even if we recycled all of it, it takes water to do that. We only have so much water on the planet. Let's save it where we can.
That's it for now, I'll post some bathroom tips soon!