Now I know the whole "green" thing is oh, so trendy these days, but the truth is many of the things that have come back into "style" are things that people have always been doing in more rural areas, or things that your grandmother may have done or is still doing. Grandma knew what was up, y'all!
Our family has always made an effort to live simply, mostly because we haven't really been able to afford any other lifestyle! Having a really tight budget has forced me to find as many ways as possible to save money, and I am very grateful for that, even though it sucks at times to be poor. Thankfully, God seems to be moving us out of things being so tight. But just because we have a little more hasn't changed the ways that we try to save money and live in a healthy, semi-planet friendly way.
Here are a few simple ways to save and be more energy-conscious that we have adopted and use regularly:
~Wash your clothes in cold water. All of them.
90% of the energy used when you do laundry is from the hot water. Wash in cold, save in utilities! And, as a side bonus, you won't end up accidentally dying your hubby's underwear pink when you wash your red shirt with them. (not that that has happened...that's a novice mistake, right??) I haven't found that it makes any difference whatsoever in the cleanliness of clothes. Unless maybe if you have really really dirty clothes, like if you roll around in mud or something. If you'd like to learn how to make your own laundry detergent to go along with that cold water washing, check out my earlier post here
Ditch the dryer, at least if its sunny or even cloudy but not cold outside. This is one of my absolute favorite things to do! I think it is so relaxing to stand outside and pin laundry on the line, and then you just leave it all day and come back in the evening and your clothes smell wonderfully like fresh air instead of the fake fresh air scent you get with the dryer sheets. Of course, you have to have room for a clothesline. We have a nice big one that came with the house when we bought it, but there are small ones you can buy or even just tie up a string between two poles or trees, or buildings..get creative! This also saves on utilities, at least in sunny weather. :)
~Compost your kitchen scraps. Now to be completely honest, I am not very good at turning the compost pile and it really doesn't break down all that quickly because I don't think I am doing it right. BUT even having a compost pile keeps all of the coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit scraps and egg shells out of the trash and cuts down on the methane gases that are released into the air if I were just to throw all that stuff into the garbage can. We get really nice, black crumbly compost from it too. I'm sure we'd get more if I actually turned the pile..
This is also a good way to teach your kids about decomposition, and gardening. Worms absolutely love compost piles/bins and you can actually watch as they turn the scraps into dirt. Pretty cool. So, how do you get started actually making a compost pile? You can find the basic, get started know-how here.
It is amazing how much our garbage out-put has shrunk since we started recycling and composting! I'd have to say its probably shrunk by around half! Most cities have a recycling program that you can participate in as a part of your utilities, or a drop-off center. We recycle all of our junk mail paper, glass bottles, tin cans, cardboard (this includes all kinds of packaging stuff too, even down to the little boxes that ibuprofen comes in and everything) and of course plastic. Most recycling programs only accept certain kinds of plastic, check out your local recycling center to find out what they are. For MLGW customers, here is that information.
~Be strategic about heating and cooling. I've found that in the summer, if I close off our laundry room and keep the blinds closed on whichever side of the house the sun is on, it helps immensely to keep the house cooler. The air conditioner doesn't have to work as hard, and thus (cha-ching!) saves at least a little bit on our electric bill. In the winter time, I close off all of the rooms we don't use very often to help conserve heat. If its sunny, open the blinds to let the sun in for passive solar heat. I also put blankets along the outside door cracks to help the warm air stay in. And if its really cold in the morning, baking some nice hot bread helps warm things up as well, and we all get a yummy snack!
These are just a few tips and are by no means an exhaustive list. What are you doing to help save money, energy and the planet in this area? I'd love to hear from you and learn some new things as well!