Thursday, January 28, 2010

Eating Scraps

To be honest, I never really knew what was the big deal about food waste being tossed out into the landfills. I mean, I've heard about it and all, how that it's a bad thing for the environment, I just did not get why. Nor cared enough to bother taking five minutes to Google about it to find out the reason, until now. (Is Google as a verb supposed to be lower case? Haven't troubled myself to figure that one out yet, either.)

So yeah. I kind of just took for granted what was being said by the greener people than I am, that our uneaten scraps of food were, like so much other stuff, contributing to the detriment of the environment. I could not reconcile in my own head, however (what little time I did spend thinking on it) why tossing leftovers into our own compost bins is an eco-friendly thing to do, but having it hauled away by others to rot elsewhere was an entirely different and bad thing.

Well, consider me educatated now via
"Rotting food in the landfill releases methane, a green house gas which contributes to global warming. Methane traps 23 times as much heat in the atmosphere as the same amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and the release of methane from landfills accounts for 34 percent of all methane emissions in the U.S., according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."
I guess even organic trash can be bad news. Which would explain why the composters are forever tossing and fluffing about in their piles, letting in the oxygen that keeps it rotting in a better way. Okay, makes sense now why keeping so much from being dumped is a good thing.

What is the best way, of course, to not have to deal with so much food thrown away in the first place is to quit doing it so much. I'm seriously amazed since I've started hanging on to what I used to just toss out, not enough to keep, actually turns out to be an awful lot to use up.

Sure, that is a fine green thing to do, and a right way to think of it, but you would be surprised also how much less food you need to buy to make it through the week. I know that now.

Only fairly recently have I started storing away what little of this or that I have left over, just to see how things added up and if I could remake something out of what I'd normally just chuck. Interesting what you can do with garbage.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Laundry Soap

I probably ought to mention that I haven't always been such a wackadoo about living so cheaply, nor was I one to spend an awful lot of time thinking very much about the environment. It has only gradually progressed to how funny I am about it all now over the last few years, and then only due to a most desperate downward shift in my own personal economy back then.

Going from riches to rags can have its advantages in terms of evolving a new and better outlook on things, though. I don't intend to nor would I want to change that, however rich I might end up some day. But it's still relatively new for me, so I do admit that I am in no position to offer up any ground-breaking tips on frugality, as I mention over in the sidebar there; nothing new here.

This blog is truly only to document what it is that I am doing now, and as I've mentioned before, to keep track of whatever new things that I will hopefully learn as I go along. It's still an ongoing adventure for me, a gradual one, and sometimes I discover that I am a bit retarded about considering some of the most basic of things.

Take laundry detergent, for example. Despite all of my jabbering on about this and that to do with laundering clothes (however infrequent and in practically primitive fashion) in order to save money and resources, being better for the planet blah blah blah... it never occurred to me about the detergent I was using; that I could be concocting the stuff myself. Duh.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Changing Clothes

To change or not to change, that's the question; or when is the better question, to change clothes, I mean. I suppose at some point there comes a time you really should, but for me that time usually comes later than sooner. Although I do go further than most folks might be predisposed to even think about, I will admit.

I've said before in babbling on about reasons why I hand wash my laundry, that I get away with a lot just being single, but it's really not such a bad thing wearing mostly the same clothes more than just once before getting them clean.

I suppose there are some people who actually do manage to get some way dirty during the course of a day. I mean those others who do stuff besides just mostly sitting around, like I do. Other than when I step outside for a smoke I don't do too much, hardly anything that would get me dirty, that's for sure.

Yeah, it seems to me a total waste of the resources required to always be wearing different clothes; water, utilities, detergent or soap, time, effort... for no real reason. I mean, other than the clothing nearest to your most secret of parts, I think you should be able to pull off several days' worth of wear between washings.

Not to mention the clothes lasting longer, not getting roughed up tumbling through the laundry so often. Particularly me and my hand washing my own clothes, along with my lazy streak, it works out well all the way around. Except for some sort of accidental spillage or, God forbid, if I have to do something that might workng up a sweat, I'll let go maybe a week's worth of days without cleaning laundry.

Told you I may stretch it out for longer than most, but come on, even giving half that number of wearings you'll be saving lots. Like Mike Lieberman (his blog feed over there in the sidebar) said about wearing the same shirt for four days in a row, he saved quite a bit of wasted water. Not to mention, of course, all of the other resources I've already brought up.

So that's what I do. Something to at least keep in mind, wearing your clothes more than once or twice before just out of habit tossing them toward the hamper. Save the clothes, save some work, save some time, save some utilities, save some money. It's really a no-brainer.

Finally, I'd bet it's safe to assume you're not headed out buying new shoes or somehow getting those cleaned after a single wear. And with shoes we're talking feet, people... feet.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brushing Teeth

Again with the baking soda, while I'm at it. Miracle powder is really what it is, I can't figure out why folks don't buy up pallets of this stuff at a time. Of course I don't either; I only get the normal small-sized boxes singly. Ultra-cheap is one thing, but people looking at me funny out in public makes me uncomfortable buying in bulk.

I really can't possibly begin to imagine over 500 usesbut I reckon I could come up with at least ten or so right off the bat. And as far as for personal healthful living, in addition to calming down the insides, baking soda as tooth cleaner can't be beat.

By itself with a bit of water is fine, with a splash of hydrogen peroxide instead is even better. Good Lord, over the past fifteen years or so how many of the national brands of toothpaste have come out bragging about now with baking soda? Or peroxide? Or both, if you want to pay a premium nearly five bucks a tube. Which would be stupid when it costs literally just pennies to concoct your own.

Of course, you miss out on what the commercial toothpastes also bring along with, the assortment of mystery chemicals and stuff that might give you pause putting it in your mouth. Even the obligatorily added fluoride, turns out not so good for the choppers after all, not so much harmless as toxic instead; before fluoride was deemed a "cavity fighter," it was used as an insecticide and rat poison. I think I'll take my chances doing without, thank you. Yikes.

Amazing so much stuff from tube to brush to mouth to drain to waterways and finally on out into the rest of the environment... not to mention so many billions of tubes ended up in landfills. All of this avoidable with just mushing up a teaspoon of baking soda with a quarter teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. That's all it takes for a healthier mouth and a healthier planet.

Sure it's not minty fresh, though I don't mind the saltiness of it really; I kind of like it. But I've read from others who have jazzed it up also adding to the mix a drop of peppermint oil or even something to do with orange rinds or extract or whatever. Pretty much anything, I suppose, that makes it more tasty. Me, I'll stick with the basic just two recipe ingredients. It's cheaper that way, but that's just me.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stop Bellyaching

I am one of those people who whines from time to time about quite awful stomach pain, acid indigestion and that sort of thing. I don't suffer quietly, either, even if I only have the dog to bellyache to. So I'm pretty sure he is quite the happy pup that I have gone ahead with this method lately to shut me up from griping.

It is certainly nothing cutting-edge, to be sure. Millions of folks have done this for many coons' ages, but for some reason it never occurred to have a go at it until just recently. I'm kind of slow on the uptake about certain things, even though this is probably one of the cheapest remedies of all the things to make me better.

Plain old baking soda and water. Frankly, it works for me anyway just as well as and better than some other fixes I have taken over the years. As cheap as it plainly is on the face of it, I take it even one step further by swapping out the buck or two Arm & Hammer branded box for the 50-cent Dollar General box. Sodium bicarbonate is sodium bicarbonate, I always say.

Either way, it is extraordinarily cheaper than the Maalox and Pepto I used to chug, that's for sure, and works amazingly well. Quick relief, too, with just half a teaspoon of it mixed in to half a glass (4 oz.) of water.
The Arm & Hammer website says you can take it every two hours up to seven times a day; personally even I really don't need it that often, but just in case, I guess that matters to someone somewhere.

Sure it's not minty nor pink. I'm really not too interested anyhow in paying so much extra for satisfying a sweetness craving when I just simply want the pain to be gone, and fast. And to that end it works great, the baking soda and water mix, for as cheap as you can get without getting paid to take it. I might be getting rich if that were the case.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Helping Haiti

[ Update Jan 15: Fixed links to support planting a tree for Haiti ]

In the wake of the devastation left behind after the earthquake hit Haiti on Monday, there have been the usual calls for donations that follow any catastrophe. Seemingly dozens of disaster relief groups are pleading for contributions to help the survivors and the country get better.

Of course, do your study on whichever aid organization you might be inclined to chip in to support; sadly these worst of times inevitably bring out the scammers in hordes. The New York Times has an extensive list here of agencies you might consider.

This is clearly no time to be cheap, I know that. Unfortunately many of us are dealing with personal situations right now that preclude being able to give like we once could have, and it is frustrating. However, excepting the most dire of cases, there is something that most of us poor can still do to help Haiti.

Maybe not for the short term. But what the blow of this earthquake has managed to do, is to put international focus on what is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. These are more desperate times than ever, to be sure, but the quake acts to only worsen what was before, and what will no doubt be after, the most dismal economy on the planet; a fact which will most likely be disremembered once the current crisis is behind.

For one dollar you can plant a tree there, to make a real longer-term positive impact. Admitted it will not provide the immediate shelter, food, water, medical attention that is sorely needed right now to help the people and the country get well from the earthquake. For me and others in similar straits, that will have to be left this time for others to come through.

We can though use this opportunity, before our short attention spans get distracted elsewhere, to consider something seemingly so small as planting a tree to help out a country where 80% of the population in normal times lives under the poverty line. A country that's poorest status has been directly attributed to the degradation of its natural environment, with 98% of the country now deforested.

A country that's loss of tree cover has resulted in deaths and devastation much like the meantime earthquake, 2004's Hurrican Jeanne leaving over 3,000 dead mostly due to the massive landslides wiping out communities without the trees as safeguard. The deforestation's ongoing direct effect on soil erosion in turn has led to widespread desertification, lowering the productivity of the rest of the country. And on it goes.

So, yeah, it's just a buck and nope, it won't do squat for the situation going on there right now. But for those of us who have very little and for now can't do terribly much, while our attention is still concentrated on Haiti, maybe thinking about helping out our western neighbor for the long haul is also worth considering. And just as important even if it is for only one dollar.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Clothes Drying

Seems like a logical follow up to the clothes washing post for saving some cash, especially considering that switching up the drying part of your laundering routine is where can be found the lion's share of savings.

And it couldn't be any easier done, simpler even than diddling around with the clothes dryer and the perma fluff high heat low delicate whatnot dials and buttons. Personally I always just left mine on however it was when I got it and let it run until the clothes were dry. Never monkeyed around with figuring out the differences, seemed to work out all right.

But yeah, easier still is good old fashioned air drying your washing instead of putting it through the dryer. It uses none of the electricity and sometimes also gas, and requires no special equipment to get the job done. Unless you splurge on a clothes drying rack like the one in the picture (my granny used to have one) or from any other style out there.

It's a handful of bucks that will save you fists full of dollars over time. Or ante up for some cheap clothesline and string that up outside; nothing is better than line-dried clothes when the weather allows, I'll tell you what. Go really tight-wad like me and hang your washing wherever you find some space, it all works. And it's all free.

The dryer is typically the second-biggest electricity-using appliance after the refrigerator, costing about a hundred bucks to operate each year, give or take depending on how things stack up at your place. Not a bunch taken by itself maybe, but we're thinking big picture here, not to mention helping save the environment has to count for something.

A little on the drying side of things, a bit more on the front end washing and stay tuned, I'm sure we'll discover even more chicken feed to be had in the customary day-to-day groove we all manage as we go along here. Trust me, it all adds up.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Washing Clothes

I will admit some of the things I do that are on the cheap, I do only because I am single. I would never have considered, for example, washing by hand the mountains of laundry piled up back when I did have a family being raised.

However, for just one it truly is not so big of a hassle hand washing most clothes. Seriously saving an awful waste of water, electricity and maybe gas (depending on what heats up your water) also comes with saving an awful waste of wampum.

Depending on the variables of where you live, the number of loads and type of machine, of course, how much saved will be different. However, considering that on average a single load of wash by machine uses forty gallons of water, the relative sparing on water alone is significant. Again, good for the pocketbook, good for the environment.

Granting also that a whopping 95% of the energy used by a washing machine could be going just to heat the water, using that much less water extrapolates to that much less cash to heat it up. Of course whether by hand or machine, cold water rinse is a must. Whatever reason this is even an option on the dial is beyond me, temperature has no bearing on rinsing out soapy residue.

I'm not so stupid or committed to the cause as to consider washing sheet sets and bedspreads or whatnot by hand. Been there, done that, and I highly advise against it. There is only so far that I'm willing to go before giving in.

And just like with the family of four, no way the washing clothes by hand thing. Still, being more aware of the impact of doing the laundry on the wallet makes it worth considering how to do it better. Bears repeating, to always always rinse in cold water. Pay no attention to the hot water setting on the dial, too. Generally a pre-soaking in warm before a warm wash is usually just as good or better as hot water with no soak.

But for me a single guy, I don't mind hand washing my clothes and it makes me feel good helping save money and resources. It also keeps me from doing it so often, something that might also help for the machiners out there. Except for really dirty people, is it truly necessary to wash everything after a once-wear... or even twice or thrice, depending? Maybe that's too much self-divulgence but hey, like I said, I live alone with no one to impress but myself.

Either way, by hand or by machine, laundry is a to-do on everyone's list and one chore that can be rethought how to do it, lessening, at least, the financial and environmental wallop that goes with. And for those like-minded to follow suit with me and choose to wash by hand, a plunger makes an excellent agitator! A different one, of course, from the other one.

Thanks to Mr. Electricity for the stats I pilfered to use here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Economical Ecology

I've intended to start this blog for awhile now and figured since I have some spare time on my hands, why not now? Not that it's unusual for me having spare time, I just didn't want to come across lazy.

On saving green, that's what this is about. I am notoriously cheap, probably to a fault, but seems to me most people chuck out way too much cash when there are often less expensive alternatives.

Extra coin in the pocket is always a perk, and most often cheap is even better for the planet. And since green is in, saving some green is extra cool.

Granted I take things a bit far sometimes, and also granted I don't do nor give up everything I could or should. But take what you will from here, I'll try to learn something new along the way as well, and for what it's worth I'll be back posting once I get things tweaked and ready to go.