One woman's quest to save money, save the planet and save my sanity

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Five super simple ways to start saving money and resources right now.

1. Cut down on how often you wash your hair. Less frequent shampooing is actually better for your hair. You can still shower, less frequent personal hygiene is not necessary better for you or your social life. You can either wear a shower cap or wet your hair, but not wash it. I rinse my hair in the shower everyday and then just put on a dab of leave in conditioner and comb it out, but I only shampoo and condition about once a week. I can make a rather small bottle of shampoo last for months and I have some seriously thick hair.

2. Use a coffee carafe and travel mug. I am planning to do an entire post about "Greening Your Coffee", but the simplest place to start is by brewing at home and skipping, or cutting back on, the drivethru. As soon as a pot is done brewing, pour it into a carafe and shut the coffee maker off rather than leave the burner on. Then you will have hot coffee for the afternoon lull without having to brew a second pot. Before you leave the house, make up a cup for the road and pocket the three bucks you would have spent while keeping disposable cups out of the trash.

3. Substitute two "meat" meals per week with a vegetarian option. You don't have to go veg on moral grounds,  it is also a wise financial decision. You can save big bucks by carefully utilizing eggs, veggies etc. to take center stage at the table. Check out Meatless Monday posts for some ideas.

4. When you feel the need to shop, STOP. Sometimes we can become convinced that we must have this or that, but if we paused, waited a few days and then reevaluated, sometimes we might see that the need has passed or you have found a different solution to your problem. Case in point, about ten years ago, I was doing laundry and carrying a giant load up the stairs when the handle on my basket snapped, spilling the newly washed and folded clothes all over the place. After a few choice words, I decided I MUST have a new laundry basket here and now. I went to pack up Noah, who was then just an infant, and head to Target when he promptly threw up on me. Nice. So we never made it to the store that day and then something or other came up the next day and I couldn't get out then either. While I was stuck at home I took some packing tape and wrapped the handle with it and stuck it back in place as a "temporary" fix. A decade later, I still haven't gone on that shopping trip and the tape remains!

5. Wash your plastic baggies. Ideally, we just wouldn't use the zipper sealed wonders, but a kids lunchbox only holds so much tupperware and there are times when nothing else will do. Long before I was Eco and was just Cheap, I decided that tossing out a baggie just because it had crumbs in it was incredibly wasteful. So I started making baggie washing part of dish duty and even with five people in our household I still only buy maybe 2 or 3 boxes per year. They do wear out or rip eventually, but I have some kicking around that have got to be at least five years old. The best way to wash them is to turn them inside out in your sink. Run some warm water over them and them put them on your hand and give them a good scrub with a soapy sponge. Be sure to stick your fingers all the way into the corners when the gunk likes to hide. Then give them a thorough rinsing and hang them up to dry still turned inside out. For many years, I used to put them over the spoons and spatulas in my utensil caddy. My mom did give me a baggie drying rack that has dowels with little birdhouses on them for holding the bags and you can purchase other bag dryers online, but it isn't necessary. A word of caution, don't let them back up on you. I am famous for having a towering stack of baggies sitting next to my sink and then it becomes a real chore, as does anything else if we neglect it too long. Try folding them in a neat pile and when you have four or five go ahead and wash.

So there you go. A few quickies to get you started and, most likely, you have everything you need already. If you don't have a carafe, now you know what to ask for for you birthday or, better yet, to hunt for at yard sales. If you don't have plastic baggies, good for you! If you don't have a laundry basket, I am jealous and I want to move in.


  1. i have been washing my hair with shampoo less than once per month for years. i bathe often sometimes twice per day. i like to soak in a hot bath. i'll have a solar/wood fired hot tub soon. tabitha, my wife, started on the infrequent shampooing kick when we first met. her hair has never been healthier.

    who started that shampoo everyday kick? then you need to condition and hot oil treatments. it is yet another american consumerist addiction.

  2. Nice Karl! I would like to see how truly "healthy" hair that is slathered with products and blown dry everyday truly is.
    There are so many of our daily rituals that should be have their necessity questioned.