Go Green in the New Year (and Save Money!)
by Kerrie McLoughlin
Making green choices can help our planet and save a few bucks
Going green isn’t always easy, but if you choose even just one area of your life to change, your household will save money while also saving the planet. Every little bit helps when you’re starting to go green! It is important, though, to realize that you don’t have to go all-out when you’re just starting. For instance, I used cloth diapers exclusively for five years before I switched to using disposables at night, and I’ve always used disposables when on vacation. Do I feel guilty about not using cloth diapers every day of my kids’ lives? Heck, no! Going green can be a lot of fun … and think of the lessons you’re teaching the next generation! Below are five ways you can start to go green in the new year.
Clothing. If your first thought is to head to the mall when it’s time for clothes or shoes, reprogram your thinking! Thrift stores, consignment stores and garage sales are great places to find a whole new (recycled!) wardrobe. As far as getting rid of clothing you no longer want, the Natural Resources Defense Council says that “the average American now discards 68 pounds of clothing a year, wasting energy, water and landfill space.” If your clothing is not in good enough shape to resell, swap or donate, see if your city offers a textile recycling program. Here’s a link to locations in the Plano area. Otherwise, just Google “[your city] textile recycling”. I’m personally setting aside some worn-out, outgrown kid clothing so I can make a crazy quilt someday.
Cloth diapers. This is a subject with an overwhelming amount of information, so I’ll just send you to www.allaboutclothdiapers.com, a great site that talks about the basics, budgeting, washing and so much more. If a set of brand new cloth diapers is too much cash outlay for you right now, you might try used. Just wash them well (some choose to bleach them, but often bleach breaks down the fibers faster) before using them on your baby. In North Texas, check out GreenBabyDiaperService.com or BlueBonnetDiaperService.com (or Google “[your city] cloth diapers”) if you can afford about $79 per month, and you won’t even have to wash your own cloth diapers!
Composting. Did you know that you don’t have to have a huge backyard garden to compost? You can start with a mini compost pile (3’ x 3’ x 3’) and save lots of trash from its landfill fate (think eggshells, fruit and veggie leftovers, coffee grounds and more). Vermiculture, or the adding of worms to a compost bin, is gaining popularity (check out www.smallnotebook.org) and is something you can do in a smaller bin on your apartment deck or even indoors.
Convenient general recycling. Someday, NOT recycling won’t be an option because some areas are starting to limit the amount of trash they will pick up from a household and will even charge for extra bags of trash. Keep a recycling bin in a convenient place so you can toss in broken-down boxes of cereal, rinsed-out cans and plastic bottles. Some cities do charge extra for recycling, so if you can’t afford to have it picked up at your house, you can always drop it off at your local recycling center when you’re near it running errands. I like to take our paper recycling to a nearby school because they get money for it by the pound!
Refilled ink cartridges. Rather than buy brand new printer ink cartridges, I’ve been refilling mine and have really seen a savings. Instead of spending $25 on a new cartridge, I pay less than $15 to have one refilled. That cartridge doesn’t end up in the landfill, and I save money! Google “ink cartridge recycling [your city]” or check out Cartridge World, Office Max or Office Depot.
Kerrie McLoughlin is working on an ebook about green decluttering. Check her out at TheKerrieShow.com.