Over the past few years, I’ve made lots of changes in my home to cut my budget and make it more eco-friendly. Like most gradual changes, I’m pretty used to what I’ve done and it all seems so normal to me now. So when someone asks me how to make their home more green, I have to think on it a while. Thankfully, I don’t have to ponder for too long, because as I look around my kitchen, green ideas jump out at me from everywhere.
1. Use glass jars for storage
Quart jars come in handy for other pantry items as well as many leftover foods. The great thing is you can use them over and over again and don’t have to worry about chemicals leaching into your food. They’re also easy to find used. Goodwill and Craigslist are great spots to find them. Or you could put out a message on Facebook requesting jars. One of my favorite tips has been to check sandwich shops – they frequently go through gallon-size pickle jars.
2. Use your own cleaning solution
If you’re using a special cleaning spray to clean your counters, stop and read the ingredients. If it’s store-bought, chances are it’s full of toxic chemicals.
Or it could be bleach with water (hello headache). If it’s a “green” cleaning product you got at the store, it’s probably something you could make yourself, minus the expensive price tag and plastic container.
Here’s an easy recipe that’ll clean your counters without giving you a nasty headache:
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 20 drops lemon essential oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops melaleuca essential oil
Contact me to order essential oils.
Mix all together in a spray bottle, glass is preferable. Don’t forget to label it.
3. Plant a little herb garden in your windowsill
I love fresh herbs, especially when they make my kitchen look cozy and inviting. In our house, the kitchen blinds never get closed. Partly because I like to look outside while I wash dishes and also because our kitchen windowsill holds pretty plants. This is a great space to plant a little herb garden. Use little terracotta pots or some mason jars and grow your favorite culinary herbs so you don’t have to buy them.
4. Use your dish towels instead of paper towels
Paper towels were one of the first things to go when I started cutting our budget. And of course, many money-saving things are also good for the environment.
Now, instead of drying our hands on paper towels, we use the dish towels that we were given when we got married. For wiping up messes, we use a dish cloth. One rule: if it doesn’t smell good, don’t use it. I toss dish cloths in the washer at the end of each day and towels usually last two days.
5. Make your own dishwashing detergent
It was going to be handwash your dishes, but I know a lot of people just aren’t down with that. Yet… Even though we use our dishwasher as a drying rack, we still run it about twice a month to keep it from getting nasty.
When we do, we use our homemade dishwashing detergent. I love it because I know what’s in it (only a few ingredients) and I use items that I already have in our house. I also love that I’m not bringing in any plastic containers that will need to be recylced and that it’s waaaay cheaper than buying it in the store.
Image by litlnemo
6. Reuse leftovers as much as possible
I didn’t realize how much food we were wasting until I started composting. At the end of the meal, whatever can’t be saved for later gets thrown into the compost buckets under the sink (we just reuse gallon tubs from coconut oil).
So I started making an effort to cut down on the food waste. Turns out, it was mostly the kids food getting wasted, so I started giving them smaller portions. I also try to plan a menu that has a lot of foods I know they love.
Meal planning is a great way to make a plan for those leftovers and to keep you from buying foods you won’t eat.
7. Reuse plastic storage bags
I’m not sure when we stopped buying storage bags, but even though we have, we still have them in the house. They come in the form of food getting sent home from my parents’ house. (Mmmm, carne asada).
We’ve also been reusing the same bags, oh, forever. You might be shaking your head and laughing (ahem, hi Mom), but just think about all of the plastic storage bags that get used and thrown out after one time on a regular basis. So many bags.
I just can’t stand contributing to the madness. So we reuse them by washing them in soap and water with our other dishes. My windowsill aloe vera plant is the perfect drying rack for them.
Bonus idea! Post a menu plan
Posting a menu plan is a great way to help you save money and reduce food waste. Money savings come from avoiding the temptation to eat out when nothing sounds good for dinner.
I also notice that my grocery spending is considerably less because I only buy what I need for the week. Ok, so a ripe watermelon or dark chocolate bar might sneak it’s way into the cart, but I still save a lot. Be sure to figure in a day for leftovers so you don’t have to throw food away.
This post has been entered in Small Footprint Fridays.