Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

In celebration of this overly-commericalize-overly-mainstream-hippieized-quasi-holiday, I'm doing a special post!


I'm taking you for a tour of my house and pointing out the cheapass stuff that we do that has a nice earth friendly side effect. Most of these are pretty "duh" or I've talked about before, but it's nice to have them all in one post.

Let's start outside in the--



Yeah, it's no hybrid. It's no Begleymobile that runs on electricity and my own sense of self-smugness. It's a used car.

It's a four door sedan. It's not the tiniest thing, but it's not the largest sedan on the road either. It's an old lady Buick Century and I love it.

Cheapassedness: It's used. Just like buying second hand clothes or furniture, buying a second hand car isn't a bad thing. But y'all know this--that's old news!

Earthfriendliness: Like I said, she's no hybrid, so she only gets about 18 mpg city (which is only two more mpgs than say a 2002 Buick Rendevous SUV). But she does get nearly 33 mpg highway driving.

Room for Improvement: We could drive less. And honestly now that we're in Jersey, we drive much less than we did in Colorado, Michigan, and Texas thanks to mass transportation and the fact that Chunky goes to sleep and I ain't waking his ass up to go to the train station/AA meeting du jour to pick Dr. Mad Scientist's ass up. Dr. Mad Scientist walks home three nights a week or gets rides from his fellow AAers.

Now onto the--



Here we have my recycling stuff. The white bin holds cans/bottles/plastic/glass. The cardboard box it sits in holds junk mail, school papers, scrap paper and newspapers.

But newspapers are what I'm talking about here!

Cheapassedness: I only buy the Sunday paper (I walk three blocks to the deli on our street). It costs me $2.00 to buy. I used to think this was an easy expense to trim but then it finally occured to me (and I think some readers here pointed it out) that you can easily recoup that $2.00 you spend plus some on the Sunday coupons. Be they craft store or hamburger helper coupons--I always at least break even saving $2.00 on something.

Earthfriendliness: As I sort of mentioned before--you can recycle it.


It's my bag-pig! Mom made this for me eons ago (my kitchen has a pig theme). It's one of those campy dolls you stuff plastic bags into and then pull out when you need them.

Cheapassedness: Do people really buy those little one gallon-trash bags I see in the store? I mean there are 101 uses for the plastic bag--from dangerous and deadly yet amusing cat toy to trashbag liners--who doesn't reuse their grocery bags??

Earthfriendliness: They're reused, not thrown away immediately.

Room for Improvement: I suppose I could buy or make those uber-hip cloth grocery bags or take my bags back to be reused. Maybe someday. Right now I'm enjoying my plastic bags!


Fakin' It Whoopie Pies!

Cheapassedness: Each Sunday (or Saturday in this case...) I bake something for our lunches for the week. I figure this saves money not having to buy pre-packaged cookies or sweets.

Earthfriendliness: I'm not buying all that extra packaging you get with individually wrapped, or even just a package of Chips Ahoy.


Cheapassedness: We recycle ziploc baggies by washing them and reusing them. Yes, a package of 60 bags only costs me a dollar at the Dollar Store--but now I can get that package of 60 to last me 3 months instead of one!

Earthfriendliness: A few less baggies going into the landfill.

Next it's our--



Cheapassedness: Used books and library books save money. I can't remember the last time I bought myself a new book from the bookstore. Chunky and Dr. Mad Scientist are a bit different. But even then, Chunky's books rarely cost more than $5 a pop and again, I can't remember the last time I bought him a book. Dr. Mad Scientist gets a majority of his new books throughout the year in the form of Father's Day, Birthday, and Christmas presents.

Earthfriendliness: You're saving a tree buying used or patronizing your local library.


Cheapassedness: Used furniture is such a good deal! I rescued this lamp from the dumpster of my old Michigan office. It was a disgusting 1970's lamp/table ensemble that I repainted and gave an extremely kitschy Hawaiian theme. Our computer chair is also from that same office. Our dining room "set" is also from a friend who was downsizing her apartment. I can't imagine having to pay for that furniture!

Earthfriendliness: This is very "duh." You're saving that furniture from mucking up the landfill. Plus I can't help but think garbagemen really hate having to toss heavy furniture into the backs of their trucks.


Cheapassedness: We saved so much money this year by not turning on the heat. Ok, we did cave on really cold weekends, but very very rarely did we have the heat on for both Saturday AND Sunday and I can't remember turning it on after work on weekdays. I spent $60 buying me and Dr. Mad Scientist a pair of electric blankets. Those blankets have already paid for themselves.

Earthfriendliness: While they still suck up electricity, it's not nearly as much energy used to heat a whole house. We would often curl up with our electric blankets on the couch or while on the computer.

Let's quickly check out the--



Cheapassedness: We use our bath towels for at the very least 2 weeks before washing them. Chunky goes even longer since he doesn't shower as often as me and Dr. Mad Scientist. This saves a load of money on laundry.

Earthfriendliness: Less laundry equals less water used equals less soap used.

Now we'll walk through the--

Dining Room


Cheapassedness: In the summer, these windows open give us a great cross breeze keeping the house cool. You can see there's a plug for a window-air-conditioner, but we obviously save more money in electricity by not having one. In the winter, I seal these windows with $6 shrinky plastic to keep the heat from escaping and thus I get more bang for my buck when I actually do turn the heat on.

Earthfrienliness: Hooray! Less electricity!

Now we'll mosey to the--

Living Room


Cheapassedness: More electricity and thus money saved by not having the cable box sucking electricity to stay dormant during the day. Chunky is good at remembering to turn off "the box" as we call this power strip that's hooked up to our tube, DVD player and cable box.

Earthfriendliness: Hooray! Less electricity!

Last, but not least we have the closet off the living room.


Cheapassedness: I know not everyone has a huge walk in closet that is pretty much empty--but it's still super easy to hang a load of laundry to dry in even the smallest of houses (ask me how I know--I grew up like this!) I save $1 each week by hanging out the jeans and bathtowels and not using the dryers at the laundromat. That's $4 a month and nearly $50 a year. That's a few skeins of primo sock yarn!

Earthfriendliness: Hooray! Less electricity!

Like I said, most of these are pretty "duh" but I couldn't let Earth Day pass without a salute to cheapasses!!



Blogger buttercup said...

Wow I'm first!!!

Great ideas. I'm going to have to adopt the turning off the TV & cable box and stuff at the source. I hardly use the one in my room so that would be awesome.

I also just installed a digital thermostat, so I can have the heat/ac off durning the day when I'm not there. I keep it at a comfortable level for the girlies tho.

I also use 100% organic makeup. (let's not talk about the acrylic nails)

7:13 AM  
Blogger The Curly Knitter said...

Great post with lots of great ideas. Definitely some things I don't do but could!

7:35 AM  
Blogger Dkswife said...

Hee hee. That's why I love you! You are my frugal partner in crime! I'm all about thrift store or resale cloths shopping. MOF my next post will be about some really great bargains!

7:42 AM  
Blogger Macoco said...

I always love reading about your frugality. I'm with you on getting books from the library. I'm to the point where I get a little angry if I have to buy a book. When my book club picks a book that has too long of a wait at the library I pair up with one or two other members to buy one book and pass it around. And that still irks me. Sometimes I feel a little too cheap. ;)

8:50 AM  
Blogger Brena said...

Great ideas! I'm going to have us start utilizing our power strips. We waste a lot of electricity.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

All good ideas!

I want to put in a laundry line, I love hung out clothes. I refuse to live without A/C though. Nope. Not for a minute. It's stifling hot here from April to November!

8:56 AM  
Anonymous NikBudnik said...

I saw your Proulx book- I got some for you if you want them. Hell, I have so many books, I would love to have someone to send them to.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Miss T said...

Great cheapassedness!

9:29 AM  
Anonymous joymama said...

You're doing a great job to help the earth and your family with your frugal ideas! Reuse+Recyle=Reduce.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Donna Lee said...

I can't remember when we last bought furniture. We have had cast offs from relatives and workplaces. I am not vain and as long as it's clean and in good shape, I'm all for it.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great idea about the library!!! It also keeps someone in a job!!! We'll just look in the mirror and whistle as to who it keeps in a job.
Oh!!!! Is my face red!!! I know where you got a lot of your ideas!! Ok! I still use the house as a clothes dryer, and I don't do laundry for two sometimes three weeks...It is just your father and I and we have enough clothes to wear clean ones, plus it takes us that long to get a full load.
Happy Earth Day!! Love, Mom

12:10 PM  
Blogger Rebel said...

Ok... I support being a cheap ass environmentalist - but I need clean towels more regularly than that!!! I'll reuse one for 3-4 days but after that it starts to get funky.

I reuse the few grocery bags I get (bathroom trash) but I've gotten pretty good about bringing canvas bags. No need to make them - I scoured the Goodwill and a couple of garage sales. The really good big sturdy canvas bags cost me about $2-$3, the smaller ones were cheaper. And now all the grocery stores sell really sturdy square bottomed bags for 99 cents. Personally I think they work TONS better than plastic bags so I just try to keep them in the trunk of my car. I also have one of those expandable zipper bags that I keep in my purse for impulse purchases too.

2:13 PM  
Blogger sgeddes said...

That is good list. I do some of those things and some of the others will be easy for me to adopt with little problem.

I did give up those plastic grocery bags though. I have a huge supply of them and recently switched to bags that I take to and from the store.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Shelley said...

Fake whoopie pies? Can I get that recipe?

Awesome tips.

3:15 PM  
Blogger cpurl17 said...

I love the homemade snacks idea--infinitely better than anything store bought. When I was in Brownies, we rotated the snack box and whenever some kid brought in store bought vs. homemade we all made that inward disappointed groan.

You know, I think I'm begininning to sound like an old grandpa reminiscing about things "back in the day"

3:27 PM  
Blogger IrishgirlieKnits said...

Happy Earth Day!! I love all the ideas...thank you for putting them in one big post :) I have to agree...the special snacks for the week might be my favorite!! (that could also be because I'm craving some chocolate right now!!).

5:02 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

You are one earth friendly chica! We hang a bunch of our clothes in the house too. Pi has a raised bed that has metal bars. We hang the wet clothes on hangers from there. This allows us to wash "dry clean only" clothes in the regular washer. We love the power strips too!

My 2 weaknesses are books and store bought sweets.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

I still say you should be an advisor. Like showing newbie marrieds and 1st time out of the housers how to make it out there!

5:41 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Great ideas! I'm freezing most of the year, so I can't imagine turning off the heat during a Cleveland winter.

But I ended getting a $308 gas bill January, and a $350 one in February (even though according the handy chart on our gas bill, we used LESS gas in February than January - explain that one). We have storm windows, plastic on the windows, and the furnace set fairly low all winter, but it didn't even seem to help.

My husband and I rent a single family house, but it's only a little over 1,000 square feet, so it's not like we're heating a huge house, so other than the cost of natural gas steadily increasing here in Ohio, I can't figure out why our bills are so damn high, other than that the furnace in the house is at least 30 years old. Of course, being renters, we're stuck with it, which really stinks. : (

6:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

P.S. I'm with you on the library books - I'm really fortunate to live in a suburb with a great public library, and I make sure I use it. My husband and I almost exclusively rent videos from the library too - our local library has an awesome selection of DVDs for both kids and adults.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

It's funny how doing something to save cash often equals earth friendly, isn't it?

8:08 PM  
Blogger Starfish said...

You are the QUEEN! Great idea with the ziploc bags, I always feel guilty throwing them away if they're barely used. Also like the baking idea, best part is they aren't filled with preservatives and other nasty stuff for the boy.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Nell said...

I have to agree. You are the cheapass green Queen! Thanks for the great tips.

12:31 AM  
Blogger weezalana said...

As soon as I saw that opening image, I started singing, "You've got the whoooole world, in your ass..."

It's a good thing I work from home.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Alisha said...

Great stuff your doing there.

I try to be good about turning stuff off or keeping it off.

I have reused baggies before and I do homemade treats for lunch.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

What a great post, it sounded like you're a real life Womble in some of it.

I don't drive, I live alone and I'm hardly ever at home and my heating has been on since last June. I'm also a devil for not unplugging things. My carbon footprint must by MASSIVE.

But I do reuse carrier bags.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Ina said...

Excellent earth (or should that be dirt) cheapness! Here's a tax cheap: stuff related to addiction recovery - books, counseling, group meetings, transportation to same, child care for same, etc - are all tax-deductible medical expenses to the extent not reimbursed by insurance. Document dates and save those receipts!

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Willemtje said...

Wonderful ideas! We, too, love bargains from the thrift shop and I haven't bought a new book in more years than I can remember. We now have a pre-pay electricity and household gas meter, which made ua a lot more conscious of the cost and consequently we turned the thermostat down to 19 degrees celsius. When we're busy we turn the heat off altogether. Makes you really feel good, doesn't it?

Willemtje, a Dutch knitter

12:20 PM  

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