One hundred and eighty seven countries signed a treaty to limit plastic garbage. But not us. Even without official government efforts to clean up around here we can still do something to improve our quality of life without inconvenience.
I learned, and relearned and then learned again (short term memory loss), that if I try one new thing and make an effort to stick with it until it becomes a mindless habit and then move on to the next thing that I make steady progress.
Kyle and I just threw lists of things we do back and forth at each other until we had a pretty comprehensive amount of responsible habits to talk about.
Plastic shopping bags
Europe has charged for them for years. It’s amazing how fast you remember to grab a bag on your way out the door or keep one handy in a pocket when it costs you money if you forget. We have a bag full of fabric shopping bags that lives in the car and another in the truck. Once groceries have been unloaded and put away the shopping bag full of bags is stashed by the back door to be grabbed by the next person heading out and returned to it’s vehicle. My Aldi quarter also has its own special place it lives and I never touch it except for a shopping cart. I’m not sure if that’s environmentally responsible or just me hating to look for a quarter.
Our favorite go to place is called “Estate Sale”. There’s one coming to a neighborhood near you soon! Estate sales are living proof that you can’t take it with you. Kyle and Josh furnished an entire house with estate sale finds they refurbished, painted and upholstered. Donations from relatives and the Aldi sale bin filled out a few corners. Owning a sewing machine (an old metal one, tuned up by a man in a neighboring town as a hobby) helped with sewing cushion covers and making custom curtains and quilts but there wasn’t anything that couldn’t have been sewn by hand, with a simple straight stitch.
Fabrics of choice were a natural linen cotton blend disguised as a painter’s drop cloth and sold exclusively at your local big box hardware. Trimmed out with treasures from our fabric stash every room is a bit different, matches the furnishings perfectly (because the same fabric was used for cushion covers, slip covers and pillow backs) and kept a theme running in rooms that open onto each other with nice wide doorways.
We’re big fans of resale, consignment and plain old charity shops. I loved shopping in England, Kyle lived in a posh town in the Cotswolds so the quality was always good and I could say “oh this old thing? I picked it up in England.” Kyle’s wedding dress was mine, made into a new dress. My mother of the bride’s outfit cost less than $15, including shoes and the dress still had the tag on it.
When Kyle was at uni she needed some nice things to wear for presentations, interviews and such. Unlike here, people in England do not wear their jammies in public. The Brits refused to believe her when they asked what American kids wear to school. A classmate from Boston had to corroborate the sad truth.
But Goodwill to the rescue. Someone nearby is as tiny as Kyle, has timeless taste in clothes and is a donator. Bless them. For the sum of about $22 we picked up a wool suit, with the pockets unopened. Good suits have the pockets sewn shut to keep the line of the suit nice until worn. It’s a quick fix to take the stitches out but no one had. Another jacket in a basic color that goes with everything. Two skirts, again in easy to mix with colors. And maybe one more piece I’ve forgotten. Throw a couple of nice blouses in or a t shirt and you have instant business wardrobe. Without spending money on newly imported fashion from across the Pacific. And then repeating next year because you’re in imminent danger of becoming unfashionable.
Something I avoid at all costs, but if I have to do it then I’m only spending time and not money. All our cleaning products come from a gallon bottle of vinegar, the large sized cardboard box of baking soda and water. That’s it, except for maybe a portion of elbow grease, but I figure that’s keeping my upper arms from waving back at me for a little while longer. Which brings us to the next topic: exercise.
My brother once told me, with a straight face, that I should join a gym. I could never figure out which physically active thing I was doing such as walking on uneven uphill ground, climbing gates, going up stairs, lifting heavy things, repeat, repeat, repeat, I should pause to climb in the car, drive to town and replace with a piece of gym equipment. My exercise costs nothing, doesn’t need it’s own block of time and what I’m already wearing works fine.
I hate throwing things away with one use. We wash the glass jars that come from the Amish bulk food store and return them. They’re carried back in our shopping bags. The plastic bag toilet paper comes in fits the bathroom wastebasket just fine. I have glass bowls with lids we’ve been using for 40 years for leftovers. Paper and plastic dishes were used 8 years ago when we moved here and couldn’t find the dishes, dish soap, sink…for a few days. Any bag good for nothing else could always be used for the litter box. If it burns it starts a fire in the woodstove and if it’s metal it goes to the scrapper to be turned into a check for us and something useful for someone else. Tiny bits of metal are collected in an empty pet food bag for the trip. I always try to remind myself that it’s a small bit but if it were the original bag/box/crate or pallet’s worth it would weigh a whole lot more. I just need to collect more.
Since I’m always looking for painless, cheap ways to reduce our footprint I’ll read blogs on frugality and sustainability. I call the writers and people who comment My Frugal Friends. Because who wouldn’t want a friend with your best interests at heart? Send me your favorite ways to save just a bit more, time, resources and money. Candy
All Purpose Cleaner
Quick and easy to make up, we use this all purpose cleaner on mirrors, windows and bathroom counters.
In a spray bottle mix equal parts white vinegar and water.
That’s it. Mix. Spray. Wipe. Done.
Dump about ¼ cup baking soda and ½ cup white vinegar in the toilet bowl. Let foam up then scrub as normal.