If you asked my husband to use one word to describe me, I can promise you that frugal would not be that word. He is constantly asking me to stick with my budget (or make a budget in the first place) and I am constantly stomping my feet, rolling my eyes and telling him it’s fine, that I’ll figure out a way to pay for my new red wedge heels somehow, that it really does make more sense to shop at speciality food shops and that yes, we really did need that new blender, even though we already have two.
Eco-Friendly Kitchen
So, when it comes to the eco-friendly choices I make around our house, and especially in the kitchen, I’m not necessarily setting out to save money, however, it is one of the bonuses—which, if you’re like me and are the opposite of frugal (Anne Taintor is right, by the way: frugal really is such an ugly word) is a very good thing.
Here are some choices you can make in the kitchen that will benefit both your pocketbook and the planet at the same time:
Stop buying bottled water. Even though the bottles are recyclable, it still takes energy to make the bottles and fuel to ship them—and it also takes energy and fuel to recycle them. Instead, invest in a stainless steel water bottle for each member of your family and use a water filtration system. This can either be one that you install under the sink, or a simple filter pitcher that can be kept in the fridge. Depending on how much bottled water you use, you’ll save hundreds of dollars per year, and reduce your family’s carbon footprint.
Shop at Farmer’s Markets, join a Co-Op or join a CSA (community supported agriculture) project. It’s almost never cheaper to buy local and organic, especially when it comes to meat. So look for ways to buy food directly from the people who grow and raise it and you’ll save money and also be investing in sustainable and environmentally-positive agriculture and farming.
Skip the processed food. Load up on fruits, veggies and unprocessed food and you are guaranteed to save money because food that has been processed often cost more than food that hasn’t. By buying fresh food, you’re also bypassing loads of packaging and avoiding the energy and fuel it takes to process and ship these prepared items.
Buy it in bulk. Cereal. Flour. Spices. There are many items that can be bought in bulk—and you can even bring your own containers to most bulk food stores rather than using the plastic bags provided. The savings involved with buying bulk are huge, not only financially, but environmentally too because of all the excess packaging you’re avoiding.
Don’t forget your bags. Bringing your own bags is now a common practice in many communities, but I all too often used to find myself at the grocery store grabbing a last minute item and realizing I didn’t bring any cloth sacks with me. This is why we now keep a stash of cloth bags in the trunk and in the bottom of the stroller. I also keep a foldable (and cute!) cloth bag in the bottom of my purse, so I’m never without. This means I never have to pay for a plastic bag or waste money on a new cloth bag when I already have dozens at home (from all the other times I forgot to bring my bag to the grocery store). Plastic bags are a huge burden on the planet and a threat to wildlife, so purging them from your daily life is a very good idea.
Grow it! Growing your own herbs and vegetables is something that anyone can do—trust me! I do not have a green thumb in the slightest, but have managed to successfully grow herbs and veggies for several years. You can read about my bumper crop of tomatoes on the site. http://www.foodnetwork.ca/guides/summer/too-many-tomatoes/8811/story.html) Growing your own food saves money and means that you have more control over what you and your family are eating. Fuel, packaging and energy are also saved when you have a garden.
Plan meals. When you take a little time each weekend, even just an hour or two, to plan your meals for the week and do some prep work, you’ll be less likely to fall back on takeout and convenience foods, which are expensive and involve packaging, energy and fuel to arrive at your house.
Mind your appliances. Almost all new appliances these days are Energy Star certified, but if there are any in your house that aren’t, consider replacing them. Also, if you have an appliance you aren’t using, whether it’s a toaster oven or a coffee maker, unplug it. Energy is used when an appliance is on, even if it’s just a clock on a coffee maker.
Get real. Use real things instead of disposable ones (as in disposable plates, napkins, and cutlery). We have a set of cloth napkins that we use daily instead of paper towels or napkins, and when there’s a spill, I grab a large, absorbent tea towel, not a stack of paper towels that involve paper, bleaching and chemicals to make and also cost extra money to purchase.
I use the money I save to buy new shoes. Don’t tell my husband.
How about you? Do you have any other ideas that can save both money and the environment? Let us know!
Written by Marissa Stapley-Ponikowski