Saturday, April 2, 2011

Green Freeze (as seen in Rochester Magazine)

THRIFTY OR GREEN? I don’t know which desire came fi rst, but striving to be a “non-consumer” has led me on a journey. With my small efforts, I know that I am not only saving money but also saving the planet.

I’m practical in my dress and keep a simple wardrobe. Most of my clothing comes from consignment stores, Goodwill, or garage sales—but I buy pieces that look brand new.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with making my own beauty and cleaning products out of simple ingredients, such as baking soda or vinegar. My window cleaner and all-purpose cleaner costs so little and is free of stinky, harmful chemicals. I save over $100 a year by making my own laundry soap. I also make my own shampoo, conditioning rinse, and lotion (which doubles as facial moisturizer, hand cream, and body lotion). Not only do I save money, but I also save many bottles of plastic from ending up in the landfi lls because I store my homemade products in recycled glass containers.

I also save money by figuring out how to do things myself. I get my hair cut once a year. I cut my dog’s hair—a long-haired, furry Labradoodle—and refuse to pay to go to the groomers. (Are you kidding, I don’t even spend that kind of money on my own hair!) I cut my husband’s hair— and, sure, it might not always look the greatest, but it grows and he doesn’t seem to mind.

I make my own bread, yogurt (which saves over $100 a year), and all of our meals from scratch. I’m learning to garden, and every year I become a little more successful. My husband and I fi gured out how to make a rain barrel last year and were able to do most of the summer’s watering from its water reserves.

Last month, I tried a “spending freeze” by paying only for necessities. I paid all of our necessary monthly bills, allocated $50 to fuel my vehicle, and cut back on my grocery spending. I love to cook, so the grocery store is the place where I tend to overspend. Under “the freeze,” though, I created interesting, and, yes, yummy meals from food in the pantry or hidden in the back of the freezer. All month, I remained successful in not spending money—unless, of course, you count all those Girl Scout cookies. But I couldn’t tell those sweet little girls, “Sorry, it’s Spending Freeze Month. Could you come back another time?” I’d be risking the chance of Samoas being sold out.

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