Ever since I saw The Story of Stuff I’ve been looking at items in my home and really thinking about their life cycle. Here are some things I’m working on:
- For years I’ve bought dish scrubbing brushes from Ikea. They are cheap and funky-looking and do a great job. But a dish brush doesn’t last forever and I replace mine every couple of months. It occurred to me today while I was using the brush and thinking it’s getting rather icky that this is a lot of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable plastic to be tossing out so frequently. I’m going to think about what I can use instead – I’m thinking a combination of dishcloths (which I can crochet myself and wash regularly) and wool scrub pads (I buy these in the grocery store, supposedly they are 100% wool).
- I recently purchased five organic cotton handkerchiefs from Lunapads (got a sweet deal). I’ve had a cold lately and I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying using these instead of tissues. I actually haven’t bought Kleenex in ages b/c I’m cheap that way. But toilet paper just doesn’t cut it next to soft organic cotton. I’m going to get some more of these so that I’ll be prepared for colds!
- I have a bunch of old cloth napkins my mother gave me and I’ve stopped buying paper ones. I don’t care that they are faded and that I don’t have matching sets. Their age has made them soft and I’m enjoying using them. I also don’t use paper towels (haven’t bought a roll in years). Instead I keep a stack of old dishcloths and tea towels under the sink and use them to wipe up any spills.
- I have a bag of old, used batteries. I think it’s time to switch to rechargeables. We don’t actually use batteries all that often, but disposing of them is a pain (we have to take them down to the recycling depot). It’s tough because disposable batteries are so cheap and it’s a big initial expense for the rechargeable ones and the charger.
- We’re almost 100% “plastic grocery bag free”. I don’t line my household bins anymore, though I’ll confess I emptied a batch today that had gotten pretty disgusting at the bottom. Still, it washed up easily with soap and hot water and I feel better knowing I’m suffering for the Greater Good. And the smell in our cans is nasty because I use one green bag and have to open it each time I dump a fresh canload into it. The smell today almost made me retch. I’m still trying to figure out what to do when I run out of green garbage bags. Seems silly to spend money on plastic garbage bags when I’m going out of my way to not bring the grocery ones into my home, but I might be too cheap to buy the biodegradeable ones. Sometimes it’s hard being Frugal and Green at the same time! I’m going to call our District and see if they have any suggestions for a more environmentally friendly (and allowable) way to line my cans.
- My old tea kettle died a while back and I bought a new one. I hemmed and hawed over how much to spend and finally settled on an in-between model that had the functions I wanted but nothing overly fancy (quite pleased with myself about that; the one I would have purchased before this whole budgeting thing was the pretty cordless model for $60). As it turns out my new kettle is all metal with only a plastic handle and whistle. It’s the kind you heat on the stove element. My old kettle was all plastic and had a heater element and a cord. The cord had frayed and the bottom was melted from a previous burner incident so it really wasn’t salvagable, but I felt really ICKY putting it in the garbage knowing it’s going to sit in a landfill for the next several centuries. At least the metal one stands a chance of recycling (I hope).
So those are some of the little things I’m pondering as I putter around my home making tea and wiping my nose.