Tuesday, January 12, 2010


New year, new resolutions, and for many of us the number one resolution is to find more ways to save, and to live a little greener in the process.
My list of things I already do includes the following:

Laundry: hanging it out saves on the electric bill--but we've talked about that before. My daughter-in-law claims that clothes last longer if they are air-dried: colors don't fade, and you know that lint in your dryer? That's part of the fabric in your clothing; the process of drying breaks the fibers that are woven together to form cloth, so a little bit of your favorite towel is lost each time it goes through the dryer.

Hair care: I decided to let my hair grow long again, quit blow-drying, moussing and messing with it. I cut it myself when it gets too long. It's not stylin' but it works for me (well, most of the time). Savings: hair products, hair cuts, blow dryer, curling iron, electricity, gas going to the hair dresser, and best of all--time.

Cloth napkins: They can be found for next to nothing at yard sales and resale places. They can be washed and re-used. They can be mixed and matched for variety. They're pretty!

Cloth kitchen towels instead of paper towels: I still buy paper towels occasionally (especially when grandkids come!), but this is a next-step for me as soon as I have enough linen kitchen towels and good rags for cleaning up spills.

Crocheted dishcloths: My sister Judy gave me one she made and I love it. I want more! This is so much better than anything else I've used to wash dishes.

Kitchen mops: Did you know you can buy wood-handled mops with spring-loaded clip heads that you can refill with rags or replaceable mopheads? We had them when I was a girl and I recently found them again. These are the best--no wringing out a big heavy mop or even worse buying expensive refills. Just use what you have on hand. These mops aren't pretty but they are sturdy and work well. Those Swiffers et al are expensive to upkeep, and don't do the job any better than the old standard cleaning tools. (am I sounding like an old fogey here?)

Wood floors instead of carpet: for all kinds of reasons. Wood will not wear out for years and years (it can wear out, though, as we proved when we were children in our big old house in Virginia. Those oak boards were worn thin!). Wood can be cleaned, refinished to look like new over and over. Carpet needs special tools for cleaning; it has to be replaced; and that's not even talking about the dirt and dust and whatever else seeps down through carpet into the pad and sneaks around firing up allergies in people like me.

Those are a few things that came immediately to mind as I started writing this post. I am sure you can add many other things to this list. The bottom line is re-use, recycle and recreate. I am often amused by ads that cry out to us to "Hurry in and save!" Guess what? If we don't hurry in, we'll save even more because we won't spend anything! It's not shopping and sales, it's thinking about what we buy, what we really need, and what we can re-use, and what we can do ourselves.

There is a new book called Save BIG: How to Cut Out Big Costs, by Elizabeth Leamy that I would like to read. I'm pretty good at saving in little ways: carry my own coffee to work, pack my lunch, grow a garden, can and preserve, hang out laundry, eat out rarely, and so on. But the big things? Like most people, I don't pay attention to them--and I should. I read her blog and found a few things I want to investigate further.

And I'll save even more--I'll get her book from the library!

Care to share? What new things are you trying this year to save money and/or go green? And what old-tried-and-true things are you still doing?


Danielle Barlow said...

That looks like a good book! I am with you on the cleaning rags idea - it seems ridiculous to buy special rags for cleaning, and throw all old clothes in the bin. I am a big fan of the rag bag!

spirit said...

Great ideas...please let us know if you think of more. I need to save a few pounds, I do recycle most things but do need to be even more frugal...best wishes Sue xx

Granny Sue said...

Sometimes I think it is a process of being mindful--paying attention to what we do and why we do it. That is the true secret to living green and lightly on this earth. Sometimes we must do things that don't fit--I drive too far to work, for example. The solution is to move closer, or get a different job. Neither is an option at this point, so I try to reduce my impact on earth in other ways. Staying out of stores is a big one--less spending, less packaging, less new product into the environment. At the same time, I am aware that my decision to not shop impacts the livelihood of someone somewhere. All is a circle; we affect how the circle spins, and how fast.

Markin said...

I'd say carpets for the wintertime are a Good Thing, they keep things warmer. Including your slippered feet as you walk about the house.

Back in the Old Days, as evidenced by one 19th century how-to-keep-house book I own, it was at least in Virginia the custom (one assumes mostly in households with a servant or two) to take up the carpets in the spring, clean them, and roll them up in storage for summer, replacing them with reed matting for greater coolness. In the fall, the carpets were rolled out again. (Some households simply kept the matting in place, under the carpets.)

The Weaver of Grass said...

With regard to hanging out washing, Sue - here in the countryside we always peg our washing out on the line. When I fetch it in to be ironed it smells delicious. I do not possess a drier of any kind. If the weather is too wet then I have a Sheila Maid pully which I lower and fill with the washing and then pull back up over the Aga.

Susan at Stony River said...

Penny-pinching is one of my favourite hobbies -- I'm afraid my family thinks I take it too far sometimes!

When bath towels get holes or wear out, I cut them up and hem them for kitchen towels or washcloths. When I buy clothes for us, I try to find fleece instead of sweatshirts, and lightweight cotton t-shirts, simply because they dry so fast when hung up, they don't need the dryer.

I make huge suppers too, so that we can have a day or two's leftovers in the refrigerator. The microwave saves work and electricity a few days a week, over cooking all new meals every single night.

I could go on and on -- and I'll mention the book to Devyn to pick up! LOL

Granny Sue said...

Markin, you make a good point about warm floors. We wear slippers on our wood floors because they can be chilly. I have read about the rugs that were rolled up and put away in summer. In those days they had so many servants-can you imagine the luxury of that now? I would probably have been one of the servants, come to think of it. Hmmm...now what was their life like, I wonder? I doubt they had carpets and reed rugs.

Twisted Fencepost said...

I do a lot of those things. Nothing smells better than bed linens that have hung on the clothes line to dry.
I have one of those Swiffer Wet Jet mop thingies. I crocheted a pad that fits the bottom in place of those expensive pads. It works great and it's reusable. I also crochet and knit my own dish cloths.

Granny Sue said...

now THAT is country creativity, TF! I love it--take something new and use an old art to make it reusable. Good for you!

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