I am going to reveal my secret to saving money and keeping my kitchen organized that will shock the tightwad community to its core: I don’t buy in bulk. There are a few select items I buy in bulk, such as spices and yeast. Both of these kitchen staples are much cheaper from community bins rather than individual packets or jars. For the most part, though, I don’t like to buy mass quantities of food at the supermarket. Here’s why.
1. It costs more. Okay, sometimes you save big money by buying the bigger version of something. However, I have found that smaller packages of certain products are actually a better deal per pound. I always make sure to figure out the price per pound before buying the bigger package.
Also, the bulk bins don’t always save you money. Bob’s Red Mill flour, for example (a mill that is local for us Portlanders) costs less when you buy it by the bag rather than from the bins. Also, the pre-bagged flour comes in a paper bag instead of a plastic bag. There would be no real reason for me to get that flour from the bulk bins since I can easily go through a five-pound bag of flour in a month or two. Peanut butter is another good example. That “grind your own” variety costs around $4.00 a pound; I can get a recyclable jar of it for less than $2.00 a pound.
2. I have to carry it home. The other day I went to the store for baking soda. The four-pound box was cheaper per pound than the one-pound box, but I ended up getting the smaller container because I am a wimp and don’t want to carry a four-pound box home along with all my other groceries. I could definitely use four pounds of baking soda, too!
3. The packaging can be worse for the environment. As I mentioned in point #1, sometimes the wrapping that comes with pre-packaged goods is better than the plastic bag they offer at the bulk bins. Of course I could avoid this problem by bringing my own reusable containers to the store. I have done this several times, but I often forget to bring my own empty bags/jars/bottles.
4. It wastes more food. Buying in bulk and then letting it go to waste is not saving you any money, and it’s certainly not good for the planet. I know some people are great about preserving the food they buy in bulk and managing it so it doesn’t go to waste. I have not had good luck doing this, so I prefer to buy smaller amounts. Also, it’s a proven fact (I’m sure I read this somewhere!) that if you have a lot of something, you’ll eat more of it. Buying a ten-pound bag of potato chips and then eating it all in a week is not an effective money-saving technique. Christine over at Chicago Cheapsite makes this point (among others) in her excellent post “Is Your Thrift Costing You Money?”
5. I have nowhere to store it. For many years I avoided buying in bulk because I simply didn’t have the space to put any of it. Because I don’t buy huge quantities of food, I don’t need a big refrigerator, extra freezer, or even a pantry. (Actually, I do want a pantry. I just don’t happen to have one. And thanks to my aversion to bulk-buying, I don’t need one!)
This post is a part of Works for Me Wednesday’s themed edition: kitchen organization. Buying exactly what I need is my secret to keeping a tidy kitchen. Check out Rocks in My Dryer’s blog carnival for more kitchen organization hints! Come back tomorrow for our first official Green Baby Guide co-writer duel, when Joy will tell us why buying in bulk does save time, money, and the planet in her Thrifty Green Thursday post!
Also, don’t forget to enter our giveaway so you can win an organic diaper cake made from 40 Nature BabyCare disposable diapers!
For our final Green Spotlight post this month, Eileen Spillman, single mother of two, full time teacher, and eco-mom extraordinaire, shares her eco-annoyances and what it means to pass green values onto your children.
Do you have any environmental pet peeves?
Oh yes, many.
Do you get any indication that your children might be picking up on some of your Earth-friendly choices?
Definitely. They are old enough now to understand some of it. Our apartment has a view of the back parking lot where the dumpsters and recycling bins are kept. It is great excitement to watch the two trucks come and do their thing. We talk about where each is going and what it means to recycle.
The kids are totally with me on trying to use the car less too. If I ask them to walk somewhere instead of driving, they will tell me that it’s a good thing we aren’t using the car, when just a couple of years ago there would be whining.
Right now I am working to get them to understand the concept of not wasting food. We’ll see how that goes. My daughter is very aware and worried about people in the world who don’t have enough to eat, but hasn’t connected that her throwing out half a plate of food has anything to do with that.
What’s your favorite part of being a mother?
Reading bedtime stories, random outbursts of “mom, I wike you”, remembering how to play hopscotch and cat’s cradle, the first note that was printed and spelled all by herself saying “I love you mom. I really, really love you.”, living room dance parties, little arms around my neck and little kisses on my cheeks and being the arms they run to when life is full of spiders, monsters, rough sidewalks, loud flushing toilets and darkness.
Thanks Eileen for being our featured Green Spotlight mom this month! We especially love Eileen’s can-do attitude—which obviously makes her so effective as a mother and a eco-role model.
The Green Baby Guide welcomes all eco-pet peeves! We also want to hear about the ways that your children are learning from your environmental choices.
Mindful Momma lists some Good Green Reads for the Preschool Set. If you are looking for some picture books with environmental themes that will please your young children, check it out.
Nature Moms reviewed Wysi Wipes, “an alternative to pre-moistened towelettes, facial tissue or paper towels.” They come in tiny tablets, and you just add water to moisten them. They’re compostable and biodegradable, so they’re better for the environment than your standard throw-away tissues.
Eco Child’s Play found some Eco-friendly, Solar-powered Night Lights that both young and old kids will appreciate.
Not Quite Crunchy Parent offers tips for getting your kids to talk about their day. The comments section adds even more ideas that I’m tucking away for the future, once Audrey outgrows her “chattering toddler” phase.
Soft Landing, our favorite place to find the latest in safe plastics, reviews a silicone baby bottle–an interesting alternative to traditional plastic or glass bottles. They also have a helpful article to explain what silicone is.
Green Style Mom writes about her experiences with community gardening–something to look into next year for those of you who don’t have gardening space at home.
Don’t forget to check out our organic diaper cake giveaway here on the Green Baby Guide. This is a $40.00 value an expecting green mom would love!
Grow In Style, an “organic diaper cake company,” would like to offer one of our readers this Organic 3 Tier Fall Fantasy Diaper Cake, made of forty size 1 Nature BabyCare diapers–a $39.00 value! While we here at The Green Baby Guide love cloth, it’s nice to have a disposable diaper that’s greener than conventional brands. Nature BabyCare diapers don’t use chlorine bleach and are free from oil based plastic. Read a review of them on Baby Cheapskate.
Here’s some information Grow In Style gave us about Nature BabyCare diapers and their company:
About Nature BabyCare Disposable Diapers
Nature BabyCare Diapers are one of the two leading Eco Friendly Disposable Diaper Brands available to today’s market. They are soft, breathable, chlorine free, and made with natural based material for natural protection. There are absolutely no oil based plastics used in the making of the diapers, so no toxins come in touch with the delicate baby skin. Nature BabyCare went an extra step with the packaging which is based on 100% natural, renewable material providing an all around eco friendly product.
About Grow In Style
GrowInStyle.com takes pride in being one of the few companies that creates Eco Friendly Organic Diaper Cakes. We believe that natural and 100% organic baby products are the only kind that children should encounter. We carefully select the best baby products for the rapidly developing infant. Our Diaper Cakes include all 100% organic and natural products such as Organic Onesies, Organic stroller blankets and receiving blankets, natural and BPA free teethers, natural rubber pacifiers, organic toys and natural baby creams. GrowInStyle Diaper Cakes are constructed with the purest and safest ingredients available today.
Would you like to win this fall-themed diaper cake from Grow In Style? It would be the perfect gift to give an expecting mom at a green baby shower–or even at a conventional shower. Or hey, maybe you want this diaper cake all to yourself! Just post a comment with your opinion on “greener” disposables or your desire to win forty diapers fashioned into a cake, and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll pick a winner next Friday!
Often when I’m headed off to buy a whatzit, it strikes me that someone nearby is probably dying to get rid of the exact thing I want. And when I drop off a sack full of goodies at a thrift store, I wonder if they’ll make it past the cluttered shelves and into the hands of someone who needs them.
That’s where the Internet comes in. For the first time in human history it’s incredibly easy to unload unwanted stuff or search for a used item—all for free!
Zwaggle is an online resource for parents who are looking to give and get items for their children. People receive Zwaggle points called “zoints” for giving gently used items to others and then can use then to “purchase” things for their family. Since it all happens online, you can get things from across the nation so it’s a bit like Ebay without the expense.
One of my favorite online resources is Freecycle—a local network where people can offer unwanted items and score other things that they need. According to their own definition, Freecycle is “a movement of people keeping stuff out of landfills while building community.”
So how does Freecycle work? People post emails either offering or requesting items from their local community. At this moment on the Eugene Freecycle network I found a full set of screwdrivers, a baby gate, and a bag of unopened kitty litter all offered free of charge. Also, if you live in Eugene, Oregon, and have loads of Hawaiian party décor on hand, someone on Freecycle needs it! If I want to respond to any post, I just email a reply and pick up the item or arrange for someone to else to come get my unwanted goods. Done!
Similar to Freecycle, Freepeats is a set of local, online forums where people can swap stuff for free—but its focus is on children’s items. The first twenty users in a few area get a lifetime membership for free. After that you have to pay a one-time fee of just $4.95—which is completely worth it if you end up scoring a decade of hand-me-downs. Freepeats hasn’t been around as along as Freecycle, so there aren’t as many online communities—but it’s spreading quickly. It currently has new communities opening San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.
My other favorite spot for freebies is Craigslist’s free section. It’s great to hit it on Sunday or Monday when many people are happy to give away garage sale leftovers. Also, if you’re looking to unload anything, just describe it on the free section and wait for your junk to disappear. My husband and I posted a broken countertop that we would have otherwise hauled away to the dump. Within two hours it happily swiped by a local couple who used it in their greenhouse.
So clean out the garage, save some cash, score some treasures and save the planet. With online resources at your fingertips, you can help community recycling grow from the grassroots.
Do you have a handy tip that might save money while helping the environment? We’d love to have you join us at Thrifty Green Thursday. For directions just go to this page.
When I started potty training Audrey, I wasn’t planning on buying disposable Pull-ups or even cloth training pants. I just took her out of diapers and put her into underwear. This actually worked, for the most part. But then Audrey’s daycare provider said she was on board with potty training, but that Audrey would need to wear training pants. I guess she wasn’t up for my “just wear underwear” technique, which admittedly results in a puddle here and there.
So I looked around. Our big grocery store carried Gerber training pants, but they didn’t carry them in Audrey’s size–ever. I stopped by a drug store, which had disposable training pants, but no cloth ones. Then I popped into two children’s consignment stores and came out empty handed. Who knew cloth training pants were such a rare commodity?
Finally I remembered a Hannah Anderson gift certificate I’d had since Audrey’s birth. They have a store downtown, so I ventured out there and bought a set of three adorable little training pants for $28.50—cheaper than Imse Vimse training pants, which cost about $12 each. (By comparison, a jumbo pack of 88 Pull-ups costs over $30.00.)
The Hannah Anderson pants are made from 100% organic cotton and don’t have a plastic layer. In other words, they are not water proof, which is just what I wanted. A child in these training pants will feel wetness and won’t be tempted to treat them as a diaper. (At least this has been our experience.) They’re also absorbent enough to prevent those pesky puddles, so they definitely work for me.
Audrey is potty trained now, and I never needed to buy more training pants or a pack of Pull-ups. I can personally attest to the fact that a life without Pull-ups is possible! Although she didn’t need training pants for very long, she still wears them and thinks of them as regular underwear, so I consider it money well spent.
We at Green Baby Guide love to hear voices from the trenches of eco-friendly parenting. In part three of our Green Spotlight series this month, Eileen Spillman, single mom, middle school teacher, and environmentalist, inspires us to use green guilt to our advantage.
I put it to good use! Seriously, guilt is normal and healthy. If you didn’t feel guilt, I think you’d be a sociopath. Just don’t let it turn into anxiety and paralyze you. I use it to fuel my creative energy. I try to always tell myself that I can’t completely change my whole lifestyle overnight. I make one change at a time and once I’ve got that down, I can think about the next thing.
I guess for me the guilt is just an awareness, I recognize that my lifestyle is still not one of zero environmental impact and so the guilt keeps me moving forward. I don’t know if a life that has zero environmental impact is possible and I wouldn’t want anyone to kill themselves working towards that, but I also don’t like to see people who say that we can never do enough so why bother or who make one change and pat themselves on the back thinking they’re all done.
Have you managed to save money going green? If so, how?
Oh gosh yes. And I actually don’t think I am spending less than before I made these changes, but I am able to keep up with inflation even when my paycheck doesn’t. I use less electricity, less gas and I definitely spend less on cleaning supplies. Instead of running out and buying something when I need it, I try to be resourceful and creative.
Buying fewer consumables and not buying things new saves you a ton of money. For me, living on a very tight budget, many of these green choices were no-brainers. It’s just a huge ironic bonus that, by being poor, I am for the first time in my life doing something trendy and cool. Truly being green means consuming less and that saves money.
We’d love to hear your reflections on today’s green spotlight. You just might end up being our next contributor!
Starting this Sunday, the Green Baby Guide will present a round-up of the noteworthy articles we’ve found on likeminded sites. Enjoy!
This is from a few months ago, but attention-grabbing nonetheless. The Pregnancy and Baby Blog wonders Should You Quit Breastfeeding Because of Toxins in Breast Milk?
Over at Inhabitots, you’ll find how to make co-sleeping easier with the Humanity Family Bed. While one of the green advantages of co-sleeping is avoiding the extra purchase of a crib, this product does have multiple uses. I love that the baby in the photo is wearing a cloth diaper!
(I hope Treehugging Family does not mind me stealing those last two from their excellent round-up of green posts, all written by either Jennifer or Peggy.)
Gray Matters wrote about Going Green in Preschool. She was faced with the dilemma of having to bring in a snack in “commercial, unopened containers.” I haven’t had to deal with this yet, and I know I’d resent the cost and waste!
Memarie Lane has step-by-step instructions for sewing your own nursing pads and a tip to “expand your bradrobe.” I especially love her idea to turn extra flannel receiving blankets into nursing pads.
The Frugal Mom Blog reveals an energy-saving no-boil method for cooking pasta that makes perfect pasta every time. I cannot wait to try this tip for myself!
And last but not least, Mom Go Green has found a great eco-friendly card company for baby announcements.
Reading about Life Domestic’s Little House on the Prairie-style adventures in canning peaches and the Lean Green Family’s overabundance of tomatoes filled me with a tinge of green regret. After finishing Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I should have been all revved up to harvest local fruits and vegetables and preserve them all for the wintry months ahead. . . . Yet somehow it didn’t happen.
What did I miss out on this summer?
1. I didn’t plant a garden. We moved into our new house in late June, and after all the unpacking it was too late to get anything in the ground. Next year!
2. I didn’t go to U-Pick farms. There was really no reason we couldn’t have gone to a berry patch to pick some local blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. This is something I did pre-baby that I need to do now, especially since Audrey’s finally old enough to enjoy it.
3. I didn’t process my own fruit and tomatoes. If I’d had the foresight to do numbers one and two on this list, I would have canned, cooked, and frozen much of my summer harvest. (Not that I have ever canned before. But I am sure I would have done it . . . right?)
The good news is, I can still do some of these eco-friendly activities as the weather grows cooler. I could plant a winter garden, which I’ve done before without much success. (Okay, to be honest, I do not want to try this again. I just have to accept the fact that I am not a gifted gardener.) However, I can still take advantage of the fall harvest. Yesterday both Proverbs 31 Living and Bring on the Lloyds dazzled me with their tales of finding free apples from Freecycle and turning them into applesauce, apple peel jelly, and potpourri.
At the very least, I vow to visit an organic farm for apple picking and jack-o-lantern hunting this year. My daughter can frolic through the apple orchards and tumble through a pumpkin patch– and she’ll be able to chow down on applesauce and pumpkin bread all winter long.
Don’t forget to enter our Vegan Lunch Box giveaway! Just a couple days left!
While on a garage sale gift shopping spree, I ran across this rusty red wagon for just five dollars. Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about getting a wagon for my son’s birthday and it did look rather damaged, but its previous owner coached me through the steps for fixing it up and ended up convincing me to buy. I’m so glad he did!
The total time it took to fix the wagon was about three hours (including shopping time) and didn’t require much effort. We followed a few simple steps and found ourselves quite happy with the results.
Sand down the rust. Using steel wool, we scrubbed down the inside of the wagon with soapy water until it was as clean and smooth as we could get it. We should have paid more attention to the corners and seams between the bottom and sides, but overall we did well.
Let the wagon dry: Just long enough so that the paint can be applied to a moisture-free metal surface.
Treat with rust-prevention product: We ended up using “Naval Jelly” which seemed the least toxic and applied it outside so the area was well ventilated.
Brush on enamel paint: A small container of red paint, perfectly matched to children’s wagons, was easy to find at our local hardware store. We could have also checked at our recycled building materials center (BRING) to see if they had any on hand. It cost a whopping twelve dollars for the paint, but it also helped to fix up my son’s tricycle. While the container recommends a liberal coat, ours was a bit too thick. We were told not to use a primer, and it worked fine without it.
Wait at least 24 hours: The wagon was just so beautiful and shiny that we rushed to share it with our son before it was fully dry. Since we used a thick coat, we should have waited even longer than 24 hours. My son’s foot marred the paint a bit, but overall it still looks great.
The total cost for the wagon after buying the paint was $17.00, compared to $90.00 retail! Already, we are so happy with our purchase. Roscoe pulls the wagon around the backyard filled with leaves and sits in it for neighborhood walks. We used it at his birthday party to haul food to the picnic table and provide free rides. It’s pretty wonderful to think that this little gem was saved from a landfill only to provide us with years of sturdy service.
Check out the creative cost-saving, eco-friendly posts below for more enlightenment this Thrifty Green Thursday. Anyone’s welcome to join us, just read the directions on how to get started and jump in. Thanks for stopping by!