Making Homemade Non-Chlorine Bleach

Mildew is my nemesis, but I much prefer it to the fumes of chlorinated bleach. Even though chlorine is very hard on the environment and our health, it’s found in a wide variety of household cleaners—all of which I’ve now replaced with homemade versions.  The one hurdle we hadn’t quite overcome was bleach. So the last time we desperately needed to clean out the shower I asked my husband to purchase chlorine-free bleach to save the environment and my nose.

When we read the label on the container we were a bit shocked.  The ingredients were simply hydrogen peroxide and water.  Why then did we pay too much when we could have made it ourselves? 

(more…)

Set Up Your Kitchen Garden—and Save!

It’s spring—time to dream of ripe tomatoes and sugar snap peas.  You can grow them yourself and save hundreds on organic produce with a few tips and a bit of inspiration.  Our first post in a four part series on organic home gardening will focus on garden materials and the money you can save once you do. 

You don’t have to invest hundreds of dollars to get results.  In fact, you may be able to get started with a very modest investment that will yield you a harvest for several weeks. 

Today’s contributors, Mara Reynolds and Caitlin Blethlen are expert gardeners with plenty of tips to share.  Mara works with Portland Community Gardens to further support gardening in the city. This tremendous program allows families to rent garden plots, learn how to preserve food, and get their children involved in gardening.  Caitlin is the Youth Gardening director for Growing Gardens, a non-profit dedicated to helping low-income, urban families grow their own food.

(more…)

Make a Living Easter Basket and Avoid Plastic Easter Grass

Don’t we all hate that plastic Easter grass that ends up trailing through our living room and getting tangled into our holiday baskets?  This year you can actually grow your own grass in your baskets and get your young ones involved in the process.  I found this idea in Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. 

It’s best to start this project now since it will take a few weeks for the grass to sprout.  

You’ll need:

  • Easter baskets(check my next post for where to get great deals on these)
  • Plastic produce bags or bread bags(the ones that can’t be recycled)
  • A packet of rye grass seeds
  • Potting soil
  • (more…)

Fixing Lunch: Lunchsense Boxes Are A Great Solution for Eating on The Go

The financial and environmental impact of  simply preparing a homemade meal rather than submitting to prepackaged products  is astounding, but having the right tools to efficiently pack home blended baby food or work lunches is half the battle.  Our next two Thrifty Green Thursday posts are dedicated to a great product that grew out of a mom’s frustration with packing her children’s school lunches.  Mother of three, Nancy Myers, found a way to “fix lunch” by creating Lunchsense lunchboxes. 

The boxes are made of fabric and unsnap to create a clean eating surface that can be easily wiped down.  Inside are stored several locked leak-proof plastic containers that kids can easily open.  They might seem a bit pricey at first, but they’ll quickly pay themselves off if they help you skip even a handful of meals out.  Since Nancy lives right here in my hometown I had the chance to interview her myself.  Read on to find out more!

(more…)

Buying Oversized Clothing

Want an eco-friendly, budget friendly solution to keeping your child’s clothing costs in check?  Buy big!  I’ve found that buying clothes a size or two (or four!) bigger for my son works in a myriad of ways. 

  • Bigger pants accommodate cloth diapers. When he was smaller, we just rolled up the cuffs a bit.  Now that he’s potty training, they will be able to fit him for at least another six months with plenty of room around the waist!  Check out Rebecca’s post on managing cloth diaper bulk for more ideas.  
  • Used clothing has often shrunk after several washings.  Now when I search for secondhand duds at thrift stores, I’ll often buy 4T-6T shirts.  They fit him fine after I roll up the sleeves a bit.  They’ll last him at least a year and I won’t have to worry about shrinkage since they’ve already been washed several times.
  • (more…)

The Emergency Diapering/Snack Car Kit

You know how it happens: You’re strolling casually through the grocery aisles when suddenly a horrible stench fills the air and you realize that your diaper bag is still sitting on the living room floor.  What do you do?

Or you’ve just driven thirty minutes across town to run a set of coordinated errands only to have your little one erupt in sobs of hunger.  But she just ate!  You have no food, no spoons and now the choice to buy grub on the go or drive all the way back  home.  

We’ve had to buy baby food or toddler snacks, disposables, wipes and even a pair of pants once to deal with the short term emergencies created by our forgetfulness.  While these events were funny and even a bit adventurous, we finally realized that we needed a more proactive solution. 
(more…)

Saving Organic Milk From Going Bad: Re-Pasteurizing 101

At five to six bucks a gallon, it can be heart breaking to toss a gallon of sour milk down the drain.  After today’s post, you won’t ever need to do it again!  

When your milk begins to approach its due date, simply pour it into a microwavable container or a stovetop saucepan and heat it until it barely boils.  You’ll re-pasteurize the milk by killing the bacteria that would cause it to go bad.  It may strike a few of you as rather icky, but the truth is that when you finish it will last for another week or two.  
(more…)

Making Phone Calls to Streamline Errands

Before I had a child, I actually used to complain about the hassle of running errands.  I had no idea what hassle was!  Even a few stops at different stores tends to wear both of us out.  Lately though, I’ve figured out a way to save time, money and the planet: I use the phone!

Instead of driving all over town shopping for certain items, I call stores and talk to salespeople before I ever leave the house.  I check to see if an item is in stock, if it’s on sale, and if they can hold one for me at the register.  Then I breeze in and pick up whatever it was I  was hunting for.  
(more…)

Yumm Sauce Recipe Imitation

First of all, if you don’t know what the amazing Yumm Sauce is, you’ll have to check last week’s post for details.  It is a magical liquid that makes young and old alike beg for bowls of brown rice and beans–seriously!

Now I like to support our local Cafe Yumm just because I believe in their business and want to contribute, but some of you live across the country and will never be able to experience the wonder of Yumm Sauce for yourselves.   Hence, the reason for today’s recipe imitation.

This recipe comes from the site Chick Chat, written by a local mom right here in Eugene.  I can take no credit whatsoever for the following recipe or its authenticity, but I hope it’s as delicious as the real thing!
(more…)

Café Yumm: Baby-Friendly, Budget-Friendly, Earth-Friendly Fast Food

It’s winter, it’s cold and let’s face it—grease and salt is mighty appealing.  But fast food is loaded with packaging, unhealthy ingredients, and expense.  So how can we avoid it despite our cravings?  Enjoy a hearty bowl of brown rice and beans with a signature sauce from Cafe Yumm.

Brown rice and beans, you say?  How can that possibly be marketed to my family?  Here’s the truth: My husband loves beef, pizza, potatoes fried in a variety of ways, and everything else that passes as fast food, but he loves Café Yumm even more.   My son breaks down crying (often!) begging for “beans and rice please!” 

(more…)