It’a Thrift Green Thursday time at Green Baby Guide. They want to know what we’ve done to be thrifty and green, and I figure that fits my life just about perfectly. So what have we done? It’s been an evolving process for us over the years. I was raised to be very thrifty, and pretty green (I remember my mother carting van-loads of stuff to the recycle center long before recycling was cool – there was no curbside pickup of recycling back then). But I’ve come a long way since the days of Rave hairspray and glittery green eye shadow.
My husband and I bought our house in 2003. It’s about 1300 square feet, and we intended it to be a starter house. Once we got settled, we found that we really liked it, and didn’t want to move. We didn’t want a bigger mortgage, and we didn’t want to waste energy heating and cooling a larger place. So we did a little remodeling and made it work. We’re now a family of three, and still in our “starter house” – where we plan to stay. Not quite as impressive as Derek and his family, but it’s better than moving up to a 2200 square foot house.
Little by little, we’ve eliminated chemicals from our life. I use baking soda and vinegar to clean pretty much everything in our house, including the cloth diapers we use for our son (plus a tiny bit of eco-friendly detergent). I brush my teeth and wash my hair with baking soda, and use vinegar as conditioner. Baking soda is a lot cheaper than toothpaste and shampoo, and there’s no worries about what chemicals I’m sending into the water system.
We don’t use our dryer at all anymore. I have four clothes drying racks, and we just got a retractable clothesline at a garage sale for $1.50 last week. In the winter, I dry stuff on racks in the house – in the summer I set the racks outside. Cheaper, better for the world, and better for our clothes. Nuff said.
We also use the sun to cook our food – we bough a solar oven earlier this summer, and have used it almost every day since then. My husband makes our oatmeal in it every morning, and he’s also baked some amazingly good bread in it.
We just set up a hydroponic garden in our crawl space. Might not seem thrifty at first, since it was a bit expensive to get going. But we should break even within about 8 months, and after that we’ll be in the black. As far as being green, it’s a winner for sure. Homegrown veggies year-round, all organic, much less water usage than outdoor gardens, no transportation impact… it’s hard to beat.
I’m breastfeeding our son, and will continue until he’s at least a year old. Once he starts eating solids, we’ll be pureeing vegetables for him in our blender, and grinding up whatever we’re eating in a little portable food grinder. No baby food in tiny wasteful jars – it’s gotta be un-green to buy anything where the packaging takes up as much space as the contents of the container!! And it costs almost nothing to puree some veggies, freeze them in ice cube trays, and defrost at meal time.
My husband and I used to mountain bike several times a week, but that involved driving 30 minutes each way to get to the mountains. Now that we have our son, we’ve started trail biking instead. There are trails that start right behind our house – no driving involved. We strap our son’s car seat into the bike trailer and off we go. Great exercise, great price (free), great fun, and zero environmental impact. Not quite as thrilling as single track trails in the mountains, but we’re thrilled by different things these days. Like our son learning to laugh. And we both really like the fact that we’re no longer driving anywhere for our entertainment.
More and more we’re focused on our impact on the environment, and we’re actively trying to minimize that impact. We want our son to grow up with a great respect for nature and the world around us, and we also want him to be part of a family with a solid financial foundation. We’re working every day to mesh these two goals – and we find that more often than not, the green option is also the frugal option (solar panels are one exception we’ve come across lately, but we’re hoping that by the time we have enough money saved to buy them, the price will have come down a bit). You don’t have to make huge changes to be green, or to be frugal. Bike to work. Take shorter showers. Turn down your hot water heater. Use a drying rack. Keep the house a little warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter. Eat less meat. There are lots of little things that you can do that make a difference, both for the world and for your budget. Once you get started, you might find that you keep wanting to do more. That’s what happened with us, and we couldn’t be happier about it.