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Living Green in a Tough Economy

When things get tough, the tough get creative! And in my opinion, green living is all about being creative in order to utilize your and the planet’s resources most efficiently. So here are my top tips for living green in a tough economy:

Rediscover your library. Why buy books when you can borrow them? I never buy books without checking them out from the library first. Plus libraries have movies to borrow too. They don’t always have the latest releases though, but it’s a fun way to reconnect with the classics. If it weren’t for the library I would have never seen most of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies.

Rescue a pet! Promised your children (or yourself) a pet? Check out petfinder.com. It has all the animals being kept shelters and rescues and it kept impeccably up to date. We’ve found both our rescues through this website.

Keep grocery costs down by:

-Shopping at farmer’s markets! I find that farmer’s markets are 50 – 75% less expensive than shopping in stores. Plus, when you buy at farmer’s markets you are ensuring that your produce isn’t traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to get to you thus cutting down on air pollution and global warming.

-Starting your own garden: If you are even more ambitious you can start your own garden! Start small with herbs and go from there. If you only have room for one fruit tree, get a “citrus salad” or an “stone fruit salad” tree where they graft a bunch of different fruits onto a single trunk.

-Buying fewer packaged/processed foods. They cost way more than making the food yourself, and they are usually loaded with lots of bad stuff anyway!

Vacation Locally Stay local and explore your home town. When was the last time you went to your local botanical garden, museum, or camp site? Why not rediscover them?

Be creative with what you have! A lot of people come into my store looking for eco-friendly cups for their children. My recommendation? Use small glass jars like jelly jars! First of all there is the obvious benefit of the fact that they cost you nothing AND glass is completely food safe, but there are many other benefits too. The glass is often thicker than traditional cups so not so easy to break, they are perfectly sized for small hands AND it comes with a lid in case you want to close it up. I also use glass jars to store leftovers and dry goods in my cupboards. Note: wait until food is cool before storing in glass jars if you aren’t sure if they are tempered (like Pyrex.)

Buy things that last and if you can, buy them used! A customer came in looking for something to replace her non-stick coated cookware. I recommended cast iron. Not only is cast iron inexpensive, but it lasts FOREVER (you’ll pass it on to your children) and if you camp you can take your cast iron with you. Also, cast iron is super easy to find used. Check out a thrift store near you. Keep your cast iron non-stick by keeping it well “seasoned” by cleaning with nothing more than a wipe-off with a damp cloth. If you have some baked on food that’s not coming off simply put some water in the skillet and put it on the stove with low heat. When the warm water has loosened the food, scrape it off with a non-metal spatula. If your skillet needs to be re-seasoned, coat with canola or coconut oil (high temperature points makes them good for this) and put in an oven set for 200 for 3-hours. You can tell a well-seasoned piece of cast iron because of its shiny (oily) black surface. Trust me, cast iron is super easy to work with, you just need to get used to it. It also has the added benefit of including trace amounts of iron in your food (safe cooking and vitamins too!)

Buy things that are multipurpose and have a solid “end of life” plan. A mother came in looking for a non-toxic option to traditional crib mattress covers, which are used to protect the mattress from pee and often have very un-eco vinyl in them. I recommended an organic wool puddle pad. Wool is super absorbent and thick so it will hold a lot of moisture without letting it soak into the mattress. Yes it costs more, but when it’s done serving as a mattress cover it can be a blanket or a play mat. When it’s done doing that it can be pet bedding or you can make it into coasters or stockings. And when it’s done with that? It biodegrades! When you are done with a vinyl mattress cover it can’t do all those other things and it’s destined for nowhere but the landfill. Plus, it’s off-gassing while your baby is sleeping on it.

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