Green Saves Money

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Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1982
Green Saves Money

There are specifi threads on specific topics, like canning, square foot gardening and permaculture, solar power, and woodburning stoves.  I thought we might all like to chip in on sustainable ways to save money tht do not quite fit into other categories, or cross post things that save us cash in the other places. There are several reasons.

  1. Done wrong, prepping can get expensive.
  2. Certainly, inflation is here, and hyperinflation may be on the way.
  3. Many of us are either unemployed or only working part time
  4. Those on fixed incomes are seeing negative real returns on their investments.
  5. You may be trying to cut costs to get out of debt or buy a major purchase.
  6. Who can't use a little more money at the end of the month?

None of us is as smart as all of us. I look forward to your contributions.

maceves's picture
maceves
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 281
save...onions

 If you already have a dehydrator---

Take a whole bag of onions, peel and slice.  Blanche in boiling water for a minute or two, cool with cold water.

If they are vidalias, spray with lemon juice or dunk in lemon juice so they don't discolor.  I use it anyway.  Dehydrate.  

Now you don't have to worry about spoilage or about that half onion in the back of the fridge.  They are also really handy.  If you have a way to remove oxygen they will last longer. (Oxygen absorbers, food saver, squeezing out air, etc.)  Somehow humidity seems to eventually make its way into plastic bags--canning jars seem to work better.

Or for whole onions--

Take a ladies pantyhose and add an onion, knot, add an onion, knot, add an onion, knot until its pretty full and you can hang them up in some dark dry cool place, maybe your food storage room.

 

 

 

 

maceves's picture
maceves
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 281
sewing---maybe not saving
I just got a new sewing machine to get back into an old hobby that I haven't had time for in a long time.  
 
I have been absolutely horrified by the price increases in  fabric, thread, sewing patterns, and notions.  One reason is that very little is produced in the U.S. now, so its all imported.  I know the floods raised the price of cotton, but  polyester and other fabrics have also gone up.   Another reason is that since so few people sew except for quilters, there isn't enough competition to keep prices down.  The only way I have found reasonable fabric prices is online and getting on coupon lists.  Imported clothing is selling for less than the raw materials as they are available normally here;  that of course does not include the value of  your labor which could add value or not.
 
That said, taking existing apparel and repairing or repurposing it could save money for someone who has the ablility and imagination to do it.  I have never ever paid for alterations on anything.  I have made fancy little girl dresses and cute patches on little boys ripped pants,  There was a time in my life when I had to  buy at the Salvation Army and make extensive alterations.
 
There is a learning curve to garment construction, and if you enjoy it you can count it as a hobby too.  While sewing is not economical for a person with a full work schedule, it is a good passtime to learn when you have the time.  
 
I think in the future there will be a place for someone with sewing skills, but for right now maybe not. 
maceves's picture
maceves
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Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 281
silver coins

 If you just want a few silver coins, go to a good coin shop.  The  price is about the same as Apmex, but you avoid the shpping costs.  I've found that they charge extra for credit cards and like to deal in cash for the best  price.

txgirl69's picture
txgirl69
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 20 2009
Posts: 96
re-usable salvage

1. At work we recycle lots of different stuff. I regularly pillage through the recycling to see if there is something I can re-use at home and save money. One  thing I've found - in some shipping crates there are pieces of white styrofaom sheets, about an inch thick. I have been collecting them so I can cut them to size and line the inside of my greenhouse during the winter. The white color will help reflect light during the dreary, Pac NW days, while keeping in a little solar warmth to grow a few veggies.

Maceves: I wish you lived near - I have a quilt that needs a good seamstress! And, your right about the coins too. I've bought a handful of old silver nickels and dimes from a local thrift store......

2. I have had quite a run on tomatoes the last couple of weeks, so I've been using the dehydrator (I'm a novice:) and putting the sliced tomatoes in old blue mason jars (I won't use them for canning) with re-usable plastic lids and an oxygen absorber in them. - Hopefully they will keep for a long while???

3. We have a light duty 6x12 trailer. Recently we went to buy fence supplies and noticed a fender was just about to depart on the highway(yikes!). Instead of spending money having it welded back on, get a couple of "L" brackets at the big box store and a few self-tapping screws and re-attach the fender from the underside - nobody knows any different

 

Hope this helps somebody!

katyan's picture
katyan
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 1 2009
Posts: 46
inexpensive, easy household cleaning

I've been gradually researching and replacing households products/chores over the past few years with an eye to long-term sustainability and self-sufficiency. My criteria for an ideal product are 1) it has to work, 2) non-toxic, 3) reusable and durable, 4) minimal negative impact in production, packaging, shipping and disposal, 5) locally/regionally sourced, and 6) inexpensive.

I recently discovered e-Cloth (www.ecloth.com) and absolutely love them! In a nutshell, e-cloths are a high-quality microfiber that can be used to clean almost anything around the house with just water. I had already ditched the commercial cleaners and was using primarily baking soda and vinegar, but now I rarely even use those...and get better results with less effort. I especially love how easy it is to clean glass. What is truly amazing is that they are proven to remove more pathogens than other cleaners, including bleach. The cloths last about 5 years and can be thrown into the washing machine or a pot of boiling water to clean them. I also bought their mop, which is a reusable thick e-cloth that velcros to a lightweight swivel head & handle. I probably detest mopping as much as anyone on the planet - heavy buckets of water, smelly cleaners, gross mop heads, cumbersome wringing mechanisms - and this thing almost makes it a pleasure. The only easier method might be the disposable mop cloths, which I don't find to work particularly well and refuse to use because of the ongoing expense and waste.

There is a bit of an upfront investment (I think the basic starter pack is about 20 bucks; I went whole hog and spent over $100 for a full range of products), but think of all of the chemicals, packaging, disposables saved over the years! And rather than smelling like a hospital, your house just smells like...well, a house. In all honesty, I don't know if the cloths are recyclable or where they're made, but I figure that the other benefits outweigh those unknowns.

Note that there's an MLM outfit that sells a similar product, but the e-cloths are much less expensive.

While I'm on the topic of cleaning, I'll also mention that I switched to soap nuts for my laundry over a year ago. They work great, cost about $0.04 per load, involve no plastic packaging and can be thrown on the compost pile when used up. I make up batches of liquid soap by boiling a few "nuts" in water, but you can also just toss them in the washing machine - they typically come with a small drawstring bag for that purpose. The ones that are commercially available come from the Asian Soapberry tree, which grows in Asia as you might guess. The good news is that they grow on marginal land that isn't suitable for other forms of agriculture and are extremely lightweight. The part that's used is the dehydrated seed cover...they're essentially little hollow balls. I've been investigating whether any of the soapberry trees that are native to North America are usable, or if the Asian variety can be grown here. I love the idea of growing my own soap!

In addition, I ditched liquid fabric softener for white vinegar and replaced disposable dryer sheets with rubber dryer balls with great results - and a whole lot less money. White Wizard is a great non-toxic all purpose stain/spot remover, and Oxy-Clean works well as a replacement for chlorine bleach, especially for organic stains. Oxy-Clean probably isn't any cheaper, but chlorine is a VERY nasty chemical in every phase of its life cycle.

katyan's picture
katyan
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 1 2009
Posts: 46
sewing resources

I'm also just returning to sewing after a long absence and have been appalled by the poor selection and quality of fabrics, as well as the cost. You're right that the fabric stores all cater to the quilters and crafters rather than people making clothes. And everything seems to be made of polyester.

I used to belong to a fabric "club" that would send out samples of wonderful high quality fabrics four times per year, but I haven't seen anything like that recently. If you care to post any of the better online resources you find, it would be appreciated. I'm just beginning to explore alternatives again after a few frustrating trips to the local stores and will share any good resources that I find. The idea of re-purposing used clothing is an excellent one, although I haven't done that since college days. I've heard of local events where folks get together to exchange and repurpose used clothing. A bag of clothes is the price of admission and they have sewing machines set up on site. It looks like great fun!

The price of patterns now seems really outrageous to me. I've started buying multi-purpose/size ones such those by Brown Paper Patterns and am picking up books on designing my own.

maceves's picture
maceves
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 281
sewing supplies

 Katyan---

     I have found two online fabric suppliers that have very good fabrics and very good customer service:  Fabric.com out of Atlanta has a good selection and free shipping for orders over $35.00.  Fabricmart.com in New York has very good designer fabrics and has a lot of sales.  They also have mystery bundles if you dare.  While both of them do photograph and describe their merchandise, you really have to know your fabrics so that you won't be disappointed.  They both send coupons and offers to keep you coming back.

     If you get on the mailing and e-mail lists for JoAnne Fabrics and Hancock Fabrics,  they will send you coupons that you can use either online or in the store.  Sometimes they have sales on patterns, either a percent off or a fixed price.  Since some of them are priced at $17.00 apiece, getting a $1.99 deal is nice.  Hobby Lobby sometimes has sales too.

     I have been looking for a place to find zippers and notions for  less. I haven't placed an order, so I can't vouch for anyone yet.  Paying more than a dollar for a zpper just seems wrong to me.  I remember when JoAnne's used to have big bins of thread on sale.  Not any more.  I have lots of button jars;  Paying $4.00 for a card of four buttons does not appeal to me either.

     Some people go to yard sales and pick up odd sewing stuff.  I haven't tried  that, but if grandma's sewing stash is getting cleaned out, it would be good to capitalize on it.

     I have also found  that if you click around you can find excellent sewing tutorials on the internet for free.  Whatever their agenda, the instruction is still good.  

Mary

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1982
sewing to save money

Wow, great posts so far! Yes, fabric has gotten expensive, and it will only get worse. Thanks for the tips. Here are mine on the topic of clothing/sewing:

I sometimes make a pattern from a favorite item of clothing that is too stained, fabric worn or ripped to continue wearing. You just take it apart at the seams.

As far as inexpensive fabric, my stepdaughter has worked for Hancock fabrics for 12 years, and she not only recommends the mail/email list for Hancock but suggests you look in the clearance area and remember that seasonal things are always cheaper right after the season has passed. But her big tip for cheap fabrics is to go to thrift stores and buy gently-used prom-type gowns for fabric to sew things like blouses. She also recommends buying cotton yardage as flat bed sheets, on sale.

We have our eyes on a non-electric sewing machine, but I have to save up $400 for it (it's worth it, in perfect condition and an antique.)

Here is a weird one. You know how bath towels go on sale cheap but they kill you on the price of washcloths and hand towels? In a pinch, or if things go pear-shaped, you can make numerous washcloths or several hand towels from one towel with a pair of scissors and some yarn. Blanket-stitch the yard around the edges of the washcloth-shaped or hand-towel shaped piece of terrycloth and you're good to go.

Let us know about the soap nut tree - I want one, too! And here is another way to save money on your laundry:

We just put this in: the True Value hardware chain carries the pulleys and the clothespins. Don't make the stupid mistake we did and want until your pole is installed before you add the bolt, hook and pulley from a ladder! We should have installed the hardware before setting the pole in concrete. Duh.

maceves's picture
maceves
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 281
Use the freezer!

 The freezer doesn't just have to be for long term storage.  Rice, pasta, beans,  and soups can can be frozen after they are cooked, even if it is just for a few days to come back for lunch during the week.  That can even be a plan---like making extra lentil soup and dividing into smaller freezer containers for later.  

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