Posts filed under ‘eco-friendly’

Purging Unwanted Products: What Should I Do With Them?

Bubble BathA week or so ago I purchased baby bubble bath from an eco-friendly website that specializes in organic products. I’ve been slowly replacing all of the body washes, shampoos and other assorted bathroom products with safer versions. After ordering I decided to verify the products safety against the environmental working group’s database and found it was ranked with moderate hazards.

Of course I should’ve researched the product before I purchased it, but what can I say better late than never. I tried to cancel the order, but there didn’t seem to be an easy way to do that. My son only gets a bubble bath one night a week, and the product wasn’t rated too horribly, so I waffled back and forth between using it on him and getting rid of it.

As luck would have it the manufacturer shipped the wrong product. Rather than receiving the bubble bath I ordered I received a bottle of body wash, which was ranked much better. I was able to cancel the original order and keep the incorrectly shipped item free of charge.

But this got me thinking about all of the other products in our home. I’ve received my fair share of bath products as gifts from friends and family. Many of the products contain chemicals that I would prefer not to use anymore. So what should I do with them?

It seems like I have a couple of options:

  1. Use the products I currently own, but make certain not to buy or accept any more.
  2. Donate the products to a local shelter.
  3. Donate the products to my local donation center.
  4. Try to sell the products on eBay.
  5. Discard them (which would be incredibly wasteful)

I’m leaning towards donating the products I don’t want to use anymore. I certainly don’t want anyone else to use products with less than perfect ingredients, but I also know that there are a lot of people who need products like soap and shampoo.

I’m sure someone out there has been in a similar situation. Have you ever purged similar products in your home and if so what did you do with them?

October 10, 2013 at 12:28 PM 2 comments

Lured by the $1 Deals at Target

Last night, after my husband came home from work and we all ate dinner, I grabbed my wallet and sneakers and drove over to Target. I had a very clear agenda in mind: step into target and walk directly to the aisle with pool toys.

In mid to late summer you can typically find really great bargains on summer gear. In the past I’ve found sales offering up to 75% off. I like to buy floats and sand toys for guests who stay in my beach home each year. I want our renters to enjoy their stay as much as possible and what better way to enjoy a beach home then by spending the day digging in the sand or floating in the pool.

Sand toys tend to last from season to season, but unfortunately pool floats are an ongoing expense. Young kids can destroy even the most well made ones in a matter of days. I started purchasing the swimways spring floats a few years ago. They can cost as much as $25 at the peak of the summer season, but I like how they are constructed and how they have fewer components that kids can accidentally puncture.

I walked into the store with a very short time limit, (I needed to get home to help put my son to bed), and a very specific purpose, yet the minute I looked up from my cart I found myself perusing the $1 deal aisles.

Oh how those $1 deals lure me. On principal I try to avoid this particular section of the store. My reasons are twofold. First, I don’t typically need anything I find there and second most of the items are poorly made, but last night I could not resist the lure.

Once or twice a week I give my son play-dough as an after breakfast activity. Up until this point he shows interest in pulling the dough out of the container and squishing it, but after a minute or so he seems quite bored of it. I found all sorts of old cookie cutters to make shapes, but even the smallest ones seem quite big for his hands.

In the $1 section of Target I found a tiny bag of plastic cookie cutter like objects that were perfect for play-dough. They were brightly colored and just the right size for my son’s hands.  I put them in my cart then reconsidered after thinking they looked like cheap plastic that could easily break or at the very least end up in the landfill within a very short period of time. I walked around to the other side of the aisle and then walked back because I just couldn’t resist them.

I couldn’t find any pool floats on sale, but I picked up a few groceries in the store and waited in line to check out. As I stood there I kept eying that bag of cookie cutter shapes and trying to decide if I really wanted to buy them. It wasn’t so much about spending a dollar as it was about buying something that I know won’t last. When I reached the checkout counter I set aside my beliefs about money and the environment and let this one little bag of toys go.

This morning I pulled out that tiny bag of cookie cutter shapes and showed my son three or four of them. He chuckled in this ridiculous way he does when he’s unbelievably happy and played with play-dough for over an hour. He loved pressing those shapes into the dough and picked them up and pressed them back in over and over. He kept saying two-til, two-til, which is his version of turtle, but he was equally excited about all of the little shapes I gave him.

Was the bag of toys worth it’s $1 price tag? Probably not. Will the environment suffer a little? Possibly. Am I glad I purchased them anyway? Most definitely!

July 23, 2013 at 5:54 PM Leave a comment

Are You Willing to Spend More for Clean Energy?

A few weeks ago I received our rate renewal form from our electric supply company. I read over the documentation and noticed that there were two options available.

Here are the original rates in the renewal notice I received:

  • .0929 per kWH for 5% wind
  • .097 per kWH for 50% wind

As you can see if I want to receive 50% of my electricity from a renewable source, (in this case wind), I have to pay more per kWH hour. Here is some information on wind power from the company who provides my electricity.

Wind power, the world’s fastest growing energy resource, displaces conventional power, reduces carbon dioxide and your carbon footprint, and helps eliminate air pollution problems such as smog and acid rain. Plus, wind is an unlimited resource with an unlimited supply! 

I googled wind powered energy and after reading some very interesting details about wind farms I decided that I was willing to pay a higher premium for clean, renewable energy. Of course, before sending in the renewal form I called the electric supply company to inquire about rates. I also researched comparable rates for other companies offering clean energy alternatives.

Over the phone I was provided with the following rates:

  • .088 per kWH for 5% wind
  • .092 per kWH for 50% wind

I had already decided to select the 50% wind option, but hearing the new rate sealed the deal. I received the environmentally friendly choice at less than I would have paid for only 5% wind power, (.092 versus .0929), if I had sent in the original renewal form.

I certainly could have saved more money by choosing traditional energy sources, but from an environmental perspective I feel good about my decision.

So what about you? Would you be willing to spend more money for clean, renewable energy?

April 3, 2013 at 11:23 PM 1 comment

We Didn’t Save Any Money After All

Last year my husband and I had new windows and doors installed in our home. In fact, we had every exterior door and window replaced. We did this for two reasons. First, our old windows were absolutely abysmal. Many of the windows couldn’t be opened, a few of the panes were cracked and the screens in just about every one had holes that allowed bugs of all types to fly in. On nice warm days I was unable to open most of the windows and I couldn’t stand the fact that we couldn’t let in the fresh air.

In addition to comfort we renovated the windows in the hopes of saving a significant amount of money on our gas and electric bills. Our house was built in the 1950s and the windows were constructed of single pane glass that you could feel the cold air pushing through. In the wintertime our house was downright frigid. I thought for sure that our bills would shrink after the installation was complete.

Tonight I reviewed the past three years worth of utility bills and I’m afraid to say I see little improvement in the amount of money we shell out each month to heat and cool our home. I find it rather difficult to compare data from various years because I don’t know what the weather was like for each individual month.

It’s obvious that a very cold winter cannot be compared to a moderate one, because we probably cranked the thermostat up much higher. It’s also difficult to compare the data because we are keeping the house much warmer for our son than we ever did when it was just the two of us. Despite these differences I expected to see a fair amount of difference in usage, but unfortunately I don’t see much difference at all.

I’m curious if anyone else has ever installed windows and doors to provide greater energy efficiency. If so, did you have any success? I wonder if we have other areas of our home that our draining the heat and/or cold out of our home or if there are other culprits of our energy usage.

February 11, 2012 at 5:20 PM 8 comments

A Few Collective Buying Deals I Couldn’t Resist

I don’t typically participate in Black Friday. In fact, rather than buying lots of new stuff I typically spend the day cleaning out the house and gathering items for charity, but today I couldn’t resist a few collective buying bargains.

I purchased these deals:

November 25, 2011 at 11:55 PM 2 comments

When to Spend Money on the Healthier Alternative

Over the last year or two I started searching for alternative products that contain less harsh chemicals and ingredients. I’ve started looking more diligently for sales on organic cleaners and started searching the grocery store for organic fruits, veggies and meats.

Most of the time the organic/healthier alternative is quite a bit more expensive, so if I find a great deal I really stock up. When Harris Teeter ran a special on Seventh Generation products last year I printed out a bunch of dollar off coupons and loaded up. I filled my cart with five bottles of laundry detergent, six bottles of dish washing soap, four bottles of dish washing liquid, four bottles of cleaners and a few boxes of dryer sheets. After coupons some items were free and the rest cost just a dollar or two.

While I’m not a fanatic I do try to buy the organic version of products that I think really make a difference.

Of course now that I’m pregnant I’m even more careful about how I clean and consume. I always paint my nails when springtime arrives, but after reading about all of the chemicals in nail polish I’ve been hesitant to buy any.

I came across a brand of nail polish called Zoya, which is highly recommended for the lack of harsh chemicals like toluene, camphor, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), but each bottle costs $8 and that doesn’t include the cost of shipping.

While $8 certainly won’t break me, I find myself torn between the ‘price conscious’ part of me and the ‘environmentally conscious’ part of me. After all I can typically purchase a bottle of nail polish at the drug store on sale and with coupons for less than $1. Of course, in this case, one alternative is to do nothing at all. If I don’t want to paint my nails with toxic chemicals I can simply leave them unpainted, but I’m conflicted between leaving them unpainted or paying for the pricier alternative.

Nail polish is just one example. In fact, I find myself faced with this dilemma quite often. When presented with two items on the store shelf, I’m not always certain which to choose. Sometimes I pick the eco-friendly option and sometimes I opt for the cheaper price, but I almost always find myself hesitating before making my selection.

Am I the only one faced with this dilemma? How do you decide which product to choose and how often do you choose the healthier, more eco-friendly option?

May 15, 2011 at 3:20 PM 5 comments

I Feel the Weight of the World with Every Purchase

Is it just me or does a simple purchase seem much more complex these days? I head to the store in search of eggs, but I can’t figure out which carton to place in my basket. There’s store brand, regular, cage-free, all-natural and organic. What’s the difference between cage-free, all-natural and organic anyway?

As if that isn’t complex enough I’m not sure if I should bypass all of these offerings for a local carton at the farmer’s market. After all, I have no idea where any of these eggs came from or how much fuel it took them to get from there to here.

As I fill my cart with groceries I find myself repeating this same series of questions over and over. It starts in the produce section at the front of the store and continues all the way around to dairy.

Not so long ago I based all of my food purchases solely on price. I compared the prices of each carton of eggs, searched around for a coupon and picked up the one that cost the least. These days price is just one factor in the larger decision.

Now I’m forced to consider the overall health of the product and impact to the environment. After all I don’t want to contribute to polluting the earth or my body with pesticides and toxins. Is it better to buy local or organic? It’s a question that plagues me as I stare at the strawberries.

I started a box garden last year and added a few boxes this spring in hopes of growing produce in my own backyard. I purchased organic seeds and vowed not to spray anything on the tiny seedlings that are beginning to emerge, but those tiny gardens won’t exactly feed me for an entire summer, let alone all year.

So when did the simple act of buying eggs and strawberries become so difficult and what’s a girl to do in light of all of these options?

May 6, 2010 at 2:00 AM 10 comments

Due to the Recession the Shoe Cobbler’s Business is Booming

This afternoon I dropped off an old pair of shoes with a local shoe cobbler. I’m not positive, but I think I’ve owned this same pair of shoes since college. They aren’t special. They aren’t extraordinary. They are simply the most comfortable, black leather loafers I’ve ever worn. When I lived in the city I logged miles on these shoes. I walked back and forth from the metro to graduate school and from home to work and back again. Since that time those shoes have been through three different offices and a host of special occasions.

As I was cleaning out the clutter in my closet I pulled them aside and thought about getting rid of them. The trouble is that I’ve never found a pair quite like them. I’ve bought my fair share of black loafers since that time and believe me none have been as comfortable. In fact, right beside my old shoes sit two relatively new pairs that almost never see the light of day, because they just aren’t as comfy.

As part of my goal to get rid of 50 things I put the old shoes in a pile to be tossed, but as I boxed up the trash and bundled the items for goodwill I just couldn’t bear to get rid of them. Over the years the leather has faded and the tips have scuffed, but still I cannot let them go. Rather than discarding them I decided to take them to the shoe cobbler for repair. For twenty dollars he’ll replace the soles and polish the leather. I’m not sure how they’ll turn out, but I’m excited to see what he can do with them.

While I was in the store I noticed bags of shoes stocked to the ceiling. It seems the shoe cobbler’s business is booming as a result of the recent recession. He’s seeing more and more new customers and repairing more and more shoes. He said it costs a lot less to repair an old pair of shoes then it does to purchase new ones. He also said that the green movement is causing people to reconsider throwing items away just because they’ve gotten older.

I felt a strange sense of satisfaction dropping off those shoes this afternoon. I’m happy that my favorite pair of shoes will be repaired, I’m happy that I didn’t fill the landfill with another unwanted item and I’m happy that I brought business to the shoe cobbler who works in a disappearing industry. In fact, according to the Shoe Service Institute of America, there are just 7,000 shoe-repair shops left in the U.S., down from more than 120,000 during the Great Depression.

As a kid I can remember my father pulling out his brown and black polish kits and shining his shoes every other weekend. I remember him taking shoes to the cobbler for new soles on a number of occasions. In fact, I bet he had the same pair of shoes for over twenty years. I hope I can get my favorite pair to last another five or ten.

April 14, 2010 at 3:15 AM 3 comments

$15 for Five New Strands of LED Christmas Lights

I’ve been eyeing new Christmas lights for the last few years. I love the energy efficiency of LEDs, but I couldn’t bear the idea of throwing away perfectly good incandescent ones. I tried to donate our old lights but I couldn’t find a donation center willing to take them. It turns out that Christmas lights are synonymous with household fires and the centers didn’t want to take on the risk of selling them to anyone. So every time my husband and I passed by Christmas displays I’d point out the LED version and say “one day we need to make the switch.”

Well that time has finally come. It turns out that Home Depot is holding a Christmas Light Trade-In now through November 15th. If you take in your old, incandescent strands they’ll take $3 off your next purchase of LED lights (up to five strands).

At my local Home Depot the customer service representative told me to take the old Christmas lights up to the register along with the new lights I wanted to purchase. The cashier counted each incandescent strand, (five in total), and deducted $3 from each of the five boxes I purchased. Just like that I walked out of Home Depot with brand new LED Christmas lights and managed to send my old ones off to be recycled. Each box was less than $3.

I know some people are skeptical of whether or not companies actually recycle, but here are the details according to the Home Depot ad:

How Lights Are Recycled:
The light bulb coupler and the socket plug are manually clipped. Three byproducts result and four categories of raw materials. Each byproduct is independently shredded for separation, returning glass HDPE plastics, and non-ferrous copper as well as ferrous steel. The prepared separated raw materials are then sent to licensed smelters for re-casting or re-molding, all in accordance with local, state and Federal statutes.

I’m really happy my husband and I made the switch.

November 14, 2009 at 4:59 AM Leave a comment

An Eco-Friendly and Cost Conscious Laundry Alternative

I’m constantly on the search for products that benefit both the earth and my wallet. While searching for an alternative to laundry detergent and dryer sheets I came across the Complete Laundry System. The system includes one round laundry ball and two pointy shaped dryer balls.

The laundry ball is placed into your washing machine without any laundry detergent. I wondered how this tiny little laundry ball could clean my clothes without any soap. According to the manufacturer the tiny ball creates an energy field when agitated in the machine, which thins the water and helps it move through the fibers of your clothing.

I will admit that I was skeptical at first. I stuck the ball in a dirty load of laundry with some of my husband’s stinkiest t-shirts. I thought for sure that they would still smell when I pulled them from the washer, but as unbelievable as it may seem the clothes came out smelling fresh and clean.

Then I tried the dryer balls. My husband and I actually hang all of our laundry to dry on a pipe in the basement, but we do run the clothes through the dryer on ‘air’, with a dryer sheet, just to fluff them and get the wrinkles out. My husband was very skeptical of the balls and claimed they wouldn’t soften the clothes the way he likes. We tossed the dry laundry into the dryer and added the two pointy shaped balls. Fifteen minutes later we pulled out soft, wrinkle-free shirts. Admittedly the clothes weren’t quite as soft as they are when using dryer sheets, but they were plenty soft and wrinkle free.

The best part about the Complete Laundry System is that the dryer balls are designed to last a lifetime and even more importantly they replace those awful dryer sheets! The laundry ball is designed to last at least three years or 2,000 washes, whichever comes first.

Mystic Wonders has kindly offered a Complete Laundry System to one reader of One Frugal Girl. For an opportunity to win please leave a comment below telling me why you’d like to try this product. This giveaway will end Monday, May 18th.

** This giveaway is now closed. The winner has been contacted and has 48 hours to respond to my email. If I do not receive a response within 48 hours another winner will be chosen.

May 7, 2009 at 10:45 PM 43 comments

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