by Tammy Taylor~
We all wanna be gentle on the earth, right? I mean c’mon, none of us open our sleepy eyes, stretch & yawn and stumble to the kitchen to sip our coffee while quietly contemplating how to single-handedly destroy the earth! But sometimes the big picture is just so… BIG. “What could I possibly do to make a difference?” you might wonder. Or you may have no idea just where to start.
Well let me tell you, it’s easy to start right where you are! Remember it’s the many little things you do every day that come together to make something big. And here’s a very pleasant surprise – it often saves you a little cold, hard cash too! Take my week for instance, here are 5 easy things I’ve done this week to save some money and the environment too!
Cook from scratch
Yeah, yeah, yeah we’ve all heard it. Cook from scratch and you’ll save money and eat healthier. blah-blah-blah. Yeah, but who’s got time for that??
Well our lives here are busy as can be here on the homestead let me tell ya. Especially this time of year with calves, bees, chickens, gardening, community obligations and more! Still I’m able to serve a delicious homemade meal most days. But heck, there’s no need to start over each and every night cooking a homemade meal from scratch.
Here’s my secret: Cook-Once, Eat-Twice. You know, as in if you’re cooking a meatloaf, fill that dang oven UP. I squeeze in 4 meatloaves when I’m craving meatloaf. That way after tonight’s dinner is enjoyed I can divide the other meatloaves up into serving sizes, label & freeze. All those entrees are opportunities for homemade meals as close as my freezer – add a couple of sides and BOOM!
Or how about Planned Leftovers? That’s when you cook a pork roast for instance with plans to turn leftover cooked meat into completely different meals on future nights. Roast is enjoyed the first night, then Carnitas Tacos another night and maybe Pulled-Pork Enchiladas yet another night. The meat’s already cooked – just add seasonings and maybe a can of diced tomatoes or something and a brand new entree is DONE!
Using these two methods have extremely simplified my ability to serve home-cooked meals almost every night. Yes, money is saved and waste is reduced too.
Bonus points here because, as I do each week, I made a half-gallon of Homemade Yogurt too. Plus I make them in single-serve reusable glass canning jars so there’s no trash!
Free Bark Mulch For The Garden
I like to use flattened paper feed sacks in the walkways of my garden to keep down the weeds. Work smarter, not harder #amiright??!! But heavy printed paper is not attractive and I like my garden to be a lovely tranquil place. So I top those heavy flattened feed sacks with bark mulch for pretty yet maintenance-free walking paths between my planting rows.
Now that’s a lot of mulch needed. Several hundred dollars even – every stinkin’ year! I’ve written before about how I Score Bark Mulch for Free, this year is no exception. Since we were headed into a nearby city anyway to run errands, we tossed 6 huge lidded tubs (which are empty cattle-supplement tubs repurposed to this use for FREE!) into the truck and scooped up huge amounts of shredded bark mulch for nothing, nada, gratis FREE. Oh yeah, free is certainly in my budget!
Once we got home I laid another thick layer of paper feed sacks over the old pathways and topped it with this new mulch. No expensive plastic bags of mulch were needed, saving money & the environment at the same time!
Combine On-The-Road Errands
As I mentioned we were headed several miles away to another city to run errands. We grouped those errands all together to be done on one day instead of driving back & forth over several days. Not only is less time on the road an environmental score, but our errands kept some cold, hard cash in our pockets where it belongs!
The first stop was the Tax Office. We’d noticed our taxes were increasing every year but we expect that – things go up. But this year we figured enough is enough & scheduled an appointment with an appraiser to find out what was going on. Come to find out we were able to reduce our annual taxes by over $120. Score!
The next stop was our Insurance company – Texas Farm Bureau is our insurance company (we LOVE them, by the way!!) I know it’s a good idea every couple of years to sit down with your agent and make sure you’re still adequately insured without paying too much. As it turns out, we reduced our annual premiums over $140 by tweaking a few things we weren’t really using while strengthening a few things we felt we needed better protection on. It never hurts to ask!
Even laundry day was inexpensive & green as well this week. I’ve made my own Homemade Laundry Detergent for years using only 3 ingredients. I can whip it up in minutes and be ready to go. I only use 1-2 Tablespoons per load so a little goes a loooooong way.
And for those items such as cloth napkins or guest towels when I want a little extra scent, I even have my own Laundry Scent Booster. It leaves a soft, gentle scent, not the overpowering smell of the commercial stuff. And it costs only pennies and one minute to make!
And of course after the washing machine is done I hang our clean clothes out on the line to dry under that gorgeous blue Texas sky. (breathes deeply…) There’s no better aroma in the world to me than the smell of sunshine on crisp, clean sheets!
Plus our clothes aren’t beat to shreds by a dryer (where do you think dryer lint comes from?) and I’m not paying for the dryer to go droning on for hours at a time each laundry day, spinning our electric meter like a top. Good for the wallet – good for the environment!
Solar Energy To The Rescue!
Y’all know we’re beekeepers. But when you enjoy raw, unfiltered honey, sooner or later it’s gonna crystallize. That crystallization is perfectly normal and changes only the texture of your honey. But to melt those crystals back down to the smooth deliciousness you crave, simply slowly heat the jar of honey gently (DON’T try this with plastic!).
All our honey is stored in glass canning jars. So when it starts to crystallize I simply place the jar out in that Texas sun and it heats enough to melt the crystals.
Oh, and sun tea? Yeah! All it takes is a repurposed jar filled with filtered water & a family-sized tea bag. I place it on the picnic bench and the sun brews it for me for free. A much more healthy drink choice than colas with no trash and using no purchased energy to brew. Yea, SUN!
So there ya go, 5 easy, quick things we did this week that saved money AND the environment. Now’s your turn to crow – what did you do this week to save money and the environment at the same time?