Category Archives: Eco Friendly Home

51 Money Saving Ideas For Eco Friendly Living

51 Money Saving Ideas For Eco Friendly Living

One of the wonderful things about being eco friendly is that it often saves you money too. It’s really not the time consuming, expensive challenge many think it is. There are lots of simple, money saving things you can do to be a little kinder to the planet.

In the Home

1. Change your lightbulbs

As your lightbulbs burn out, switch them for CFLs or even LEDs. These may cost more, but should make it up nicely in savings. CFLs and LEDs can use 25%-80% less energy than incandescent bulbs and may last 3-25 times longer.

programmable thermostat

2. Use a programmable thermostat and watch your settings

A programmable thermostat can help you save money by changing its settings on a schedule. Your house doesn’t need to be kept at the same temperature when you’re away for hours or when you’re sleeping. It saves the trouble of turning the thermostat up or down yourself throughout the day.

Also try keeping your home a little warmer in summer and cooler in winter. For my family, a slightly warmer house means the kids are a little more willing to go outside during the summer. A house that rarely runs the air conditioner isn’t as much fun to stay in as one that is kept cooler. I like that little benefit too. My air conditioner doesn’t turn on until 84 degrees, which is comfortable when you’re used to it and use fans.

3. Shield windows that let in a lot of heat

If you know which windows let in too much summer heat, block them during the day. This can be as simple (and ugly) as putting large pieces of cardboard in the window. A mylar film can also help – the cheap way is to cut up a mylar emergency blanket. If you want things to look better, consider insulating window coverings.

4. Use fans instead of air conditioners

As I said above, I use my air conditioner very little. Ceiling fans, stand fans, box fans, whatever you have available, it’s cheaper to use than your air conditioner, and it’s amazing how much cooler air feels when it’s moving around the room.

ceiling fan

5. Dress warmer in winter

Rather than heat the entire house in winter, dress a little warmer. It’s much cheaper to put on that sweater you already own than to pay for the energy to run the heater.

6. Check your furnace and air conditioner filters

The filters for your furnace and air conditioner gather dust as they’re used – that’s kind of the point. But over time the dust makes them less efficient and make your units work harder. Consider whether you want a filter than can be cleaned and put back in rather than disposable filters – the reusable ones cost more upfront but will save you money over time.

7. Check your weatherstripping

Weatherstripping around your doors and windows works best when it’s in good condition. It will make heating or cooling your home more efficient by limiting how much air escapes from your home.

8. Use the dishwasher

Generally speaking, the dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Modern dishwasher detergents even work better if you don’t do an excessive amount of rinsing, as they react with the food particles left on there. Don’t leave chunks of food, of course.

9. Wash clothes in cold water

Most modern detergents don’t need warm water to work – cold is just fine for them. Sometimes hot water is worse for stains, as it can set them rather than remove them. Save warm or hot water washes for when they’re needed, such as for family members with allergies who need to be sure that dust mites don’t survive in the laundry.

clothesline

10. Line dry your clothes in warm weather

If the weather is warm enough line dry your clothes when possible. If the weather is really hot, this can be about as fast as using your dryer, but doesn’t cost anything beyond the costs of the clothesline and clothespins.

Some homeowner’s associations don’t allow clotheslines, which is really a pity. Yes, clothes out drying are unattractive, but they shouldn’t be out all the time. Oh, and put your underwear and such in the middle row, between other things you’re drying, if you don’t want the neighbors to see them.

11. Install low flow faucets aerators

Low flow faucets aerators will help you use less water for many purposes. It won’t make a difference if you’re filling up a pot, but will help when you’re washing your hands.

12. Install low flow showerheads

If you don’t already have a low flow showerhead, you probably use more water than you need during your shower. If you want to go even a little better, choose one that allows you to decrease or increase the water flow during your shower – mine has an extra control that allows the water to be turned way down when I don’t need a lot, such as when lathering up.

13. Install low flow toilets

Low flow toilets can use quite a bit less water than conventional toilets. Most do a good job handling solid wastes. If you’re concerned, or want to try saving still more water, look into a dual flush toilet, which uses still less water for liquid waste, but has a high volume flush that is still efficient for solids.

14. Fix water leaks

Water leaks don’t seem like much more than a minor annoyance, but they can waste gallons of water a day. Most are easy to fix on your own – just make sure you turn off the water first. There are plenty of videos and instructions online to help you do the work… or call the plumber if that’s too much outside your comfort zone.

15. Charge your devices on a power strip

Many people have a regular place where they charge their cell phones, tablets and laptops. If you put the chargers on a power strip, you can turn it off when you aren’t charging anything, which saves electricity. You might not unplug your chargers between uses, but the chargers still use electricity even without the device plugged in. Using a power strip takes care of that phantom load, provided you turn it off when you’re done charging.

16. Turn off computers overnight

It’s not too uncommon to leave your computer on overnight, but turning it off can save money. At the very least, make sure that your power settings save as much energy as possible once you’ve left it alone for 10-15 minutes.

17. Pay bills online and go to paperless billing

Paying bills online is easy and cheaper than buying stamps to mail your payments in. Many companies even let you schedule your payments to go in automatically, so you don’t have to think about them so long as you have enough money to pay in your account.

18. Rent tools you rarely need

If you need a tool for a project and aren’t likely to need it again for some time, look into renting it rather than buying one new. Home Depot rents a wide range of tools for various projects, for example. You could also try borrowing from a neighbor so long as you’re sure to return it promptly and in good condition.

19. Make your water heater more efficient

Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees. That’s hot enough for most purposes. You can also buy an insulating blanket for your water heater so that it doesn’t have to heat the water as often. Remember you can turn the water heater down when you go on vacation – not like you need hot water when you aren’t home.

20. Make your own cleaning supplies

Many cleaners are cheap and easy to make at home. MY favorite ingredient to use is vinegar. Watered down and put in a squirt bottle, it replaces many other cleaners. Baking soda is good when you need an abrasive, and there’s a helpful reaction if you spray vinegar on top of it. Best of all, such ingredients are much safer around kids and pets.

21. Replace old appliances with Energy Star models

As the time comes to replace your old appliances, make sure you choose Energy Star models to replace them. This rating is available for many appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, TVs, computers and more.

Cooking/Dining

22. Eat out less

From bringing lunch to school or work to just eating more meals at home, eating out less can save a lot of money. It’s also a good way to know what’s going into your food. There’s also less food waste when you eat out less.

chayote squash soup

23. Cook from scratch

There are times when using prepared foods in your kitchen is a real help. However, these foods are usually less healthy, cost more and have more packaging to throw into the trash than foods you make from scratch. Meals you make yourself usually taste better too.

24. Eat less meat

Meat is usually one of the most expensive ingredients in meals. Meat production creates a lot of greenhouse gases, so eating less of it is good for the environment as well as your wallet. It takes time to learn how to cook more meatless meals, but there are plenty of resources out there:
http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/healthy-habits/meatless-recipes
http://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g1186/vegetarian-recipes-0309/
http://www.marthastewart.com/274485/quick-meatless-recipes/@center/276948/dinner-tonight
http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/healthy-meals/meatless-recipes

25. Eat your leftovers

Most Americans waste a lot of food, especially when it comes to leftovers. You can pack up leftovers for easy lunches, or even freeze meals that reheat well so you don’t have to eat the same thing over again right away.

26. Use a pressure cooker

A pressure cooker can be used to greatly decrease cook times, up to 70%. That means they use less energy to cook your meals. You can cook roasts, chicken, soup, chili, desserts and more. I like to pressure cook artichokes.

27. Quit using paper towels

Paper towels are convenient yet wasteful. Cloth towels are generally better at cleaning up spills and cheaper to use.

28. Don’t use disposable dishes

Do your best to avoid using disposable dishes. While this is difficult when you go on a picnic or have a lot of guests over, it’s not impossible.

29. Use cloth napkins

Rather than use paper napkins, make the switch to cloth. They cost more initially, but will save money in the long run. Keep a nice set for company, and don’t stress too much about stains on the ones you use daily. Cloth napkins don’t add that much to your laundry – mine would be a very small load if washed alone, but they aren’t. They get washed with other things.

30. Use reusable drink bottles

From your daily coffee to drinking water, providing your own reusable container is better than getting something that has to be thrown out. Some coffee shops will give you a small discount if you provide your own cup.

I adore my stainless steel water bottle. Not only will it last just about forever, but I can go anywhere and carry it, rather than look for a drinking fountain or buy bottled water. Mine is insulated, so even if I leave it in the car for a time on a hot day, my water is still cool.

31. Plan your meals

Another source of food waste is forgetting to use ingredients you’ve already bought. Plan your meals before you hit the grocery store, not after, so that you have the ingredients you want when you want them. It’s so wasteful to think you’re going to use that broccoli in a meal, only to realize that it went bad before you got to it. Much better to buy it, knowing what day you’ll use it and what you’ll use it with.

32. Buy in bulk when reasonable

If it’s reasonable, buy things in bulk. Obviously, if it’s something that will go bad before you can use it, bulk is a bad idea. It’s also bad if you don’t have storage for it. But when storage and spoilage aren’t a problem, bulk saves money and product packaging as a general rule. It also means you don’t have to buy that item at the store as often.

For You & Your Family

library

33. Borrow books from the library

Borrowing books from the library is a great way to keep up on your reading without spending a fortune. Many even allow you to borrow ebooks on your Kindle or other device. Some also rent movies on DVD.

34. Check out resale and thrift stores before buying new

Resale and thrift stores can have great finds at great prices for clothes and other items. It may take some time to find the right shops for your tastes, but that can be part of the fun.

35. Make your own skin care products

Many store bought skin care products aren’t as kind to your skin as they should be, and may contain chemicals that do more harm than good. It’s easy to make certain kinds of skin care products in your own home, and they’re often wonderful for your skin.

36. Make your own shampoo

Homemade shampoo is easy to make. Some go as simple as using baking soda to wash their hair and use an apple cider vinegar rinse. It works well for some people, but others say it can be damaging. There are recipes for pH balanced homemade shampoos out there as well.

Outdoors/In the Garden

37. Plant trees

Trees in your yard can help save money by shading your home in summer. Plant them where they’ll help keep the worst of the sun away during the summer. Trees also make the house look better, and if you plant fruit trees you even get some fresh food out of the deal. That said, fruit trees may not grow tall enough to be great shade trees. Still, there’s nothing like fresh picked fruit from your own tree.

38. Grow your own vegetables

I admit it, our luck at this one has been horrible lately – chalk it up to poor soil and a cinderblock fence that tends to overheat the plants in our garden area. But when it works, you get delicious vegetables you’ve grown yourself, and it can save you money.

The key here is to not overspend on setting up your garden. Don’t spend a fortune setting things up, especially if you’re a beginner. Start simple and build it up over time.

Tomatoes are generally easy to grow, as are some salad greens. We’ve had some luck with some volunteer strawberries which appeared in our garden a few years ago – seriously, we didn’t plant them, but they grow really well for us.

39. Compost

Composting is especially good if you’re already growing your own garden. You end up with wonderful fertilizer for your garden, all from things you were throwing out anyhow. Be aware of what you put in – meats and such may attract rodents, but yard waste and uncooked vegetable scraps are generally okay. You can also compost cardboard and many other things. provide links

If you don’t have a garden, many communities now have yard waste or composting bins. They may be very limited or very generous in what they accept – check first.

40. Xeriscape and use native plants

Xeriscaping can cut down your outdoor watering costs tremendously. Changing your landscaping can have significant initial costs but can pay back when you rarely have to water. If you live in an area where droughts are a problem, check with your city or water district for incentives to xeriscape. Incentives can take a nice chunk out of the expense.

mulch

41. Mulch

Using mulch around your plants cuts down on weeds and cuts down on how much water they need by trapping moisture in the soil.

42. Get a rain barrel

A rain barrel can help keep the cost of watering your yard down. This can be great if you’re in a drought prone area. It’s not a lot of water unless you get really serious about your rain barrels – 50 or so gallons go quickly, but it’s a help. Please check the laws in your area – you aren’t allowed to capture rainwater in some areas.

43. Mow your lawn with a reel mower

Using a reel mower rather than an electric one or gas powered one can save a lot of money, and current reel mowers aren’t that hard to use. They’re also much quieter than powered mowers.

Driving/Transportation

44. Carpool

Carpooling to and from work is best if you have coworkers who live nearby and are on the same schedule. It isn’t for everyone. However, when it works you get to split the gas bill, have a little company on the way to work, and pollute less. When you can make carpooling work, it’s a really great deal all around.

45. Bike to work

This only works if your work is close enough and if you can handle being a little sweaty after your ride. Still, it can be a good money saver plus you won’t need to spend so much time in the gym.

46. Use public transportation

If you live in a region with good public transportation, this is one of the best ways to get to work and possibly to run errands. Take a look at the options in your area and decide if it will work for you.

47. Choose a more fuel efficient car when you replace your current one

When the time comes that you need to replace your current vehicle, be sure that fuel efficiency is one of the factors you consider. Over the life of the car, this can be a huge savings and it will pollute less.

48. Drive sensibly

If you keep to the speed limit, and don’t accelerate or brake aggressively, you will probably save on gas. Some cars now tell you what your average mileage is, which can be a great motivator to do better.

49. Check your tires

If your tires are properly inflated, you will get better gas mileage in your car. Check your tire pressure monthly.

Getting Rid of Stuff

50. Recycle your old electronics for money

Old electronics don’t belong in the trash. There are companies that will recycle them properly, and some will even pay you. It’s easy to find places that will take in your old cell phone – other electronics may be more difficult.

Amazon Trade-In
YouRenew
Cash For Electronic Scrap USA
uSell
Mail in Mobile
Gazelle
Nextworth

There are many other places you can recycle or resell your old electronics – just make sure that you have securely deleted your old personal information before you send old phones, tablets, computers and such in.

51. Have a yard sale

When you have things to get rid of, have a yard sale so that others can use the things you don’t want anymore. Call up a thrift store for things that don’t sell or if yard sales just aren’t your thing.

Coping With the California Drought

Coping With the California Drought

You may know that California is in a particularly intense drought right now. If you live in California, you had better know that, as things are bad enough that watering incorrectly can cause you to be fined. I’m fortunate enough to be in an area where it isn’t as bad as it is elsewhere, as we rely less on imported water and more on wells that apparently aren’t in bad shape yet, but we’re still being strongly encouraged to conserve. Given that no one knows when this particular California drought will end, it’s important that everyone do their part.

Watering outdoors less is a big part of it. Most areas are restricting watering days and times, and homeowner’s associations aren’t currently allowed to enforce rules against brown lawns. It’s a temporary rule, of course, and I can’t help but wonder how fast HOAs will be putting out fines once it expires, regardless of whether or not the drought has continued.

One big thing to do is to check for broken sprinkler heads and pipes. I found out that in addition to a couple broken sprinkler heads, a tree root has broken one of our sprinkler pipes. We’re having a guy out soon to fix it, though it may be partially under the sidewalk and a bit of a pain to fix. I check the sprinklers a few times a year, and this is the worst round I’ve ever had to deal with. To keep our water use under control, it’s necessary to keep up with the problems.

You should also mow your lawn higher, and that’s something I’m going to catch the yard guy about, because he mows us really low. I think a slightly taller lawn is prettier, and it’s also more water efficient.

We do a cycle and soak watering for our lawns. This takes advantage of the sprinkler system’s multiple start times, so each section gets just a couple of minutes of watering before it goes to the next, then the system starts over again. This allows the soil to absorb more of the water and reduces runoff.

Can’t We Just Cut Out the Lawns?

If we weren’t renting, we’d be doing things a lot different, drought or no. I’d much rather have the front yard xeriscaped than deal with a lawn. I like a bit of lawn in the back as a place for the kids to run and play. It’s a big part of why I really don’t want to live in a HOA controlled area – I want more flexibility in how my property will look when I own it.

I would love to see would be a big push for more xeriscaping, especially in new developments. Make it harder for homeowner’s associations in new neighborhoods to require a lawn. Well done xeriscaping takes very little water or maintenance, yet looks very nice.

Artificial turf is another idea, although some HOAs have rules against it. I believe ours does, as the house across the street had some artificial grass for a few months, then real stuff was put back in. I’m generally more in favor of real plants – they’re better in pretty much every way so far as I’m concerned, save water use – but if you must display a green lawn, that artificial stuff starts to look pretty promising. Personally, I’d rather not have it, but there are times when I understand why one might choose it.

Indoor Water Use

There are ways to save water indoors as well, of course. Shorter showers, don’t let the water run while handwashing dishes,only wash full loads of dishes or clothes,make sure your water-using appliances are efficient, things like that. There are a lot of good tips at http://saveourh2o.org/content/home. Most changes you make indoors will only save a small amount per use, but it can really add up.

A lot of these changes we’ve long since made in our family or just never done any other way. I don’t think I’ve ever just let the water run while brushing my teeth, for example – that never made sense to me.

What About Big Agriculture?

I know a lot of people want agriculture to do their part, as California agriculture uses way, way more water than goes to residential use, but that’s a harder change to make. That’s changes over huge areas of land, I would imagine with significant equipment and personnel costs. Farmers can’t just water less and expect their crops to still grow. Certainly I believe they could water more efficiently, but not quickly. It’s much simpler for residents to change their own watering habits quickly, which I believe is a part of why there has been so much focus on residential use.

Organic Eggs? Free Range Eggs? Cage Free? Which Should You Choose?

Organic Eggs? Free Range Eggs? Cage Free? Which Should You Choose?

If you’ve become interested in improving the kinds of foods you eat, eggs are probably one of the foods you’ve taken a good look at. There are options out there for those who want better eggs. The hard part is figuring out what “better” really is.

Now my personal favorite eggs are the ones I get from my sister once in a while. She doesn’t live close enough that we get them often, but she has backyard chickens. They roam the yard during the day, eating what they find, plus the scraps the family gives them and the chicken feed my sister uses. I don’t know all the details. I do know the shells are much stronger than the shells on grocery store eggs, and there is a visible color difference in the yolks.

But not everyone has access to backyard chicken eggs even part of the time. It’s worth looking at your options and really knowing what all the terminology really means, because it’s not necessarily what you think.

Note that the color of the eggshell really doesn’t matter. My sister’s chickens product brown or green eggs, depending on the breed, but there’s no difference in the quality of the eggs due to their coloration.

Cage Free Eggs

Cage free chickens have things just a little better than your standard caged chicken. They’re usually in a building full of chickens, crowded, but they can at least walk and stretch their wings. They probably don’t go outside, however. They probably do get treated with antibiotics. It’s an improvement but not much of one.

Free Range Eggs

This one doesn’t usually mean what you think it means. Take your cage free chickens and give them a little access to the outdoors. This does not mean they have access to pasture where they can eat grass and bugs. There are no rules about how long each chicken gets outside.

Organic Eggs

Organic chickens can usually go outside some, and they cannot be treated with antibiotics. They are also give organic feed. The facilities are inspected annually by an agency with USDA accreditation.

Pasture Raised Eggs

Pasture raised chickens lead the kind of life you’d think free range means. They have free access to come and go from their coop, and can eat grass and bugs as they find them. They are usually given organic feed and not treated with antibiotics. This is as close as you can get to raising your own chickens in the backyard.

How To Get Home Cooked Meals On The Table More Easily

How To Get Home Cooked Meals On The Table More Easily

Home cooked meals are generally healthier and cheaper for your family than eating out or making convenience foods. But they take time, and all too often parents struggle with finding the time to prepare a home cooked meal. It doesn’t have to be all that hard, however. Take a little extra time when it’s convenient for you, and you can cut down on the time it takes to make healthier meals for your family.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is one of the most important tools you have in cooking at home more often in less time. Planning ahead allows you to know what you’re cooking for each meal, what ingredients you need, how much time you need to make it, and so forth. It saves you from debating each day what to make, or wondering what to buy at the store. You’ll know what you need.

Planning is best done with current grocery store specials and seasonal produce in mind, especially if you get produce from a CSA or other arrangement where you have little control over what veggies you’ll have. Don’t plan on having something you aren’t sure you will have the ingredients for – that’s an easy way to get desperate enough to resort to convenience foods or a meal out.

Chop Early

Many ingredients can be chopped days before you need them. If you’re as lucky as I am and have kids who love to snack on vegetables, having chopped vegetables also means you have healthy snacks ready for them. If you’re planning a stir fry or other meal with chopped meat, that’s another easy item to cut up in advance.

Cook Early

You can even cook some things early, so long as they reheat well. I don’t like to precook vegetables; it’s too easy to turn them into mush with repeated heating. When you precook vegetables, make sure they taste good to you after being reheated. Fortunately, many taste good raw or can easily be prepared along with your main dish. Lots of vegetables are wonderful roasted, for example, and may do well in the oven at the same time as the main dish.

Beans, on the other hand, are easy to prepare in advance. I like black beans, and usually have a bag of cooked ones in the freezer. I make a large batch, then freeze them in ice cube trays, moving them into a bag after they’re frozen. The cubes make it easy to get just the right amount of beans into my recipe.

You can also cook meats early. Once again, be careful about reheating, as meats are easy to dry out.

Use Your Crockpot

When days are rushed, I love my crockpot. It’s pretty good other times too, but it’s an absolute delight on those days when I otherwise wouldn’t have time available to make a home cooked meal.

It takes time to find really good crockpot recipes. Bad crockpot recipes take away all the flavor of otherwise good ingredients. I don’t recommend cooking vegetables in the crockpot all day – they’ll be soggy and flavorless. Add veggies later in the day if you can.

Think Raw

Not all foods have to be cooked just because they’re a part of a meal. I often let my kids pick which raw vegetables they want with their dinners. It ensures their enthusiasm, as they all love a variety of raw veggies. My youngest, for example, is utterly obsessed with bell peppers, no matter the color. But sometimes she’d rather just eat a carrot or some snap peas.

There are plenty of books out there to help you make quick homemade meals. Having good recipes is a big part of making homemade meals quickly. Here are some that look promising:

The Elliott Homestead: From Scratch: Traditional, whole-foods dishes for easy, everyday meals
Operation Dinner: How to Plan, Shop & Prep for Easy Family Meals
Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners
The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner: Easy Family Meals for Every Day of the Week

[enhancednotice id=”3″]

9 Ways to Reduce Waste Around the House

9 Ways to Reduce Waste Around the House

Inside your home is the place where you usually have the most control over the waste you and your family generates. After all, you and your family do the shopping for most of what goes in there throughout the years. If you want to cut down on the waste you’re generating, home is the place to do it. Here are 9 tips to help you reduce waste around your home.

1. Buy less.

So obvious, yet so difficult at times. The less stuff you buy, the less waste you’ll generate.

2.Buy used.

Not everything has to be bought new. There are so many things you can quite reasonably buy used, and that means less waste. Not only does it mean that fewer resources are consumed to make new products, used products often have far less packaging, depending on the source. Certainly items from thrift stores have very little packaging on the whole, however refurbished items may be packaged more or less like new ones. Still, refurbished items are less wasteful than new.

And of course, don’t forget handmedowns. This has saved me a ton of money in children’s clothes, as my sisters and I pass clothing down from child to child to child.

3. Go reusable.

There are so many things you can buy in reusable forms rather than disposable. Grocery bags. Water bottles. Batteries. Any time you need to buy something disposable, think about whether the reusable version might do as well or better.

4. Buy bulk.

When reasonable, buy things in bulk rather than in smaller packages. Some grocery stores have bulk bins, which can make it very easy to buy certain types of food in larger quantities.

Other items can be bought in bulk too. If your family tends to go through something regularly, take a look at how you can buy and store larger quantities. That way you won’t have to go out to buy them as often.

5. Cut down on food waste.

Pay attention to the foods you have on hand, and use up as much as possible before it spoils. In many families, leftovers are a major source of food waste, but there are ways to limit it. You can freeze leftovers into quick meals, for example, so that they last longer and may even be portable for those who work outside the home to bring to work for lunch.

6. Get off mailing lists.

Odds are good that you get a lot of mail you simply are not interested in. You can cut back on this by opting out of many mailing lists. The Direct Marketing Association provides this service for a fee. You can contact companies about catalogs you receive but do not want and get off their lists. You can also contact the credit reporting bureaus and request through each of them that you want off their mailing lists.

It takes some time for your name to get off all the lists. They aren’t updated every month, but over the course of a few months, the junk mail should decrease.

7. Compost.

Composting not only helps you decrease your waste, but gives you something beneficial for your garden. Outdoor compost bins or piles are the traditional ways to go, but there are ways you can compost indoors too.

8. Donate or sell old items.

Many things that you’re done using are still perfectly good for someone else. We recently replaced our old couch, for example, and after getting no interest in anyone buying it, we donated it to charity. Charities can be pretty picky about what they’ll accept, as they mostly want to be able to sell what they pick up from you.

Garage sales are another great way to go. You can sell off old clothes, toys or whatever else you have around the house you want to get rid of, and make a little money while doing so.

9. Recycle.

There may be a lot of things you can recycle, paper, plastic, glass bottles, aluminum cans, etc., depending on the programs available in your area. The recycling company in our area, for example, accepts all numbered plastics, but in other areas only plastics numbered 1 or 2 will be accepted. Plastic shopping bags can be recycled at many grocery stores, for those times you didn’t have a reusable bag on hand.

Old appliances can often be recycled too. Check for programs in your area.