Frugal Green Living: Save $1000 A YEAR Using These 5 Tips

Another great post from Treehugger

frugal green living save money telecommute cat laptop photo
Image credit: thievingjoker @ flickr

Convince your boss to let you work four (slightly longer) days a week

Working four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour days is not only a great way to have a longer weekend, but it’ll save you some cash, too. You’ll save 20% on whatever you spend for commuting, coffee, lunch, and any other daily expenses you incur by dragging yourself to the office. Let’s say you do it on the cheap, and don’t drive yourself, pay for parking, or spend more than a few bucks on lunch. Even if you spend $2 on the bus or public transit, $2 for a coffee and $6 for lunch, you can easily save several hundred bucks by working four days a week. Get the nitty-gritty in our guide for How to Go Green: Commuting.

Alternately, you can telecommute on the fifth day of the week; it’ll cost a bit more in energy and food expenses, but it’ll still save money in the long haul.

Annual savings: $500+ for a four-day workweek (that’s $10 per day, one day a week, for 50 weeks a year — you get two for vacation, right?); slightly less for telecommuters.

frugal green living commuter bike groceries photo
Photo credit: nasv @ flickr

Walk or bike on one trip that’s two miles round-trip per week

40 percent of urban travel in the U.S. is two miles per trip (or less), so hop on your bike (or take a walk) once a week, save some wear and tear (and gas) on your car, get a little fresh air, and save some bucks. Learn more about greening your ride in our guide for How to Go Green: Cars and take the savings to the bank. Ready to really make a change? Take the two mile bicycle challenge.

Annual savings: $56.26 — 104 miles (2 miles x 52 weeks) at 54.1 cents per mile, the average cost of driving per mile, according to AAA

Make your own all-purpose cleaner

Rather than dropping four bucks on individual green cleaning products and five or six bucks for a green toothpaste at the grocery store, you can easily swap out products you (probably) already have at home to do the same job. For cleaners, take 25 cents worth of baking soda, 25 cents worth of white vinegar or lemon juice, maybe a touch of essential oil, and voila! Small variations can yield toilet bowl cleaner, tub scrub, and toothpaste Plus, baking soda can clean most anything, including your hair (and it can strip paint, too!). By substituting baking soda for many of your cleaning needs, and adding a little elbow grease, the savings will add up.

Annual savings: $50 — give or take, depending on how much you clean (we figured six tubes of toothpaste at $4 each and one each of five cleaners — all-purpose, toilet scrub, tub scrub, window cleaner, and floor cleaner — at $5 apiece).

frugal green living save money line drying laundry photoImage credit: katsniffen @ flickr

Hang your laundry out to dry

Your dryer checks in at number two on the list of household energy hogs (right after your fridge), according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and uses more than you might think. By cutting the dryer out of the equation and using the ample solar energy that falls to the earth every day, you can save some bucks, and prolong the life of your clothes, too. Get the full scoop in our guide for How to Go Green: Laundry.

Annual savings: $70 per year in energy costs

Set your thermostat wisely

Properly manipulate your thermostat — hopefully it’s a programmable model — and your savings will mount quickly. Follow Energy Star’s tips — simple things like regulating for when you’re awake and asleep, and modulating the settings for summer and winter — and you can remain comfortably heated or cooled, with a few extra bucks in your pocket. Get more tips in our guide for How to Go Green: Heating.

Annual savings: $180, according to Energy Star, if you maintain your diligence for an entire year.

Below are my tips on how I do laundry and save even more than these tips outline;

My Level of Living Green

I air dry all laundry–had to put a lock on the dryer cord to convince my daughters I was serious–they learned to plan ahead!  I wash all laundry in cold water, always wash full loads, and use a drying rack inside if it is raining. It’s good for the earth and great for your skin, a free humidifier in the house. Which also makes it feel a few degrees warmer in winter and cooler in summer.  I use soapnuts for laundry. SoapNuts

2) Buy all organic meat, fats, butter, and the few veggies I still buy.  Mostly I grow my own.  Click HERE to go to my gardening Blog.  Click HERE to see how I eat 100% organic and do so on less than $60.00 a week! And that includes grass fed organic meat at all three meals, at 2000 calories a day.

3) Buy all organic non-toxic beauty care products and make-up.  I make my own skin care cleanser, exfoliants, and flower hydrosols.  Here is a page on my blog showing the beauty products I use.  Products I Use and Love!

4) Use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning the bathroom, kitchen sink and counters and general purpose cleaning.   I use a loofah for scrubbing dishes (I am growing my own right now so I won’t have to buy them anymore!) My sister is crochets scrubbies for me from old t-shirts.

5) Take cloth bags to store for groceries and all other purchases. Take muslin bags I made to grocery store for produce. (I sell them!)

Picture 002

6) Recycle, re-use, make my own and have stopped buying anything I don’t really need.  Don’t use paper towels, never have.  I used cloth diapers for all 5 kids.  I use a compost toilet, no toilet paper (think cloth baby wash clothes).

7) I compost all paper and food scraps, put all lawn clippings in my compost, use contents from my sawdust toilet to heat up the contents which enables me to do high heat (thermal) composting.  The high heat and microbes render the finished product clean of harmful pathogens and pesticides and pharmaceuticals (if there are any; I eat organic, use no pharmaceuticals, no chemical cleaners).

Ideal; Japanese toilet My economy model; Sawdust toilet Yep, it’s a hose reel, recycled.  But a 5 gallon bucket works great.  You can use sawdust, but I use wheat bran that I buy from the feed store downtown for 12 bucks for 50 lbs…lasts me about 6 months.   And the compost I get is amazing!!!

8) I try to not buy stuff in plastic, I try to buy all glass. Store all food in glass. Re-use glass jars. I mostly buy real food (meat, produce) try to not buy anything that needs a label, so no packaging.

10) Make my own gluten free granola, make my own mayonnaise, salad dressings, spice blends.  I do not buy any packages foods, eat all real food (not products), make my own coconut milk yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha tea.

11)  I use a bike for errands close to the house.

12) Use very low flow shower heads. Ace Hardware has a 1.5 GPM with a shut-off valve.

13) Use all CF light bulbs…and use them as little as possible. I have one evening a week that I use no lights..on Shabbat!  Dinner by candlelight!

14) Use grey water from shower (I keep a 3 gallon bucket in shower and take it outside to the flower beds.

15) Use water from rinsing dishes to water flower beds.

16) Use a broom on all my wooden floors instead of using vacuum cleaner.

17) Run as few errands as possible, car pool and combine trips. Ride my bike around neighborhood and for errands within a few miles.

18) Use micro-cloths to clean with, even on glass you do not need cleaning products!


19)clip_image004 I have NEVER bought bottled water. I bought a Kleen Kanteen for each person in the family, we refill and take with us. I’ve had mine over about 2 years.

20) Go paperless or CD-less as much as possible. I provide my clients with emails of my book, but still put cookbook software on CD.

21) Use only a hurricane lamp when we sit outside at night.  It gives enough light to read by…but is perfect turned low …for just hanging out. Very romantic, too!

22)  I carry my lunch each day to work in a insulated lunch box from Built, available at, using a stainless steel thermal jar for soup, glass wide mouth canning jars for other food, a wrap n’ mat for baked goods and a beautiful cloth napkin and real silver to utensils.


22)clip_image006 I carry my coffee, on the way to work, in a stoneware and stainless steel mug with a silicone lid (NO plastic!). From High Wave.  And at only $12.00, it’s a steal!

23) I have an outdoor solar heated shower that I built.

24)  I  grow most of my food inside under grow light; no pests, very small amount of water use.  I am growing cherry and big sweet tomatoes, basil, thyme.  I have sweet potatoes growing, beets (mmmm, beet greens), onions, lavender (I use it in the skin care products I make and sell), Swiss chard, purple flowering kale, nasturtiums, cucumbers, peppers, bell peppers, purple basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, beet greens, garlic and lettuce in my sunroom hydroponically.  Outside I have lettuce, banana tree, garlic, some tomatoes.

25) I use a non-disposable razor, an old-fashioned stainless steel, very high quality razor that uses double edged blades. It was 24.00 from The blades are 10 for 5.99, and they are double edged! They give the closest, smoothest shave you can imagine!  No disposable blade can compare.  I spend about 50 cents a year on blades!

26) Wash dishes with 2 dish pans in the sink, one for hot soapy water, one with warm rinse water. Do glasses first, pause a moment to let the soapy water drip off, then move to rinse water. Stop when rinse water is almost full and rinse quickly. Repeat with silver, plates, then pots and utensils. All with 2 dishpans full of water. Then I pour the soapy water, with all that organic matter, onto my plants in the garden. It helps repel pests and loosens the soil. And good for the biceps when you carry it outdoors.

27)  I hand water my garden with buckets from the rain barrels that are under the eaves of my garage. 10 feet from my garden. The front flower garden gets watered entirely from the dish water.

29)  I work out at home, no expensive gym memberships that I never used anyway. I save all the expense of membership, and gas and time driving.  I have a set of weights, two exercise balls, a weighted hula hoop, a yoga mat and a chin-up bar.

30)  Picture 278 I hand grind my coffee each morning with my Zassenhaus Model 169 DG Closed Hopper Walnut Zassenhaus coffee mill that I got at Sweet Maria’s. 

Ibrik I make my Turkish coffee in an Ibrik on the stove top.

beehouse_dripper_large  I use a ceramic filter holder to make pour over coffee, and use a gold coffee filter.

31)  I do not “buy” presents, I make them, and wrap them if I have brown paper bags, which I will decorate, I have done water colors on packages and they come out great…I like the affect.

One Comment on “Frugal Green Living: Save $1000 A YEAR Using These 5 Tips”

  1. Billy B says:

    Nice blog, I’m an old country hick but don’t grow my own food, love my sewing machine though. And do a lot of camping to help me keep what sanity I have left.


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