6 Ways to Save Money by Going Green at Work

Tesla’s hyper-sexy cars and expensive solar roofs may have you believing that going green is only for the rich and famous. But don’t let Musk convince you that being environmentally-friendly needs to cost a fortune. Here are six simple ways you can go green whilst actually saving money for your business:

1.  Government subsidies

The government is trying to incentivize going green, and there’s a good chance you’ll get a rebate for being environmentally friendly at work. If you’re short on cash on a rebate approved investment, a good idea may be to get a small grant, or a cash advance from Cash Stop to install the technology required to go green. Considering how these newer and sustainable technologies are cheaper to operate, you can expect some considerable savings over time.

2.  LED costs less

There’s no doubt that LED bulbs cost more upfront. However, they are designed to last nearly 25x longer than other bulbs. Over time, these smart LED lights can cost nearly a third of what incandescent bulbs would cost you.

Switching all your bulbs to LEDs could save your business thousands of dollars each year, and the government estimates it could save the country a total of $30 billion by 2027. LEDs look better and are more customizable, so there’s really no good reason not to get them.

3.  Upcycle furniture

Used or recycled furniture will probably cost less to buy and is great for the environment. Old chairs and desks can easily be refurbished for use in your office.

4.  Save money on travel by working from home

A report from 2013 found that nearly half of all the staff at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worked from home. This is because the department responsible for conserving the environment knows what’s best for it.

Working from home cuts out the single biggest pollutant – vehicular emissions. It also costs the business less to provide heating and lighting for employees when they turn up to work. Large firms like IBM and Microsoft have saved tens of thousands of dollars per employee who chose to work from home.

5.  Conserve Water

Even a relatively small office can save nearly $300 a year by using water-efficient appliances. You can probably go a step further and replace your toilet and heaters with the latest technology to conserve even more water each year.

6.  No More paper

Paper isn’t expensive, but larger firms use a ton of it and much of it is wasted. Over time, the costs add up. Digitizing completely means less waste and substantial cost savings, depending on the size of your business. Some large firms have saved millions in paper costs alone.

Going green isn’t always expensive. These are just some of the sustainable moves you can make to cut costs while saving the planet.

Top Money-Saving Environmental Tips

Most people think that living an eco-friendly life is boring and somewhat expensive. But the truth of the matter is that being green is cheap and saves the environment. Reducing your consumption, reusing items and recycling helps keep unnecessary waste out of the landfills. So what are some of the eco-friendly money-saving tips to consider? Here is a look.

Using cloth napkins and durable silverware

It is hard to resist the temptation of not having anything to wash after meals, which is why some people will opt for disposable items. Abandoning disposable napkins and going for cloth napkins will help you save plenty of cash and keep the environment clean. Cloth napkins are more durable and can be washed after use and be used over and over again. The same goes for utensils—saying no to disposable plastic forks, spoons, and knives not only reduces the money you spend on them, but reduces your waste and also your contribution to the pollution involved in the manufacturing process.

The planet and your pocket will be at risk when you increase the pile of garbage left after a meal. It is common sense: the less you throw away, the less you spend. Especially for people who are on a budget, cutting paper towels, napkins, and utensils off the grocery list can save a lot by the end of the year.

Make use of a pressure cooker

You can actually save a lot of time, money and energy if you make use of a pressure cooker. One thing that makes this a must-have is the fact that they are versatile and they can cook almost anything. They use less energy and take up to 70% less time to cook a meal. Imagine the things you can do with that extra time!

Install a low flow showerhead

We spend a lot of water when we hit the shower for a few minutes. If you have a bigger household, it’s even worse. But installing a low flow showerhead is an easy way to save 25 to 60% of the water we normally use in the shower. This is the best way to preserve water and also save on the water bill.

Use energy saving bulbs

Energy-saving bulbs are normally expensive upfront compared to ordinary bulbs. However, they use a quarter of the energy that ordinary bulbs use. But part of environmental sustainability is about investing. The initial expense will pay itself over time. Plus, you’ll have fewer lightbulb changes to make!

Insulate your home

Not only do uninsulated homes just lose heat and cool air but also waste money and energy. The upfront cost may be hefty but the long-term savings can make a significant impact on personal finances. When you reduce energy expenditure you will, most definitely, reduce the bill. It is important to consider insulating the attic and basement first to be effective in your personal finance quest.

Install solar panels

Most governments now offer tax credits to home owners who wish to install solar panels to supplement their energy expenditure. This is to encourage people to go green and save the environment. There are also companies that are willing to take the risk most homeowners dread to pay the initial cost. You stand a chance of saving at least 10% of your electricity bill.

Don’t pay for what you throw away

Did you know that product packaging makes up more than 30% of waste stream in the developed world? According to the EPA, even more of that waste comes from actual food being thrown away. By buying only the food that you will consume, and making sure that you opt for environment-friendly packed items, you can both reduce waste and reduce the amount of money that you waste.

Grow Your Own Food

Though gardening can require a bit of work and upfront investment, making your own garden and growing your own food allows you to save money and also know what you are eating. Without the harmful chemicals and GMOs used by many large companies and manufacturers, your own garden can provide a fresh, homegrown alternative for you and others in your community.

Reuse and resell old furniture and appliances

Your furniture is one of the things in the entire house that will last longer. However, sometimes they get damaged or outlive their original purpose. When this happens, you don’t have to throw it away. You can repaint, reuse, and repurpose. Give your splintering, chipping chair a good sanding and a new look. Turn your old coffee table into a storage ottoman. Make a play kitchen for your kids with that old TV stand. Reusing and repurposing reduces environmental pollution and is financially smart.

Then again, you may be having some things in the house that you just don’t want anymore. One of the most monetarily effective tips is to resell. If you are environmentally conscious, then you will realize that reselling them not only earns extra money but also keeps the environment cleaner.

Be Green and Save Green

You don’t have to make a lot of money or spend a lot of money to live a life that is sustainable for both your finances and the world you live in. A few lifestyle changes can go a long way and make a significant impact on your life and the lives of those around you.

Building a Green Building: Key Principles

These days, a lot of people are becoming increasingly aware of the advantages of having an energy efficient home and this is why they employ the services of a reputable energy consulting firm to help them design a home that is sustainable and eco-friendly.

What is an Energy Efficient Home?

An energy efficient home often has features such as wind power, geothermal heating and solar panels. But green living is not solely based on the use of renewable energy. It’s also about designing the house in such a way that energy becomes more efficiently utilized; a home that is well insulated and properly positioned to rely mostly on passive cooling and heating

With this kind of home, you will use minimal energy to light, heat and your household appliances. A house with majority of its windows are facing south (passive solar) can lessen their heating requirements by up to 25% without spending anything.

But it’s also important to design the home properly so that during summer, you can avoid overheating. Your building should be well insulated and properly sealed so that cool air won’t escape due to leak or moisture.

Go for a Reasonably Sized Home

Naturally, the smaller the house, the more efficient it is. It also means you’ll need lesser materials to build it, less space to cool and less space to heat. If you’re a small family then you don’t need to build a big house. We recommend an average of 700 square feet per person.

Make Your Home Flexible

Design your home in such a way that it accommodates any future changes with little disruption. Your household size will change over time so you should also make your home flexible. You can lower environmental and financial costs brought about by a major renovation if you anticipate possible changes while you’re still at the design stage.

Use Reclaimed Materials

You can re-use existing building materials and doing so makes you part of the green building movement. Green building begins at the design phase so by incorporating used materials, you are doing your part to help the environment and at the same time, save money on construction costs.

Design Your Green Home

Regardless of whether you design your dream home yourself or you are going to hire a professional to do it for you, the important thing is that you keep in mind the principles of green living. If you have a designer for your home, make sure you pick one who shares your vision or at the very least, understands what you want.

There’s also the option of buying a pre-drawn plan which may be cheaper however, it can be difficult to find a plan for a green home. If you have the time and the inclination, you can draw up your own plan. It’s fun and rewarding, and you’ll learn a lot from this project too. Just make sure you understand the building regulations in your locality so you don’t end up breaking any rules.

Homemade Hard Apple Cider

Note: This article was originally written in early 2012, and I’ve done quite a bit of cider making since then and have learned a lot. I’ve updated this post to reflect that, as well as added a few recipes I’ve tried or developed on my own.

Since my wife and I have officially begun our journey to FI, no expense has been spared. The larger expenses (such as our house and other structural expenses) have been optimized to the fullest, and we have now turned our sights on other things. One of the first was alcohol, and this was mostly me, since my wife doesnt drink that frequently.

About 10 years ago, I used to spend a lot on alcohol (it was college), and since graduating I’ve been able to take that down quite a bit – to about $500/year or $10 per week. Some weeks more, some less but this is where I had settled for a while.

It wasnt until I decided that there had to be a way to get it lower that I looked into DIY-ing my booze. I started in 2012 or so and have not looked back, and the cost of my boozing has been reduced to dimes per bottle and the occasional headache from overindulgence.

Now, I stick to homemade hard cider that costs approximately $20 for 5 gallons, and takes me about 5 minutes to make (and another 30 or so a few weeks later to bottle).

If you buy about a 6 pack per week, you’re consuming 3,600 oz of beer per year, or the equivalent of 5.5 5 Gallon batches. You can bring your spending on booze down from ~500 per year, to just over 100 per year. Lowering your needs and increasing your savings + a fun activity that allows you to experiment and build your own small scale cider operation? Awesome.

To me, this is one of the perfect hobbies. Once you’ve got all of your equipment, the costs are cheap, the benefits are huge, and it gives you something to fill your time. You can get as crazy (or not) with the different juices and add ins and it can supply the boundless curiosity that every human innately has.

So, lets make some cider!

What Is Hard Apple Cider?

Hard cider is a fermented drink, typically made from apples. Since it’s fermented, it does contain alcohol. The amount of alcohol contained varies by the process you use, but typically they come in between 5 and 7%, or about the rate of a standard microbrew. Today, we are going to go over the entire hard cider making process, from brewing to cider fermentation to bottling. You can do this with easy to find ingredients as well as spare bottles laying around the house, but since I already have a home brewing set up, I just use that. Note that this is not the same thing as cider as it does not have alcohol (but is still great to enjoy warm in the winter months).

One of the reasons that I make this is to help me save money. I estimate that the cost for me to produce 5 gallons of cider (now that I have all the equipment) is around $20, which is the price for 12-20 microbrews. Considering my wife and I have a goal of building freedom through saving money, this really helps. Instead of spending $30-40 per month (or night, or weekend) on alcohol (which equates to about 1 6 pack of microbrew beer or hard cider, per week), I spend about $20 for something that will last me 2-3 months and is stronger to boot in most cases. Cider making has become a hobby I enjoy, and as I continue to tinker with recipes and develop new ones the more I get out of it.

 

Bonus: Get a video showing exactly how to make each version of hard cider, and a shopping list, AND some things you can add to flavor your cider. Get the Extra Flavor Guide Now

Hard Cider Ingredients & Equipment

One of my favorite things about this is that it’s so easy to make and very difficult to screw up. Once you have a beer brewing set up (or just a carboy and an airlock) you’ll be able to make your own cider. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make a batch:

  • Hard Cider Yeast – This is the most important, and will probably be the most difficult to find. You can use a specialized hard cider yeast (like Wyeast Labs 4766), or you can go with a champagne yeast (like Lavlin EC-1118). I would try them both out and see which one you think is the best yeast for hard cider. Each is slightly different, and I use them both (and others as well, but these are the most common). In my opinion, the best place to buy these would be a local homebrewing shop, as they will most certainly carry something this common.
  • Apple Cider or Apple Juice. You can choose either one as they are both great for making hard cider but you need to make sure that you get the kind without preservatives. I’m not just being all hippy-dippy here either – the preservatives will kill your yeast and will leave you with gross tasting yeasty apple juice. You need to make sure you watch out for sodium benzoatepotassium sorbate. I’ve never seen them both in the same cider or juice, but you cant have either. When I first started, I just checked the label for potassium or sodium, and if it had either of those, I found something else.
  • Honey or Brown Sugar (Optional): These will both increase the alcohol content, and will change the flavor slightly of your cider. My first few batches had brown sugar as I prefer the drier stuff and didnt want to make it too sweet. Since then I’ve tried it both with and without add-ons, and prefer to use them. Not needed at all though. (Use about .4 lbs of sugar or honey per gallon)

These are just the consumable ingredients needed. There are a few different ways that you can make hard cider and those mostly depend on how much money you want to invest in your hobby initially. You can get started for around $15 or less, but as with most hobbies there’s bigger and better equipment (that I happened to own already, so I use that).

Option 1: Homebrew kit & Glass Bottles

This will produce the most volume per batch (5 gallons) but will also cost you some money in set up costs. You can order a kit from an online retailer like northern brewer (this one is a good start up kit) or if you really enjoy this stuff, splurge and get the deluxe model. Either of these will give you everything you need except bottles, but you’ll pay quite a bit more than the other methods below. You can simply save the bottles (pry off only, no twist offs) and have friends save some for you as well and you’ll get enough in no time. You’ll need about 56 12 oz bottles.

You’ll also get a beer recipe ingredient kit, so you can give homebrewing a try as well.

Option 2: Frugal and Sustainable Method

This method is very cost effective, though your yield will be a bit lower because of size constraints. You won’t need to deal with bottling either (unless you really want to) so consider that a win.

To use this method, you’ll need a large glass jug (you can even use the one the juice comes in for added time/money/earth savings) and an airlock. If you cant find your juice in a glass jug, you can always use a spent jug of carlo rosse or other high end wine. Make sure to save the cap for the jug as well.

Option 3: Ultra Frugal Method

This method is the most cost effective (and one I havent done since college). You will need only minimal equipment for this, and it’s super easy to set up.  For this, you’ll need whatever vessel your apple cider came in (plastic or glass is fine), a balloon and tape or a rubber band.

The ultra frugal method should cost you about 50 cents above actual ingredients (hence my college tries), and will yield a satisfactory result.

This is something that I’d put in a relatively high traffic area so you can watch it frequently, as sometimes the balloon can pop off with vigorous fermentation.

As many hobbyists may not believe, you can get started into most hobbies for cheap.

My view on hobbies like hard cider making is that if you are starting out, try to get it done as cheaply as possible. Once you’ve got enough time under your belt to decide if you like it, invest further if you do, and if not, then continue using what you have.

How To Make Hard Cider

Finally, on to the actual process used to create the cider. It’s very simple and not time consuming at all to DIY hard cider. There are a few extra (though not necessary) steps you’ll need to run through if you’re using honey or alcohol that will add some time to your process, but they are not significant and can be accomplished with the goods you already have at home.

  1. Gather your ingredients and your storage vessel(s).
  2. If you are adding honey or brown sugar heat 1-2 gallons of your cider in a pot on the stove. Make sure this does not boil, as you will cause the pectins to set and make your end product very hazy.
  3. Stir heated product until sugar or honey is dissolved.

This is where the steps diverge depending on what gear you have decided to use for your homemade hard cider journey. They will all result in the same product, just some will be more time consuming (though produce more) than others.

If you’re using the traditional carboy & bottling method (as I described in the original post) you can get a top of the line product by following the steps below:

  1. If you’re adding Honey or Brown Sugar, you’ll need your large cooking pot and your cider.  What you’ll need to do is put 1-2 gallons of your cider into a pot and heat on medium.  Add your honey or brown sugar, and stir over heat until dissolved. Make sure this does not boil.
  2. While your honey or sugar is dissolving, add the remaining cider to your carboy.
  3. Once your sugar or honey has dissolved in your heated juice, take that mixture off the heat and add to your carboy.
  4. The liquid in your carboy should be an appropriate temperature now to add your yeast (below 85 degrees or so). Add your packet of yeast.
  5. Attach airlock to your carboy and move your carboy into a room away from heat and light.
  6. Your delicious beverage will ferment (when yeast converts sugar into alcohol) for 2 weeks. You can leave it as long as 3 weeks and be ok as well. Here’s what my cider looks like fermenting away in the basement. Carboy
  7. Once your fermentation has finished, it’s time to get what is now your alcoholic apple cider into your other carboy (or bucket) for secondary fermentation. Though this step is unnecessary, I have found that it really helps clarify the final product and it’s a great time to do add-ins to add other flavors to your cider. You can see my hand model (AKA wife) adding some pomegranate juice to the bucket for some stirring prior to the secondary fermentation below.
    IMG_20150803_195915534_TOP (1)
  8. Leave your cider in secondary fermentation for 2-4 weeks, and after that, it’s time for the time-consuming process of bottling.
  9. I use 22oz bottles (because there are less bottles to fill) but if you get your bottles for free (ie drink what was in them) you’ll need about 56 12 oz bottles.
  10. Follow the instructions for sanitizing & bottling that came with your brew kit and fill Homemade hard apple cideryour bottles with your cider. This, by all accounts is the most tedious part, and the reason for the other 2 methods. You dont need to bottle anything with the other 2 methods, just drink it straight from the jug. Bottling is a task, but it’s something that I dont mind considering the output (5 gallons) that I’m getting when I’m finished.
    Pro tip: open up your dishwasher, and place all your empty bottles on the dishwasher door. Fill them up while they are there, and if there’s any spillage you can just close the lid! easy clean up.
    Bottling Made Easy
  11. Cap your bottles and let rest for a week or 2. Yes, this process is long, but it yields the best product I’ve gotten so far. I’ve also found that the longer you bottle condition the cider, the smoother it gets.

If you dont want to plunk down the cash for a rather expensive brewing kit, you’ve got a few options.

  • try finding the brewing kit stuff on craigslist. If you live in a bigger market this could work well for you. Lots of brewers give up their carboys when they move on to larger scale brewing.
  • use one of the methods below and make batches a gallon at a time

If I were just getting started, I’d use one of these (probably the frugal & sustainable option).

How To Make Hard Apple Cider with The Frugal & Sustainable Option

FrugSustain

  1. Gather your ingredients and materials, including your glass jug if you’re using one.
  2. If you’re adding sugar, make sure to remove an equal amount of liquid so it does not overflow.
  3. Take your apple cider yeast and add 1/2 teaspoon to the liquid. Shake or swirl if you want, though it’s not necessary. Remember to set the jug lid aside, as you’ll need it later.
  4. Add your airlock to the top of the bottle, and fill with sterile liquid or hard alcohol
  5. Take your jug and set it aside in a dark place for two weeks while the yeast work their magic.
  6. After the yeast have done their thing, take off the airlock and put the jug in the fridge. Enjoy whenever you need. No need to worry about over-fermentation, as the cool temperatures in your fridge will slow the activity of the yeast to a crawl.
  7. Congratulations, you now know how to make hard apple cider.

This is one of the simplest ways to accomplish this, and you can use it for many other types of juices as well. You can download a guide at the bottom of this post that will tell you what other juices work great and other flavors you can add to your cider.

If you’re interested in this, here’s what I’d buy: this one gallon glass jug ($5), this airlock ($1.50), this rubber stopper ($1) and this cap ($1), for a total cost of less than $9 before shipping. Note: If you find a cider you like that comes in a glass jug when you buy it, you’ll only need the stopper & the airlock. You can use the glass jug the cider came in, as well as the screw cap.

Homemade Hard Cider with The Ultra Frugal (College) Method

College

I was fond of this method in college, so I know it well and I know that it works. I also know that it costs about 1 to 10 cents above consumables costs, so it’s dirt cheap. Obviously, I don’t condone lawbreaking (no matter how senseless I find it) so if you’re residing in the USA and are under 21 don’t try this at home. Since we’ve got many international readers, this is for them. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Gather your ingredients and materials. This is your cider, the yeast for your cider, your balloon, rubber band (or tape) and a safety pin.
  2. Take your saftey pin and poke a few holes (3 or less) in the balloon and set the balloon aside
  3. Open the cider and add 1/2 teaspoon of yeast in there. If this feels like a small amount dont worry, when yeast get put in favorable conditions like this one, they will reproduce like crazy. Remember to set the jug lid aside, as you’ll need it later.
  4. Pull your balloon over the lid of the container, and wrap the rubber band or tape around it a few times to make sure that it doesn’t pop off during fermentation. Set aside for 2 weeks (though with this method, check on it a few times per day the first few days to make sure everything is still as it should be) and then take off the balloon.
  5. Cap the container and place in the fridge to drink. No need to worry about over-fermentation, as the cool temperatures in your fridge will slow the activity of the yeast to a crawl.

Congratulations, with just a bit of ingenuity and some household goods, you can skirt ridiculous (IMHO) government regulations and stick it to the cider companies that are charging 8 bucks (or more) for a 6 pack of of the good stuff. You now know how to brew cider.

This is the ultra cheap method, and all you’ll need to make many batches is a package of yeast and a bag of balloons (as well as the juice). If you’re frugal but still want a nice alcoholic beverage, this is for you.

Mastering this has also saved me a boat load of money over the last 8 or so years. I used to spend an embarrassing amount of money on alcohol. Making my own hooch and cutting back my drinking significantly have helped bring that cost way down, to the point where I spend about $20 per month or less. I’ll only need a cash stash of $6,000 to sustain this particular part of my lifestyle.

If I spent more on alcohol, freedom would be that much further away.

What’s Next?

Well, once you’ve mastered the process and feel confident in your skills, feel free to step up your game a notch! I have experimented with many add ins to my cider (like real blackberries & vanilla beans) and have tried making cider out of many different juices. Some of this is easier with a carboy set up, but again it’s not necessary. Download the guide below, where I detail all the other juices I’ve used for hard cider, as well as all the additions to the secondary fermentation that have taken my cider from ho-hum to awesome!


ciderLeadBox

Homemade Natural Baby Wipes

When we first found out my wife was pregnant, we started looking into ways to lower the cost of raising children, because according to some the cost of raising children from birth to age 18 is above a quarter million dollars. I could not believe that then (and still don’t), but we both started looking for ways to lower that cost by a lot. There were a lot of things that we knew we’d need to do to save money, so we thought about homemade natural baby wipes to start with.

One of the first things that we thought about was the life cycle of a product and how long it gets used for. We zeroed in early on baby costs because we thought there would be a lot of savings there and our efforts would have an immediate impact on our finances. After thinking about it for a while and taking with some friends of ours that already have children, we decided to start at the (rear) end, with diapers and wipes.
These two products are everything that annoys me about buying anything today. They are single use, then tossed in the garbage pail. No reuse, no washing, no anything of the sort. Simply pull out a piece of paper product, slap it on the child (or clean them with it) and toss it in the pail and go buy more.

For diapers we got cloth diapers (similar to what my mom wrapped me up in, but with far fewer safety pins). We figured these would be much cheaper in the long run because they have adjustable sides and claim to be one size fits all. They come with micro fiber inserts and are washable, meaning that you don’t use them once and throw them away. This really resonated with how we try to live, so we found a company that didn’t charge too much (it’s not bumGenius) and bought some. If you’re curious, they are from sunbaby USA. They cost about 6 dollars per diaper, but we will recoup that in no time.

The next target we looked at was the baby wipe. For those of you that dont know, you can go through 1-6 of these per diaper change, depending on how your child elects to treat you that go-round. I find this whole diaper change process incredibly wasteful, and tried to convince my wife that we should just let her run around naked – which was quickly shot down. So, I researched some ways to make baby wipes, and settled for something that shouldnt bother her skin and uses cheap, natural ingredients! We havent tested these yet (she’s still in the hospital), but I’m pretty sure they should work well. Without further droning on, here’s how I made my Homemade Natural Baby Wipes.

Natural Baby Wipes

DIY Homemade Natural Baby Wipes

The first thing that I did was go to the store and pick out some flannel that would become the actual wipes. I got 2 yards of fabric for about $8 per yard and got to work. Here’s what the fabric looked like when I brought it home from the store:

cloth2

 

 

The next step was to cut all of this fabric into squares that would be a good baby wipe size. After looking at a few sizes, I settled on 6×6 squares and started to cut. My decision ended up making things really easy, as I folded the fabric “hot dog” style and measured out 6″. Once that was done, I just cut the fabric down the sides and ended up with lots of strips that were 6″ wide and the length of a yard of fabric. Here’s what they looked like:

firstcut

Now that I had my strips of flannel, it was time to turn them all into squares. Again, I just measured out 6 inches and cut as much fabric as the scissors could handle at one time. This took a bit of time, but it wasnt too bad. If you’re already into sewing and hand one of those patterned tiles or mats with the inches already marked out, you’ll save quite a bit of time. I had to use a tape measure. All in all, I think the process took less than 45 minutes. I was watching house of cards and dont think that it took me an entire episode. Below is the final product:

DIY Baby Wipes

This is just for the wipes. I washed the wipes before we will use them, but we still need some sort of solution for the wipes to soak in. This is a little less straight forward, but still pretty easy considering the amount of money you can save over time.

Ingredients for the Wipe Solution

  • 25-30 wipes
  • 1 squirt Dr Bronners Baby Soap (I get mine from Amazon)
  • 1 Drop Tea Tree Oil (Also from Amazon)
  • 1 tsp Coconut oil
  • 2 cups boiled water (allow to cool first)

Combine all ingredients except for the wipes in a measuring bowl. Your water needs to be a bit warm or the coconut oil wont melt and will just sit in there like a blob. Mix up all your ingredients well and set them aside.

Then you need to put your cloth wipes into the container that you’ll be using to store them (we are going to use a tupperware of some kind) and pour the bowl of other ingredients over the cloth. Make sure all your cloths get wet and you’re good to go!

One of my readers pointed out to me that this may not be the best solution for the wipe solution. Apparently, you’re not supposed to use Tea Tree Oil on children younger than 3 months (which was not an issue for us as we didnt bring our daughter home until she was 3 months old). She actually runs the website stapler confessions, and here’s what she had to say:

  • I have read that essential oils shouldn’t be used on babies under 3 months old.
  • I have also read that tea tree oil is not recommended for use with children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. But I don’t know exactly why, but it may be because some people have an allergic reaction to it, which can be as extreme as anaphylaxis (I’m looking into it). (More info here)
  • I have also read that tea tree oil can disrupt some hormones, which is a particular concern for boys in puberty. But the study publishing this info deals with boys in puberty who use tea tree oil regularly, so obviously not a concern for a baby girl. (More Info Here)

If you share her concerns (Most do not apply to our situation) here is another way to make the spray.

  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons of baby bath soap
  • one tablespoon of baby oil

You can use this formula as well, but it would probably be easier if you scaled up the recipe and simply put it in a jar with your cloth wipes and then pulled out a wipe and rung it out when you were ready to use.

Even though we havent tried these yet, I’m pretty confident that they will work and save us buckets of money. I’m looking forward to this, and it’s a great way to reduce waste and save a ton of money.

Readers: Did you try to make you own baby wipes, or did you just buy them at the store? If you bought them, how much do you think you spent per year?

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

Rebecca blogs at Stapler Confessions about her journey paying off $200,000 in student loans by living frugally and snagging free batteries. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter to find out about great deals.  

Have you ever used foaming hand soap? I love them because they feel a little luxurious. My son loves them because he has instant suds, which he just generally thinks are cool.

Have you ever bought foaming hand soap? You may have noticed that it has a big markup.

soap1

Yet, there is actually less soap in that pricey foaming soap dispenser. In fact, you can easily make your own foaming hand soap at home, using 80% less than the soap you would usually use.

Here’s how: Use a foaming hand soap dispenser (they have the extra-wide spout); fill with 20% soap, 60% water and 20% air; then shake. It’s so easy and cost-effective that you may never use the old bottles again. Just remember the 20/60/20 ratio and you’ve cut your soap costs by 80%.

Is using a hand soap with less actual soap still effective? You bet. A little tip I learned in the Peace Corps, and supported by the Centers for Disease Control, is that friction plays a big part in cleaning your hands when washing them. Both soap and friction lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin. When you lather up and scrub your hands, you’re not just distributing soap around, but creating friction as well. That’s why it’s recommended that you sing “Happy Birthday” twice or the “ABC’s” while washing your hands. The longer you scrub your hands, the more microbes you’ll remove.

As long as you scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, the type of soap you use shouldn’t make a difference in how clean your hands are. Now, if you are washing your hands after mucking around in the mud or changing the oil on your car, you’ll probably need more than 20 seconds. But for the average handwash, using diluted soap isn’t likely to make a big difference. Although, in my son’s case, it does make a difference – I have noticed that he washes his hands longer when he uses foaming soap than when he uses regular liquid soap.

If you would prefer a non-disposable dispenser, get one with a clear soap chamber. That will help you when you’re measuring out how much soap and water to add.

Here’s a great foaming soap dispenser to use at home if you’re interested

61yRkj7-V9L._SL1500_Otherwise, you can mark the inside of the soap dispenser with the 20% line and the 60% line with a permanent marker.

What do you think: Are you ready to give it a try? It costs only a few bucks to pick up a foaming hand soap bottle to give it a whirl. 

Homemade Dryer Sheets

dryersheet

Earlier this week, I sent out an email to the list and talked about what I was going to start the year off here at SLB. I got some difficult personal stuff out of the way early, but I promised them that I would fill out a few of my most popular posts. If you’re not signed up for the email list, sign up here (I promise not to spam you because I hate people that do that shit). One of the first things that I thought that I’d do some follow up posts and show you how to do the ultimate DIY/Green your laundry room. No more weird things getting into your clothes, like Quaternary Acrylate Polymer (ingredient in most fabric softeners that rhyme with muggle) or Quaternary Ammonium Compound (in the aforementioned softener). Since I got tired of that stuff that I hardly know what goes in there, I created my  homemade fabric softener.

Jeff’s Note: Let me be the first to say that I know you wont get rich doing this (but I will, jk). Sure, you’re saving a bit of money and it all adds up, but if you’re just starting to right the ship your time would be better spent by tackling some of your high recurring bills, such as your cell phone or internet. Those could yield 750+ worth of savings per year, while this will be something like $50.

All that being said, I do this because it’s fairly easy to accomplish while watching tv, it saves a bit of money, and I dont put a bunch of weird stuff on my clothes while they are in the dryer. I also get to become a little bit more self reliant.

In the interest of focus, not long after that, I looked for more ways to green up the laundry room at our house and make it more sustainable and DIY. The cost is lower, it’s better for the earth and it doesnt have names that I couldn’t pronounce (even with college chemistry). My next logical step was homemade dryer sheets. In addition to the fact that dryer sheets are used in the same room and for the same reason (essentially) as fabric softener. They are both used to soften and make your clothes smell good, and they are both used constantly and kind of expensive! I got a little tired of paying the money and a little tired of the weird stuff that they put on dryer sheets (like Dipalmethyl Hydroxyethylammoinum Methosulfate). I cant say that either, so I decided to craft something a bit closer to what Im familiar with (and a lot cheaper too!)

My Recipe for Homemade Dryer Sheets

You will need:

  • Cloth pieces (I used an old t-shirts)
  • 8 drops Essential Oils (I like tea tree and lavender)
  • 1/2 cup Vinegar

The first thing that I do for my homemade dryer sheets is get the base for the sheets. There are a lot of suggestions to go out and buy things, but what I would do if I were you is to use some old t-shirt scraps like me that have been turned into rags. To do this, I start with a tshirt that is no longer wearable in public and cut the sleeves off. Once the sleeves are off, I cut the shirts into about 4″x4″ squares (and the sleeves in half). Once I have the sheets that I’ll be using (don’t worry, they are reusable) I get to making the soaking mixture.

Shirt

This is the t-shirt before I started cutting it up. It was kind of a sad day getting rid of this, since it was something that I got in high school (I’m 28)

Shirt After Cutting

Here are the shirts after they’ve been cut up. Since I used a quart mason jar, I had to cut these in half again. I ended up throwing the shirt collar and sleeves into the rag bin since there was not enough room in the mason jar to hold all the scraps that I created.

The next thing that you do is to take a resealable container (I use a mason jar) and add 8 drops of tea tree oil, 8 drops of a scented oil of your choice (I like lemon oil, orange oil or lavender, sandalwood is good too, if you’re a guy). Once I’ve added my essential oils, I add a half cup of vinegar, then i put all my cloths into the mason jar. That’s it!

IMG_20140130_184901013

Here is the final product. I forgot to take a picture after I mixed the vinegar and oil in, and before I put what will become the dryer sheets in there.

Now, a few usage notes:

  • These things can build a lot of static electricity, you should consider putting 1-2 safety pins on each dryer sheets to reduce the static while your clothes are in the dryer
  • Ring your cloths out before you put them in the dryer
  • Once the sheets are done in the dryer, put them back in your resealable container and  prep them for later use. My system is to put old cloths in one side and pull new cloths out of the other side.
  • If your container does not have adequate liquid to soak the cloths you put in it, double my recipe (use 1 cup vinegar and 16 drops of each of your essential oils).

This is the second in the series of how to keep your laundry room sustainable. If you missed the homemade fabric softener, check it out here. You can do all this stuff and keep it cheap – the main ingredient is vinegar!