Refillable Travel-Size Bottles

May 18, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Quick Saving Tips
Travel Size Bottles
Photo by darcyempea.

Next time you are getting ready to travel somewhere, bypass the travel-size item aisle – opting instead for your own refillable bottles – and save quite a bit of money in the long run.

I bought a small travel kit made by Nalgene before my first study abroad trip almost ten years ago and still use it whenever I head out of town.  With the kit, there is no need to hit my drugstore’s travel aisle before every trip and cross my fingers that they will have a small version of my favorite shampoo or soap.  Instead, I simply label the bottles and fill them with my favorite products from home.

It goes without saying that bringing your own products in refillable bottles is greener than using the complimentary items offered in hotel bathrooms.  But on the occasion that my environmentalism is tested by a particularly tempting free product offering in a hotel – as it was by designer products during a recent stay at a five-star hotel for a cousin’s wedding – I hang onto those bottles and refill them for use in my gym tote or overnight bag!

Earth Day Deals

April 22, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Quick Saving Tips

Green Yahoo has a great list of tons of freebies and giveaways on this Earth Day.  They range from free admission into any National Park through this weekend to great travel deals to green hotels throughout the country.

Save On Ink, Lose On Paper

April 12, 2010 · Filed Under News, Quick Saving Tips

Dinesh Ramde of the Associated Press reported yesterday that, an independent Dutch printer comparison company, has discovered a new way to reduce printing costs: Change your print settings to Century Gothic font.  Century Gothic utilizes thinner lines than other popular fonts (such as Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana) and thus requires significantly less ink over the long term than thicker fonts.

According to Ramde, Diane Blohowiak, Coordinator of Information Technology for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, believes that urging computer users at her university to print using Century Gothic will cut down on yearly printing costs by between $5,000 and $10,000.

Critics of this discovery point out that, while Century Gothic may use less ink because it is a thinner font, it is also wider.  Because wider fonts fit fewer words per page, using Century Gothic in lieu of a narrower font could ultimately lead to more paper consumption.

As readers of Pays to Live Green know, the best way to save money on ink and paper is by going paperless.  When printing is absolutely necessary, consider the following basic ink-, paper-, and money-saving tips:

  • Print on the reverse side of old, unnecessary paper that was only printed on one side. Consider giving one-sided junk mail new life by keeping a stack of it near the printer for easy use.
  • Print double-sided.
  • Better yet, print two or more pages on one side and then print double-sided.
  • Print in greyscale to save on color ink.
  • Print a lighter, less-ink version in “draft” mode.
  • Utilize other green printing techniques.

Easy E Cloth

March 15, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Green, Health, Quick Saving Tips, Save and Go Green

Reduce the money you spend on cleaning products and make your house healthier with the “e cloth“. Now most of these are not made with ‘natural’ products per say, but they can significantly reduce the money you spend on cleaning and the resources required for those products. The E-Cloth is very affordable and it only requires water to help lubricate the surfaces for easy cleaning. So it is not an entirely green product, but something I have used and believe works very well.

The E-Cloth is a polyester & polyamide blend. The polyester is supposed to scrub and clean, while the small portion of polyamide, a nylon byproduct, should absorb the water. It works because of this blend and due to the fine nature of the fabric. It is this fineness that is able to break up the ‘dirt’ and then absorb it along with the water. This type of fabric is called a “microfiber” but the company indicates that not all microfibers are created equal.

Now as a skeptic of a “one size fits all” perspective, I was curious to know if the E-Cloth could truly clean kitchens, bathrooms, and cars equally. Although they have developed a few more ‘specific’ cloths since my all out investigation, I found that shockingly it does. I used it to dust, clean dirty stoves, and even wash part of a friend’s car with the E-cloth. All I needed to do was through it in the wash or a bucket to rinse it out and it was ready for the next challenge.

I highly recommend this as a one time investment if the regime of old rags isn’t cutting it. If you are sensitive to dust or other indoor pollutants, the E-cloth is a very good solution. I know many individuals with asthma or environmental sensitivities that use this product as well. It can reduce the amount of time you spend reading cleaning labels. Of course home-brewed cleaning recipes and old rags work well too. But for those who want to cut paper towels out of their own consumer report along with cleaning rags that spread in place of clean the dirt, the E-Cloth could be a great addition to your home.

Ways to Reduce Shower Time

March 11, 2010 · Filed Under Quick Saving Tips, Save and Go Green

While I was recently in the shower, I was thinking of why it takes some people so long to take showers.  Upon realizing that I was wasting time in the shower while doing so, I quickly finished my shower.

Long, Hot Shower
Photo by silveraquarius.

There are so many different ways while we are in the shower that contribute to it be longer than it should be.  Here are some great ways to make those showers shorter and help reduce your monthly water and energy bills.

Don’t Zone Out

It sounds bad to suggest not to think, but thinking too much in the shower can cost you time.  It’s so easy to lose track of time and just think about the things that transpired during the day or random thoughts.  I tend to do this too often and I mentioned above.  It’s one of those things that I avoid at all costs to keep my shower times short.  Try you best to focus on the task and finish your showers without letting the calm noise of the water let you thoughts take over.

Cold Showers

Taking a cold shower can dramatically help speed the process.  Think of every time the shower gets cold and how fast you move to get out of the shower.  If the entire shower were cold, it would be difficult to even do anything but hurry along and get out.  Beyond that, taking colder showers helps reduce energy bills and can even have positive health benefits.

Avoid Warming Up

So many people stand around in the shower just to warm themselves up, especially during the winter.  A good suggestion to avoid this problem is to wear more clothing around the house during those cold months.  Even if you do take a short shower that is hot, you will be warm by the end of it.

Only Shower

Showering is not the main priority when some people shower.  I have heard of people brushing their teeth, shaving, sing and so many other activities.  All of these only contribute to a longer shower and can easily be done outside of the shower without the need for water to be continually running.

We are all guilty of many of these things that keep us in the shower longer than we need to.  Be conscious of each of them and hopefully you can reduce your shower time while saving a little cash in the meantime.

Green Paints Top Consumer Reports List

February 18, 2010 · Filed Under Products, Quick Saving Tips

In Consumer Report’s 2010 interior paint report, almost all of the top performers were also the lowest in VOCs.  This is fairly surprising considering that many in previous years, many of the top performing paints were not all that environmentally friendly.

Bob Markovich, the senior home editor at Consumer Reports sums this new trend up nicely:

Paints have advanced in their ability to perform and be green

Some of the top performing paints include:

  • Behr Premium Plus Ultra ($33/gallon)
  • Kilz Casual Colors semigloss & low-luster ($22/gallon)
  • Benjamin Moore Regal ($45/gallon)

The biggest thing that Consumer Report suggests is that paints should be chosen not by brand since some of the top brands did not perform that well.  It’s also key to do your research and properly read the labels to make sure you are buying a paint that is in fact either low or zero VOC.  I would suggest also checking out natural paints that perform just as well without dangerous ingredients and absolutely no VOCs.

Take the Guilt out of Hot Showers

January 22, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Products, Quick Saving Tips, Save and Go Green

So we have learned about the significant water and energy savings by taking shorter showers, calculating our water use, and learning why our water takes so long to heat up. All of which can lead to significant savings for your pocketbook. Now here is one more tip that can help you and your family save hot water immediately.

Growing up in a house full of girls, hot water was a precious commodity (as it should be). So when you won rights to the bathroom, you had to capitalize by undertaking all of your bathroom routines while waiting for the water to heat up. As some readers have mentioned, there are ways to capture and reuse the cold water, but what about the hot water?

A little invention called the ShowerStart™ slows the water to a trickle once it’s warmed up. Then when you are ready to hop in, you just pull the lever. You just install it right in between the showerhead and the pipe. They run from $40 to $50 dollars and depending on your water usage and utility costs, it can have a quick payback time (they estimate 4 months). The company estimates $75 in utility savings and 2,700 gallons of water savings per year.

As someone who has used this product, I highly recommend it. This quick addition can help you save water, electricity, and money. But it can also increase awareness and doesn’t require any additional effort beyond initial installation. Since you can install and remove it easily, it works for apartment dwellers as well as families. The company also offers several other products to improve water quality and additional energy and water saving devices.

Learn more about water conservation (did you know that cold water is suggested to make your hair shinier?).

Calculate your shower’s impact.

Discover the invigorating glory of quick showers.

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