3 Small Improvements to Your Wallet, Your Time, and Your Footprint

It is almost feeling like spring these days – still cold some of the time, but more and more days are over 50 degrees, Forsythia and Crocuses are everywhere and the trees are in bud all over.  It’s been raining a lot lately, and today it decided to snow.  Still, I am choosing to believe in Spring’s imminent arrival, mostly because otherwise I will just be one more grumpy New Englander.

It’s about time to move the ducks outside to the coop.  They are big now, and need more space, and honestly, they are very messy.  Adorable, with great personality, but their bin needs cleaning out every day, and even then the smell is hard to miss.  We started with 4, but one, a little Campbell duck named Gingersnap, didn’t make it past the first week, declining food and failing to thrive.  It was heartbreaking to see her go, but accepting that I am going to lose some of my animals is part of the deal.  Still, it was the first time I had lost a little one.  The other 3 are thriving though, and are taking daily swims in my downstairs bathtub.

I am no model for homestead or environmental perfection  – I work, which often involves travel.  I use my dryer.  I am busy and use shortcuts that sometimes have more packaging than I would prefer.  I am often time-constrained too.  In other words, pretty much like everyone else at my stage of life.

Despite that, I try very hard to reduce my footprint and my expenses whenever possible, and often those things go hand in hand.  When there’s an opportunity to simplify or improve my life as well though, I jump on it.  Here are 3 things that cover all of those areas – they save money, they are cheaper, and they make life easier all at the same time.  You can get everything at the grocery store at the same time you go for anything else, no special trips.  If your store doesn’t have essential oils, try Thrive Market or Amazon.

  1. Homemade laundry detergent
    Making homemade powder laundry detergent is a money-earning chore for my daughter.  Every month or two we mix up a batch and I pay her a dollar. The ingredients are inexpensive and they last.  Plus, the laundry smells amazing.  I buy Borax and Washing soda maybe every 10 months, at about $4 each.  I was using leftover hotel bars of soap (free) from my business trips, but I do like the Fels Naptha better, and that’s $1.19 a bar.  Essential oil lasts for about 6 batches at $7.93 per bottle – I use orange because I like it, but any scent will do.  I figure it’s about $3.31 for me to get a 2-month supply of laundry detergent, which is way better than any generic brand.
    Ingredients
    2 Cups Borax
    2 Cups Washing Soda
    1 Bar Fels Naptha Soap
    Generous glug of essential oil

Grate the soap with a cheese grater and mix all the ingredients together well.  Store           in a covered container (I use a quart-sized food storage container).  1.5 scoops                     handles a large load of laundry

2. Dryer Balls
I like the Woolzies kind, although I freely admit that’s the only kind I have ever purchased.  Every month or two I remember to drop some essential oil on them so the laundry smells better, but even if I forget there’s no static and no dryer sheets to buy or throw away.  My dryer balls are several years old at this point and still look and work great.

3. Pots of Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs are expensive, and even for city dwellers or those in small spaces, herbs on the windowsill are a good investment.  Seeds are cheap – your gardening friends may even plant you some free of charge.  Pots don’t have to be flower pots – leftover pasta sauce jars work and look nice too. If nothing else, Basil, Rosemary, and Parsley are high use and low maintenance.  Give them sun and water and you should reap the benefits year round.  No more herbs to buy, your dinner guests will be impressed by your ability to whip up a Caprese salad with your home-grown basil.

It’s fair to say that these are not things that are going to save massive amounts of money or time.  But they are three things that are easy, satisfying and good for the environment.  Few things are going to cut a mortgage in half – almost none, actually.  But little things add up, and the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself is priceless.Laundry detergent

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