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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Frugal & Green Update

It's time for another report on some of my regular frugal and green efforts.

Home Recycling - A little less than usual this past month because I've been taking cardboard boxes to the UPS store for re-use (see below).
Office Recycling - I am happy to report that things are improving on this front. Though I still find the stray water bottle or soda can in the trash, most recyclables are going into the designated bin. And I now have an occasional helper with the paper. I've discovered that I have to get everything out of the office before the cleaning crew comes in on Thursday nights, or the bins will be emptied into the dumpster out back. Sometimes this means that the back of my car resembles a recycling center until I can get the stuff to its appropriate destinations.
Other Recycling - Earlier this week, I bought a new phone (see unexpected expenses below), and recycled my old one, along with the plastic clam shell packaging it came in, at the AT&T store. When I have time, I will take the chargers that went with the old one to the store too. I don't know what they do with it, but am told it gets recycled somehow.

Compost -  We seem to be producing very little kitchen waste these days....I'd like to think that we're being a little more diligent about using up produce before it spoils. A client sent me a gift box of fabulous citrus from Florida so we've added more than the usual amount of orange peel and grapefruit rind in the compost. And I brought home peelings from about 10 pounds of potatoes from a family get-together (I couldn't bear to see it go down my sister-in-law's disposal!).

Reuse - I've been taking just about all the cardboard boxes from my office to the UPS store for reuse. It makes so much more sense than cutting them up for recycling, though I sometimes wonder what happens to my boxes after they'e been shipped. Do they wind up in the trash? Would it be better if I recycled them?  Two weeks ago, I "rescued" a half dozen boxes from the curb prior to trash pick up on my street. One of the boxes was full of styro peanuts. These also went to the UPS store after spending two days in my car. Another reuse - or perhaps better described as an up-cycle - success story came when I gave three old china plates to a friend who makes mosaics from broken tiles and china. She has promised me some photos which I will post. The plates came from our friend's storage unit which is slowly being cleared out.

Waste - We put another load of yard debris leftover from fall clean-up in the trash last week (see Trash below). I think we're just about at the end of it. But it really bothers me that we're adding that much organic matter to the landfill. While not really a waste of money, it's a waste of organic resources. By next fall, I hope I'll have a solution for this problem.

Trash - We continue to keep our regular trash limited to about one small grocery-sized plastic bag, twice a week. But we still have the leftover yard debris which we've been putting out once a week (see above). If our trash hauler charged by the bag, container or by weight, we would pay the minimum, I'm sure. Something to look into.

Energy - With warmer weather and longer days, I do believe we've reduced our home energy use substantially compared to this past winter. Our most recent energy bill was $253, compared to over $400 last month. We are also making fewer stews, soups and baked or braised dishes, so we're using less gas for cooking less too.

Frugal Steps - With warm weather comes a change in wardrobe. I have decided to shop in my closet for the spring season rather than adding anything least for awhile. The challenge will be making some of the older things feel fresh...a task I'm not sure I'm capable of tackling. I think this will be a topic for a new post soon.
We've been fortunate this past month. When I took my car for a regular maintenance, I thought I might have to replace the brakes, but the service manager told me they still some life left...a nice reprieve. Ditto for the tires. We did have to replace a decripit calculator (the kind with a tape that is essential for doing billing and taxes). It only cost around $20, but we didn't have time to comparison shop, so we may have paid more than we might have had if we weren't in a rush to replace it.

Frugal Finds -  No big savings recently beyond a few coupon doublers. However we did make a nice score of some fabulous organic, free trade, shade-grown coffee from a local roaster who sells at the Stockton Farmer's Market. They had a half-price basket so instead of $12 a bag (about 12 oz.), we paid $6. The reason it was reduced is because it was a few days past its optimum use date. We thought it made delicious coffee.

So that's my Green and Frugal Update for mid-April. Happy Spring!


  1. Good going Dee. It seems to be so much more difficult to recycle in PA than in CA. We don't even think about recycling out here, it is just a way of life.

  2. The numbers for the country as a whole are pretty disappointing. But the EPA hasn't released new numbers since 2005!

  3. Have you found a way to recycle plastic wrappers? Like the stuff the frozen veggies or cheese comes in? I'm doing a crazy garbage challenge thing and the main thing that's in my garbage these days is those sorts of plastic wrappers. Just wondered if you've found a solution... there must be one right?

    Yours in Frugal Green-ness,
    Rebecca The Greeniac