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Four (Easy!) Ways to Go Green and Save
~by Sarah Horan
We are always looking for ways to conserve resources and minimize our ecological footprint. Here are some great tips to help you go green and save money at the same time!
Buy in Bulk
Many supermarkets and most health-food stores offer the option to buy in bulk. This is a great way to save money and minimize waste.
When you buy things in bulk, you eliminate the need for excess packaging, preventing lots of plastic from ending up in our landfills. Buying in bulk also in cost-effective, as many things that are offered this way are cheaper per serving than if you’d bought a smaller package.
Buying in bulk also allows you to choose how much of each item you want to purchase, so you don’t end up with more than you can use.
Great items to buy in bulk include:
* Baking items such as flour, cornmeal and sugar
* Snacks like granola, oatmeal, dried fruit, nuts and cereal
* Dried goods: beans of all kinds, barley, rice, split peas, and lentils
* Honey, peanut butter, maple syrup, agave syrup
Some stores even offer bath and beauty products in bulk such as shampoos, body wash, soap and lotion-a great way to reduce packaging waste, and generally less expensive for the same brands.
An easy (and green) way to store your bulk purchases: invest in a case of various sized Mason jars and lids.
Make Your Own
From making your own bath and beauty products to canning your own sauces to simply making your own pitcher of ice tea from loose leaf tea rather than buying a mix- no matter what level your DIY know-how, making something yourself is almost always a greener and cheaper option than buying it.
Look around your house and kitchen and keep an eye out at the grocery store and the home goods store for things that you can make yourself instead of buying the readymade option. (Plus, then you get to impress all your friends with your thrifty craftiness!)
Some ideas for easy DIY:
* Air fresheners from essential oils (see previous post from Who’s Green for details!)
* Make your own healthier popsicles by simply freezing juice in Dixie cups with a popsicle stick in them, or if you plan to do it often, invest in a popsicle mold for the freezer (greener-no trash!)
Grow It Yourself
A great way to go green and save money, as well as an awesome way to get your children involved and excited about fruits and veggies is to grow them yourself! When you grow your own produce you know there are no harmful pesticides or insecticides used in the process.
A few tips:
* Herbs are an easy and quick way to start experimenting with growing your own food. You can buy them already started and just transplant them into suitable containers. If you have kitchen windows that provide good light, just perch those herbs right on your windowsills for easy access to fresh herbs while cooking.
* Pick veggies that grow well in your climate (Check here to see what climate zone you are in and which vegetables grow best at each time of the year: http://www.gardenate.com/zones/)
* You don’t need a lot of space to grow vegetables-you can easily and successfully grow many tasty edibles in containers.
Get in Your Kitchen!
Baking for yourself and your family is a wonderful way to be a little greener. Instead of buying baking goods at the grocery store, which can often be full of preservatives and artificial colors and flavors as well as packaged in plastic, try baking your favorite treat at home.
Baking for yourself also allows you to experiment with making lower-fat or healthier versions.
Tip: If you are a beginning baker, try an easy treat first, like this yummy banana bread.
Yummy Easy Banana Bread
2 Cups Flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 stick of butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
4 mashed overripe bananas
½ cup walnuts or pecans or chocolate chips
¼ tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9 x 5 loaf pan.
Mix all the dry ingredients except the nuts. In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar together.
Add the mashed bananas and eggs and mix together.
Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix gently with a wooden spoon just until incorporated. Add the nuts and stir gently. Over-mixing will toughen the bread. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake about 60 minutes.
For muffins, simply pour into muffin tins instead of a loaf pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes.
Now compare your homemade delicious bread, approximate cost $1.35 per loaf, 200 calories per slice or about 220 calories per muffin, to store-bought banana nut muffins, approximate cost $1.50 per muffin with anywhere from 400-700 calories per muffin!
Watch this space for more quick, easy and green ways to save energy, resources and money!