Science_Spot recently made the decision to go green in her household and blog about her green living experiment along the way.
For those of you following along the last two months, you've probably gotten an idea of how rewarding yet challenging this process has been. This week, Science_Spot talks about whether her family's transition to an all-natural lifestyle has been costly or cost effective.
As I work through transitioning to natural products, I cannot ignore the affect of this transition on the budget. At the center of my budget control is the idea that if I reduce the number of products I use, I can afford to spend more per item, but hope not to.
Food. So far this is a draw, but it's a work in progress! I have been looking at labels and buying the brand or variety that has the lowest chemical content. For many things this really isn't too hard, and many of my current choices weren't too bad (surprisingly). All the canned beans and vegetables I buy have no additives or preservatives. All my dairy products and fresh produce are the same way. Lucky me. I did buy an organic version of pop tarts and also Kashi cereals, so we will see how well those choices go over. Buying a different brand does not always mean higher prices, but it does sometimes. I paid three times more for real maple syrup!
The bread maker will pay for itself after about 50 loaves (about a month from now), at which point I calculated our bread cost to be about 30 cents per loaf (a savings from the current sale prices of $2).
Water. No changes made here yet, so no budget impact. When I do change water filter brands, I don't expect them to impact the budget much.
Air. I saved us money. We have been throwing around the idea of purchasing another air ionizer like one we used when we were both still smokers. These are generally about $100 for a model that would clean a single room. Instead, I used about $100 to buy soil, cheap pots, young plants and some seeds. I also found multiple resources to acquire many free plant cuttings. Now I have over 40 small and medium sized plants in the house, cleaning the air. I shouldn't even need to add more plants, but I probably will just for fun and beauty (and to replace dead ones, which I am bound to have). Considering the cost of electricity to run the ionizer (if we bought it), I know I saved us money by buying plants instead.
Cleaners. This switch saved money, without a doubt. Vinegar is $7 for a 2 gallon size, and baking soda is $6 for the giant box. These items will last me many months, and I also have ammonia and bleach in case I need them for sanitizing. The extra elbow grease is made easier with a small variety of scrubbing tools, for which I paid $15, total. These few items replaced the following: Windex (glass & mirrors), Formula 409 (counters), Comet (toilet), Soft Scrub (bathroom), Weiman's (stainless steel cleaner), Mr. Clean (floors), Glade Carpet Freshener (carpets), and Woolite No-Vac Carpet Cleaner (carpet spots).
Toys. So far I have saved us money since I have no urge to buy small toys to satisfy a bored child. I am getting pretty good at explaining to Abby why I won't buy cheap toys. And I am good at "seek and destroy" missions on cheap toys while she is sleeping! I do expect future toy purchase to be more costly but they will be of higher quality. I may even make some gifts instead of relying on purchased toys.
Disposable Packaging. I have slowly been purchasing Rubbermaid containers when I get coupons, and I buy re-useable grocery bags whenever I find one I like under $5. Having a good selection of containers helps in freezing home-made foods and packing home-made lunches. Both of these things cuts down on our consumption of packaged foods laden with chemicals.
Personal Care Products. I am saving a lot of money here, but I am paying for it in time spent and trial-and-error. Hopefully my experiences will help others move their transitions more quickly and painlessly. Since my transition began, the only new products I have purchased are soaps (about the same cost as replacing empty body wash). I saved money by not replacing most of what I have run out of so far. Instead of shampoo, conditioner and styling products, I am trying baking soda and vinegar washing, with no styling aids, which saved me the $30 it would have cost to buy more of the normal brands. I also won't be buying new nail polish colors and another bottle of nail polish remover (saving about $20).
So with two months completed, it's getting easier! I look forward to may more wonderful changes in the months to come!