Accidentally Eco: Cheap and Lazy Is the New Green

I used to be cheap and lazy. I rinsed and reused baggies because I was too thrifty to buy Ziplocs. I used vinegar to (occasionally) clean my windows. I rode my bike for errands; couldn’t stand to fork over money for gas. Turns out I wasn’t cheap and lazy at all ... I was green! Try it with this cheap and lazy … er, green guide to spring to-do's.

Spring Planting

In my imagination, my garden is magnificent. In reality, I have some lovely peonies, a few bedraggled hydrangeas and some out-of-control climbing vines. Nothing takes root except native invasive species. Then recently I was pulling dandelions when my son inquired, “Mommy, why are you pulling out those beautiful yellow flowers?”

He gave me pause: Why was I trying to cultivate flowers that clearly found my garden inhospitable when other plants grow here quite nicely?

I’ve since vowed to stick to what grows naturally and easily. OK, not dandelions. But native plants, such as coneflower, sunflowers, milkweed and lupine, that can handle whatever Mother Nature throws at them. I’ll save money, water and stress.

Spring Cleaning

My entire arsenal of cleaning products cost me less than $10. It consists of baking soda, vinegar, eco-friendly dish detergent, Borax and castile soap. Do the same and your house on cleaning day will be free of the toxic compounds in conventional cleaning products – nasties such as diethylene glycol, benzaldehyde and others that disturb the nervous system, damage the immune system, give us headaches and harm our lungs.

Your family will breathe easier as they gasp at your handiwork.

Spring Shopping

Did you know 13¢ of every food dollar goes to packaging? Those intricately packaged items (generally in the middle of the store; the fresh, healthier stuff is around the perimeter) pump up your bill along with your midsection.

I’ve gotten a lot better at limiting my purchases of those packaged, processed foods since I started pedaling to the store with a bike trailer. Not only am I saving gas, but I also have to fit everything into the trailer – so I buy only what I really need.

Leslie Garrett is the author of The Virtuous Consumer. Get more of her real-woman’s take on eco-friendly living in Leslie's Gaiam blog.


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