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Getting Greener in May

May 2, 2008

Two blogs I read recently mentioned organic shampoo, and SavingDiva has been talking about Lush in several posts. Being green is so hip these days!

I’m going to join in Fabulously Broke’s effort to get a little more eco-friendly this month. It is spring, time for everything to turn green, including me! I picked a good month for it, since my budget is slightly looser than normal, and there are some start up costs. Here are my action items for May:

Organic Shampoo: I’m already on the ball for this one. I’ve been using Purology, which is 100% vegan, but 100% expensive at about $25 a bottle. My last stylist talked me into it so I splurged. It is specifically for color treated hair, which I no longer intend to have, so I am going to explore other options. I do like this shampoo–it is nice to my hair and is highly concentrated so has lasted me a long time. In the past, I’ve used Bioloage, which you can get for a little less cash (but still about $15), which pretends to be green but I’m not sure that there aren’t chemicals. I’m assuming there is a whole slew of $10-ish organic shampoos I could find at the drug store, but I’m kind of itching to try Lush. It is about $10 for a bar of shampoo. I’m interested to know roughly how long I can expect that bar to last and how well they work. Have you tried it? Do you love it? If I don’t get positive reviews, I’ll try something less drastic and just get a bottle of regular organic shampoo. Of course, I need to use up my other shampoo/conditioner first, so maybe this won’t even happen until later…

Reusable Bags: I’ve been talking about buying some of these for months. Each time I’m at Trader Joe’s, I see them for just $0.99 and wonder if I should grab one. But I don’t. In May, I will take the plunge! Should I be frugal and just get some ninety-nine centers, or should I splurge on something like a Chico or Baggu bag, or something even more stylish?

Paper Towel Alternative: I love paper towels, but it just seems like I could minimize the use of them. Of course I could use a standard dish cloth, but has anyone found cloths that are simply more… paper towel like? I found this option online, but I’m open to suggestions of things you’ve actually tried. I don’t think I’d need something this specialized, but my standard dish cloths don’t satisfy me the same way.

409/Cleaner Alternative: I clean my counter with 409, which makes them white and shiny. Unfortunately I’m sure 409 has at least 409 different chemicals. Check out this list of different frugal and natural cleaners from Sarah Snow, who I admit I had never heard of until she was on “Jon and Kate Plus Eight.” Why do I have such lame TV tastes? Regardless, it looks like you can clean almost everything with vinegar and water, or make a all-purpose cleaner with borax and baking soda. (Hmm, what is borax?) I also will need to get some spay bottles to use, but making my own non-toxic cleaners shouldn’t be too hard. Also part of this effort is to clean the small spot on my wall. I’m not telling you what it is, because it is kind of gross (which is why I haven’t cleaned it yet), but seriously, I need to take care of it. Now.

Lights: My kitchen lights are on a dimmer switch and are really bright (which I like). I don’t know if there are available CFL/LED alternatives. The same applies to my bathroom lights. I’ve replaced all the standard light bulbs, but hesitated on these more unusual bulbs. I’m going to investigate my options for these bulbs.

Onto the finances! Shower products combine “green” with “beauty” and are the most fun to buy, I’m going to allow myself to splurge in that area a little bit and spend up to $40 in this category. I could also use some new make-up, but I’ll see how the rest of the month pans out. Reusable bags is a question mark–I could do this for less than $5, but may want to splurge up to $20. What do you think? Cleaning supplies and paper towel alternatives might cost up to $25 (I hope much less though) and will be much cheaper in the long run. The lights could be well over $20, but there may not be any reasonable alternatives. I’ll have to see. I allocated extra money to both the “Personal” fund and the “Misc” fund, so I’ll budget out of those categories.

The best way to be green is not by buying a bunch of green products, but by buying less crap in general. This is something I already am striving to do (for finance reasons), but these are some extra steps that I want to take. At least my consumer impulses will be channeled towards good products.

(P.S. – I finally stopped by American Apparel and really wasn’t impressed. The quality vs. price didn’t match up to my standars, but I guess when everything is organic and made in L.A., a cheap-seeming t-shirt will be $25. I expected the fabric to be softer and sturdier and NOT feel like I could have bought it at Walmart. My quest for yoga pants will continue, and if I’m patient, may end at overpriced but high quality Lululemon.)

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2008 9:36 am

    As far as shampoo is concerned, I have too seen several bloggers raving about Lush. hehe. I haven’t tried it, but I just discovered there is one somewhat close to me…so I might go check it out one of these days.

    Have you ever checked out Basin though? I’m not sure if they are “green” or not, but they also have shampoo bars and they seem to only have a few ingredients (or so they say). I’m assuming its the same concept, and I’m DYING to try them!! I refuse to pay $5 shipping for a $7 bar though, so I’m waiting until I can get a free shipping deal or something. (They have one at DisneyWorld and another at DisneyLand…that’s how I discovered their soaps, but I now regret not buying a shampoo bar!!)

  2. May 2, 2008 10:44 am

    In response to the shampoo bar, I really like my Lush bar. I’ve used it for about a week, and it doesn’t appear to have gotten any smaller. There is also a Burt’s Bees product which may be a little less expensive.

    My effort to be more green has lead me to ride my bike more…yeah, not just to and from work. Now, I ride it to my friend’s apartments and to other locations that are about 2 miles away (like the gym).

  3. May 2, 2008 11:59 am

    You know, I really wasn’t impressed by American Apparel, other than that positively gorgeous red dress that I found in Vegas. Their clothes are cute enough, but not for the prices, and the quality didn’t measure up to the prices.

    I’m going to try the vinegar and water solution for cleaning, especially now that it’s summer and ants are going to be invading in the high heat.

    As for the reusable bags, I have a few bags collected from Comic Con that don’t have a flat bottom so they wouldn’t be good for bulkier groceries, but they’d be a good start for smaller food items. I’ll send ya one if you want 🙂

  4. May 2, 2008 2:12 pm

    My biggest issue with “going green” is that it sometimes is simply more expensive- organic bananas vs. non-organic, organic pasta sauce vs. non-organic, bleach-free paper towels vs. the normal stuff, etc. This seems to be the case with shampoo also. However, I am glad to see you are looking for environmentally friendly ways to save money. Good call on the 409 and paper towel alternatives. I always keep dish towels handy in the kitchen myself. I find I can at least use a dish towel for my hands; paper towels are a necessity for cleaning up messes.

  5. jay permalink
    May 2, 2008 4:49 pm

    Great ideas!
    Part of going “green” is minimizing waste, so perhaps you should use up what you have then move on to greener products.
    409 would be an exception, for me. I think it smells like a chemical soup. Anyhow, METHOD (based in San Francisco) makes a great line of great, inexpensive cleaners and a few personal products, all very “green”. Target carries most of them. Target also stocks terrycloth cleaning cloths which are great for cleaning, and easy to wash. The best polishing cloth (no lint) is a cloth diaper.

  6. Gypsie permalink
    May 2, 2008 5:10 pm

    I personally would not spend the money for a chico or other bag. Target has some nice red flat bottomed ones that fold up for about $1. Albertson’s has some green flat-bottomed one that do not fold up for $1 too.

    As far as cleaning products, I use Simple Green which is non-toxic (lot’s of four legged children). It comes concentrated and can be used for everything from cleaning the kitchen and bathroom to laundry (directions for laundry on the back). It’s great only needing one cleaner!

    And I do think they make CFLs for the “specialized” uses now as well. We replaced our dimmer lights with regular CFLs and they work just fine except for an occaissional humming sound.

  7. May 2, 2008 6:53 pm

    Lo. Price (and Stacking Pennies): I had the same issue at first, but I have noticed a difference with most items when I switched to “greener” versions. For example, I buy Organic Valley milk and it is the best milk I’ve ever had. The store brand organic didn’t taste different to me but this does, totally worth the extra $.50. Also bananas, the organic bananas taste better… more banana-y and creamy. Hard to explain, but good! And the most recent trip to the store I was pleasantly surprised that organic, 100% natural, made in the USA, laundry detergent was cheaper than even the store brand of the same size. I don’t buy all organic, but I have been very happy with the items I’ve tried.

  8. May 4, 2008 7:34 am

    YAY! 🙂 *adds you to her list*

  9. tom permalink
    May 5, 2008 11:54 am

    I don’t know about all the other green products, but CFLs are the way to go. They are somewhat expensive, but if you go to Costco, you can get them in packs of 10 for cheap. You will be surprised at how much your energy bill will drop after replacing your normal light bulbs. And Gypsie is right, they do have CFLs for dimmer switches.

    I would not even bother with LED lightbulbs. I’ve been researching them for a while and a 60 W eqivalent is around $120 PER BULB!! This price will eventually go down, but we aren’t there yet.

    http://www.ccrane.com/geobulb/index.aspx

  10. May 5, 2008 1:55 pm

    Reusable bags are great… Not only are you cutting back on waste, you’re setting a good example for other shoppers as well. Plus it just makes sense… Often I have way too many plastic bags that I don’t know what to do with them. One sticky area I run into is plastic bags for produce – I feel so hypocritical using my reusable bag and then filling up bag after bag of produce and then just tossing it. I found these: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=10947427 so I’m waiting a bit for the finances to work out, and then I’m buying them.

    For awhile, my mom kept forgetting her bags at home or stopping by the grocery store on the way home from work. One thing that worked for her was to just keep the bags in the back seat or trunk.

  11. May 5, 2008 1:56 pm

    Thanks Tom. Yikes on the LED bulbs… no thank you! I already have CFL’s for my “standard” lights plus a three way one in my bedroom.

    I have 3 dimmer halogens for my kitchen, 4 vanity lights in the bathroom, plus a big one in the bathroom. I don’t have costco membership, but I’ll keep my eyes out for good deals this month

  12. May 7, 2008 9:28 am

    I haven’t been able to give up using paper towels. However, I now buy Bounty Select-A-Size, which allows you to use half a sheet or a full sheet. I think a few other brands have Select-A-Size also. It may not always be the cheapest but using half vs. full sheets makes a difference in cost and for the environment.

  13. Looby permalink
    May 7, 2008 10:04 pm

    Living in Vancouver it appears that lululemon is the standard uniform but I have found Roots make lovely yoga pants, and have some lovely bamboo tops as well.

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