Sunday, May 9, 2010
Spend Less part 2: Use less
Okay, duhhh, right? But you'd think such a simple concept wouldn't be lost on so many people. Every time I see someone tear off 14 sheets of toilet paper, blow their nose with the corner of 1 sheet, then chuck it all in the trash, or completely saturate a sponge with dish soap to wash one glass, I want to strangle them. There should be a mandatory kick to the crotch for anyone throwing away food because they took more than they could eat.
The fact is, most people are using more of everyday products than they need to, and throwing away perfectly usable stuff simply out of laziness. Here are some easy tips to help avoid me punching you in the face.
Take the least amount of soap, or shampoo, or tissue, etc possible. You can always add more if you find you need it (you probably won't.) If you can reduce your consumption of household things by half, they will last twice as long.
The problem of overeating is a rant for another day, but in the meantime, when serving yourself food, use a small bowl or plate and finish that before taking more. Promptly put away leftovers in proper containers (not a ceramic bowl with a sheet of saran wrap over it...that's asking for trouble.)
use all you can
Cut open lotion and toothpaste tubes when they appear to be empty—I guarantee there is still enough inside for at least 3-4 uses. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap (it's cheaper anyway) and save the slivers inside a stocking or washcloth. Bars of deodorant usually have a large chunk stuck in the base after it's "empty"—scrape it out, warm it up, and mold it back into a lump (or better yet, use a rock-type deodorant in the first place! I strongly recommend LUSH's Aromaco. I've had the same tiny piece—that I got for free!—for over a year.) You can do the same thing with lip balm (next time you get a little mint tin or something, save it for this purpose.)
don't waste food...ever
If you find yourself tossing out a lot of expired food every month (or worse...just letting it sit in the fridge to rot), there are a few things you can do. First, take note of the stuff you aren't using, and stop buying that stuff. Second, make small, frequent trips to get groceries, rather than buying a lot at once. Check the dates of everything you buy and try to get stuff that expires later (but don't forget about it during that time!) At least once a month, take inventory of your cupboards and fridge and move near-expiring items to the front.
There is nothing wrong with stocking up on food, especially if you find a great deal on something you like, but remember that NOTHING is truly non-perishable. If you're going to stockpile food, you need to rotate that stock. Saving a bunch of pasta for 2 years becomes wasted money when you finally reach for it and realize that bugs have eaten through the box. Same goes for the tofu you got on sale that rotted in the back of your fridge.
Basically, avoid any kind of unnecessary waste, and think before you put something in the trash. If you overstocked something that you know you aren't going to be able to use, offer it to someone else. They'll probably be very grateful.