Eating healthy and using products that don't harm our bodies or the environment shouldn't be a luxury, it should be our right. But from cage-free eggs to all-natural face cream, responsibly made products can be double or more compared to the conventional products. Maybe celebrities can afford to taut organic cotton outfits for their babies and sip fair-trade lattes, but the average mom has to worry about paying for the mortgage and diapers too! How do we keep our homes free of harmful chemicals as well as maintain a budget to save for our kids college or even just to make ends meet?
Consider the Full Cost
First and foremost, we need to recognize that just because a product is cheaper at the checkout, it doesn't mean that its cheaper in the long run. It might sound obvious for me to say, but I'll say it anyway. Products containing pesticides or other toxins are more costly in the long run due to their negative impact on our health and our environment. Would you really rather pay $0.50 per pound less for apples that was grown in soil contaminated with arsenic or lead? After adding up the cost of potential medical bills, not to mention physical and emotional trauma, its clear that the extra few dollars up front is well worth it. Plus, organic fruits and vegetables often taste better and have more vitamins and nutrients.
But now you're saying, wait a minute, if I buy everything organic all the time, all the fifty cents will add up! Here are a few ways to help you stay green and save some green too. Keeping in mind that not all the methods will work for you, I was able to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars by using only some of these methods.
If you have more time than money, this is the way to go. You can easily make your own laundry detergent, soap, lotion, and cleaning solutions. Just do a quick online search and you'll get hundreds recipes, or stay tuned for "The Best of DIY Beauty". It might sound daunting at first, but the recipes are really quite simple and usually doesn't take a lot of time. Make it a fun family project and let the kids get a little messy. In the end, you'll know exactly what went into the products and use them with confidence.
You can also DIY your organic food. Gardening is the best way to get organic veggies for the cost of some seeds and sweat equity. Once you start a garden, making compost is the next logical step. The "black gold" feeds your plants and consumes food scraps that would have ended up in the trash. We save hundreds per year by taking our trash to the local transfer station ($50/year fee, + $2/bag, we generate on average 2 bags per week, yearly cost: ~$260) rather than using the standard hauler service ($30/month, yearly cost: $360). More compost means less trash fees, and less landfill space, its a win-win.
Get it for free
Not many things in life are free, but why not take full advantage of the ones that are? Baby stuff is a great example. When I was pregnant, couples with school age kids were ecstatic when we took off their hands the crib, mattress, changing table, several strollers, among other essentials to help them make space in the house. One person's waste is another's treasure right? We were happy to receive the lightly used items along with tips for how to operate them, and we showed our appreciation by sending gift certificates, birth announcements, and inviting them over for a meal. When we are done using some of this stuff, I'm also looking forward to passing it on to other wide-eyed new parents.
Another great way to get it for free is to get them as gifts. To prevent getting yet another Christmas sweater that will sit in the closet then get thrown in the Goodwill pile after two years, make a wish list of green products you want and share it with your family and friends. It's easy to do this on Amazon.com and send the link to folks you anticipate to get gifts from. You can also discreetly ask for cash or gift certificates by sending a card or email that says something like the following:
"For this holiday season, we are making a commitment to a green lifestyle by changing our washer to a new energy efficient model which costs $900. While we appreciate any gifts we may receive, you can help us finance this new appliance by sending a gift certificate to Amazon.com. Thank you for supporting our family in going green!"
Deals and Coupons
Lastly, if you're too lazy to make it yourself and don't have anyone who want to give you gifts, you still don't have to pay the full steep price of organic ingredients. Check out websites that are dedicated to helping folks find good deals on organic stuff, there are some great ones listed below. Also, since many organic companies are small operations, they will gladly send you coupons or trial products if you email them.
Organic Food Coupons
Got some more great ideas on how to save money and live organically? Share them by leaving a comment!