In my previous column (dated Feb. 20), I wrote about efforts to stretch a dollar. Today I'll be sharing some ideas and recipes to inspire you to "go green."
Many of us choose to recycle newspapers, glass, cans etc., but there are those who decide not to use the recycle bin. I've heard some people comment that they feel they don't have enough products to contribute; but in time, those cans, etc. count up. The fewer items that end up in the landfill, the better.
Around our home, recycling and being frugal go hand in hand. Some items that could be put into the recycling bin are kept for other uses.
Plastic shopping bags make great liners for the trash containers. The bags also work well to cushion and protect fragile items that I plan to mail.
I use empty milk jugs to store water that has been collected from the dehumidifier during the summer months. I use this chemical-free water for my thirsty house plants all year long.
Plastic jugs filled with water (not quite full) can be frozen and used in the ice chest - great for camping trips or when transporting frozen items home from the grocery store on a hot summer day. I like to use the half gallon size jugs; they take up less space in the cooler.
Empty ice cream pails come in handy every now and then. They are great for storing small toys and miscellaneous items. Work well to soak and clean paint brushes. In the garden, I use a pail when picking green beans or small tomatoes.
What do you do with your "junk mail?" Most of ours ends up in the recycle bin, but when I discover sheets of paper that are blank on one side, I choose to cut them into smaller pieces - free scratch paper!
Some items that could be recycled or tossed out make great material for the youngsters to use. Kids have wonderful imaginations. I'll share one example: When our grandson, Cody, was just a little fellow, he discovered a use for cardboard rolls (from paper towels, etc.) that we usually toss in the recycle bin.
Even though Cody had lots of toys and gadgets, I found it so refreshing that he would use his imagination and take the time to create an awesome rifle from cardboard and packing tape. Cody kept this very special invention in his bedroom. One day his mom cleaned his room and tossed out the rifle. Cody hadn't played with it for quite awhile. Sue didn't think he would ever miss it. As luck would have it, he did! My daughter got quite a scolding from her young son.
Some of the empty spray bottles (pump type) from cleaning products or hair-care products are kept out of the recycle bin. If a pump goes bad on a bottle, I've got a spare. The containers can also be filled with water to mist house plants or the kids can fill them with water in the summer and spray one another to cool off. The spray bottles also can be used to store homemade cleaners. Be sure to label contents.
I've been experimenting and have found some inexpensive substitutes for store bought laundry and household cleaning products. And, they work! Will share a sampling today. Look for others in the future.
If you don't have a bread machine, you might want to consider getting one. You can make a loaf of bread without much effort and for less money than you can purchase one - and it will be fresh!
Make your own laundry soap
Put 4 cups water in a medium size pot. Turn the heat on medium and use a paring knife to shave up 1 bar of soap; any kind you have on hand, such as Ivory. Bring the mixture up to almost a boil, but don't boil it. Stir to dissolve soap. Put 3 gallons hot water into a clean 5 gallon bucket, then add the hot soap water and stir it well. Add 1 cup washing soda (Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda). Stir well. Then add 1/2 cup 20 mule team Borax and stir it some more. When thoroughly mixed, set it aside and allow it to cool overnight (at room temp.) The end result is over 3 gallons of laundry soap. I use 1 cup for a large load of laundry. Not many suds, but cleans well.
Notes: Use empty detergent jugs to store your homemade laundry soap. Be sure to label. Best to store at room temp; mixture will thicken if becomes chilled. If you have hard water it's best to purchase the water to make this soap. After the initial investment, the supplies to make this soap will last a long time.
LIQUID FABRIC SOFTENER
1-1/2 cups distilled water (warmed)
3/4 cup white vinegar (warmed)
1/2 cup hair conditioner
Mix all ingredients until well blended. The warm water and vinegar help to dissolve the conditioner. Pour mixture into a covered container. Be sure to label. Shake gently before using. I use a Downy Ball in my washing machine and fill ball according to size of load. If you like the results, double or triple the recipe next time.
ALL PURPOSE CLEANER
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 quart water
Put in spray bottle. Label. Use for disinfecting counters and cutting boards, cleaning windows, bathroom fixtures etc.
From the bread machine
FAVORITE POTATO BREAD
1 cup plus 2 T. warm water
3 T. veg. oil
2 T. mashed potato flakes
4-1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups bread flour
1-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select basic bread setting.
Bake according to bread machine directions (check dough after 5 min. of mixing; add 1 to 2 T. of flour or water if needed). Yield: 1 loaf (1-1/2 lbs.)
Food for Thought: One way to be happy ever after is not to be after too much.