Green and Thrifty

Most of my semi-regular Green and Thrifty posts aren't full of any extraordinary green or thrifty adventures - just the day-to-day bits and bobs that make our lives just a little bit easier on earth. But it is exactly those things that add up from day to day and week to week and year to year that save so much money and make a small but enduring environmental impact.

Early this month I did all the shopping at a small independent supermarket and the whole foods shop where I buy most of my dry goods from the bulk bins. Now I shouldn't have to go shopping with the car again until March. So far this week I have spent $16 at the green grocer's, and today I will send The Girl out to walk the dog and buy milk to make yoghurt. That should last us until next week for grocery spending.

This week we have been eating and cooking from the fridge. It is quite a small fridge, and what with it being shopping day last week, and the garden suddenly bursting with food, we have been very busy eating so as to have room in the fridge to store more. I am thinking it is time to start doing some preserving so I can store the garden produce somewhere other than the fridge!

We have been making zoodles (zucchini noodles) with our spiraliser, which is fun, and delicious.

I made three jars of sauerkraut, which is also delicious, and full of incredibly prolific probiotics at a fraction of the price of probiotics from the health food shop..

We did a lot of second hand shopping from op-shops and Gumtree, keeping our money circulating locally, contributing to charity, keeping stuff out of landfill, and saving our pennies.

The girls started school again this week, all kitted out in their hand-me-down and second-hand uniforms.. I managed to find a second-hand school bag for Posy (from my neighbour, actually. I had forgotten her daughter was leaving school). Whenever one of my children leaves school I offer to buy school uniform items from any of their friends who want to get rid of them. This way I have accumulated a nice collection of second-hand uniform, which is a real help, as it is unbelievably expensive when new.

We also covered all of Posy's school books with plain brown paper again. I discovered this excellent solution two years ago, and have been doing it ever since. The brown paper lasts all year which surprises me enormously, but not even any tears or rips, and then it is easy to recycle the whole book at the end of the year. So apparently it is not necessary to wrap school books in acres of plastic foil or bought plastic covers to keep them looking nice. And a roll of brown paper is much cheaper as well:)

This week I also took two bags of Posy's primary school uniform to a refugee family I know, and had a cup of tea with them. They have furnished the house Afghani style, with carpets and rugs and lots of large floor cushions. The floor cushions are beautiful, and I discovered (our conversations are mostly translated via the children) that the mother had sewn them herself with fabric she had brought from Iran (the family are from Afghanistan but had spent many years in a refugee camp in Iran). The cushions had that wonderful bulk and heaviness of old-fashioned down and feather cushions, and I asked what they were stuffed with - cut up old clothes! This is such an elegant solution for old t-shirts, I will have to remember it.

I have been washing my hair in the sink and taking very short showers, so must be saving on hot water, surely? Next week I am going to keep a record of daily electricity readings to see how we are doing.

This week from our garden we have been eating potatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes, warrigal greens, spinach, lettuce, lemons, rhubarb, beetroot and herbs.

Tell me about your green and thrifty wins this week.


GretchenJoanna said…
The varied list of your garden produce reminds me of something my husband said ten or fifteen years ago: People discuss nutrition endlessly, and what is good or not good to eat. The controversy goes on and on, but no one argues against the wisdom of eating vegetables. Most everyone would say we should eat more vegetables, so when in doubt....
Jo said…
Gretchen Joanna, when in doubt, make a garden, look in a seed catalogue, be totally unable to say no, and buy one of everything. There, nutrition covered! Now I have to be sure to use it all. These few weeks of high summer in the garden can be a bit overwhelming:)
Anonymous said…
Good planning ahead with the uniform buying. My boys were of such different sizes, that only shirts could be handed down.

Spiralising zucchinis seems to be the current thing. I've read a couple of blogs doing they. Also had a spiraliser last week. I was very tempted but I won't eat that many zuccs.
GretchenJoanna said…
Ha! Yes, indeed, overwhelming... In my former life when I had a huge garden, I would be out there working on the long summer days, oblivious of the time, and often my husband would wander out after he got home from work and ask if I were going to cook dinner? I would say, Yes, just a few minutes... I'll bring in some squash, tomatoes, beans, etc, etc.... then I would often saute a lot of it together and add some eggs, because I had run out of time to look at a recipe. And it was always good, and we were quite healthy.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the reminder about 2nd hand school uniforms. Just popped on to the local FB Buy Swap Sell page and found the next size up blazer for my son, and a school kilt for my daughter. Score!! Hopefully that will see my daughter through till she finishes school next year. My son is another matter, as his feet just keep getting bigger and bigger so new shoes and runners every few months (sadface).

Got home from a walk and found a bag of plums and apples from my neighbour.

Bought a safety razor and 100 blades so I never have to buy plastic disposable razor heads any more. Not a cheap outlay, and, quite frankly, I am a little terrified at the thought of using it, but greener in the long run, I like to think.

Daughter asked me to buy her a novel today, but I told her to check if the library had it, so she reserved a copy. We both borrowed a satisfying fat stack of books as well. Nothing makes me feel richer:-) Took her to lunch at a cute local cafe instead (to celebrate her 1/2 birthday, which is a 'thing' in our household).
Jo said…
Lucinda, we are getting through a satisfying number of zucchinis and carrots with our wonder spiraliser machine. What I love about it is that it has no moving parts and I can see no reason why it should not last forever.

Gretchen Joanna, mmm, Spanish omelettes, what would we do without them? They were invented in the high summer garden season, I am sure!

Loretta, brilliant work for the uniforms, ours sound very similar.

I NEED you to use that razor and write me a review, because I want to do exactly the same thing. Please tell me how it goes, and where you got yours!

I love your comment that nothing makes you feel richer than a stack of library books. My girls and I get home from the library with our giant library bags and then disappear for hours with a cup of tea. Bliss! Really, it is such a luxury. I almost feel bad that I don't earn enough to pay tax, because I would cheerfully support the public library system with my wages (well, actually, I do support it with my extensive library fines, so all good).
Anonymous said…
Hi Jo,
I just used the razor for the first time. Here's my experience:
Taking it out of the packaging (cardboard), and feeling the lovely heft of it. Completely different from my plastic lady razor (with its ruinously expensive replacement blade refills). It is a thing of shiny beauty. The Derby brand blades come in small packs of 5 (I bought 100) and each pack is wrapped in plastic - sigh - and each blade is wrapped in paper - yay. I've encountered my first hurdle, which is how to get the blade INTO the actual razor. I was not born with the logic gene, and there are no instructions so I turned to the Internet and presto! All I have to do is unscrew the handle and all the bits come apart and the blade fits in snugly. Instead of my usual slapdash shaving efforts in the shower, I use the bathroom sink and soap the first leg slowly (just using whatever hand soap we have, and water). And from then on it is just a fabulous experience! The razor just glides through the hairs and I have the smoothest, most enjoyable shave in 36 years. Why didn't I do this 20 years' ago? I only nick myself when I shave over a mosquito bite, so must be a bit more careful in the future. Highly recommend it Jo!! My razor is a Merkur 23C long handled safety razor from Beard and Blade (very hipster site - check out all the accessories. It could cost you a fortune if you so desire:-)) Loretta
Jo said…
Loretta, thank you for being the guinea pig here! I actually found the Beard and Blade website a few weeks ago and was completely overwhelmed by all the choices, so this is marvellous! When my plastic blades run out I will make the switch :)

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