Being frugal and minimizing our footprint...

I love...
being frugal
shopping deals
figuring out ways to make our money stretch
watching our debt get smaller and smaller

These are the things that make me tick and keep us going! Being frugal is really a lifestyle. And it's a lifestyle that you don't really have to change a whole lot. Just little things over the course of time.

I have already shared a couple posts of how we "go green" and save money (here and here). As a slight disclaimer- I'm not a tree hugger or earth lover. I don't buy organic. I also don't read labels when it comes to ingredients in different products (except for products I use on my face- more on that later). To be totally honest, I can't add another thing to my life or my brain. But by making a few small changes I am hoping to save money and minimize our footprint on this planet.
We recently upgraded our washer/dryer. Our old ones were 7+ years old and still working perfectly. We came across a deal we couldn't resist at our local Home Depot. We picked up the Maytag Bravos HE top loader washer and HE dryer in liquid silver. The MSRP was $749 for each of them.

They have since been discounted to $674 each. We got the floor models (which didn't have one ding on them BTW) and it brought our price down to $649. Add to that an extra 20% discount (it was Christmas time- maybe they were trying to move them?) and we paid $520 for each of them. With tax and a new plug for the dryer we spent about $1,100. Not bad! We also sold our old washer/dryer that were still in perfectly working condition for $200 (for the set) which dropped our total price from $1,100 to $900 which is $450 each! We both figured that if we waited until our old washer/dryer broke, then we would have spent entirely too much for new ones since we would be in a time crunch. We'd much rather take our time budgeting and figuring out what we want to spend and keep our eyes out for the perfect deal.

We got some crazy amazing options on these babies, and I am in LOVE with the color! I love that the washer top has glass so you can see everything spinning. Yes I'm weird like that. The dryer door has glass too and with the drum light on it keeps my toddler entertained a good while!

ALL that to say- we've gone back to cloth diapers! It suddenly hit me half way through January... why the heck aren't we using cloth diapers at night?? Luke has been officially day potty trained for over a year. But nights are a different story. We stop his drink at dinner (around 5-5:30) and he still wets every.single.night. I think he must have a secret bladder that just doesn't empty all the way. And although I want him to be night potty trained, I am glad he still sleeps 11-12 hours a night without a peep. No complaints from this mama.

We were using Pull Ups but it suddenly hit me- maybe he doesn't know he's wet (since disposables are so good at drawing liquid away from the body). So I dug out his cloth diapers and we all love them! No more buying diapers. He gets to choose his color each night. Win win! Plus with our awesome washer/dryer no guilt with frequent washing since they are HE. I'm hoping that eventually he'll wake up cold and realize that he needed to go and begin realizing BEFORE he actually goes. 

We have also bought Emberly's entire newborn cloth diaper stash. Can't wait to get that fluff on her little booty!

Going with the cloth/washing theme, we are still using our cloth paper towels. I made them here. They have seen some wear but are holding up GREAT! It cracks me up when people come over and ask for a paper towel and I throw them a "washcloth". You really have to get used to it, but it makes life so much easier. 
We also use cloth napkins at the kitchen table. We were actually told by visiting friends "these are rich people napkins"... actually they're frugal people napkins because I refuse to spend money on paper napkins!

For the baby I plan to use all of Luke's cloth wipes plus I have materials to make more (99 cent towels and baby receiving blankets I found at Goodwill). This saves so much $$ it's unreal! And the wash load is no different per week because wipes are so small.
We religiously use a vinegar/water mixture as an all purpose cleaning solution. Heck- vinegar is cheap! Over Christmas someone gave us a basket of fruit that included grapefruits. I kept all the peels from the grape fruit, soaked them in vinegar for a week and we have a new amazingly scented cleaning solution! I love using this on toilets/bathroom sinks! 

I also found a recipe on pinterest for floor cleaner and it has become my favorite disinfectant cleaner. It it 30% vinegar, 20% rubbing alcohol, 3 drops of blue dawn and the rest filled up with water. I keep it in  a spray bottle I bought at the dollar store and it smells amazing. (not that I think rubbing alcohol smells good. It just smells clean). And this totally helps the "boy" smell in our bathroom that is inevitable when you have a potty training boy! Oh and I finally got around to labeling all our bottles. This about drove Josh nuts to not know what was in each spray bottle. 
Back in November I completely changed how I washed my face. This may seem random, but it goes with the being frugal and green at the same time. It is really hard to find a face wash that is safe to use during pregnancy. My midwife advised against anything with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Do you know how difficult it is to find a face wash that doesn't include either of those things?? 

So I began researching. I would say "bad" skin is a thing of my past, but when I was pregnant with Luke I had crazy awful breakouts. I wanted to avoid that this time if at all possible. I kept coming across the same thing- The Oil Cleansing Method. After visiting a few websites and doing a little research I figured it was worth a try. 

Basically you fight oil with oil. Sound contradictory? yes. Does it work? YES. My whole life I have heard to avoid oil, avoid oil, avoid oil. I never thought in a million years that I'd be washing my face with OIL! But I do- and I have for almost 3 months. And it leaves your face feeling amazing. 
Different sites say you can use different things (olive oil, castor oil, essential oils). I was too cheap to buy any essential oils just to "try". I still wasn't sure if I wanted to stick with this so I didn't want to sink a ton of money into this. So I used Olive Oil from my kitchen, and I grabbed a bottle of Castor Oil from the pharmacy. My "perfect" mix is 75% OO, 25% Castor oil. Castor oil is drying so you can adjust accordingly. 
Other people use different essential oils for different purposes (dry skin, acne prone skin, etc). More on that here:

Face wash routine: I use a penny size amount, and rub between my hands. I massage it all into/onto my face and let it sit. I soak a washcloth is water as hot as I can stand and just lay it over my face for as long as I can stand. I repeat 3-4 times. Afterwards, I gently rub off the excess oil. It leaves your face feeling dewey and refreshed. Not tight at all. 

I use the oil mixture 2-3 times a week at night. Every other time (morning or night) I just use a washcloth with water. I do have some Burts Bees face wash that I use maybe one time a week in the shower. I like how it tingles on my face. The key is to not use any sulfates/sulfites (which is in most name brand face washes) or you are undoing what the oil is doing. Pretty much all "organic" face washes are safe since they get rid of those sulfates/sulfites/parabens.  Some people have an adjustment period where their skin gets worse before it gets better- but I haven't dealt with this. I think it really just depends.

I use Burts Bees facial moisturizer after washing (either with oil or water). You have to be careful with sulfates/sulfites again. So many moisturizers are loaded with that stuff. At $15 a bottle it is my biggest splurge. I do wait to buy the lotion with coupons and sales. 

Maybe it's just pregnancy hormones and my face will break out like crazy after she's born; but for now this stuff is amazing!! And a little bit goes a long way!
I am still using reusable bags as much as possible. I've boycotted Wal-mart (haven't been in a month) because of multiple bad experiences, so I don't have to worry about bags there. When I shop other places I either use my own reusable bags or I request paper bags. It's so nice to have paper bags on hand for recycling. We throw all our paper trash in a paper bag and then recycle the whole thing. Smart right?? I always get plastic bags from Target. This is the "non tree hugger" part of me. I just love their bags- they are large and hold up well for bathroom trash and random times you need a plastic bag. 

We are still keeping up with our recycling system too. We recycle paper, glass, plastic, cardboard, and aluminum. We keep a laundry basket by our back door that fills up SUPER fast with cardboard, aluminum, and plastic. Our recycling center only takes #1 and #2 plastics (that sounded like a bathroom joke- my apologies). After the laundry basket fills up, we take the basket outside where we have 2 large trashcans. Cardboard in one, and plastic in the other. Aluminum goes in a separate container. Once the large trashcans fill, we make a trip to our recycling center. 

Paper and glass goes into the bottom of the book closet into separate bins we purchased from IKEA. I honestly don't even know what they are called,  but they are portable so we can just pack them in the car when it's time to take a load to the recycling place. Of course I typically dump the paper into a paper bag and just toss the whole thing into the paper dumpster. The IKEA paper bin usually fills up fast (we have more "paper" trash than anything else), so I fill up 3-4 paper bags with paper trash and then take it all at once. 

It's unreal how this has cut down on our garbage consumption. We went from having 4-5 bags of trash a week to 1-2. It's so funny to look in our large dumpster and see 1-2 measly bags in there. But it feels great that only half a dumpster is going to the landfill instead of a whole one! 

Although it's not a complete list of everything we do, and we by FAR could do more- it's a start and we are headed in the right direction. I always love coming across articles on how to save money or how to live more green and many of the things they suggest we already do! 

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