These days, I am growing ever more efficient within my household now that I'm spending so much time here! I thought it would a good opportunity to share some of my reusable and sustainable practices, and to make a finer point about the intent of my blog. My kind of vintage is cheap, affordable. This goes hand-in-glove with being thrifty in the rest of my life, as much as I can. Even if it might only mean saving a few Abe Lincolns here and there, the sense of good-hearted frugality makes me just feel all warm and fuzzy. I also like knowing I'm not being wasteful, and I also like realizing there are other options out there:
- Turning lights off when you leave the room! Did you know that the peak burn time for a light bulb after being turned on is reached after just four seconds? The science fiction myth that leaving lights on burns less energy than turning them off and back on is untrue, according to Dr. Leo Stocco from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of British Colombia (as heard on "Quirks & Quarks"). They do not, in fact, have an energy spike every time they are flipped back on after being off. It's best to turn the lights off if you're not in a room. Thanks, Grandma, for always making us turn off every single light in the basement, in which the light switch was located in the very back room. This meant running screaming through the entire length of the basement with my cousin Brad, completely certain we were being chased by a poltergeist. So... basically I'm saying you were right, Grandma.
- Using unfolded "single-ply" cloth diapers in lieu of disposable paper towels and/or cheese cloth in the kitchen. These were, of course, never used for their first intended purpose! I use them to strain fried bacon, wontons, and even to strain and press the moisture out of pumpkin puree! They wash out fine but just be sure not to throw the bacon soaked ones in with your favorite silk scarf. ;)
- Cloth napkins. We rarely use or purchase paper towels or napkins because of these (and because of #2). I think we have three to four sets of napkins which are circulated between the laundry and the kitchen. Even if you have a large family, these are completely feasible and affordable.
- Reusable grocery bags. I'm sure everyone has a few of things stashed here and there. We have nearly twenty of them that range from the $1 Safeway bags to canvas promotional bags to netted "beach toy" bags to Chico reusable bags. I make a conscious effort to clean these out every time and put them back in my car. Yes, I've heard the 'ol excuse But I need the plastic ones for my little trash cans! Really? Do you need 5,281 of them? I admit I sometimes end up getting a plastic bag here and there, but we can probably count the amount of plastic bags in our house on one hand.
- Washing out Ziploc bags. I just. Can't. Throw. Them. Away! I'm not at the same level as my Grandma, who washes out and reuses even plastic bread bags. I gently wash out and air dry Ziploc bags until they are at the point of no longer sealing. Why? -- Why not.
- Bountiful Baskets! I know I mentioned this two weeks ago, but we just got our second basket and I'm still thoroughly impressed. Now, I know we are just a little family of three, but these baskets are lasting us over two weeks. Not everything in them is ripe at once, so their lifespan is a lot longer than what you get in the grocery store. They're also pretty affordable -- only $15.
Now, I am no "No Impact Man" (even though what he's doing is pretty flippin' cool) and I know I could do more. I feel like the small gestures that have become habits for me add up to a little bit of extra good space on this planet. Plus, who can beat extra warmth and fuzzies. ;)