Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Save Money Day!

Saving the Earth is all well and good. We certainly need a hospitable environment in which to live out our dreams. But it turns out that most things that benefit the planet can also benefit your wallet.

In the spirit of Earth Day, we're going to share with you some of the things that we Souls have done around the casa to save a bit of dinero and, perhaps, a bit of our big, blue mama. We hope some of these will work for you, too!

Taking away the trash bin.
  • Recycling: A no-brainer if your community offers it. Where we live, our waste management company offers free recycling. The more we recycle, the less we put in the trash (which we pay for).
  • Composting: You would be surprised at what you can compost. Everything organic goes into the bin in the backyard. We keep a smaller, air-tight bin in the house to avoid frequent trips outside. Not only does this reduce what goes into the trash but it will also give us nutrient rich soil for our garden.
  • Trash Reduction: We used to have a 35 gallon trash bin that we only put out once every four or five weeks. Just this week, we decided to get rid of it completely (pic, right). We now pay for exactly what we throw away by paying per 33 gallon bag versus the monthly fee for the old container. Inspired by this family who produces almost zero trash, our next goal is to produce only one bag of trash every two months.
  • Garden: Free veggies! Yes, we need to pay for seeds and water but, given the price of produce in the supermarket these days, we're hoping this is a money-saving win. This is our first year with a garden, so wish us luck!
  • Air Drying: Ditch your dryer. Your clothes will last longer and you'll save on your electric (or gas) bill.
  • Big Blankets, etc: At the beginning of winter, we invested in some nice down comforters. Staying warm with them was easy and allowed us to click the thermostat down a couple notches. Ellen also took a tip from a friend and made her own foot/body/bed-warmer.
  • Walk: We are lucky to live within walking distance of our local grocery store and so we usually combine a dog walk with a trip to the store, saving gas.
  • Bulk: After a few trips to the Co-op, and comparing receipts, we've determined which items are cheaper to buy in bulk versus buying at the grocery. Less packaging ends up in the trash.
  • Bike: For longer trips around town, biking saves gas. We recommend investing a a good set of pannier bags or a bike trailer so that you can easily transport your Co-op or brewery purchases back home.
  • Cloth Napkins: While paper napkins are recyclable, cloth napkins (after the initial investment) are free to reuse for a long time. Tip: these are really cheap at garage and estate sales.
  • Craigslist / Goodwill: Do you really need to buy that item new? Underwear... yeah, sure. But what about a couch, a set of glasses or a computer desk? You will certainly save some bucks if you buy second-hand. You'll keep used stuff out of the landfill, too. But we're talking about saving money here, so forget about that. :)
  • Telecommute: If you're lucky enough to have the right kind of job to do this, do it! Ask your boss. The worst s/he can say is no. Save gas and lunch money by eating at home.
These are some things that work for us but we are always looking for new ways to save. What tips do you have for saving green?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Let's Talk Politics.

No, we're not going to talk about corporate tax breaks or unions or health care. We're going to talk about something that hopefully everyone can agree on.

Yet another reason to love the City of Fort Collins came in the mail a few weeks ago...

Citizens of Fort Collins have proposed Preferential Voting!!!  Yay!

Ranked voting is a great way to give third-party and independent candidates a chance without the old "you're throwing away your vote" problem. Read more about the advantages using the link above or the link below.

Also, it is difficult to see in the picture, but our candidates don't have a little (R) or (D) behind their names. Guess what? You actually need to go research the candidates instead of voting straight down the party line. Great job, Fort Collins!

More info from those that put the initiative on the ballot.