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Earth Tip: Buy organic and local

A single week's fruits and vegetables from com...

As part of my “Countdown to Earth Day” series, I wanted to highlight even more ways that you can take actions to help our planet. Today’s tip is to buy organic and locally produced foods.

Now, I realize that buying organic can sometimes be more costly than other choices. We used to buy almost everything organic, but have had to cut back drastically with the current economy and our current salaries. If you have to pick a few to buy, check out this article: “The New Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods to Eat Organic.”

However, as we continue to promote the demand for these products, eventually prices will come down. Even buying one or two items each week can make a difference. There are many advantages to buying organic and local (to list just a few):

  • Fresher food for your families
  • No chemicals, pesticides, etc.
  • Less travel time for products from farm to market (which produces less pollution)
  • Protects our ecosystem
  • Promotes fair treatment of farm laborers and humane treatment of animals
  • Focus on sustainable life for farmers
  • Helps local businesses stay in business

To find out where to get locally grown or organic food in your area, here are two resources:

Eat Well Guide:

This is a free online directory for anyone who wants locally grown and sustainably produced food in the United States and Canada. It lists thousands of family farms, restaurants, farmer’s markets, grocery stores, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, U-pick orchards, and more. You can search in a variety of ways: by location, keyword, category, or product.

Local Harvest:

This is another directory geared for just the United States. They maintain a directory of small farms, farmer’s markets, and other local food sources. Their website also features an online store, a forum, a listing of events, blogs, and a newsletter. It is a great resource for learning about ways to get involved, how to use your “local harvest,” and more.

 

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What are you doing for Earth Day?

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

Earth Day is April 22 and cities around the world are sponsoring volunteer efforts, fairs, festivals, and speakers. To find out what is going on in your town, here are a few resources. If you cannot find a listing for your town, you may need to do a Google search for your city and “Earth Day.”

Earth Day Network:

This organization “works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement.” You can search for events in your area, find actions you can take, and more.

Environmental Protection Agency’s Earth Day website:

Includes search tool to find EPA events in your area, a video, pledges and actions to take, a Greenquest game, and a daily email list with tips.

St. Louis Earth Day:

If you live here in St. Louis, check out all the events and resources on the St. Louis Earth Day website. Note that at the Recycling Extravaganza you can recycle medicines, as I mentioned in my post “Recycle your unused medicines.”

* If you haven’t already begun to take small actions to protect our Earth, see my post “Countdown to Earth Day.”

Related articles:

 

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Countdown to Earth Day

Crystal earth recycle icon

Earth Day is on April 22. However, I truly believe that every day should be Earth Day. I have already written about it in many of my previous posts.

To guide you in undertaking simple things for our Earth, check out the ideas and links below. Fortunately, protecting the environment often results in money savings, too. See “How much your green habits really save” from Earth 911.

REDUCE …

∞ packaging by buying in bulk.

See my post on “Bulk discounts.”

∞ waste by bringing your own bags to the grocery store.

See my post on “Reusable shopping bags = savings.”

∞ waste by finding new uses for old things or repairing things when you can.

See my posts “Don’t throw it out,” “Revamp and wear again!” and “Quick fixes without a repair call.”

∞ trash by making homemade whenever you can instead of buying store-bought items.

See my post on “(More) Make your own…”

∞ electricity usage by installing compact fluorescents in your home.

See my post on “Brighter savings.”

∞ water usage by making some small changes in your home.

See my post on “Not just a drop in the bucket!”

∞ energy usage by purchasing energy-efficient appliances.

See my post “Cash back for protecting Mother Earth.”

∞ energy usage through ways you prepare for Shabbos.

See my post on “Saving money and energy on Shabbos.”

REUSE …

∞ books by swapping books you no longer want with others.

See my post on “My favorite find – swapping books.”

∞ a plastic or stainless steel water bottle every day for work, day trips, your kids’ lunches.

∞ cloth napkins for meals.

See my post on “Switch over your disposables.”

∞ your coffee filters and use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.

See my post on “Filter and fluff without waste.”

RECYCLE …

∞ find ways to recycle everything you can!

See my post on “Recycle, recycle, recycle” for how to get started or for resources on where to recycle various items.

∞ items in your home that you are done with by giving them away to others in need.

See my posts “Declutter responsibly,” “Finding a home for used stuffed animals,” “Give your old shoes a new life,” and “Spring cleaning for a good cause.”

∞ old medications by disposing of them properly or taking them to places that can recycle them.

See my post on “Recycle your unused medicines.”

 

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Surf, shop, and share to earn rewards and prizes!

There are two basic components to living on a tight budget: spending less and earning more. I have written many posts on how to spend less. However, there are ways to earn more as well:

∞ Sell items you are done with or don’t need (Ebay, yard sales, consignment shops) or donate them and keep your records for a tax deduction.
∞ Make the most of your talents by offering a product or service to others.
∞ Get products, services and information for free! See my posts on freebies and free resources online and ways to do it yourself.

Did you know that you can also EARN freebies for activities you already do online like shopping, searching, browsing and sharing? Below are several websites that offer you ways to EARN cash back, freebies, and high-value coupons.

Recyclebank – by committing to actions that help our environment, you can earn free products and high-value coupons.

Swagbucks – earn freebies by surfing the web, watching videos, answering polls, playing games and more.

Ebates – earn cash back from purchases made through their network of stores.

Shopathome – earn cash back from purchases made through their network of stores.

Shop at Walgreens and CVS and earn Register Rewards and Extra Care Bucks. See Kosher on a Budget’s tutorials: “How to shop & save at Walgreens” and “How to shop at CVS”.

Rewards clubs – Check any stores (online and brick and mortar) that you frequent often to see if they offer a rewards program. See my posts on rewards programs and birthday freebies (which are often part of rewards programs).

Please add any more you have heard of in the Comments section!

 

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Items you don’t always (and in some cases shouldn’t) have to pay for

There are some things that are downright silly to pay for and others that you try to get free as much as possible. Here are a few items to avoid paying for if you can! 

∞ Books: For books for myself I go to the library and use swap sites (see my post “My favorite find – swapping books”). For books for the kids, I try to get most from Paperbackswap.com and the Scholastic Book orders from school. (Of course, Amazon is always good for cheap books, especially if you buy from their other sellers.)

∞ Cable: If you don’t want to pay for cable, use streaming sites like Hulu or national television network websites.

∞ Credit report: Visit AnnualCreditReport to get one free report per year.

 Credit score: Visit CreditKarma for your credit score.

 Ebooks: Amazon offers many free ebooks for Kindles and other eReaders. You can also check out ebooks from your local library’s website. Also visit Amazon’s section on free collections. It contains links to many other free ebook resources.

 Free shipping: Visit Freeshipping to get promo codes for free shipping. You can also sign up for alerts for free shipping codes. Free shipping day was December 16 this year.  Some other stores that always offer free shipping are Amazon (for purchases over $25 or for any purchase with Amazon Prime and L.L. Bean. Others like Target and ToysRUs offer free shipping on certain items as part of various sales. You can also check www.retailmenot.com for free shipping codes.

 International phone calls: Use Skype on your computer, iPhone or Android phone.

 Museum tickets – Find out if your local museums have free days or hours. There may be some that are free all the time. Consider getting a membership to sites you visit often. See my post “Become a member!

 New cell phones: Look for incentives offered by cell phone companies for signing up for a contract.

∞ New York Times articles – You can get all their articles through Twitter or Facebook.

 Water: Rather than buying bottled water or jugs of water, buy a water purification system (available for your home, tap or refrigerator or as a filter pitcher).

For more free resources, check out my page “Freebies Links” above on the main menu bar.

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To find other free services and products, you can search on these freebie websites:

- Craigslist – Under the For Sale section of your local Craigslist, click on “Free.” These goods are up for grabs, but you probably will have to travel to collect them.

- Freebies4mom – A stay-at-home mom started this blog to share with other moms the giveaways and sweepstakes she finds.

- Freecycle – Before you take advantage of this virtual neighborhood curbside giveaway, remember that the site expects you to give things away as well as nab free stuff.

- FreeStuffTimes – This reliable roundup of no-cost items from across the Web provides user feedback, helping gauge an offer’s value.

- HeyItsFree – The group behind this site promises that no listed free sample will require the purchase of something else first.

MySavings – Sign up to receive information about samples, printable coupons, discounts and other deals.

Walmart – Click on Free Samples & Savings at the top for various offers. You may have to register on their site.

 

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Not just a drop in the bucket!

Our water bill is not the hugest of our bills, but I still am always trying to find ways to save on water. It not only benefits our budget, but helps the environment.

One thing we did a few years ago was to install a new showerhead. We got an evolve Roadrunner at our local Earth Day festival. This showerhead not only is low flow (1.5 gallons per minute), but it has a neat ShowerStart device. You turn on the shower and once it gets hot, it shuts down to a trickle. This way if you are doing other things while the water is warming up, you are not wasting water. When you hear the shower flow change, you can get in. Then you pull the lever and it goes back to full force. We love it! Here is a link to see the product (and others by the same company):
www.evolveshowerheads.com

Below are some other resources to help you in your quest to save dough and water!

Water: Use it Wisely
This site (http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/) includes:
“100 Ways to Conserve”http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/index.php
– a great extensive list of links and resources
– information for kids
– a blog with current news and information

H2Ouse:
On this website you can take a tour to investigate water savings opportunities around specific areas of your home.
http://www.h2ouse.net/ 

WaterSense:
This is a program of the EPA to increase water efficiency. They also sponsor the WaterSense labeling program, which promotes water efficient products and services. The website also includes information on tips for water efficiency in your home, rebates for installing WaterSense labeled products, a tool to calculate your water savings, and information for kids.
http://www.epa.gov/watersense/index.html

Other things you can do:
The EPA offers tips for what you can do to protect human health and the environment with respect to potential threats to water supply.
http://water.epa.gov/action/

 

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