Long Before It Was a Trend

02/20/2009 09:02 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Despite the rain, the snow, the ice and the cold, I know spring is just around the corner. And with it, spring cleaning. After reading this story, though, I may have to rethink my cleaning strategy. I'm inspired to find a way to recycle, help the planet and put a little money in my pocket while I'm at it.


By RebelMom

Just the other day, we were talking about clotheslines and recycling our pop cans and newspapers. It was an interesting conversation, and I thought, hmm. I've been recycling since I was a little girl. I remember in my hometown, we had to pay a minimal fee (included with our trash pickup) to recycle. Not a problem because I look at the whole bill instead of nitpicking everything (can be an issue with other things). I remember when we move to this town, we have to lug our recycles twice a month to drop it off at a drop off site. With twin babies, it just didn't get done and I resented the fact that I had to do one more chore on my list of things to get done. So I didn't recycle until the boys were 3. I still have to lug the stuff to the drop off center. But hey, I am doing my little part in keeping the planet green.

I also believe in cold bedrooms. I think we all sleep better in a cold bedroom. So I had my hubby install a gas fireplace insert in our wood-burning fireplace. We shut the pocket doors to the rest of the house (which works since the bedrooms are upstairs and the second living room is up there and we rarely use it since our single television is downstairs in the family room where the fireplace is. The kids play in the other half of the family room.) So we shut the doors and turn the heat down to 56 degrees. No, I am not kidding. Hubby has even devised a way to plug in a fan to keep the heat in the family room from rising too high upstairs ... and keeps it cozy down here. The kitchen is in the same half of the house as well, so it's cozy with half the heat. (Did I mention we live in a tri-level?) If it has been really cold outside, like this winter, I make the kids put on sweatshirts and socks ... they bundle up beneath blankets that I have made for them at bedtime.

Several years ago, I decided to learn how to can. I make my own jam. I give them away as gifts as well as using it on delicious layer bar cookies. I make my own sugar scrub for gifts or for a little pick me upper. I just got a food processor so I can make my own chili sauce. I make my own salsa. I freeze my fresh veggies and fruit or I buy them from the local butcher shop where they sell them in bulk. This summer, I hope to learn how to can different kinds of vegetables so I know what's in the jars, so I don't have to trust the FDA missing another outbreak of whatever it is. I buy my meat fresh from the butcher shop where I know there are no preservatives. I buy from the local farmer's market when they're in season. I even make my own candy sometimes. I cook most things from scratch, no Hamburger helper for me if I can help it. I reuse my vacuum bags several times ... just empty it out and put it back on. The only things I haven't learned yet how to make are soaps and laundry detergent. I am sure there are more items out there I need to learn how to do.

I buy my toiletries in bulk. I use both sides of paper for whatever projects the kids are working on. I am learning to do my own cards using scraps. I have been writing thank you notes using Christmas cards that I have received in the years. They're too pretty to throw out but what else are you going to do with them? I recycle plastic bags by using them as trash liners in the bathrooms. Or I give them away to thrift stores who can use them. I give magazines away to local nursing homes and to the hospital so people in the waiting rooms don't have to read the same old stuff that's lying around. How many times have you wished for something to read while waiting in the doctor's office or dentist's office?

I recycle books on a regular basis with friends or donating them to charity or to the library for their fundraisers or to schools. I frequent thrift stores to buy books and clothes, and when I lose weight, I donate the clothes back to thrift stores. The same things with toys. I receive a lot of kids' clothes from friends who pass them along to me and I pass them along to friends when my two have outgrown them. I remember doing that as a child. There's nothing wrong with hand-me-downs.

Long before there was a recession, I have already been doing all this. I frequent Craig's List and Freecycle and other places where you trade off clothes, toys and what have yous. It's not because I am poor, though I am now, but because it just doesn't make sense to keep generating trash when there are over a billion people on this planet. It just doesn't make sense to throw out perfectly good furniture when there are people who need them and can't afford to buy new ones. Even if the fabric is worn out, you can replace the fabric and still it looks nicer than on the street where it just attracts rats. Did you know that there are furniture banks? Me either. Two summers ago, they were picking up old furniture so they can fix it up and donate them to flood victims in our area (I live in a part of Ohio where they had to declare a state of emergency because a good portion of this state was flooded ...). I thought that was cool. I remember wishing that I had money to buy furniture so I can donate them to the flood relief organization. I donate old hearing aids and glasses to organizations that will use them for charity. I recycle batteries and old computer monitors. I just gave away a bunch of old ratty blankets to a neighbor to line her dog's kennel with.

There are so many little ways to recycle and to find good deals in a recession. One just has to hunt a little bit harder for them. Though, in the long run, the pay offs will be so much better.

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