Here's some ideas for small & easy ways to save money, go green, and learn how to re-use some ordinary stuff at home. My husband and I use all of these techniques and they help us save money and feel like we're cutting back on waste.
1. Use cloth diapers for diapering your children, as opposed to the widely-used plastic throw-away kinds. This may sound old-fashioned, but it is a growiong trend among environmentally-friendly mothers. Look around your neighborhood for classes that teach the best ways of cloth diapering, learn how to do it, and start saving money! Cloth diapers: not just for hippies anymore.
2. Buy cheaper toilet paper. A 4-pack of toilet paper is sold at the Kroger chain of grocery stores for 88 cents. Eighty-eight cents! Even if you have a large family and have to buy a lot of it, you'll still save money by buying several 4-packs for 88 cents apiece. It may not be as silky smooth as the other name brands, but you'll get used to it, and you're bank account will thank you. (And I don't think your bottom will even know the difference!)
3. Don't flush the toilet everytime you go #1. I know this may sound gross, but think about how many gallons of water you will conserve by flushing every other time instead of everytime. Of course, I do not recommend this if you go #2. If there's more than just pee pee in the toilet, then by all means, flush it down! If you're alone in the house for the day, or it's just you & your husband that use your toilet, then who's to know? Who's to care if the water is a little bit yellower than normal? Now, if you have guests over, or the bathroom is shared between several people, then this may not be possible or easy.
And don't worry about the smell or the stain on the toilet bowl. If the toilet lid stays down, there should be no smell at all, and if a stain forms around the edge of the water in the bowl, a quick swish with the toilet brush will wash away any stain in an instant.
4. Turn the shower water off when shaving or lathering with soap. If you're a woman and shaving your legs takes longer than your husband in a hardware store, consider turning the water off while you shave, then back on to rinse. It may be a bit of a hassle, but this little trick will stop the water from continuously running when you're not even using it.
The same goes for the sink water when you're brushing your teeth. You may not take that long to brush your pearly whites, but think of how much water gets wasted each time you leave the faucet running, and how much that would add up over the course of just a single week.
5. In the winter, use an electric blanket or heater on/by your bed, and turn the thermostat down. A home that is not well insulated, has no baseboards, or isn't properly sealed around doors & windows will let hundreds of dollars worth of heat escape in the wintertime. Turning the thermostat down just a few degrees (especially when you're not home) could save you hundreds of dollars by year's end! If you're afraid of being cold at night with the thermostat down, put an electric blanket on the bed or use a small space heater. These use electricity, but the extra little amount you will spend on electric for these items will be much less than what you'd spend for heating the whole house those extra few degrees.
6. Stop buying trash bags & Ziploc (or sandwich) plastic bags. Use plastic grocery bags as trash bags. They're not as large so they won't fit as much trash, but they will serve the purpose for absolutely free. You probably get plenty of these plastic bags for free when you shop at the grocery or the drugstore. And the smaller bags will be easier on the trash man's back, too! (Whomever that may be; a stranger, or your husband.)
Instead of using Ziploc baggies for sandwiches and lunches, use those plastic storage containers you've probably got plenty of, stacked precariously on some shelf. They need to get used; so here's their opportunity! A small plastic container may be more conspicuous and bulky than a plastic bag, but it's totally reusable and washable. And most plastic containers are made dishwasher safe nowadays, so there's no excuse!
7. Put gas in your vehicle $10 at a time, instead of filling up. This may cause you to frequent gas stations more often, but if you're tight on money for the day, week, or month, this will save your budget and your wallet. Putting only $10 into your vehicle may also help you to be more conscious about how much you drive and when; it may cause you to drive only when necessary. Putting $10 at a time into your tank also makes it feel like you can stretch that ten dollars out more. Whether it's true or not, I don't know, but it sure seems like it!
Some vehicles (like SUVs, large trucks, or V-8 engines) may need to try $15 or $20 instead of $10. Ten dollars might not even make the needle on the gas gauge move for these vehicles! But I think you'll be surprised just how far your money (and gas!) can stretch if you try this method. This works especially well if you're on an extremely tight budget.