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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was about to chuck out an old cotton jersey nightie when our 9 yr old granddaughter sternly pointed out that it had to be recycled into dusters and cleaning cloths which could be washed thus saving on shop bought ones and kitchen paper, > trees and forests.
This took me back over 40 years when I'd never have dreamt of doing otherwise and probably kitchen paper didn't exist !
We've been cutting back recently like most people on unnecessary expenditure, avoiding waste, and we try to help the environment in the few ways we can in our small household. Things like not having the water running while we brush our teeth, buying and eating less which can only be to our good. I've been turning off the hot water because we don't need a constant supply of boiling hot water

I wonder what other ways people are economising in these hard times.
I wouldn't have thought of cutting the nightie up if GDD hadn't mentioned



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4,351 Posts
:lol: My children are full of these useful recycling ideas too!

We dont use old clothing items for indoor clothes but definately some of them are useful for car washing etc!

I put clothing with holes unremovable stains into the charity bins as I was once told that items they cant reuse for people to wear they turn into other items with certain recyling processes!



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Hmmmm I'm not very good a being economical but I suppose we all try in some way.

I don't worry about kitchen paper and the like too much as having worked for a while in a "paper" factory (giving English lessons) I know that it is very very recycled as is. I'm not sure of the economy of having to do extra washes for things. It's like whether to go back to reusable nappies. I'm glad I'm not faced with that choice! I wonder if the energy of the machine, the washing powder, the water used...really make it worthwhile. Especially as here nappies are recycled as they have become biodegradable!!

We also have to sort rubbish very carefully. Thankfully we don't pay too much for the privilege and the recycling parc is free.

Although the kids do sometimes come home with enthusiastic ideas about how to be economical, they are very bad about putting it into practice so...lights off please, don't leave the water running etc. are all getting very tired expressions in our house.

One wonderful thing I have found are these new micofibre cloths that clean things without leaving marks (mirrors, tiles, kitchen surfaces etc.) and all that with JUST water. Our cleaning lady swears by them and won't use instanet or cleaning products at all except for the floor (linseed based for the tiles) and the loo.

Other than that, I'm probably quite decadent. I have had my share of economy and try not to do it day to day (though I don't go in for much material luxury unless I can afford it).


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4,351 Posts
Washing clothes at 30 degrees - thats what were all supposed to be doing!!!:rolleyes:

I must say I tried it for a week and my whites became grubby and stains did not come out (not that my whites are perfect white anyway). Perhaps it would be easier not to have kids, but then then humans would be extinct!:eek::hehe::lol:


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2,872 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I always wash at 40 unless there's something truly gross. I soak tea towels and kitchen sponges in bleach every now and then along with my wooden spoons. I wonder why there isn't a detergent especially for cold wash. I seem to remember that our American friends have cold fill machines and detergents designed for cold water?

It is really hard to know what's worth doing. As Katharine points out things aren't as clear cut as they are often presented. There's an absence of information and conflicting info. The last thing I want to do is make a religion out of it.
We dont have any major ways to eco - no car and we can't cavity fill our walls because we are in a flat so we just do small things in the hope they add up. Such as only filling the kettle with the water we need.
But I wasn't going to dampen K's enthusiasm and she got a sense of achievement, cutting with big scissors practice and pleasure at the very idea of cutting up grandma's clothes.:hehe:

As for the recycling, having experienced it in several countries, I wonder why we dont have a convenient toxic waste disposal for things like batteries, chemicals, aerosols etc in our area, such as a mobile van.
Since we don't have a car it's not easy for us to access the fabric and clothing collection points. We can only put paper, plastic bottles tins and aluminium in our recycling home collections plus separate for glass bottles, so a lot of supposedly recyclable plastic goes to waste.

How about money saving tips ?


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4,351 Posts
I have a book with cheap recipes to help with cleaning a house etc. given to me by MIL for Christmas one year.:lol:

Too many recipes to post, but I bet if we all googled there will be some soul that has a website with all listed!:eek:


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4,351 Posts
Here's a couple:

Floor Cleaner with Fragrant Herbs
30cl (2tbsp) liquid soap
60-120cl (4-8tbsp) white distilled vinegar
90cl (6tbsp) fragrant herb tea (peppermint adds antibaterial properties)
Combine ingredients in a bucket of water, swirl around until it lathers a bit.
Wash floors as normal.

All-Purpose Window Wash
50ml (3tbsp) white distilled vinegar
1/2 tsp liquid soap
575ml (1pint) water
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle, shake to blend. Spray on windows, then wipe over with a squeegee or paper towel. Polish with dry newspaper when windows dry. Shelf life of mix is indefinate, but make sure you keep it in a labelled bottle.

:blush:I have never tried and tested these recipes so do so at your own risk!

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526 Posts
I don't think this thread is boring! Actually I had a whole day's thinking about it:hehe:

I like sewing, but with a limited budget have to be sensible about it. So I make:

* cleaning cloths from old towels and cotton clothing

* cloth nappies out of remnants from the market or 2 euro bin at the fabric shop. The soaker (the bit that catches the wee) I make out of second hand fabric (old towels or cotton blankets) from the second hand shop or our linnen cupboard. It costs me all up about 2 euros per nappy. First they are going to a friend who uses only cloth nappies (aren't many who do:(), and then if I ever need them myself I get them back:blush:

* baby wipes, breastpads etc from the scraps of material left over from the nappies.

* about 1/2 my wardrobe is homemade, mostly from bargain remnants. Not so much luck with hubby's wardrobe yet, but hey - he wears the same 3 pairs of jeans for 3-4 years, so that is also economical and ecofrindly.

* grocery bags - self made 3 big strong ones that fit in the bicycle panniers and lots of little ones for fruit and vegies etc. That way I don't have to bring plastic bags into the house (well too often...)

We do our grocery shopping with the bicycle, so volume and weight are important. Comparing carrying a big bag of disposables back to the house to putting an extra load of washing on every few days, I definately choose the latter - less time involved, less strain on my sore hands and less sun exposure. Plus at 2 euro per nappy, cost savings within a few months.

Other things we do include

* greens and fruit scraps go to the bunnies. They love it and less smelly waste in the rubbish bin.
* our local council pick up paper and garden waste for recycling and there is a bottle back at the corner of our street.
* most drink bottles come with a recycling surcharge here. Bring the bottle back to the shop and you get your money back
* the car gets used as little as possible.Basically for when I work evenings or if we need to travel somewhere off the train network, or we have a car full. Train tickets here are cheaper than petrol costs for one person, so it is worth it financially as well.
* cycling for journeys less than say 15 km. Holland has as many kilometers cyclepath as real roads, and such heavy traffic that the bike is actually quicker in peak hours. Everyone cycles here. Even mothers with young children. I saw a woman with 3 toddlers on one bike once :p
* shopping at the second hand shop. At least 1/3 of out furnature comes from there - it is just around the corner from our house, so no transport costs, it is really cheap, and we're saving something from the rubbish dump and something else from the factory floor by re-using instead of buying new. Also other things we find there - crockery, baskets etc. And if we have something we don't want anymore it gets donated to the second hand shop too.

I am definatley not a eco saint, but if it is easier and saves money, I am all for it:blush:8):blush:


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718 Posts
We recycle. We have huge wheelie bins that we toss glass, plastics and paper into (yep that's right, no more separating for us yay!) and it all gets collected every second week at the curbside. It's a bit of a mission dragging it up the drive way, as it really is humungous.

I use those reuseable bags that you buy at the supermarket to pack my groceries in - I love them, and if I am only picking up a couple of things I just hook one over my walker handles and use it instead of a shopping trolley. And I buy most stuff without a bag if i am just doing regular shopping (I have rather a large 'handbag' that my friend calls my 'luggage' and I toss them in there).

I don't compost which i really regret but my days of walking down the back steps in the middle of winter with the potatoe peelings are long over. We have so much compost that we have made and never use, it gets pointless. I am looking forward to curbside recycling for vege scraps - who knows how that would work!

There is not a whole bunch of stuff that I just won't buy - like who the heck needs those makeup pads ? I just bought this resueable thing from the body shop and wash as needed. It does fine. Stuff like that. Oh, and microscopic things with massive packaging - nope. Also, a lot of veges I buy don't really need to be up into a plastic bag before they get weighted at the checkout.

Everytime I feel like splashing out on something I shouldn't buy a picture of a muddy dirty plastic bag jumps into my mind and really puts me off.

Can't say these changes have cramped by style any, just seems normal now. Oh, and we can by cold water soap powder, but if you use cold water all the time you should put a hot wash through every now and again to make sure you get rid of all the residue from the machine.



Oh, and I am pretty big on not buying things with palm oil in it coz i really feel sorry for those orangatangs (I am a huge animal fan).

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807 Posts

We reuse our plastic bags (they are bio-degradable) to pick up the puppy poop. We also put out recyclables into recyclable plastic bags then into the bin.

I use rags to clean with and only green cleaning products...with dogs cats and kids I need something I know will kill the germs.

I do wash most in cold water...although I must say I refuse to do my whites in cold as I want them to stay white (they don't even with cold water detergent and bleach).

We only use biodegradable nappies for the kids.

We buy water in 5 gallon bottles rather than the smaller ones, I invested in a dispenser that puts out hot and cold...well worth it, as it uses less electric than the nuker or stove to heat the water.

I put in a request to hubby for a scooter to run my errands, I live about 3/4 mile from the grocery and most necessary stores, as I cannot bike ride anymore and wouldn't want to walk back with groceries in 90 degree (f) heat.

We also use the flourecent bulbs in all the lights in the house, we found indoor spots with a UV like cover for the overheads so I don't have much trouble with them now.

Probably not enough, but at least I feel like we are trying.


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484 Posts
I must be dead boring.

I recycle cos I'm a tight beggar as well as trying to do my bit.

Today our builder's labourer made me smile (a sympathetic smile ... honest!). They are digging 1 ft down into my cellar floor in prapration for laying a damp membrane, insulation, and underfloor heating. Then they get the task of relaying all the stone flags we found under the asphalt floor when they started to dig. It may be cheaper to run, but it sure ain't cheaper to fit, let me tell you.

They were totally exhaused, fed up, and drenched in sweat, but my husband asked how they were none the less. The builder said he wasn't happy, and the labourer said 'I'm not either - in fact, if i weren't 41 I 'd be crying". Poor chap.

When we were children we used to cut plastic bags into long strips then knot them together and ball up our new 'yarn'. Then we got the biggest fattest knitting needles in the world and knit the stuff into rectangles, stitch them together down either side with the same 'yarn' , then make handles for our new long life carrier bags. Sad, but true.

My plastic bags now become bin liners. I always forget to take the long life reusable bags with me to the supermarket, but then again, would it be any better to be buying bin liners, which get used only once?

I compost most waste. I don't understand what kitchen paper is for? I do use old cloths made from old clothes, but i still have some 'proper' shop bought ones for if guests are around :lol: You might think i'm a hypocrit - but some people get upset about you wiping the kitchen surfaces down with a pair of old knickers! Only joking - T-shirts seem best.

Socks are great for dusting if you wear them like a glove. A lot of the things mentioned i too used to do, but cannot remember when or why I stopped. Probably someone scoffing at me and making me feel small about trying to save cash, I suppose. But it really is mad not to try - for all sorts of reasons.

The packaging does make me cross though. For example - I do not get the need for wrapping 'fresh' fruit / vegetables in plastic.

I buy loads second hand from charity shops. Especially clothes that don't fit or look rubbish when i get them home! Kitchen items are mainly second hand - if it's stainless steel I buy it. I have never bought a stainless steel kitchen item twice. They last forever.

I use the eco range of cleaning products and I use them like the tight person i am on account of the price.

Our local counci helps us to recycle compostable materials (garden and food waste) tin, glass, plastic, paper, and cardboard through the usual fortnightly collection, which alternates with none recycleable waste. I never know if it is ok to put plastic bags in with the plastic bottles?

However ... can anybody explain why I now seem to produce about 4 times the waste I did before recycling boxes and bins were supplied?

· Premium Member
10,193 Posts
I wash our clothes in cold water. We have laundry soap that is made for cold water use.

We recycle our newspapers, plastics, cardboard.
I take canvas bags to the grocery store and other stores when I shop.

At electronic stores they have bins where you can drop off old cell phones, batteries,and ink cartridges.

My old worn out towels I save some to give Keebler a bath. I cut up the others to use when I clean house. (which I wash and use again)

This is a very interesting thread.:)


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425 Posts
:)I have a compost fettish...

Eagle eyed I will spot my husband forgetting to put his monkey nut shells in a normal rubbish bin, or the childrens fruit peelings in the same direction and get extremely cross if they just simply cant be bothered to find the bin under the sink to emtpy into and thus recycle.

Cardboard (yes even the glued ) is thrown if too big on a corner of the garden which desparately needs anything to improve its composition.

All my sons A level paper rubbish and also the university booklets ( some are made for biodegrading) go on the compost heap.

I use biodegradable washing up liquid ( eco stuff) but draw the line with clothes washing detergents.


Use any plastic cartons from used food products to recycle as storage containers for freezer. I end up with a ugly pile of tops'and bottoms' none of which fit and end up throwing a lot away after a good year is through.

I try not to flush the loo at night ( since had a new loo which flushes less or depending on what is in it!).

I do not buy many clothes ( thats merely and eccentric foibal (le?).

Leaving the teabag in my tea I eventually discard in on my window sill overlooking the garden.....When I notice how revoltingly amassed they are becoming I chuck them on the garden with a feeling of slovenly redemption.
( this Im told is another of my eccentricites) I can see others point of view but to be honest I think there is sanity in it, honestly I do.

I cut my boys hair . Ok this may not be exactly an enviromentally friendly thing but I could squeeze in that it saves on taking them to the barbers and petrol.

Took a pile of decking from a posh skip and lay walkways around my raised beds. The raised beds were frames used to deliver solar panels to put on a neighbours new roof. Spotting these I asked if he wanted to pop them round to my garden which he did. I rewarded his kindness in a bucket of sweet peas grown in the said raised beds a year later.

Use old containers to grow vegetables where possible.

I horde hoard ( sorry Ive just arrived back from a long trip in cornwall) wood which I find in many a place and use it for all manner of things.

I keep an old plactic bin under a bit of faulty leeky guttering and use the mass of rain water that collects in the bin to soak plants in.

I used to own a really old posh volvo which I bought for next to nothing second hand. It was a rust bucket but had leather seats and a button for heated seats that I loved although it never worked. If you drove through a puddle the rain flooded in. It had no heating in winter but I just so loved that car. Unfortunately athough old and second hand it was thirsty on petrol .
I did have a friend who teased me about it leaving a huge carbon foot print.

I eventually recycled it to a foreign country. I so loved that car despite everyone in my family hating it bar my youngest who I managed to convince him of his magical qualities and we both referred to it as an antique...

I keep my underwear until way past its sell by date.

I cook all my food from scratch...and avoid heavy processed food in plastic.

You may notice Im really trying hard to come up with eco friendly virtues..

I know that they are all perhaps small things compared to what we all could be doing.

My outlook is that whatever you do its a good thing. Most things go noticed and this raises peoples awareness, even the seemingly wasteless little eco recyclable things we may do.

Its a bit like picking up other peoples litter and putting it in the bin. My kids always say mum why do you pick up other peoples litter ( I dont do it a lot) and I say it shows an attitude and it makes people think about actions and that may build into something bigger.

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331 Posts
I do not find this post boring... I think more people should be doing something to help the envirement....
George and I compost all our vegetable peelings and anything that can be composted... We recycle all our Glass and cans... I also try and do most of my wash in cold water... except for the whites... I have to use hot for that... But I do hang my clothes out on the line.... I used to be real bad with not turning lights out behind me... for the last few years I am very careful.... We also recycle... old towels and clothes if not for dust rags... George takes them to the garage and puts them in his tool box... They do not get wasted.... We collect rain water to water plants as much as we can... I think it is important to try and do as much as we can to make things easier.....
Great post Clare...

Love Penny

· Inky
248 Posts

It is definitely worth recycling fabric as dishclothes/cleaning cloths as there is becoming a very real problem with synthetic fabric and plastic trimmings dumped in tips. Charity shops cannot recylcle man made fibres as rags. The cheap clothing everyone is buying from the likes of Primark unless it is 100% cotton just goes onto landfill because the quality is not good enough to resell and it is not reclyclable. If you scald the cloths you make and wash with your sheet or towel wash they do not add in any cost and save both paper and new material being used.

If you have 100% cotton clothing (shirts etc.) it may be worth asking adult education sewing classes or schools if they can reuse the material. The same applies to buttons off clothing. I get cotton fabric and trimmings off friends and reuse in patchwork/quilting/embroidery projects.

I am absolutely with Cath and everything she said. Being "eco" conscious is also saving us money. I have to use the car a couple of times a week as I cannot carry grocery shopping or walk far but otherwise use our local hopper bus.

For whites there are eco "whitener" powders that you can put in with the wash load. I use one by Sonnetti which I think is German.

Becoming skint when I could no longer work was a real wake up call to how much I took for granted and wasted - paper kitchen towels, bin liners, deep baths, leaving lights on. And that was when I thought I was being good by recycling. Now it is all a natural habit. We try not to buy any man made fibres, shop second hand when we can and also use the Realcycle or Freecycle network to get rid of unwanted items that are not saleable on eBay. The only thing we no longer do is compost as we live 6 floors up in a city centre flat!

Oh and we do use a dishwasher which our new home came with, but we really load it as full as we can and use eco wash program on it. I am not sure how eco that is but my legs hurt too much to stand up and wash dishes and my partner was doing it all so it has freed his time up a bit.

Food waste is another thing to watch I think. Especially the wrapping on convenience food. We are lucky in that we have an organic/wholefood warehouse that does brown paper bags and minimum packing. They also refill some stuff. Supermarket packing drives me mad. I wish I could find some way of reusing all those plastic mushroom trays!


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18 Posts
Hello from South Carolina, USA. I do not speak for the nation, but it seems we are not a very eco-friendly, conservation minded people. The worst offense of course is gasoline. I know those in other countries probably laugh at our dismay over the rising gas prices here, but in our defense we just don't have the transportation infrastructure of other countries. We are a spread out nation and with the exception of some of our large cities, simply don't have the public transportation available. I live in a small town in South Carolina. No public transport at all. Shopping is not within walking or even biking distance.

Still, because of our rising gas prices, studies here show that Americans are driving less and planning trips more carefully. We are beginning the debate in earnest about alternative sources of energy. Sadly, we had that debate about 30 years ago but it languished when the gas prices came down.

As for my family and recycling. We try to do our part. We put aluminum, glass, and paper in the bin. We don't use paper products (paper plates, etc.). We use our own cloth shopping bags at the grocery store. We have changed our landscaping to more drought tolerant plants. Spend shorter time in the shower. Cold water for the laundry. Keeping the air conditioning a little higher (warmer) this summer.

I like the idea of collecting rain water to water plants, but here in South Carolina we are living through another year of extreme drought - barely a trickle of rain month after month.

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274 Posts
Recycling at our house is a daily occurence.

1) We save all of our aluminum cans, foil and pie pans and take those to the recycling plant. Currently aluminum is going for quite a bit, so it is quite easy to save.

2) We save our newspapers and use them to help light our charcoal grill to cookout. We also use it to line our cats litter box and the rabbit cage.

3) My husband is a big saver of plastic soap bottles as he can use them in the garage for one thing or another.

4) Our neighbor takes our empty coffee cannisters and makes them into bird feeders.

5) We have been replacing our light bulbs with the new curly ones. Our children were the big instigators on this issue,

6) We use those plastic bags as small trash can liners as well as using them to dump icky cat litter into.

7) Because of the size of my family, we only allow 10 minute showers.

We believe in hand-me-down clothes and cutting corners where ever possible. It is the smart thing to do.

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