Thursday thoughts, with a free rant included

June 25, 2010|Posted in: food, Food Stamps, frugal, green, sustainable living, The World as We Know It

Leftovers tonight, or cold cereal (for me). I mentioned today in another post elsewhere that I don’t like hamburgers. I don’t like ground beef. But I served the leftover BBQ burger patties the other night in gravy with mashed potatoes, and ate those leftovers today for lunch. It’s chilly today, seemed like a good day for a hot lunch — but blech. Having to eat leftover leftovers was low on the chart of my dining experiences.

And now, today’s product endorsement…not!
Want to save money? Don’t buy stuff. Like — anything from Procter and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, Lever Brothers, etc. Especially if you are in reduced circumstances, you can save yourself a huge vatload of money on the so-called grocery bill by staying out of several aisles. For one thing, stop buying cleaning products. STOP. DO NOT BUY. All you need is a gallon of white vinegar ($2) and a box of baking soda. It does not have to be Arm and Hammer. It can be generic, and if you go to Costco or Pak & Save, you can get a ginormous bag of baking soda for about $4 and it will last you for months.
What can you clean with baking soda? Your teeth. Your hair. Facial scrub. Your sink. Your toilet and floors. Your laundry. Your car. Your pool or hot tub. Your pets. Everything. And what about vinegar? Same thing — cleans floors, tubs, toilets, counters, windows, hair rinse, laundry rinse. If you buy a gallon of apple cider vinegar (note — not apple-flavored vinegar, but true ACV), you can use it for all of the above plus as a hair rinse, cure for eczema, dandruff, ringworm, tummy troubles, bee stings and mosquito bites, toe fungus and athlete’s foot. Shower spray. Weed killer. Probiotic supplement. And delicious in coleslaw.

These few ingredients are multi-use and non-toxic. You can eat and drink them (and you do, in baked goods, salad dressings, pickles). Stop buying toxins like ovn cleaner, mildew remover, April Fresh fabric softener. Note that everything with an added chemical scent, including so-called “unscented,” has scent added to it that is cancer-causing. EVERYTHING. Why would you use anything by Glade in your house? Why would you spray such a toxin on your furniture or your pet or in your bathroom? You probably spend half your grocery budget, your “food” budget, I dare to say, on cancer-inducing stuff like Glad Plug-Ins and candles and Airwick Room Fresheners in the scented products aisle and the household cleaners aisle. Consider all of that stuff as poisonous. And bank the savings. Your body will thank you, and the environment will also thank you. Dryer sheets? The scent is toxic and the polyester sheets are garbage after 1-2 uses. Use a ball of foil (recycled) to eliminate static, and use a vinegar rinse in the wash to eliminate stinky smells.

Other items you don’t need? Paper towels. Use old T-shirts and towels and wash them. Paper napkins — cloth napkins are cheaply available at Goodwill, and washable with your regular laundry. You can cut up dishtowels if you prefer “new”. Make your own or spend $50 at Sur La Table. But stop using paper. If you only use it (whatever it is) once, you are throwing money away.

This applies to that scourge of the 2000s, the Swiffer addiction. No more Swiffer refills, please. Kleenex? Same deal. Use a handkerchief, and wash it. A fresh one every day — it’s what made you a gentleman or a lady once upon a time. Don’t you want to be a lady or a gentleman? Read up on how many virgin forests are cut down each year for American noses and arses. We are so picky about what touches our tender skin that recycled paper won’t do. Next? Disposable diapers. The Diaper Genie is a horrific invention, made to encase infant excrement in plastic layers instead of allowing it to decompose. It’s like embalming a bowel movement. So wrong, so damaging to the environment, so lazy and squeamish.
Please don’t buy the faux denim disposable diapers. Please wash your cloth diapers or use a diaper service. Your child will potty train earlier because s/he can actually feel the moisture and discomfort instead of carrying loads of excrement and urine around in an April Fresh chemical package in your stroller. Which leads me to menstrual products. Ladies, why so squeamish about your own bodies? Google for some natural resources and make your own or buy your own reusable menstrual pads or cup. You will never ever have to walk down that aisle, or face the “embarrassment” (why so embarrassed?) of buying pads in public again. G*d gave you this body and all its amazing functions. Why so freaked out about rinsing your own menses? You think the Hebrews in the desert or the pioneers in the Wild West had Kotex? No. They did not.
Deodorant? Don’t need it. Use baking soda as if it were baby powder. Disposable razors? Get a metal one with a changeable head, and dry it off after every use. Store it outside of the bathroom, and it won’t rust so fast. You can store your razor in a glass of rubbing alcohol (head down) and it will virtually never rust or lose its edge. Or try a straight razor. Or stop shaving. Shampoo — use baking soda, wash your hair once a week, and use a vinegar rinse. Your hair is not meant to be squeaky clean. Hair without oil is damaged hair. It takes a week or so for the cycle of over-oiliness to settle down. So wear a scarf and let your hair get healthy again. Conditioner — and hand lotion — actually contains ingredients to DRY your skin, in order to get you to buy more. Hand or body lotion? — use olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, or vegetable shortening with gloves/socks overnight. The scented products you normally buy are — again — toxic (scent, plus other ingredients), and designed to get you to buy more. Use your Google finger and read more about this (No, I am not going to to your research for you.).

What else? Oh — sponges, scrubbers, and assorted cleaning tools. Try using worn out clothes for rags, yes, but do you need to spend money on a “scrubber”? Nope. Tie knots in a mesh onion or grapefruit bag. I cut them up and sew them into squares, because I like squares. But tying knots is easier and faster and no excuses about not getting to the sewing machine. And no more $2 here and $4 there for a special scrubber. Use what you have, stop being such a scaredy pants about being seen as cheap, and save a tree, the watershed and your budget.

One last thing you probably don’t have on your list — elbow grease. You know what this is? It’s a little extra work. Instead of buying a major toxic product, buy a gentler one and scrub a little more often. Turn off the TV, put down the remote or your iPhone, and spend 5 minutes more on the bathroom, and you won’t “need” to buy poisonous soap scum remover.

Whew. I could go on,. But I’m tired now. Yes, I’m a hopeless tree-hugger. But if you look at my grocery receipts, I almost *never* buy household products. Toilet paper, yes, recycled only. And if I could persuade my family otherwise, we would stop using that, too. Oh, well. Look at your “food” budget and see what you spend on cleaning, scented, personal hygiene and other supplies. Try the baking soda and vinegar route. Honest.

OK, this wasn’t really about food, but if you can save money at the grocery store, and stay out of Walgreen’s, you would have more to spend on better food. There’s the connection, babes.

Thursday Menu
Breakfast: Simone: breakfast bar, coffee (free at work). Julia: strawberries, generic raisin bran and milk, yesterday’s coffee. Patrick: 2 hardboiled eggs, green tea.
Lunch: Patrick: work meeting with lunch. Simone: plum, peanut butter sandwich, brownie (free from bread donation site); Julia: leftover burger patties in gravy with mashed potatoes, chocolate chip cookie (OK, I had 2).
Snack: Julia: nectarine, hot tea with milk and sugar
Dinner: Simone: organic box mac and cheese with hot dogs; Patrick: leftover chili (from leftover bean salad) on hamburger bun; Julia: generic shredded wheat and milk. Ice cream cones for dessert (from BBQ).

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of "Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop" and "Veronika Layne Has a Nose for News" (rep'd by Booktrope). She is the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. Her articles have appeared in Thrillist, Quill, Paste, San Francisco Chronicle, and in many magazines; her latest poetry appears in The East Bay Literary review.

8 Comments

  1. noreply@blogger.com'

    psmflowerlady
    June 25, 2010

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    And please lets not forget the ever-popular bottled water – or worse yet – bottled iced tea. Puhleese – has no one ever heard of suntea? Don’t own a teakettle? The plastic bottles, additives and cost that we “need” to wet our whistles is amazing.

  2. noreply@blogger.com'

    Anonymous
    June 26, 2010

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    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. noreply@blogger.com'

    The Prudent Homemaker
    June 27, 2010

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    What do you use instead of oven cleaner? I have a self-cleaning oven, but you cannot clean the racks in there without ruining them. My racks need to be cleaned (I bake a lot, and I had some spills recently from tart pans with removable bottoms). Also, the manual says that the smells from the oven self-clean cycle are toxic! And they are; I don’t run it 6 hours like they say; about 45 minutes works just fine.

    I have tried and tried to get them clean, but I’m about to resort to oven cleaner. If you have a better way (because my elbow grease and dish soap aren’t working) then I’d love to hear it!

  4. noreply@blogger.com'

    Anonymous
    June 28, 2010

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    These are great tips, thank you. However, I’m a little surprised that you’re a self-proclaimed tree hugger, but you’re not a vegetarian. More environmental damage is done by raising animals (and the food to feed them) than most of our consumerism. I would suggest anyone interested in learning more do research on Factory Farming practices. If you choose to eat meat it should always be free-range, grass fed and organic.

  5. noreply@blogger.com'

    Shelley
    June 28, 2010

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    Oven Cleaner for the Prudent Homemaker, from a truly EXCELLENT book, Better Basics for the Home, by Annie Berthold-Bond:

    Sprinkle bottom of oven with baking soda to cover. Spray with water until very damp, and keep moist by spraying every few hours. Let set overnight. In the morning, scoop out the baking soda. Rinse the oven well. May substitute half washing soda for half of the baking soda – a little more heavy duty, but needs more rinsing (wear gloves – washing soda, though natural, is caustic).

  6. noreply@blogger.com'

    The Saved Quarter
    June 29, 2010

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    Added bonus to using baking soda and vinegar: both can be purchased with EBT! If you go to Costco, you can get two huge jugs of white vinegar for under $4. I use it for everything!

    Also, if you go through a LOT of baking soda, you can buy it in even larger bags at Home Depot. It’s in brown paper bags, called “Sodium Bicarbonate,” labeled “food safe”, and costs next to nothing. It’s there as a water softener, but if you really go through it and have a way to store it, that’s another option.

  7. noreply@blogger.com'

    Anonymous
    June 29, 2010

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    You are my hero! Seriously, it is amazingly simple to see that most commercial cleaners contain cancer causing ingredients. It is amazing that so many people still buy them. I use backing soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, and salt to clean it all. Wendy

  8. noreply@blogger.com'

    Haylee
    October 14, 2010

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    I agree with everything you said 100%. My boyfriend and I already live that way and have been doing it for almost a year now. We don’t miss the cleaners AT ALL and joke that we should take up stock in baking soda. -lol- It DID take him a while to get used to my Diva cup (or, as he calls it, my “vagina cup”) and the washable “pads” but now its just another one of my quirks that he easily overlooks. -lol-

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