Eco-friendly products, recycled materials and energy-efficient appliances are savvy investments in the future. And since Earth Day is Wednesday, I've been brainstorming for frugal and eco-friendly tips. It's possible to go green without overspending. Here are a few ideas:
• Instant returns. After purchasing an organic skincare product, I returned a paper shopping bag and a small box to the sales clerk. Without the bag or the excess packaging, the small bottle of skin tonic fit neatly into my purse. I asked the sales clerk to reuse or return the packaging to the manufacturer. This technique is called pre-cycling. It involves selecting food, personal care and household products with recyclable containers or less packaging, according to Trey Granger, a staff member at Earth911.com.
• Cut the water bill. In addition to taking shorter showers and turning off the water while we brush our teeth, there are other creative ways to save water. Consider tossing used cooking water into the garden or plant containers. This multitasking water may also have nutrients that will help your plants, according to Earth911.com.
• Apply vinegar. From skin-care treatments to kitchen countertops, I've found frugal, effective and safe uses for vinegar. For instance, diluted with water, organic apple cider vinegar makes a great hair conditioner. I've used a mix of 30 percent vinegar and 70 percent water with great results. Likewise, white vinegar doubles as an inexpensive, nontoxic cleaner that works well on windows, tiles and kitchen surfaces.
• Shopping detour: As a recreational sport, mindless shopping can fill our carts with future landfill cast-offs. To save money and resources, I've been getting shoes repaired and shopping for new ideas in my existing wardrobe. And when I do shop, I'm making smarter decisions. ''If you don't buy waste, you can't make waste,'' says Raquel Fagan, executive editor of Earth911.com.