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Five Money-Saving and Environmentally Friendly Tips

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Catch rain water: Stick a barrel under the downspout and collect rain water. You can use it to for cleaning, for watering potted plants, whatever. And if you boil or filter it, you can drink it. Save money on your water bill.

Use a Thermos: Here in the Andes most folks don't have money to spend on extra gas, electricity or firewood to heat up water every time they want a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. We boil water and pour it into a thermos. Throughout the day or night we can pour ourselves a cup of hot water without spending an extra centavo.

Clean with hot water instead of chemicals: I boil up a kettle of hot water and pour it over the toilet after scrubbing it out with a brush. Boiling water as been a time-tested antibacterial for thousands of years. You save money by not buying cleaning products. And your health is protected by not having possible cancer-causing chemicals in the house.

Don't buy oven cleaner: Expensive and toxic. To clean extra-greasy ovens, according to Healthy Child Healthy World, mix together 1 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup of washing soda, then add enough water to make a paste; apply the paste to oven surfaces and let soak overnight. The next morning, lift off soda mixture and grime; and rinse surfaces well. Or, if you have a bottle of Coca Cola sitting around, it is an excellent corrosive for cleaning ovens and grills.

Get rid of your water heater (or put it on the roof and paint it black): Your money gets eaten up minute by minute as a traditional water heater maintains the temperature of a tank of water, whether you are using it or not. You can replace your water heater with an on-demand shower head water heater. Electric shower heads run from $2 to $15 and are available at many mom-and-pop hardware stores in Bolivia. Take short hot showers, so you don't run up your electricity bill, or water bill.

Another solution is to go passive solar (if your climate is conducive to this). One do-it-yourself setup I saw was this: Get an old water heater. Paint it black. Put it on the roof where it will bake in the sun. The folks I saw using this built a flared-open box for the tank to rest in on its side. The box they also painted black. Connect black tubes to it. Free heated water.

And the easiest and cheapest solution is to set a wide bucket of water in the sun. Stand in the sunlight to bathe outside with a washcloth and a bar of soap. Use a pitcher to pour water over your head to wash your hair. 

Or you can do like my friends in Nicaragua, and walk to a stream and bathe in the running water. They placed a curved strip of bark to direct the water into a little waterfall that made an excellent shower. They taught me to shower while wearing underwear, for privacy. Our walks together were great exercise and a chance to enjoy each other's company and admire ever-changing nature.

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About Lynette Yetter

Lynette Yetter is the author of the books "72 Money Saving Tips for the 99%" and "Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace, a novel." Lynette is a permanent resident of Bolivia and a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Reed College.
  • http://www.brianharte.co.uk Brian Harte

    It was really interesting to read “use boiling water on the toilet instead of chemicals” as I am astonished by the quantities of bleach (“kills all know germs, dead!”) I pour down the toilet.

    I think number one money saving tip should be to ensure adequate insulation in your home which has the potential to save hundreds each year. Another money saving environmentally friendly choice is to wash suitable clothes at 30C instead of 40C.

  • http://musicandes.com/lucy Lynette Yetter, author of the novel “Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace”

    Hello Brian,

    Thank you so much for reading the article and writing your comment. Yes, one wonders what else is that bleach killing as it makes its way to the sea?

    I agree with you about adequate insulation in your home and washing clothes in cooler water.

    Some (perhaps) surprising suggestions on how to do this are in other articles you might enjoy – Stay Warm Cheap: Tips from the Andes and the Inuit and Six Money-Saving Tips, the Andean Way

    By the way, I visited your website and LOVE your photography. Whenever I make it to the UK I hope to be able to book a photo shoot with you. Your work is awesome.

    From La Paz, Bolivia,
    Lynette

  • http://musicandes.com/ Lynette Yetter, author of the novel, Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace

    Hello Donald,

    Thank you so much for posting your feedback and your tips for taking care of our Mother Earth.

    Best,
    Lynette

  • Gem

    Hi,

    Thanks for the info on the oven cleaner! I hate cleaning the oven and always seem to inhale the fumes of the cleaning product. Tried your tip and it worked a treat

  • http://musicandes.com/ Lynette Yetter, author of the novel, Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace

    Hello Gem,

    How wonderful that you have a new way to clean your oven that is healthier for the environment and you!

    Best, Lynette

  • kurt brigliadora

    …Of course.. Anytime we want to change an existing “system” the pros and the cons have to be debated…But lets leave the plummbing topics to the HVAC Pros, and not the average Joe’s.

  • Igor

    The active cleaning ingredient in ‘coke’ is citric acid, so I use the cheapest cheap soda pop from the supermarket, which I usually get for 89 cents for 2 litres! As with ‘coke’ itself, just rinse it off to get rid of the stickey sugar residue.

    Traditional water heaters are terribly wasteful because they keep a big pot of hot water for the rare occasions you need it. You can replace it with a ‘Flash’ heater that only supplies water (very quickly heated) just when you need it. Common in Europe these days.

    Instead of a shower you can take a basin bath that uses less than a quart of hot water. Put a half pint of cold water in the basin, add a half pint of hot water to make tepid water for shaving, then use the tepid water to start washing from the hair downward to the pits. Then flush the grubby water, use a half pint of cold and a half pint of hot to rinse and extend the wash altitude downward from the pits, etc. It’s a big help to have a “dog bone” sponge from the auto-store and you step into the shower stall (or into Gods Own Outdoors!) to catch the overspray. RV and camping stores have complete solar shower systems consisting of a black bladder (5 gallons or less, but that’s plenty) you put on the roof and a down hose and even an opaque shower curtain for outdoor use. Simple.

    When you eat an orange or lemon, FIRST grate the skin with an ordinary kitchen grater to capture the valuable chemicals and condiments that nature has provided for you. Dry the grated skin in the sun (to stop spoilage) to make lemon or orange powder (rich in citric acid) then put the powder in a bottle to be used as both a flavoring for baked, fried or broiled meats (add some clove powder and garlic for cooking), AND to be used as a cleaner for everything from your crud encrusted oven to counter tops, and then put the dirty water in the toilet to clean it. Never throw an orange peel away again!

    Dump your coffee grounds into the sink or toilet: the small granular grounds will balance the pH of the drain system, ‘sweetening’ the system. NEVER put tea leaves in the drains as they will take forever to clear the system and cause stoppages. Put tea leaves in your composte pile.

    NEVER buy bleach again! Clean the bathroom with citric acid. Remember these truths: almost all human pathogens are ANAEROBIC, they quickly die when exposed to AIR. Ultraviolet light KILLs cells. Thus, when finished with your Jon-e-mop put it out in Gods Own Atmosphere and Sunlight where air and ultraviolet can do their job. (Wear a broadbrimmed hat and gray or green sunglasses to protect your eye cells from UV!)

  • http://musicandes.com/ Lynette Yetter, author of the novel “Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace”

    Thank you Kurt and Igor for taking the time to read this article and post your comments. Igor, those are wonderful suggestions! Thank you for sharing so much valuable information that will make us and our Mother Earth healthier!

  • Igor

    Here’s more:

    Hang your clothes out to dry on a clothesline. Even in freezing weather clothes will dry (due to sublimation). The sanitizing effect of air and ultraviolet will make your clothes smell and feel better and eliminate bad odors and germs from being sustained in your clothes. You and your children will be healthier.

    Never wear blue sunglasses outdoors! They are a gateway for UV and will damage your eyes.

    You can heat water and even cook meals with solar power from God’s Own Nuclear reactor 93million miles away in space. You can make a solar oven from a pizza box or a corner cube and some ordinary aluminum foil from the store. You can also buy parabolic reflectors and even Fresnel lenses on the internet (though I advise against such powerful devices for safety). You can also buy inexpensive folding solar ovens that fold into a compact flat about 12″ wide and an inch thick. On your nature trips through the countryside keep your eyes open for smooth black stones the size of gravel that you can use in your hot water pot in the solar oven to convert concentrated sunlight to heat for boiling your tea/coffee water.

    Solar ovens work. Here’s Denice Rojas demonstrating: Denice cooking.

    Make your own oven: Homemade oven.

    Denice makes a grilled cheese sandwich with a parabolic reflector:Cheese sandwich.

    Perhaps you can inspire your husband to build you a solar oven, but he will have to review the videos carefully since men seem to have a concentration problem.

  • Henry

    Great post. hopefully these blogs inspire people! Perfect for helping people for saving energy and money. Thanks for sharing!!

  • http://musicandes.com/ Lynette Yetter, author of “Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace”

    Thanks, Igor! These are great tips!

  • http://musicandes.com/ Lynette Yetter, author of “Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace”

    Thank you, Henry, for taking the time to read the article and post your thoughts! I really appreciate you.