Saturday , June 22 2024
Simplify and save money the (sort of) Andean way.

Five Money-Saving and Environmentally Friendly Tips

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.

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.

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