Thursday, October 17, 2013

Make things last

Part of living economically is not only the avoidance of unnecessary purchases, but also making things last; by "things" I mean anything you would use long-term - clothes, shoes, appliances - as well as your non-perishable grocery store items, such as toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, cleaning products, etc.

With clothes it's really straightforward. We have work/play clothes, which we tend to treat a little more carelessly (and more often than not, we either got them for free or for a bargain), and we have good clothes, such as for Shabbat. Clothes go into the wash because they need a wash, not because they had been worn once. Of course, with children's clothes, being worn once usually means a wash is in order!.. 

Doing less loads of laundry means reducing your expenses of electricity, water, detergent, and wear and tear on the clothes and on your washing machine. Line-drying minimizes wear and tear, too, not to mention saves electricity. 

Good shoes receive regular treatment of shining, oiling and polishing, which makes them last longer. I have a black pair for summer and a black pair for winter, and they are in such condition that I hope they might last years. Of course, for walking, yard jobs and home, I also have sneakers, mud boots, and slippers. 

When it comes to non-perishables, I guess disposables should be mentioned. I wish I could say I don't use disposables, but I will be honest. I do. Just last night, we had friends over and I used paper cups because it was late at night and I couldn't face waking up to a sink full of dirty glasses. Sometimes, when you go out for a picnic, for example, using disposables makes sense. But generally I try to minimize that.

As for other non-perishables, I don't mean to imply gross things such as that you shouldn't wash your hair, skip washing your hands, etc. Use what you need - but not more than you need, like the manufacturers of every product would have you do (so that you run out soon and go and have to buy more). Have you noticed the enormous holes they make in toothpaste tubes? If I'm not careful and squeeze just a little bit too hard, half the toothpaste comes out at once. 

I used to wash my hair three times a week, and thought I needed it. But then, one winter it was cold and I only washed two times a week, and I noticed that very soon, my scalp adjusted its oil production so that I had the same result as when I washed three times a week. Now I wash once a week, and find it more than enough to keep my hair in good condition. This, obviously, means I use three times less shampoo and conditioner.

It's important to keep your hands clean, especially when working in the kitchen, but you don't have to use soap every time. Using too much soap makes your skin dry. When I use detergents - such as for laundry, for floors, for windows, etc - I always use less than is recommended, and the results are very satisfactory. Remember, the instructions on the package are made by people who want you to use it all up and go buy more! 


Velvet said...

Yes, to all of your ideas - I've been thinking and writing a lot about buying and using carefully (strange how the synergy of the internet works, or perhaps it's that the Holidays are upon us and it's simply the pre-chaos angst bringing it out?).

So true about soap - my mother always used half the amount of laundry soap as was recommended, and occasionally washed her own clothes in only water. If you look in the washing machine while a load of clothes is churning in only water, guess what you see? Suds! The residual soap is a dirt magnet, making more washing necessary, which wears on the clothes, and it's not good for your skin, either. Adopting her habit has saved me time and money. I understand that homemade laundry soap rinses much cleaner, I need to make some. *glances sheepishly at 2 year old box of washing soda*

Tammy said...

Very good points!

Leah Brand-Burks said...

This is so true, especially of the toothpaste and laundry detergent. I read an article once that quoted both a dentist and an appliance repair specialist. The dentist said the "pea-sized" amount recommended for children was plenty for adults as well, and the appliance person said the lowest line on the scoop was PLENTY of detergent, and any more usually just clogs up the machine slowly but surely.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Velvet, I never thought of that! Got to try and run a load (not a very dirty one) with only water, and see what the results are. The problem is, in every load I have both things that are basically clean, just a little sweaty, and things that are full of mud, food, dog's paw prints, etc (I don't have enough laundry to separate).

maria smith said...

I agree. Conservation is an important part of a godly lifestyle. It's something we can always be learning and progressing in. Our family places a great deal of effort on saving, recycling and passing on usable items. We save a lot that way, along with making our own green cleaning products, and finally growing some vegetables. We're slow with that.

Lady Anne said...

I always wear my clothing at least twice. I have an air conditioned house and when I work, it's in an office, so how sweaty can I get? When I take something off, I hang it up inside out; this lets it air, and also tells me I've already worn it.

I also use less toothpaste, detergent, and coffee than recommended. As you said, these people are trying to sell these things - not save you money. I NEVER buy the little packets of "pre-measured" detergent or dishwasher soap. What a waste. I'm not so tired I can't measure these things myself.

I've never tried making my own laundry soap. I've read articles about it, but there's only the two of us, and I have to admit some things just aren't worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that you can wash shoes in the washing machine? They come out looking brand new.

Anonymous said...

Just my 2c...Nobody here seems to have heard of soapnuts. I have been using them for a couple years now, and they are wonderful! No perfumes, dyes, chemicals, or residue, versatile on more that laundry, VERY inexpensive, natural and self-renewing as well (God thought of everything - even soap grows on trees!) They don't necessarily take out stains, but for ordinary dirty they are just as good as commercial. And no mixing. Look them up ;)


Alycia said...

I know what you mean about your scalp adjusting to less frequent washing! I have to make another frugal suggestion - did you know that you can use baking soda and apple cider vinegar to clean your hair? I have long, thick hair, and I use about 3-4 heaping spoons of baking soda mixed with about 400 ml of water. I put the mixture in an old shampoo bottle so that I can have more control over where I get the solution. I part my wet hair with my fingers, squirt the baking soda mixture through the parts until my scalp is covered, and massage it in. Then I rinse it out with water and re-rinse with about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar mixed with about 400 ml water, being sure to really soak my hair. I rinse that out, and my hair is nice and clean! The clean lasts longer than regular shampoo, too. Additionally, you avoid lots of nasty chemicals this way. (This won't be as frugal if baking soda is expensive in Israel. I have a friend in Switzerland who says it is quite expensive there, but here in the U.S. it is very cheap.)