Hang dry your clothes. Am I crazy for suggesting this in the winter? Not really. Your clothes line might be shorter in the winter, but wherever you wash your clothes, assuming you do so at home, hang a rope and dry your clothes. This is even easier if you have a drying rack. Air drying clothes saves a significant amount of energy (and some money), and if your home is like ours, you can use some extra humidity. If you can’t stand crunchy clothes, try tossing them in the dryer for 5 minutes once they’re dry–it will help soften them up.

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I’m sure you’ve been absolutely heartbroken by the lack of tips the last two weeks. I let you down, I know. But to make it up, I will give you a three-fer this week. It’s a Friday treat.

Save water in the bathroom. These tips are all related, and they all involve your bathroom. In America the average family of four uses 400 gallons of water every day. That’s a lot of water, and about half of that water is used in the bathroom. So what can you do?

1. Install a faucet aerator. These are really cheap, and they can reduce your water consumption by as much as 50%.

2. Install a low-flow showerhead. These are also inexpensive, and they use half the water that traditional showerheads use. And you don’t have to worry about poor water pressure–these do reduce flow, but I doubt you will even notice a difference.

3. Displace water in your toilet tank. Your toilet alone can account for 27% of your household water use. Try this: place a two-liter bottle filled with water or sand in your toilet tank.  Experiment with this to make sure you still have enough flushing power, but this will save water and money every time you flush. You can also use this mantra: if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.

Enjoy your tips and your weekend!

Don’t spend money. Choose one day a week where you don’t spend money. You’ve probably heard of meatless Monday. Well, this is the financial equivalent. This practice probably won’t be life-changing, and it may not save you a ton, but it will force you, at least a few times a month, to think ahead. You may have to take your lunch, or you may have to rise earlier to make your coffee. This very simple exercise will allow you to be independent of money for just a day. You might take the time you’d normally spend in the line at Starbuck’s to consider what things control your life and what things you can live without.

Breathe.  This tip is about as simple as you can get.  Breathe.  And think about it.  Breathing is essential, as you might already know, but how often do we think about breathing?  Eating is essential, and we (okay, I) think about it all the time.  Sleeping is essential, and we think about sleep (that deserves its own post).  But breathing is most often an afterthought.  Take a closer look at ancient literature, and we see that ancient peoples saw breath as more than just our sucking and blowing of oxygen.  Breath is our spirit, our life, our energy.  Real, intentional breathing can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, release stress, and help strengthen your immune system.

Take a few minutes each day to think about your breathing.  Practice breathing exercises, like these, or do yoga, or just be conscious of your breathing.  If practiced regularly, you’ll notice a difference.

Avoid phantom energy: unplug your appliances. Did you know that your TV, your microwave, and even your phone charger still use electricity even when not in use? It’s true. Phantom energy accounts for nearly 10% of your total electricity usage. Cut out that energy use (that you don’t even really use anyway), and the savings will get you, essentially, a month of free electricity.  Oh yeah, it also uses less electricity, which means that the power plant supplying electricity to your home is burning less fossil fuel (if your electricity is generated from a renewable source, I’m jealous).

For appliances located close to each other, plug them into a power strip, and just turn the power strip off. For others, you might just have to start a habit of unplugging them when you’re done. It’s just about the easiest thing you can do to save money and cut your electricity usage.

Drive slower. You may already know that it’s more fuel efficient to drive slower. But by slowing down you can also decrease stress, increase safety, and in all likelihood, arrive to your destination just as quickly (don’t fool yourself into thinking that weaving and passing is really making much of a difference–is shaving 2 minutes off your commute really that important?).  Remember also to accelerate and decelerate more slowly.

Tips for Simple Living

September 23, 2010

This is the idea: each week we will offer a tip for simple living, free of charge. As you know, we value buying organic and local products, using toxic-free cosmetics, and recycling. But we think these are just as important: buying less, using fewer cosmetic products, creating less waste (even if it can be recycled). Simple living practices can go a long way in reducing our impact on the earth, and they often reduce the impact on our bank account. So tune in weekly for our tips. If you feel so inclined, share your personal experience, or offer your own tips.

And here we go:

Spritz vodka on clothing with stinky pits. With this simple remedy, you can prolong the length of time between washings, which saves water and may increase the longevity of your clothing. It’s especially helpful for items that recommend dry cleaning, such as dresses or sport coats. Just take some cheap vodka (save the Ketel One for cocktails), put it in a small spray bottle, and spritz it on the pits.  No more stink.