Saturday, August 10, 2013

When Not to be Crunchy

I struggle a lot with when to be and when not to be crunchy. That is the question. (Muahahaha....sorry). Ideally, I'd choose the green, organic version of EVERYthing in the whole world. Unfortunately, we live in a world where that is not always possible. For us, that is usually due to cost. No matter what tips and tricks you use, there is a certain amount of financial struggle to purchase 100% organic and green if you are a middle class or lower family. It may apply to higher income families; I just don't know what that's like ;). So how do you decide what to give on? Everyone's deciding factors will be different, and I'd love to hear yours in the comments!, but here's a general guideline I use to help guide my purchases:

  • Never, ever skimp on food. I truly believe what you're eating is the most important, so I would rather eat less meat than eat lower quality meat. I would rather cut another area of our budget than give on fresh fruits and vegetables (and organic especially on the dirty dozen but we aim for all organic with produce). 
  • Search for deals. This may sound "duh" but often times I will find organic or natural products at Target on clearance and I can really stock up! Do be careful of the label "natural" though as it isn't regulated. Just read the back of the product before purchasing to see if it meets your criteria.
  • Investigate homemade. You may find that some homemade things are just not worth it, and that's ok. I've had dismal luck with dishwasher detergent (as in, it works for 10 loads at a time and that's it). So I give on that (more below) but there are other things, like general cleaner spray which I make with equal parts water and vinegar, and about 40 drops of essential oils, that is not only so much better to clean with but DIRT CHEAP! We have saved a ton of money on cleaning supplies since switching over about 6-8 months ago. For the things you don't feel are worth the time or effort of doing homemade, see if there is a natural counterpart in the store. If it's toilet bowl cleaner (never going to touch me or sit on a touchable surface) I am more likely to 'give' and buy the cheap stuff than counter cleaner, which is a surface I touch daily. 
  • Look online for good deals. When I realized I needed to cave and buy dish detergent, I at least wanted to get something eco-friendly, but in the store that meant $$$ compared to the cheap stuff. It was almost an area I gave on, and I'm sure we would have survived if I had :). But I did find an awesome coupon code for and I was able to stock up. If I don't have a coupon code next time, or can't find it online cheaply, this may be something I give on temporarily until I find another deal. I'm weirder about this though since our food does directly touch the dishes we're putting it on.
  • Think about the impact it will have on your body first, and the environment second. Now that's not to say the environment isn't important and, again, we all have different priorities so you may feel the opposite way. But when push comes to shove and the budget is super tight, I worry first about the impact it will have directly on me, and give on the environmental factor a bit. That means I may buy a product that doesn't have endocrine disruptors (especially important with PCOS) like eco friendly bug spray but may have to buy that cheap yellow jacket spray that works but isn't great for the grass underneath the hive. Again, I look at this as a temporary thing. As soon as finances improve, I go back to protecting the environment.
  • Every now and again, I will let convenience trump eco friendly and try my hardest not to guilt myself over it. If I'm having a lot of people over to the house (rare, luckily for this introvert!), I might use paper plates so that I'm not up all night cleaning up. I used to feel super guilty about stuff like that, but I do minimize it to a few times a year or less, and then I decide that sometimes time=$! And hey, that paper may be compostable and save a lot of water! 
  • If it's an item I use infrequently, I'm more likely to buy the 'regular' version. The more often I use a product, the more important it is to me that I'm purchasing something that is both good for me and for the environment. 
So chime in; what guidelines do you use when the budget is tight and you have to make tough decisions? 


  1. Dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, and shower spray are important to me because they contaminate the water in a way that is very difficult and energy-consuming to clean and fix. However, occasionally when there is SUCH a deal and I know these are expensive items, I'll buy the regular. Except for shower spray - I never give on that anymore. Not only is the water at stake, but my feet are in there every day, my cats sometimes go in there, and the rare occasion that we take a bath, I don't want layers of chemicals in there. So we always use Method.

    I like to use things that (1) are all-purpose and (2) have a concentrate form. Right now we are obsessed with Mrs. Meyers lavender all-purpose cleaner. They sell a a bottle of concentrate for like 10 bucks and you just use a little bit of it with a half bottle of water to refill your spray bottle. It saves SO much plastic and so much money to be able to keep mixing and refilling.

    One thing I'm not picky about is furniture polish. I don't really touch the surfaces of our TV stand, mantle, dresser, etc. enough to care about that, AND it's not really affecting the environment so much except for the tiny bit that ends up on the cloth to get washed. I guess you could argue that it's in the air afterward, but I don't personally think that's such a huge risk, as I spray the Pledge directly on the surface and wipe it right off, and then generally am out of that room for a while afterward.

    1. Just curious- why use the shower spray at all? We just use eco friendly cleaner on the tub/shower once a week. Or is that what you're referring to?


      We don't even use furniture polish! I just use microfiber on the little wood we have (mantle, dressers, end tables), and my homemade cleaner on everything else. Def. a money saver!

    2. So that we don't have to scrub it every week, lol. Finding time and energy to clean our house is hard enough as it is, and that saves us a lot by not having to do it nearly as often. And the natural daily spray works beautifully.

      When I'm lazy, I just swipe a rag over surfaces without getting out the Pledge...never thought of doing that all the time but it makes sense since it works. I guess I bought into the claim that Pledge keeps dust from accumulating as fast and is hypoallergenic...but when I think about it, I'm not sure how it can accomplish either of those things, and it probably isn't really needed!