Is it possible we've discovered too many ways to "Go Green?" It's become so trendy, sometimes it seems only wealthy people can save the planet. I'm glad forward-thinking billionaires have promoted it, but now every business from corner store to mega-corporation is selling the concept.
Despite all appearances, however, you don't need to spend a lot of green to be green. In fact, good old-fashioned frugality was always eco-friendly. Take a look at these 30 basic things you can make yourself. These are simple "recipes" and formulas, and all of them will save both the environment and your bank account.
1. Dishwasher Soap
Mix together 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup Borax, 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup citric acid. Store tightly covered in a jar. Use one tablespoon per load. Add a splash of vinegar to the rinse dispenser for best results.
2. Pancake Syrup
I love maple syrup but it's too expensive to let the kids use it every other day. Besides, I want something without the high fructose corn syrup. Combine 1 cup hot water, 2 cups sugar and 1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring. Bring to a boil and heat until thickened.
3. Lawn Spray
Mix 1 cup baby shampoo, 1 cup ammonia, 1 can of beer and 1/2 cup corn syrup in a 20-gallon hose-end sprayer. Top off with warm water and soak your grass with this lawn spray once a month. It'll be green and healthy.
This one may seem obvious, and it is, but I think there are still many people out there who don't know that making compost is easy. Really, it's easy! To get started, check out CompostGuide.com or Plow & Hearth magazine.
5. Compost Bin
When I first tried composting, I was really put off by all the expensive composters I found online. The point of this exercise is to save money! Here's a great solution that won't break the bank: http://simplemom.net/how-to-make-a-compost-bin/.
6. Plant Fertilizer
If you're still completely put off by composting, it's OK. Rotting things can be scary. Have some leftover coffee grounds? Just throw them directly onto the dirt around your favorite plants. Grind egg shells and do the same. Pour leftover green tea on them. Kids have fish? Dump the old fish tank water. Every once in a while, take a pronged garden tool out there and scrape around to mix things up. Your plants will love you.
7. Weed Killer
Vinegar is a great weed killer. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray it on anything you can't get out by the roots. It's one of the few things that will work against such noxious weeds as Canadian Thistle. All vinegars are diluted, so try and buy the highest concentration you can find at the supermarket.
8. Laundry Soap
A basic recipe that costs $0.03 per load and uses washing soda, Borax and grated bar soap can be found at Crafting A Green World (http://craftingagreenworld.com/2011/01/30/how-to-make-your-own-eco-friendly-laundry-soap-for-three-cents-a-load/). There are variations on the basic formula for protecting sensitive skin and for stain removal.
9. Make Dinner
Cooking anything at home saves you gas and is cheaper and healthier. Cooking magazines and websites can help or hurt. Don't think you've got to serve the gourmet meal every night. Make things you like and look for recipes with few ingredients. If you have kids, get them involved. They'll eat better and complain less.