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Learning from the Thrifty Generation

Senior Woman with a Reusable BagThey always say that you can learn from your elders, and that is certainly true when it comes to conserving resources. While cleaning products and technology have changed over the years, today’s senior citizens have developed a lifetime of thrifty habits that can help our planet. What can we learn from our grandparents that will ensure we’re leaving a better world for our grandkids? Here are 12 tips:

  1. Use refillable cleaning products Buying in bulk doesn’t just save money. It reduces our carbon footprint when we use less packaging. So rather than buy new liquid soap pumps, for instance, buy a large bottle of soap and refill the pump you have.
  2. Choose concentrated Again, it’s all about the packaging. The less plastic it takes to transport a product from the factory to the store to your house, the less impact it has on the environment. If you can get more loads of laundry out of the same size container of detergent, go for it!
  3. Use only the recommended amount Whether or not the product is concentrated, use only the amount you need to get the job done. Proper dosage can mean less dollars spent on cleaning products, and less plastic.
  4. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher Scrape the food off the plate into the garbage or disposal, then place those dishes right into the dishwasher. That’s what your dishwasher is for! Why double the use of water?
  5. Turn off the lights when you leave the room You heard this as a kid. You probably say it to your own children ad nauseam. But really, how hard is it to flip a light switch on the way out of a room? It’s one of the easiest things we can do to reduce our use of electricity.
  6. Recycle empty cleaning product containers To learn how to properly recycle household cleaners in your area, visit Earth911.com, dial 1-800- CLEANUP® or download the free mobile application, iRecycle®. The earth will thank you. And so will your grandchildren. And their grandchildren.
  7. Use reusable shopping bags Many stores offer rebates when you bring your own bags, and with good reason. Plastic bags fill our landfills and threaten wildlife. So invest in some good reusable bags, and when you do, learn how to wash and store them safely between each use to help prevent bacteria, yeasts and mold from growing on the bags and possibly cross-contaminating your food.
  8. Turn off the water, fix leaks, reuse water In the same way you shouldn’t pre-rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, don’t run the faucet while you brush your teeth. Feed the houseplants with leftover water from dinner glasses. And while you’re at it, fix those leaks that can waste a surprisingly large amount of our earth’s precious resource.
  9. Choose products in post-consumer recycled packaging Many bottles, cans, bags and boxes are made with post-consumer recycled materials. This helps keep our landfills lean, and also prevents us from using up natural resources. Plus, when you choose products in packages made from post-consumer waste, it shows manufacturers that the environment matters to their consumers.
  10. Change your air filter Clean heater or air conditioner filters (and the intake cover/grill) means less dust in your system, which is better for you to breathe. It also means that your appliances won’t have to work so hard. Which is better for the environment, and your wallet.
  11.  Only run the washer and dishwasher when you have full loads The dishwasher uses the same amount of water and energy whether there’s an entire cabinet’s worth of dishes in there, or just a spoon. So aim for efficiency. Same with your laundry. Why spend the energy washing one pair of jeans when you can wash an entire hamper?
  12. Run major appliances at night In the summer, you’re using energy to keep the home cool during the day when the sun is shining bright. So why add to the heat level in the house by running the washing machine or dryer? Do laundry at night when it’s cooler.