Use Less to Save More

 Posted by on September 8, 2008  Add comments  Tagged with: ,
Sep 082008

In my post about “extending” dishwasher detergent, I mentioned that I gradually cut the amount I used from 3 tablespoons, to 1 tablespoon, just to see what would happen.

I often challenge myself in this way, to see how little of something I can use, without sacrificing quality. Here are just a few examples:

1) I cut my dryer sheets in half with a kitchen sheers. A half sheet works just as well.

2) When I get a new bottle of shampoo, I pour half of it into my empty shampoo bottle, and then fill both bottles to the top with water. Have you ever noticed that most shampoos are so thick that you have to water them down to get them to lather up anyway? Cutting them in half with water saves that step, and you get two bottles of shampoo for the price of one.

3) I make my own foaming hand soap, using recycled dispensers from Bath and Body Works’ 3 for $5 sale. I buy inexpensive “Milk and Honey” hand soap by the gallon at Wal-Mart, and fill the foaming soap dispensers with 1/3 soap, and 2/3 water. The soap lasts three times as long.

4) I found some “Olay Daily Facials” cleansing cloths at the scratch and dent for only $1. I love little treats like that, because I never let myself buy them at the store. Their regular price of $6.49 is a little bit too cha-ching! for me. Anyway, the first time I tried them, I found that they produced way more lather than I actually needed to wash my face and neck. So, I cut them in half. A half cloth is just perfect, and I get twice as many for my money.

5) I used to put a big blob of toothpaste on my toothbrush, until my dentist told me that toothpaste is actually an “acquired need.” If people brushed their teeth for a full three minutes, using plain water and correct technique, their teeth would be very clean and healthy. Sadly, in today’s hurry-up society, most of us rush through our obligatory 30-second teeth brushing because we have more “important” things to do. We need the mild abrasive offered by toothpaste, and most of us perceive the minty after-taste of toothpaste to mean that our mouths are clean.

After the dentist explained this to me, I started putting just a teensy bit of toothpaste on my brush (less than the size of a pea), and brushing longer and more thoroughly. I’ve been cavity-free for almost 6 years, and my toothpaste lasts forever.

The point I’m trying to make is that we all could save a lot of our hard-earned money if we tried to use less of everything. We can also help the environment, because our society’s conspicuous consumption wastes precious resources. This week, I challenge you to cut back the amount you use of just one common household product, and see what happens.

It’s worth a try.