Archeologists say that digging through a civilization's garbage can reveal more about peoples' lifestyles than just about anything else. Take a minute to look through your trash -- items you're recycling as well as sending to the landfill -- and learn how you can save money and the Earth's resources at the same time.
1. Dryer Lint
Dryer lint represents the life of your expensive clothing being beaten and cooked out of them by an electric dryer. Save hundreds of dollars a year by drying your clothes on a clothesline instead; they'll last much longer, and you'll save on electricity and appliance costs, too.
Too much packaging in your trash can be a sign that you need a smart-shopping intervention. Afterall, packaging costs money, which consumers pay for in the end. Buying in bulk and larger sizes is usually cheaper and saves resources. Sometimes shopping at "big box" stores can even be a greener choice.
3. Vegetable Scraps
Never in the trash: compost them instead. Composting -- turning organic material into rich humus for the garden -- is the ultimate act of green frugality. And it's possible to compost even in urban areas.
4. Junk Mail
The door-to-door salesmen of our times: uninvited advertisements for things we usually don't want or need. Reduce impulse purchases and save trees by cutting out the junk mail you receive. Contact www.41pounds.org for help (BTW, 41 pounds is the amount of junk mail the average American adult receives every year!)
5. Toilet Paper Rolls
Sure, some empty TP rolls are in order. Like other cardboard they can be recycled. But a plethora of toilet paper rolls in your trash can serve notice that you're wasting all kinds of money in the bathroom. Check out these tips for water savings.
For every five to ten old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs you burnout and throw away, a single longlasting "compact florescent lamp" or "CFL" -- those crazy corkscrew lightbulbs -- could still be burning bright and saving you 75% on your electric bill. Do the math; it pays to replace burned out bulbs with CFL's, even though they cost more to purchase.
7. Magazines & Newspapers
Sure, they can be recycled, but why not save some cash and paper by canceling your subscriptions and reading them online or borrowing them from the library instead?
8. Leftover Food
The USDA says that nearly 25% of all food sold in America ends up in the trash. Reduce your grocery bill by a quarter simply by being smarter about food storage and portion control.
9. Aluminum Foil
Don't recycle it until you've reused it several times. And even after that, there are plenty of other ways to creatively repurpose aluminum foil.
10. Plastic Water Bottles
What a waste! An estimated 1.5 million barrels of oil are used every year to produce plastic water bottles for the U.S. market, and if you drink only bottled water you'll spend more than $1,000 annually to get your recommended daily amount of H2O, as opposed to about 49 cents for a year's supply of just-as-healthy tap water. Stop drinking bottled water, and get creative repurposing any plastic bottles you do have lying around.
11. Brand Names
If your trash looks like the logo lineup from the commercials at Super Bowl halftime, you might be wasting money on brand name products when many generic items are often just as good (or even better ) and cost less. At least give them a try.
12. Telephone Books
If you look up phone numbers online and don't need to receive a phone book, contact your phone company or visit YellowPagesGoesGreen.org to be taken off distribution lists. Otherwise, phonebooks can be recycled or creatively repurposed.
13. Things You Think Can't Be Recycled
Think again. From worn-out dentures to dirty diapers, human hair to adult novelties, if you're thinking about throwing it out, you may be able to recycle it instead. There are few things too odd to recycle.
Jeff Yeager is the author of The Cheapskate Next Door and The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com. Connect with Jeff Yeager on Twitter and Facebook.
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