Save. Spend. Splurge.

Things I already do that are eco-friendly and good for the environment

This is going to sound a bit like a granola-crunching post, but it is something that has been on my mind for the past 4 years.

It’s not so much that I want to turn into a hippie, a 100% vegan, or start turning my hair into dreadlocks (…somehow I think it would be a look I could not pull off), but the idea of waste and the environment has been on my mind for about 6 years now.

We really only have one planet Earth right now, so until we find a second Earth to destroy, I have an obligation to try my best to do my part.

As a result, I’ve been a lot more conscious about plastic and waste in my life and it’s starting to change my mindset but not my lifestyle, so I thought I’d do a list and see if I could solicit some more suggestions or ideas!

Or just help other people who want to do things.


  • Stopped using detergent in 99% of my laundry
  • Stopped using the dryer and using any dryer sheets
  • Bring my own reusable bags
  • Stopped using makeup remover
  • Use handkerchiefs
  • Compost food
  • Repair what I already own
  • Don’t dye my hair or using any products or hairstyling tools
  • Buy secondhand and thrifted clothing
  • Use reusable feminine products


As a tea snob this was inevitable, but I don’t use tea bags and I don’t need to toss them.

My loose leaf tea is simply put into water, steeped, and then composted.

I also use a reusable tin that they just re-fill when I want more.


You’d be surprised that using detergent is not that necessary.

Warm water and agitation, gets the dirt and sweat out, and it doesn’t smell like anything afterwards.

I would not recommend this for reusable cloth diapers or greasy kitchen towels.

Throw a little detergent in there.


I’ve taken to just hanging things up like in the good ol’ days on hangers with clothespins (I don’t have a clothesline any more).

As for dryer sheets, I learned that the soft feeling you get from the dryer sheets, comes from animal fat. It’s kind of gross, but understandable.

Still, I noticed it leaves a film on my clothes and I don’t particularly enjoy the scent or the feeling, so I just hang everything up to dry.

The towels are bit crunchy but are fine after one dry-off. It’s a small price to pay.


For bleaching whites, it would be better if I had a real backyard with real sunshine and hot weather, because I could just hang my whites out to dry in the blazing hot sun and get them bleached naturally without any chemicals.

Alas, I live in Canada, land of polar bears, igloos, and snow.



(We just had hail in MAY. MAY!! 2013.. HAIL!!!)

So I just don’t bleach whites very often and I avoid buying white things like white kitchen towels.

When they get a big stain, I have a bleach alternative that I rarely use that doesn’t hurt the environment, but I rarely use it. I still have the bottle of bleach from about 4 years ago.


I do.

I dry clean my coats and things I absolutely cannot hand wash, but I don’t do it very often.

I dry clean my things perhaps once a year or every 2 years (like winter coats).


This one is easy. I just keep a bag with me all the time.

I’ve eliminated all those flimsy plastic bags I went crazy buying a while back (donated them), and bought some plain organic cotton bags which I plan on decorating with paints because I’m that kind of person.

I will concede that not having plastic bags sucks for household garbage disposal (that $0.05 rule has pretty much been abandoned by many retailers I frequent, they just eat the cost of the bags), but now we just use bigger garbage bags, and we try to waste as little as possible.



Toronto has a great program that lets you compost food and organic waste.


All the peels and things go into this compost Green Bin, and this has SIGNIFICANTLY reduced our garbage pile.

I’m pretty pleased about it.


I have a huge stockpile and I throw them all in the wash after I use them.

Warm water and agitation gets anything out. Seriously.

I don’t only have one or two either; I have about 15 cloths and I use them constantly.


Shoes, clothes, everything gets repaired rather than thrown out if I can help it.


I don’t dye it, I don’t use any products on it except coconut oil on the ends, and I don’t use any hairstyling tools.

Au naturel for now. Maybe my tune will change once I start getting more and more grey hairs.

*crosses fingers*



This will certainly be too much for the male readers of my post, so I’ll just say the names of two products:

  1. Diva Cup
  2. Moonpads


  • Anne @ Unique Gifter

    Love the diva cup! My university sold them at cost, it barely took any time for it to pay for itself and I would never, ever go back. I kick myself if I forget to take it and go away for a week and have to buy tampons.
    There’s so many little things we can do every day. 🙂 While I don’t enjoy having take out coffee cups due to how we get coffee sometimes at work, at least I can recycle the lids.

  • SarahN

    You may (or may not) have noticed my commenting has dropped off – mainly cause work now blocks your site 🙁

    As you know I’m big on diy washing powder so not no. washing detergent but less toxic. I’ve transitioned to hankies (count=90) but when I was at peak illness I was at the bf’s so tissues were all that was available. As it eased and I was home the hankies got used. I line my bins with bags from other things – toilet paper packaging, mail satchels, cereal bags (all proudly photographed on my blog every Wed(. Yet to move to moon cups but it’s on my radar! Still need to conquer cotton bud use for ear cleaning and dying as well as dental floss. And of course the occasional convenience slip up (usually food related)!

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Oh please don’t feel bad for not commenting.. although why is my site blocked!?!?!? 😛

      Washing powder I have heard of, but I use soap nuts as of late, which work just as well … if I need to, that is. Otherwise it’s just water.

      Dental floss can be found in recyclable cardboard containers and silk floss (although not vegan) can be composted 🙂

      • SarahN

        I’ll need to look into silk floss – cause i cant see myself going vegan!

        Who knows why they block what – I can only assume it’s cause i spend too long on the site?!

  • Helen

    High-five for the DivaCup. I switched to the DivaCup several years ago and never looked back.

    Once you get the hang of the technique, it’s not much of a stretch from using tampons. I used to use pads, and I said farewell to the smell and that bunching feeling. Sure, there’s the initial investment, but on average, I’d say it pays off after six months of use.

    Oh, and don’t forget the waste-free aspect. It’s good to be eco-friendly. There is no shame in respecting the Earth, and frankly, those who feel the need to label us “granola-crunchers” haven’t had good granola.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I am thinking of trying out The Keeper which is a natural rubber. Silicone makes me a bit queasy, especially inside….

      YES! THE SMELL!!!! That’s the other part I forgot.

      (P.S. I hate granola 🙂 But I see your point)

  • Tina

    I’m also curious about the makeup remover. Are you able to skip it because of the natural makeup you’re using or have you found an environmentally friendly face wash potent enough to clean off makeup?

  • Tania

    Love this post. I’ve been going through a similar process. Maui also has a composting pickup option along with the recyclables but my mom and I have decided to use our compost in our yard. I’m now feeling quite guilty about the 30 years of coffee grounds I didn’t compost prior to this year. You’ve reminded me about how wonderful tea leaves are and as soon as I finish up my current bag supply I’ll replenish with leaves (I admit I got sucked in by the mantras on the yogi tea bag strings, I can get my feel good mantras online from now on).

    I don’t wear makeup that can’t be removed with my cleanser (I use Cetaphil). No more mascara and very little eye make-up.

    Now that I don’t have a dryer anymore I find terry towels get very hard and crunchy (I never put dryer sheets in mine even before because it decreases the absorbency). So, I found another solution, Turkish towels. They are cotton, thin and light. They fold up small, dry fast and look just as good with hang dry. You can also use them as a sarong or beach blanket (or maybe picnic blanket for you Canada girl). I’ve also been using cotton tea towels in my bathroom. My vanity is part of the bedroom so they look prettier and also have many of the same qualities as the turkish towels, light, fast drying and they don’t take up as much room. I do small space posts and this will be something I’m writing about soon. No terry ever again for me although I can’t speak for my BF, he loves his basic white terry towels, hotel style.

    Interesting about the feminine products (I think you’d fit in on Maui just fine, we tend to be a little hippie/granola crunchy, some of us more than others).

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I love composting and it is just BRILLIANT to gather all that stuff to help enrich the soil for the city. If I wasn’t in a hotel most of the time, I’d have one.

      Don’t feel guilty! It is NEVER too late to do good things.

      Turkish towels are great because I use them to travel with. I’ve taken to using them on my hair after I shower as well to absorb all the water….

      I don’t really like terry towels, I find that the water sits on top before absorbing in, rather than absorbing in right away.

      As for feminine products, you should really check out The Keeper or The Diva Cup. Fantastic products. 🙂 I like the granola/crunchy crowd, it seems even though people don’t think I’m part of it.

  • Leslie Beslie

    Also haven’t noticed a difference not using dryer sheets, fabric softener, or large quantities of laundry detergent.

    I’m still on the fence about diva cups though.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      SEE! 🙂 I knew you wouldn’t see a difference. Your clothes and things are the same, perhaps better without all that junk washing into them.

      Give it a shot if you find a Diva Cup on sale. I was iffy about it too when I first heard about it, but now I won’t use anything else. I can’t go back to what I was doing before, it was even more disgusting than a Diva Cup. I feel cleaner with a DC than with tampons or pads.

  • Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild

    Okay, so I fail environmentally. I am all about disposable products just because I have a bit of OCD about cleanliness. Tissues, paper towels, and tampons are just necessary in my book. Compost (and even recycling) is not available in my area (at least not conveniently, the only time I’ve ever seen anyone recycle is at work because it’s easy). I also drink bottled water. *hangs head in shame*

    I don’t use dryer sheets (or fabric softener) though! I think they are frivolous and completely unnecessary. My clothes feel fine.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I only use tissues if I have a cold or am sick, which is once every… 5 years these days? I don’t have enough handkerchiefs to blow my nose every 2 seconds, AND it’s gross to keep germy, bacteria-laden handkerchiefs around.

      You should really try a Diva Cup if you can. I used to be a diehard tampon-wearer until I tried the DC, and now I just won’t go back. The tampon is even grosser and more disgusting than a DC in my opinion.

  • Michelle

    How is not using makeup remover eco friendly? Less cotton pads used? o.o

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      That, and you don’t wash the makeup remover chemicals down the drain to pollute the waters 🙂

      My makeup remover is coconut oil, melted on your fingers, rubbed all over your eyes, then washed with a cleanser = makeup removed 🙂

  • Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle

    I use a reel mower ( old school no motor -just me pushing) and long handled me-powered trimmers instead of one of those noisy weed whackers.

    These are good for the environment but they are also good exercise for me. I bought them because I am not good with machinery of any kind and I would never be able to load the weed whacker cord and I can’t stand the noise of lawn equipment.

    I am cutting both lawns and trimming today and it will be a nice, quiet work out for me.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I LOVE reel movers!!! They’re actually a lot of fun and you don’t get those gas exhaust fumes in your face.

      My mom thinks it’s the best thing in the world to use one, she loves mowing the lawn with it.

  • Sense

    I got freaked out by fabric softener and dryer sheets a while ago when I heard about all the hormones and whatnot in them. I now swear by throwing in a white vinegar-water mix into a Downy ball with my wash. you could probably reproduce it by throwing the mixture in there during the final rinse-spin cycle.

    It keeps towels and jeans super soft and doesn’t smell at all once dried. I just can’t stand that ‘crunchy’ towel feeling!! Keeps the washer clean, too…

  • MelD

    It’s interesting that some products never actually made it to Europe to ruin our Earth, e.g. dryer sheets! I have never even seen them for sale… They stopped selling much in the way of softener liquids a few years ago, too – apparently a bit of vinegar does just as well for towels (we have extremely hard water here). Unlike a lot of Swiss women, I don’t see laundry as a science and usually just toss a small capful of powder detergent in with my light or dark laundry and it’s fine. However, I did for a while use liquid detergent and my machine got stinky – the technician who came told me this would improve if I used powder, and it has. I try to use an eco product (phosphates were banned here as early as 1985, fortunately). Since I have a dryer, I do use it for towels, just a short burst, and line dry the rest – in summer outdoors, in winter the warm house makes for quick drying and the moisture helps, too. Dryers actually didn’t become common here till about 10 years ago anyway.
    My husband was brought up old-fashioned and always has two handkerchiefs in his pockets. After nearly 30 yrs, the antique ones he inherited from older male relatives (lovingly embroidered by female relatives) have fallen apart but I got him new ones very cheaply, so he is happy again! They go into the light wash at 60°C.
    I treat stains individually with ox-gall soap, which is totally normal here, it’s what they’ve always done.
    Bags and especially, baskets, have also never gone out of fashion in Switzerland. I guess that’s what comes of being backward till the rest of the world begins to regress! It’s like they’ve always used vinegar for cleaning hardwater stains, why would you use anything else?!
    Herbal teas are popular and many still collect their own limeflowers, peppermint, lemon verbena or whatever, again, not unusual. If you have apple trees, you make juice to last you the next year. If you have elder bushes, you make elderflower and elderberry cordial, it’s nothing special, it’s just what you do. Even if you do run your husband’s business or even go out to work, these days (!). Or you have a mother or aunt with a garden – they don’t much go in for ornamental gardens, a garden is a place to grow something productive. There is a very strong vibe towards productivity – no comprehension whatsoever of getting an education you can’t “use”! Study art or history? Why? What will you “be”?! Far better do an apprenticeship as something useful.
    Anyway, I digress. So things like composting are normal – small green buckets on every apartment’s windowsill that are emptied and collected regularly. Bags for recycling clothing and shoes are delivered with the post every couple of months and can be deposited at the recycling centres dotted everywhere. We collect cardboard, paper, glass, cans, polystyrene, batteries, coffee capsules (for those who have them), aluminium etc. and it’s a one-stop visit to recycle them once a week at a very tidy and clean council centre.
    I know Canada has a pretty good reputation here – the Swiss approve LOL!!

    • Tania

      You’ve just made me want to move to Switzerland. There are also days I ponder moving to Denmark.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      White vinegar and salt, is great for washing/cleaning/bleaching and softening your things.

      A cup of salt into water for your jeans, makes them super soft.

      I think Europe is more traditional and ironically, now more progressive in their refusal to use such convenience products. It’s just a better environment to live in, when you don’t have to worry about this stuff ALL THE TIME. It’s easier when you see on the shelf things that have really passed through stringent testing by the government, and the work is half done for you.

      I also just recently got into handkerchiefs about 5 years ago. I can’t go back. I prefer using them over tissue papers now (unless I’m sick, then I have no choice because I run out).

      I’d agree that the old methods are best, especially when they’re natural, and a more practical way of thinking about your life.

      Canada is not THAT bad. I’d say compared to the U.S., I am wholly impressed with Canada trying to do eco-friendly things like compost and so on. In the U.S., they’re just so wasteful with everything that it made me appreciate what I had in Toronto.

      Vancouver however, has Toronto beat. Vancouver is REALLY good on recycling and being green.

  • Pauline

    I buy used whenever I can, almost never buy packed meat or convenience food, so fruits and vegetables don’t have plastic bags and we have very little waste. And I love mooncups, not only because it is hard to find tampons in some countries, it just makes life so much easier.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Life is WAY easier with mooncups than with tampons. Less wasteful, no bloody trash (literally), and you don’t feel the need to run and check every 4 hours to see if it twisted and now you’re bleeding down your leg….

  • Sarah Li Cain

    Just out of curiosity, what do you use instead of makeup remover? I’m thinking of making my own because there are tons of how-tos for more environmentally friendly ones.

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