Psst! Wanna save money, improve health and fitness, and lower your carbon footprint—simultaneously?
Think about ways to make your daily life less efficient.
The idea: arrange your life to move more and rely less on power tools, appliances, and machines. A few tips:
- Put up a clothesline and hang the wash. Clothes dryers account for almost six percent of household electrical costs. Line-dried clothes and sheets smell great. No, your towels won’t turn out soft and fluffy, but they will replace all those expensive exfoliants.
- If you have an unheated basement that doesn’t freeze, keep your refrigerator and freezer down there. The cooler year-round temperature means the appliances will work less to do their job, saving money on utility bills. An exercise physiologist once helped me calculate that simply by running up and down stairs to fetch and put away my food burns the calorie equivalent of 10-13 pounds each year.
- For that matter, take the stairs wherever you go.
- Stash bedding, towels, pantry staples and other items on another floor or in a far corner of the house from where you’ll use them.
- For every errand of a mile or less, commit to walking or bicycling. You can carry quite a load in a sturdy backback. Biking or hiking just five miles a week when you’d ordinarily use your car will save around $40 a year in gas and burn the calorie equivalent of five to seven pounds.
- For city errands, park on a side street where you don’t have to feed a meter, and walk the extra blocks. I often hear people at my local YMCA trudging away on the treadmill, moaning that they couldn’t find a nearby parking space and had to park three blocks away.
- Consider selling your snowblower and leafblower and going back to the shovel and rake. (Hint: check out the new-fashioned ergonomic models of shovels, rakes, and other hand tools.) If you’re out of shape, you can avoid back injuries with just a few core-strengthening exercises a day. Here’s a good three-minute routine (not just for the office).
- Learn (from an expert) about wild-food foraging in your part of the world; then get out and forage. For a weekend adventure, take a few friends, then cook up a wild feast for dinner.
Other inefficiencies that can save money and foster family wellbeing include food gardening, composting, splitting and stacking firewood, getting outside to hike/bike/explore with your kids
Yep, you do deserve a break today. Instead of indulging in fast food for dinner, take 10 minutes to hang a load of wash, 15 to bike to the store for the Sunday paper and back, or 20 to shovel the walkway.
Margaret Boyles lives in a wood-heated house in central New Hampshire. She grows vegetables, eats weeds, keeps chickens, swims in a backyard pond in summer, snowshoes in the surrounding woods in winter, and commutes by bike whenever possible.