Contributed by Tanya Schiavone

Enviro-friendlyI have been environmentally conscious since I can remember. Maybe it was all of the nature shows I watched on PBS when I was a kid. The world is important to me and I want to live in a safe, healthy world. But being green is expensive. Organic costs more. Pasture-raised eggs cost twice as much. But I feel that properly fed, pesticide-free chicken eggs are more nutritious and taste better. Buying green consumer products is another story. Does it really cost the company more to make a green product? In many cases I do not believe it is true. Many companies charge more because they think the customers will pay.

In order to save money, I decided to go green on my own. The first area I decided to tackle was my kitchen; I started with the space under my sink. All of my cleaning products are there—toxic oven cleaner, phosphate filled laundry detergent and who knows what is in the spray cleaners. Remembering that back in the day people made their own cleaning products, I decided that I could do this myself. Immediately I wondered: Would it be more money to buy the ingredients? Would it take lots of time? Here’s what I discovered.

Homemade bleach.  Bleach is incredibly destructive—it kills everything it touches and the fumes are toxic. I mix 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 15 cups of water. I use this to clean the bathroom and try to use the whole batch within a month.

Dishwashing Detergent.  The smell of dishwasher detergents is really irritating.  For a green substitute, I mixed 1 cup of washing soda, 1 cup of borax (not Boric Acid) , 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of citric acid (Tang works). You can buy the washing soda and borax at hardware stores.

Drain Cleaner. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar. Wait 15 minutes then pour a pot of boiling water.

You can even make oven cleaner, laminate floor and carpet cleaner, and laundry detergent. All of these recipes have saved me money and take only minutes to make. Each one is effective and is non-toxic.

How do you save money while saving the planet? We invite you to write your ideas in the box below.