10 Pay-Backs For You

Earth Fair 2007

Whether we agree with Earth Fair, like or dislike the event, it does serve to reminds that we, any of us, can easily, quickly earn over $100 an hour regardless of Earth Day doctrine.

Announcements during last week’s Earth Fair ’07 highlighted the fact the least environmentally conscious among us can still garner immediate financial reward from many retailers. We’re not talking pay a lower home energy bill next month, we’ll get to that in a minute. This is cash in your pocket today, before you arrive home this afternoon.

Some think of it as free food, and there’s the free non-eatable consumables. No free gas in your car, sorry. But its still money you get to keep that can be put toward paying off those price gougers.

What is this grand item? The lowly plastic bag. Increasing numbers of grocers and now other types of retailers sell reusable bags. Better than those old potato sacks that used to be around these bright green colorful versions from places like Whole Foods, have sturdy handles which avoid cutting into the hand as do throw-away plastic counterparts when you trundling home with a gallon of milk inside.

save the money
save the money

Some retailers should be ashamed of prices they demand for reusable bags, but you don’t have to pay it. My son found mine in a thrift shop for one-dollar. I was already considering making myself a snazzy looking bag, personalizing it, maybe with my name in beads, a real cutie.

On to what you can do today to make your life better and your wallet thicker as a result of paybacks that fill it with greenbacks.

10 Pay-Backs

1. Cleaning Agents – In lieu of harsh chemical cleaners turn to non-toxic natural ingredients, for your own personal health. Professional housekeepers love lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil. Add to that money savings, tote your better choices home in your good looking recycle bag. For additional lists of effective cleaners good for you and your family, even your pets, look for “The Little Book of Quick Fixes for Eco-Conscious Cleaning,” coming to Amazon and bookshelves near you, in the next couple of weeks.

2. Food Discounts – More grocers now give cash discounts to shoppers when a store doesn’t have to buy bags. So get yours then use your handsome (if you’re a man) recycle bag to carry off those socks from Sears along with the power drill you wanted and can now buy. After all, you’ve got grocery savings still in your pocket or debit card account.

3. Light On – Bulbs burn your bucks, some a whole lot faster then others. White twistys used to be large, clunky, ugly, and not fit well into most lamps. Plus they were pretty darn expensive. Today’s models come with wire holders for almost any type light fixture and cost only 20% of what they used to. They’ll command up to 75% less energy, meaning you get the benefits.

4. Buy Bulk – when possible. Your rewards are two-fold. Your product is less pricy per unit, ounce, gram, pint, whatever quantity it comes in. And you do the planet a service. Throw-away trash of an average family of 4 in Japan, fits into a container the size of one U.S. plastic grocery store bag. Most elaborate product wrapping here are solely to sell you, sell you, sell you again. Why pay for manufacturer advertising. Buy the large size with more product inside for less money, make advertisers pay for their ad space… on the back of a bus bench.

5. Water Wasters – hurt us all. In the southwest we know how precious water is. Most of us are too smart to waste it. A smart person’s head is way ahead of their sprinkler head. Sometimes there’s less we can do. Communities with the worst CC&R Boards squander enormous amounts of water by not properly setting timers or directing sprinklers yet disallowing residents normal necessities like car washing. Such is so where they forbade a neighbor bathing her little short-hair family pet. Watch where outside water drains unnecessarily and redirect it. Unlike bad boards, you do have a I.Q. higher than a tennis shoe.

6. Buy Local – Produce grown nearby is a savings. Summer squash has to travel in order to decorate Thanksgiving salad, it happens. But all that beautiful, healthy, local fruit and veggies at your farmers-markets are waiting to grace your Spring table, at extraordinarily low prices. People transporting is today costly. A published study illuminates the fact that Americans generate more carbon dioxide by eating then by driving cars. Even if you’re not a global warming convert, why waste your own financial resources paying those same price gougers who hold you hostage at the gas station? Farmer’s Markets numbers doubled this decade (Department of Agriculture 2006 report), from 2,410 to 4,385 last year. 52 states total, that’s an average of nearly 900 Farmer’s Markets per each state, one or more likely near you.

7. Unwanted Greenery – can be a curse to all who like things our way. So on the scene come those inventors willing to make life easier on you, and on your back. This year a whole posse of new weed pullers have hit the market. They cost a lot less than poison to kill weeds, are inexpensive, reusable, and one of the home shopping channels offers a stand-up model. No, not it. You. The shovel-like handle supports jawed claws you just place over the weed then step down on. Under your body weight, it closes around the unwanted. You extract the weed leaving your back in terrific condition to hit the swimming pool or golf links.

8. Paint Your Spirit – Create beauty in your own world. No matter the size, you can have your own natural habitat. A cracker box condo can sport an outdoor bird feeder on the patio. My son offers two types of seeds and to hummingbirds, sugar-water. Songbirds fill the air with joyful chirping all day. Any table can display a collection of small orchid plants since they require almost no root-soil, take up so little space, require just a whiff of moisture containing plant food periodically. After bird babies hatch, adding a tiny abandoned nest adds a beautiful indoor wilderness area to relax in when icy winter hail blasts, bang against the glass veranda door. Why is caring for yourself spiritually, good… because everything else you do will be better, for all.

9. Mean Clean – only if you must. Modern living has offered better ways of attending to personal care. Anyone who has ever been near a dry cleaners’ knows how bad the fumes are, emitted by old style professional cleaner plants. Breathing is out of the question. Gas takes your breath, making a human body unable to continue oxygen intake. Instead of paying for a soft new cashmere sweater over and over, then over, again, make it a cost savings beauty, bring home the washable variety. Yes, weavers can and will respond to what you ask for, if you make it clear you are done paying repeatedly. The finest silk garments come washable these days. Shuck that old stuff. When stuck with loved Linen ask your cleaners to return it supported by cardboard hangers, most now made of recycled paper. Savings on all that old metal should allow your dry cleaners to offer you a nice discount.

10. Recycle As You Please – But recycle. Our city offers curbside recycling containers and picks up every two weeks. If that works for you, great. You’re not out a thing by utilizing the freebie. When I look at my store receipt that reflect what I paid for recyclables, .05, .05, printed out 32 times for juices and soft drinks, sometimes a dime, it firms resolve to recover my cash. In a corner of the garage rests a 6 foot tall, garment, moving-box, gift from the neighbor. A couple of times each week plastics, aluminum, and glass get tossed in there. I later tip the box over into a couple of big old leaf bags, makes ’em easy to drop off next to our closet grocer. Store voucher that recycler prints out averages about $38. Not much you say? Okay, 4 times a year, $152.

Since the city plan began by doing it on my own I’m up $1368, according to Quicken.

If you don’t want or need over a thousand dollars extra for less than 7 total hours of almost effortless handling, what are you doing for a hundred dollars an hour that you feel better about. And doesn’t that come to nearly $200 an hour?

Claudia Strasbaugh
Claudia Strasbaugh was a freelance writer who founded Scripps Ranch/Mira Mesa Writer's Guild, was head writer for the weekly TV show "Kill 'EM With Comedy," plus California Bureau Chief for National Lotto World Magazine. Claudia also ran a nonprofit called Dinner On A Dollar. Sadly, Claudia passed away in 2015, but we are pleased to display her writing works.