Friday, July 23, 2010

Weekend Reading: Shift Your Habit

Shift Your Habit: Easy ways to save money, simplify your life and save the planet.
By Elizabeth Rogers. Three Rivers Press. March 9, 2010

This isn't so much a book as it is a guide to small tweaks that a person can make to cut daily expenses and waste. Therefore, my plan to sit down and read it in one sitting failed spectacularly (but talk of cleaning products prompted me to get up and scrub my sink). Rogers is an environmental consultant who wrote 2007's The Green Book: The everyday guide to saving the planet one simple step at a time. Rogers follows a few families who agree to shift habits that they have that are costing them a lot of money, and those families give a few testimonials along the way, but the bulk of this book is just lists of things to do to save money.

I have to say though, she's got some good ideas, and there's a pretty kick-ass website to go along with the book:

The book is broken down into sections: Home and Garden, Food and Drink, Kids, Pets, Work etc., so you can read what you want, discard what doesn't apply to you. I skimmed all the sections paying particular attention to Home, Food and Drink, Work and Travel and Transportation.

Best takeaways:

After opening a jar of tomato sauce, freeze it in an ice cube tray for future use.
I can never get through one of those giant jars before it goes moldy, but it seems like as soon as I throw one away, I want pasta again. I am very pleased with this idea.

Aluminum foil is not necessarily eco-friendly.
I assumed that because it can be recycled, aluminum foil is a better way to store things that may not fit in a container, or better than plastic bags for sandwiches. Not so. Production of aluminum foil involves mining, transport and water costs for something that is rarely necessary. I feel a bit foolish now that I've been trying to actually increase my aluminum foil useage. I'll cut that out.

List of recipes for household cleaners.
Vinegar as a fabric softener? I'm curious... Over the years, I've stumbled across recipes for making your own laundry detergent, window cleaner, drain clearer etc., but this book has a handy list for stuff I hadn't even thought of.

Tips for storing food.
Admittedly, I really don't know much about the best way to store a lot of foods. I've learned a few things by trial and error, but never really know if what I'm doing is right or not. This book breaks it all down from freezing to produce--how long your food can last, and when it's time to let go. Plus she includes a ideas for what to do with food that's right on the brink of going bad.

Overall Opinion:
A lot of this isn't new information, but it's good to have it repeated. The format is very easy in that you can find what you want to know quickly, and there isn't a lot of extra talk surrounding it. The index is very nice. I devour books and blogs even if I've heard it all before just because I may have forgotten something, or in the case of the pasta sauce, I just hadn't thought if it. It's good to just keep frugality in mind all the time. So, no, I wouldn't pay for this book, but I'm glad I got it from the library.

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