I was playing around on Hot Coupon World the other day and came across this link. Did you know that you can send unused AND expired coupons to a military bases overseas where they can be used at the commissary? (I didn't.) AAANNND because it's a U.S military base, you pay domestic postage, not international.

Then, I was reading at Blissfully Domestic where Alison has been posting summer tips for kids to keep their writing, math, and reading skills sharp. As a former kindergarten teacher, one skill I really valued when kids came to me in August is do they know how to use scissors.

See where I'm going here? Give you preschooler/kindergartner the coupon pages and teach them where to cut (dotted lines, etc.). They'll get good fine motor practice, be helping Mommy and soldier families, and get some great exposure to environmental print while they're at it. As if that's not enough, you have a great sorting lesson separating food coupons from non-food coupons (the Overseas Coupon Program asks that you do this), and a practical life-skills lesson on addressing and mailing a letter.

The Houston Independent School District's Board of Education took a big step last night, voting to replace all cafeteria trays with a biodegradable version. The new trays will break down in a matter of months, versus the hundreds of years for the older model.

The switch will be made in elementary schools by this coming August, and in all schools over the next couple of years. It will cost the district's food service budget $160,000 or so for the switch in elementary schools, and about $300,000 when the switch is made at all schools.

I see this as a tremendous step, especially considering the budget crisis most Texas school districts are facing. I'm glad to know that the Houston leaderships understand that something's cost is not only determined by its price tag.

This post is the first of a series to chronicle the total amount of money we're spending on diapers. We are primarily using cloth.

Our first batch of diapers: Nicki's Diapers
4 packages of 6=24 - Kissaluvs - size 0 (unbleached) = +$263.76
4 free covers with order- Bummis Whisper Pant = $0
We used a $50 gift certificate received at a shower. = -$50
= $213.76

From Diaper Swappers
3 used (good condition) Kissaluvs - size 1 (unbleached) = $23
= $236.76

From Diaper Swappers
1 used (good condition) Sandys - small = $7.50
= $244.26

From Craigslist
5 used (very good condition) Fuzzi Bunz - small = $40
5 used (very good condition) inserts - small
= $284.26

Our original plan was to use disposables while we are out and about. We have since begun to transition to using cloth on the go as well. That said, we do have the cost of disposables to consider as part of our diapering costs. We try to find deals where we spend less than .15/diaper (after coupons.) Here are a couple of helpful sites:
Penny Pinching Parent
Baby Cheapskate
Approximate cost to date on disposables: $134
This is not how many we've used in Baby Boy's 7 weeks of life, it's the amount spent on disposable diapers purchased since 1 month before he was born. We have a stockpile of diapers up to size 3 in his closet and in the garage.
What if we over-bought on a size that we don't end up using? We can probably take them back and exchange, or even better, donate them to a shelter. :)
= $284.26 + $134 = $428.26


Hubby and I were at my parents' house in Dallas this weekend so the extended family could meet Baby Boy. Mmm... cable... HGTV, DIY, and new to us this trip... Planet Green. "Renovation Nation," "G Word," and "Wa$ted" were among the fabulous shows we encountered in our trip. Check them out.

"Wa$ted" focuses on showing families how they can decrease their ecological footprint. If you want to see the size of your ecological footprint, go here. There are a lot of things you can do to decrease the amount of waste put out by your house, but if you're not ready to commit to composting, buying a rain barrel, or trading in your SUV for a Smart car, here are some quick and easy options:
- Use your dish towels instead of paper towels
- Cook extra and put it into tupperware for lunches and dinners later that week instead of buying individual servings (soup, lasagna, rice & beans, spaghetti, etc.)
- Same goes for other foods - carrots, grapes, crackers, goldfish, etc.
- Already have individual servings in the pantry? Save the containers, rinse them out, and they make great snack cups.
- Take reusable bags to the grocery store, or better yet, to the farmers market.
- Cut up old t-shirts and use as cleaning rags
- Clean your house with a vinegar and water mixture in a spray bottle - You will not only reduce the number of plastic bottles your home throws away, but rid your house of unnecessary chemicals.
I list only a few ideas because an exhaustive list can be intimidating. Start with one idea and as you get comfy, add another!

Shannon Buggs, the personal finance columnist at the Houston Chronicle, is on a year-long crusade to "out-save the Joneses." In a recent column, she offered six tips for a more frugal lifestyle:

  1. Make your home energy efficient (We're working toward this, albeit slowly. We're in a rent house, so we're limited in what we can do)
  2. Don't buy gasoline with a debit card (We use our reward credit card, to get the cash rewards)
  3. Don't carry balances on gasoline credit card (We don't carry a balance)
  4. Plan daily commuting (The Wife is home nearly all day with Baby Boy, and is great about planning her errands. I take the bus to work, so my trip is planned by Metro)
  5. Bring your personal life back in-house (Most days I take my lunch to work and we cook dinner at home. I also take care of all our maintenance, so we don't hire lawn crews or handymen)
  6. Step away from cutting edge (We do have an HDTV, but only have an antenna - which still gives us our local channels in HD. I may break this rule next month, as I'm in the market for a new phone and I think the Wife is letting me get an iPhone 3G as my anniversary gift)
The wife and I are doing pretty well on these, but we're always looking for ways to improve. With Baby Boy taking most of our time and attention, it has been pretty easy (and necessary) to live frugally.

Everyday environmentalism - Subway

I stopped in at Subway today for my traditional Wednesday lunch (the only day of the week I don't bring my lunch), and noticed something different. In the past, the "Sandwich Artists" would slide your sub down the aisle on a small white sheet of paper, and then wrap it all up together in the larger Subway paper. Now, it seems, they are reusing the smaller white sheets and only wrapping up the sandwich.

This reminded me of a recent USA Today article I read on restaurants going green. Subway was one of the companies mentioned:

Scrapping some wrapping

Subway is testing a new way to serve subs to dine-in customers: with less wrapping. Unwrapped sandwiches are served on a thin paper sheet placed inside a basket made of 10% recycled material. The test will expand this summer to more markets, says Elizabeth Stewart, marketing chief.

But Subway's biggest green impact has been its napkins, made from 100% recycled paper. Subway figures its 4 billion recycled napkins save 147,000 trees annually.

Not only does Subway offer a decently priced, relatively healthy value meal, it now seems they are trying to do their part for the environment.

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