7 Reasons to Join a CSA {Community Supported Agriculture}

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and has become more and more popular in the United States within the last 25 years.  You’re sure to have one in your community—you can click here to see. 

I seriously don’t know the slightest about planting or growing food.  If you’re one of those who can maintain your own strawberry﹘um﹘tree? . . . or potato﹘er﹘bush? then I have mad respect for your skills.  For people with a black thumb like me, a CSA is the better way to go.  This summer will be my family’s fourth year participating in one and we absolutely love it.  

 

How it Works:

This process allows you to purchase a “share” of organic seasonal fruits and veggies straight from a local farmer–eliminating a “middleman.”  You can select and pay for {in advance} the season in which you wish to participate so you’re not locked in year-round.  My family only buys a half share in the summer.  Throughout the season, you usually have the option to buy additional individual items such as eggs, honey, jams, flowers, or any surplus of produce.

Shareholders receive their goods on a regular basis.  It could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on your organizer.  Some CSAs deliver directly to you, to a particular central location for all shareholders to pick up, or require you to pick it up from them.  

I was living in cloud of ignorance and had never even heard of a CSA before I read Jen Hatmaker’s book 7 {a book that totally changed my life, btw}.  I decided to hop on the CSA train and here’s 7 reasons why my family continues to use it each summer, and why you should start:

 

#1 – WE ARE SUPPORTING A LOCAL FARMER

Remember that ad during the Super Bowl a few years ago?  The one that didn’t leave a dry eye in the room?  So God Made a Farmer.

Gah.

Here I am.  All I do is teach teenagers about nonessential information like dangling participles while farmers are out doing back breaking work for 90+ hours/week so we can like . . . eat and stuff.

Seriously.  

God. Bless. All. The. Farmers.

Amen.

When you participate in a CSA, your money goes directly to the farmer.  You also pay up front, so this helps the farmers be more financially secure.  The downside for you is that they could have a poor crop for whatever reason and you could be out some of that money.

But since we’ve already established that farmers are the worthy human beings, I’m willing to take the chance to give them support.

 

#2 –  IT’S ORGANIC + FRESH

Most farmers who participate in CSA’s grow their produce organically.  Our CSA farmer writes:

We have been providing wholesome foods to our customers using chemical-free, biologically sound methods for over 35 years. We follow organic and sustainable principles in all aspects of the farm.”

I love it.

I’m also about to sound like an ignorant city girl . . . but that’s what I am, K?  Before going all CSA, I really didn’t pay attention to the fact that fruits and vegetables had certain seasons because my grocery store ALWAYS has strawberries, and squash, and cantaloupe, and tomatoes {and you KNOW I wasn’t growing any myself}.  If I want to sink my teeth into a juicy nectarine in the dead of winter, HyVee can make that possible.

When you buy produce that is out of season, most likely it has been imported from somewhere hundreds of miles away, picked before it was ripe, and spent several days traveling on a truck.  The quality, nutrition, and freshness are now significantly reduced. More on this in #4.

Not only do CSAs give you what is in season, there’s a good chance it was harvested within hours of you picking it up from your farmer.

Have you ever eaten something so fresh?

Nothing compares.

 

#3 – IT’S CHEAPER

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Example of how much comes in half a share.

Organic food can be expensive, but using a CSA definitely reduces the cost.  My family buys a half share during the summer, which runs the entire months of June-August.  A half share {which is more than enough for my family of four} costs $325 {plus tax}.  Divide that by 14 weeks and the cost is only $25/week.  That price is hard to beat at a grocery store.  If that price is a bit steep for you, some CSAs  let you work or give a discount if you pick it up.

The picture on the right shows everything we received from one of our summer half shares.  Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less.  This one included cabbage, red potatoes, an onion, a green pepper, smaller onions, rainbow chard, kale, kohlrabi, and a pepper.

#4 – FEWER EMISSIONS
As mentioned in my second point, when food is purchased at a grocery store, there is a good chance it is not local.  In fact, there’s a really good chance it has traveled hundreds . . . even thousands of miles!  No joke.

According to CUESA {Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture} all the food on your dinner plate traveled an average of 1,500 miles!!!

Say what?  

For example, here’s a breakdown showing the average of how far some foods travel to get to a terminal market {more popular in large cities} vs. a farmer’s market:

Produce Terminal Market Farmer’s Market
Apples 1,500 miles 105 miles
Tomatoes 1,369 miles 117 miles
Grapes 2,143 miles 151 miles
Beans 766 miles 101 miles
Peaches 1,674 miles 184 miles
Winter Squash 781 miles 98 miles
Greens 889 miles 99 miles
Lettuce 2,055 miles 102 miles

Um . . . that’s a major difference.  Buying some produce from the grocery store could not only means it’s not fresh, but it takes a significant amount of travel time﹘sending harmful emissions in the air and causing an even bigger carbon footprint on this precious earth.  

My farmer only lives about 50 miles from me.  He comes up to my hometown every Wednesday to sell produce and other goods at a farmer’s market, which is only about 10 miles from my home.  

I can sleep easy with those numbers.  

To read up on more information regarding the severity of buying produce long distance, click here.  

P.S.—I realize that some grocery stores {like my beloved Dillons} do attempt to purchase some of their produce locally.  I’m speaking in general terms here. 

 

#5 – IT HELPS KEEP YOU ON A MEAL PLAN

When you participate in a CSA, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have a lot of produce around your house that will rot soon.  If you don’t incorporate it, all into your meals each week, then you’re sadly wasting your money {which is not an option for my frugal self!} We plan our meals around our food each week, which actually ends up saving us money.

When you don’t have a meal plan, you tend to aimlessly wander around a grocery store, throw whatever looks good into your cart, and then end up with more than you need {and most likely food that goes bad if you never planned to incorporate it}.

While you’re at the mercy of whatever is in season and whatever your farmer chooses to grow, it is actually kind of nice giving up that control and letting your meals for the week be based on that instead of whatever you choose.  It’s comfortingly structured.

 

#6 – WE GET TO TRY NEW FOOD

This may be one of my favorite reasons.  As I mentioned in #5, you’re at the mercy of whatever food happens to be in your CSA share each week.  It’s not always food you would normally buy.  In fact, it’s not always food you’ve even heard of before!

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Kohlrabi

Take kohlrabi for example.  

What the heck even is that?  

This little gem {which turned out to be a “cousin” to the turnup} showed up in our first few shares.  We didn’t even know how to pronounce it, let alone know how to cook it.  

My husband ended up throwing it on the grill with some butter, salt, and garlic, and it was delicious.  Now kohlrabi is honestly one of our favorite veggies we receive all season.

Using a CSA forces you to get creative, look up a lot of recipes, and stretch yourself.  We’ve created so many new dishes we would have never encountered before.  It’s a fun experience for our family.

 

#7 – RELATIONSHIPS

Depending on how your CSA is set up, you will have a chance to meet new people.  As I mentioned in #4, our farmer brings our shares to a local farmer’s market every Wednesday and we pick up our food from him.

Before this model, everyone who had a share took turns driving to the farm and bringing it back to our hometown.  We would meet at a local park every Saturday between 1:30 and 2:00 PM to pick up our food.  You got to meet other people and swap recipe ideas between CSA vets and newbies.

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My daughter loving on a farm kitty.

Our kids loved it when it was our turn to drive to the farm to pick up the food.  We are a suburban family with zero pets {I know . . . }, so seeing such things as litters of kittens running around and a turkey coop is better than going to the zoo.  Our farmers always offer a tour and some extra produce to the picker-upper as well.  It’s a unique relationship that would never be developed otherwise.  

 

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My kids checking out the baby turkeys on the farm.

If you’re in the northeast Kansas area and are interested in participating, please check out our CSA provider: Shepherd’s Valley

If you decide to use our CSA provider, please tell them I referred you. 🙂  

Have questions?  Let me know!

Here’s to fresh eating in the future.

Love,

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Christmas is Not a Surprise

Hey, you.  I have a little secret to share.

Christmas was on December 25th this past year.

Word on the street is . . . it will be on December 25th this year, and the next, and the next, and the next  . . .

You know what else?  Your kids’ birthdays are on the same day each year. Valentine’s Day is always February 14th, Mother’s Day is always in May, and Father’s Day is always in June.

These events should not be surprises where you are suddenly scrambling for money to buy a gift for your loved ones—or worse—you go into debt because you didn’t plan ahead.

As I type this, it is June 25th—Christmas is exactly six months away.  You have roughly 183 days to plan for the biggest holiday of the year.  You should also plan for every other occasion for which you might purchase a gift.  Never again be that person who says, “Things are just too tight around this time of year . . .”  I was that person who used to utter such words—who didn’t budget for gifts and had to dig under the couch cushions come December.  That way of living is stressful and zero fun.  I finally got smart and figured out how to never worry about any gift-giving throughout the entire year.

Here is my super easy guide to help you have a stress-free gift-giving experience.

  1. MAKE A LIST

Sit down and make a list of every person you anticipate giving a gift to for any occasion from January 1st-December 31st—even if it’s just a small $5 gift you give to some of your co-workers.  Those add up and must be included.

Here’s a sample list for you:

  • Birthdays and Christmas {see the next list}
  • Your wedding anniversary
  • Parents’ anniversary
  • Birthday parties your kids will attend {I estimate each of my kids attend seven a year}
  • Weddings {I estimate we attend three weddings a year}
  • Bridal showers
  • Baby showers
  • Engagement parties
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Easter
  • Teacher Appreciation Day
  • Nurse’s Day
  • Administrative Assistant’s Day
  • Graduation parties {I estimate at least five a year for us}
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Grandparent’s Day
  • Boss’s Day
  • Sweetest Day {do people really observe this one?}
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving

Make a separate list of every single person you typically buy a birthday and/or Christmas present for.  Here’s another list to spark some ideas for you:

  • Spouse
  • Kids
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Nieces/Nephews
  • Aunts/Uncles
  • Siblings
  • Cousins
  • Co-workers
  • Teachers
  • Friends
  • Pastor/mentor
  • Doctor
  • Mail carrier
  • Hair dresser
  • Neighbors
  • Child care provider

#2 SET A LIMIT

Now that you have your entire list made, decide how much you plan to spend on each person for each occasion.  It’s important that you plan this NOW so that you don’t go overboard when you see something that you really want to purchase.  If you have decided ahead of time that you will only spend $50 on your cousin’s wedding gift, but you see something you know she’d love for $500, it’s easier to turn away because you have established that it’s not in your budget. If you do want to spend more for a special reason, look at suggestion #4.

Setting a limit is especially important if you have “multiples” in a situation.  For example, we have five kids.  I make a point to spend the exact same amount on each child for Christmas so that it’s fair. Spend the same on your own mother and mother-in-law for Mother’s Day, etc.

#3 ADD, DIVIDE, SAVE

Now that you’ve decided what you plan to spend on each person for each occasion, add it all up and divide by 12.

You now have your monthly budget for gifts.  

See?  It’s really so simple.

I suggest setting up a separate checking or savings account just for this. Every month I have my bank automatically transfer funds into my “gifts” account.  Whenever I need to purchase a gift, it comes out of there and I have the money for it.  No more scrambling.   You may also want to add an additional $20/month or so just in case you forgot someone or a friend suddenly decides to have a ginormous celebration for their dog’s 12th birthday. {Please don’t invite me to a party like that, btw}.

If your monthly amount is too much for you to afford, then you’re going to have to go back and reevaluate what you plan to spend on each person, or sadly, scratch some people off the list.  Sorry.  Life’s hard.

If you can’t afford the monthly costs of gifts throughout the entire year, how are you going to afford it all come December?  

Or what are you going to do when you have an influx of events? {Four of my nieces and nephews have a birthday in July alone.}

Maybe you work a seasonal job during the holidays or typically get a bonus around December.  That’s great, but I wouldn’t count on that to be my only means of Christmas spending.  What if you got laid off or Bath & Body Works is no longer hiring extra help? You’re now screwed and Christmas is just weeks away.  Not to mention, you still have other gifts throughout the year to purchase and budget for.

#4 SPECIAL OCCASIONS

Momentous occasions are bound to happen . . . your daughter’s sweet 16, your son graduates from college, your parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.  You’re probably going to drop a little more cash on these special events than usual.  When you make your lists and set your spending limits, consider if you have a one of these coming up in the near future and plan accordingly.

Many times, these events call for separate planning and budgeting.  If you plan to help your child with buying a car when they turn 16, that will require a few years of planning for most people.  My husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary last year.  Instead of gifts, we decided to take the entire family to Disney.  We planned for over three years for that trip so we could pay cash for everything.  This really had nothing to do with our gift budget.

If you’d like to really set a serious budget for all areas of your money, I highly recommend www.everydollar.com.  It’s FREE and the best budgeting tool out there.

I’d love to hear your questions or your own tips about budgeting for gifts.  Please leave them in the comments.

Happy Gift Giving!

Love,

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The Ultimate Guide to Kroger Fuel Points

PTL gas prices have dropped since last year, but the average household is still expected to spend nearly $2,000 at the pump in 2015. What if you could save $35 on one fuel up? Better yet, what if you could save hundreds over the course of a year?

Saving money at the pump is essential for our family because we are not easy on the ol’ odometer.  My husband’s long work commute means at least 25,000 miles on his car alone each year.  The cost of gasoline can put a huge dent in our budget. Because of this, we’ve managed to figure out how to rarely pay full price for fuel.  In fact, we save over $600/year on average and in January of this year, we were able to get gas for as little as $0.73/gallon!

$1.00 off/gallon in January of 2015.

$1.00 off/gallon in January of 2015.

How is this even possible, you ask?

KROGER. FUEL. POINTS.

HOW TO GET STARTED

  • Do you have a Kroger, Dillons, Bakers, or another Kroger grocery chain in your neighborhood?  You must first sign up for a “Plus Card” at the store—it’s FREE and takes about two minutes.
  • Use your Kroger Plus Card in various ways to gain points (details below).  For every 100 points you rack up, you’ll earn $0.10 off/gallon of gas.
  • Each receipt from Kroger will print out your total points.  You can also set up an account to check your fuel points online.
  • When you go to a Kroger gas station, simply swipe your Plus Card and it will give you an option to receive your discount.

FILLING UP — GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR FUEL POINTS

  • Kroger allows you to use up to 35 gallons for one fill up.  If you’ve earned 1,000 fuel points in one month, that can be a total of $35 OFF!  If you earn $1.00 off/gallon at least once a month (filling up 35 gallons), you’ll save $420 in a year!
  • In order to take advantage of this, my husband and I coordinate our gas up trips and make sure our gauges are concurrently on E.  It’s a science, really.  My minivan holds 18 gallons and his car holds 12.  We bring along a gas can or two and VOILA—we’ve filled up 35 gallons and saved ourselves some serious dough.  Even if we have only $0.20 off/gallon, we do this.  That’s still $7.00 we’re saving if we fill up together.
  • What if you don’t have 35 gallons to fill?   Let’s say you’re single with a car that only holds 12 gallons.  Bring two or three large gas cans with you.  If you’re getting $1.00 off/gallon, you’re still saving $22-$27.  You could also share with a friend.  Have your bestie meet you at the gas station, use your remaining fuel points, and then write you a check for their amount.

Now, let’s learn how to rack up those points.  Here are my seven best tips for earning the most fuel points possible.

#1 GROCERY SHOPPING558333048_a56ec83123_n

The most common way to earn points is to simply buy groceries.  You know, that thing you do anyway to be able to, um . . . SURVIVE. Every dollar you spend at Kroger = 1 point.

STOP.  I know exactly what you’re thinking: “So, you’re saying I have to spend $1,000 on groceries in one month just to save $35 in gas???   That’s not really saving me anything and I think you’re dumb.”

Dear readers,

First, calling me dumb is not nice.  Second, groceries are just one of many ways to earn fuel points.  You know what our family of four spends on groceries each month?  $300. However, according to the USDA the average low-cost meal plan for a family of four in March of 2015 was approximately $719.30 and a liberal plan went all the way up to $1,287.80!

That’s ONE MONTH of food. 

If this is your budget for groceries, you may not need to continue reading.  You could earn your $1.00 off/gallon with groceries alone.

Look for specials like these to get extra points

Look for specials like these to get extra points

#2 GIFT CARDS

This is quite possibly the most lucrative way to rack up your fuel points.  Kroger has partnered with dozens of chains so you can buy gift cards to just about anywhere during your grocery run. Buying a gift card at Kroger = 2X fuel points. Buy a $25 gift card and you now have 50 fuel points.

About four times a year Kroger will offer 4X fuel points on their gift cards.  This is the perfect time to stock up.   It is now required for you to digitally download this offer to your Plus Card, so make sure you’re getting email updates to stay informed and be proactive.

Don’t limit the gift cards just for gifts.  The key is buying them for yourself and then use like cash.  Here are some scenarios for using gift cards to your advantage:

  • You’re buying a $50 wedding gift for someone who registered at Target.  Run to Kroger first, buy yourself a $50 Target gift card to spend on the gift.  You just earned yourself 100 fuel points.
  • Do you have a large housing project coming up?  Buy yourself gift cards to Lowe’s or Home Depot and then use them at the store to pay.  A few years ago we replaced the carpet in our living room—a $1,200 expense.  We bought $1,200 in Lowe’s gift cards during a 4X fuel points promotion to use on the carpet.  That alone gave us 4,800 points (the equivalent to saving $168 in gas).
  • Dining out?  We try to eat at locally owned restaurants, but let’s face it.  Sometimes you just gotta have the salad and bread sticks from Olive Garden.  Run to Kroger first to buy a gift card to that restaurant before you go.

Warnings about the Gift Cards:

  • You do not get fuel points for purchasing Kroger gift cards.  Yeah . . . tried that one.
  • You CAN get fuel points for pre-priced MasterCard and Visa gift cards, but you’re hit with a $5.95 activation fee.  Unless you purchase this during a 4X fuel points promotion, it’s honestly not worth it.  Here’s why:  A $100 Visa gift card = 200 fuel points (or $0.20 off/gallon).  If you filled up 35 gallons, you would save $7.  With the $5.95 fee, you’re only truly saving $1.05.

#3 DOUBLE POINT WEEKENDS

Get double the fuel points during weekends this summer.

Get double the fuel points during weekends this summer.

Kroger offers double fuel points on weekends (Friday-Sunday) during the summer months (ends August 2nd).  To take advantage of this, you must digitally upload the offer to your Plus Card.  In the summer, we only grocery shop on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays to get twice the points.  I don’t care if the only thing we have left in the house are potatoes and a bottle of mustard come Thursday, dangit! (Guess what’s for dinner, kids!)  We’ll make do with what we have until the double fuel point days.

6221802534_602133976e_n#4 STARBUCKS

Just about every Kroger has a Starbucks now, and if you’re going to grab that latte in the morning, you better get it from your neighborhood Kroger.  Why?  Because Starbucks inside Kroger allows you to swipe that Plus Card for fuel points, my friends.  Want to work the system a bit?  Consider this scenario:

You and your sweetie each get a venti frappuccino and a croissant for breakfast.  Total cost is easily $15.  Before you make the purchase, buy yourself a $15 Starbucks gift card.  If you do this during a 4X promotion, you’ll get 60 fuel points.  As you pay for your $15 order, use the gift card you just bought and swipe your Plus Card.  You’ll get one point for every dollar you just spent.  That’s an additional 15 points.  Do all of this on a double-point weekend and you just earned an additional 15 points.  That’s 90 points altogether.

#5 PRESCRIPTIONS5825033712_22ac287bb5_n

For every prescription you fill at Kroger, you receive 50 fuel points (no matter the cost of the prescription).   My family has two prescriptions refilled monthly.  You better believe we always have these filled at Kroger because it earns us 100 fuel points each month.

Kroger also runs two promotions when you transfer your prescriptions.  One is a $25 credit to spend in the store (not for gas).  The other is 1,000 fuel points.  If you have 35 gallons to fill, that’s $35 saved.

Look for this on your receipt to take surveys.

Look for this on your receipt to take surveys.

#6 SURVEYS

This is my new favorite way to gain points because it’s FREE and only takes about five minutes to complete. Every once in a while your receipt will have a code for a survey to complete.  For every survey you fill out, you get 50 fuel points. You can only do one survey per week though.  I try to do my survey every Tuesday.  If there are five Tuesdays in a month, I can get 250 fuel points.  You can also enter a drawing to win $5,000 in groceries each time you do the survey.  A nice extra perk.  Go to http://www.krogerfeedback.com to take the survey.

#7 THE 1-2-3 REWARDS VISA CARD

I personally do not use this one, but it’s worth throwing out there so you know all your options.  Kroger offers their own credit card called the 1-2-3 Rewards Visa card.  If you sign up and use this, you get an additional $0.25 off/gallon for every 100 points you earn.  WARNING!  This deal only lasts for the first three months after you activate your card.

Now, sweet reader, if you sign up for this credit card, please never carry a balance.  You don’t want to be paying a 22% interest rate on the hamburger meat you bought six months ago.  Not only is that silly, but you’re really not saving on fuel cost that way.

STINKERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

  • Your fuel points expire, so it’s use ‘em or lose ‘em.  You have until the end of the following month to use your points.  Let’s say I earned 1,000 points in June.  I will have until July 31st before they go away.
  • The maximum amount of points you can use for one fill up is 1,000.  If you have an awesome month where you rack up say, 3,000 points, you don’t get $3.00 off/gallon. You will have to fill up three separate times at $1.00 off/gallon each time.
  • Points do not roll over.  Let’s say you earned 999 points by July 31st; you will only get $0.90 off/gallon while the other 99 points are completely wasted.  If something like this happens, for gracious sake!, please go back inside and buy yourself a pack of gum.  I try to plan so that I am right at a round number or just a little over.  If you’re at 920 points, don’t go back in and drop another $80 just to earn an additional $0.10 off/gallon.  Be smart about the math.

Do you have any other tips about earning fuel points or questions about this post?  Leave them in the comments.  Also, we want to hear about your successes using these strategies.

Happy saving!!!

Love,

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Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe – The Why & How

270917_10151447685977424_1227744904_nI’m always looking for ways to save money, save my health, and save the environment. Making homemade laundry detergent helps me accomplish all three of those goals.  You read that correctly, friend.  Besides being expensive, most conventional laundry detergents contain toxic chemicals that seep into your precious skin via those “clean” clothes; it also horribly contaminates our water.  Once you start making your own laundry soap, I promise your wallet will be a little fatter and, let’s be honest, you’re simply going to feel like the planet’s superhero a better person.

Before I dish on the “HOW,” let me elaborate a little more on the “WHY.”

BETTER FOR YOUR WALLET

Not gonna lie.  The only reason I even began making my own laundry soap was because I crunched some numbers and realized there was potential to save a bunch-o-money. Here’s a little math breakdown for ya:

A 50 oz. bottle of Tide costs about $11.99.  You should be able to get 32 loads out of this, making it $0.37/load.  

Making your own detergent:

  • Borax = $5.39/box–used 1 cup = $0.54
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda – $3.99/box–used 1 cup = $0.58
  • Fels-Naptha Soap – $1.29/bar–used 1.5 bars = $1.93
  • Water = Basically FREE

That’s $11.31 to get started (with leftovers to use next time) and only $3.05 to make over three gallons of laundry detergent!  You’ll need 1/2 cup per load, which means you’ll get 96 loads out of one batch.  The grand total cost per load:

$0.03.

Wowza.

If your family does four loads of laundry a week, you’re looking at a difference of $76.96/year with a product like Tide vs. only $6.24/year making it yourself.  What could you do with an extra $70?  Besides saving on the cost of the detergent, think about the gas you’ll save with fewer trips to the supermarket.  Nice.

BETTER FOR YOU

You’ve heard that looks can be deceiving.  Well, scents can be deceiving as well.  Turns out, most store-bought laundry detergents, while pleasant to the sense of smell, are extremely toxic.  Once you wear the clothes you washed, your skin absorbs those toxins–your lungs breathe them in too.  Side effects range from respiratory problems, hormone imbalance, infertility, and skin irritation.  Read more about the icky details here.

BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Making your own laundry detergent requires you to pour it into a container.  I opted to clean out our used plastic milk jugs.  This greatly reduces my carbon footprint by reusing plastic.  Let’s say my family averages four loads of laundry a week.  If I bought that Tide I mentioned earlier, I’d have to purchase nearly seven bottles a year.  That may not seem like much plastic, but multiply that with the other 123.2 million households in the U.S alone.  That = Yikes.

Also, as you’ll see in the recipe below, other than the bar soap, the ingredients are all natural.  If you want to go all out and have all natural bar soap as well, click here for a great recipe.   All natural products are, of course, better for the planet . . . and for you (refer back to reason #2).

Here is what’s most horrifying to me about many store-bought detergents.  As mentioned before, they contain a slew of toxic chemicals, one of which is dioxane.  Dioxane contaminates water and once it gets into there, not even water filtration systems can remove it. Did I mention it’s also not biodegradable?  Be sure to read this article and watch the 9-minute video at the bottom about how harmful these detergents are to you and the water system.  You’ll be shocked.  And disgusted.  And mad.  I don’t care how tired I get of making my own soap.  After reading this article, I vowed to never go back to conventional detergents ever again.

THE HOW

Once you’ve read the reasons “WHY” you should make homemade laundry detergent, now I’ll give you the HOW.  Here’s my favorite recipe for liquid soap:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups Fels-Naptha or Ivory soap (grated)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (NOT BAKING SODA)
  • 2 gallons of cool water
  • 7 drops of essential oil for fragrance (optional-without this it leaves no scent on your clothes)

STEPS (takes only about 30 minutes)

  1. In a large pot bring 10 cups of water to a boil
  2. As you wait for water to boil, grate bar soap (I use a cheese grater over a plate)
  3. Add grated soap to boiling water until soap is melted
  4. Pour the soapy water into a large clean pail. Add the Borax and washing soda. Stir well until dissolved.
  5. Add 2 gallons of cold water.  Stir until mixed well.  If adding essential oils, do so during this step.
  6. Before it thickens, use a funnel to pour into clean milk jugs (I suggest two people for this job).  Should fill at least 3 gallons.

Add 1/2 cup to each load.  This will gel, so make sure to shake the bottle well before pouring.

There you go, guys.  My family has been using this recipe for years and have been extremely pleased.  I hope you enjoy saving money, your health, and the planet by making some of your own.  Have questions or comments?  Leave them below.

Check out http://www.skiptomylou.org for other great DYI ideas.

Love,

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