Category Archives: green home

Poop Composter

Next week marks our one year anniversary from adopting our Doggy, a five year old black lab. Like our Big Guy reminded me tonight, we have more than four “people” in our family now! 

As much as our Doggy has become a family member, we still haven’t figured out the best way to contain his double-daily-duties. Hubby is the scooper, but we needed a poop composter.

First I found one online, and was pretty much sold:   The  Doggy Dooley dog poop composter  is a small bin that you bury into the ground. You pop open the lid to put poop inside, which decomposes underground. There‚Äôs an enzyme product that you sprinkle into the bin to help with decomposition. It costs about $59.

Then I found the close to freebie option: directions for making your own doggy composter!

Next I found a quick video:

Hubby dug the hole over the weekend, and with any luck we’ll have a successful and more sustainable system for doggy waste.

Do you have a doggy composter?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Talking Priorities

Finding time to talk about your family’s financial priorities isn’t easy. Despite my best intentions, our “Money Honey” talks are still sporadic and briefer than I wish.  Yet, we happened to have two recent talks about our financial priorities. 

Our first chat teetered on mushy. Perhaps I’m disclosing how mundane we are, but on a “date” night over a nice Italian meal our conversation wandered to a pretty lengthy chat about our long-term financial priorities and how we hope to reach our goals. It may have been the red wine and puttanesca, but our talk was really gratifying. It’s nice to put things into perspective and realize that we have already achieved our most meaningful life goals: adorable kiddos, meaningful careers and a beautiful home. Yes, they all require our constant investment, but the effort is paying off.

However, our second talk just one week later had quite a different tone. Hubby and I needed to discuss two home improvement projects that had each been researching, and coincidentally we both had bids in hand. Hubby wants a deluxe wooden screen/storm door, and I want energy-efficient window coverings to keep our home cooler in the summer heat.  We weren’t altogether argumentative, but it was clear that we each wanted dearly to convince the other that our project was the top priority.  The irony is that both improvement will make our home more comfortable and efficient, and we both want all the improvements made eventually. The heart of the matter is prioritizing our limited surplus income on the project that will have the most immediate benefit. The verdict is still out, but I sense a compromise on the way…

How do you talk about your priorities honestly and respectfully?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Mowing a Lawn

Now I hate to seem sexist here, but in all households there needs to be a division of labor to managing it all (bless you single Mamas/Dads!). Mowing the lawn is a responsibility that my Hubby seems to relish, and the instant gratification cannot be denied. How can you make the task more sustainable and save your family money?

  • Get Reel – Reel lawnmowers have made a real comeback for households without acres of lawn. This is the best option for not relying on smelly/spendy/polluting fuel, the biggest downside is that you have to be willing to mow more often or face an exponential task.
  • Go Electric – While not the cheapest up front, you’ll save money in the long run. I’ve been intrigued by the Neuton mower and secretly hope to get one when our mower finally dies.
  • Share – For several years we shared a mower with our neighbor with a simple agreement that included us always filling up the tank.
  • Old Fixer – Our mower was refurbished by my mechanically-minded Dad, but works like a charm. There are plenty of old mowers out there and any decent repair shop should be able to get/keep yours running for less than the cost of a new one.

Is mowing the lawn a “Dad” job in your family? 
Do you pay teenagers to tackle the task?
What’s the greenest choice for you?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Worthy Worms

We set about making our family’s first worm bin over the weekend. Thankfully, Hubby took initiative after being motivated by an article he’d read recently that included a quick and easy how-to guide:

Wiggle Room: Set up a bin and bedding to worm your way to healthier soil .

The project didn’t take much time at all, and the only real expenses were tubs and worms. Our garden will no doubt reap the benefits with the castings. Plus, the bins are located on our back porch, which will be much nicer than dashing through the back yard during the NW’s wet weather season (which doesn’t seem to want to leave us yet!)

The instructions were straightforward, and there was plenty of opportunity for kid-help.  I thought shredding newspaper was the most fun, and when I asked our BigGuy about his favorite he gave a huge smile: the worms! One of his pastimes happens to be garden worm hunting, so he will no doubt be in little boy heaven with his own worm pets. 

There’s one caveat though, we actually haven’t bought our worms yet. We figured that it would be best to actually get the bins set up so that our worms would have a home! I’ve been searching online, but haven’t quite decided which company to buy from. Do you have any you’d recommend?

On a related side note, we have composted for years, but I’ve always been really disappointed with the soil results. I researched and tried to problem solve, but we simply don’t have enough leaves to get rich abundant compost. From my initial research on worm bin composting, the maintenance is a lot less tricky.

Here are a few kid books about worms:

Wiggling Worms at Work (Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science)

Wiggly Worm: A We-Wiggle Book of Colors and Numbers

Do you have worm bins? 
Are you happy with your “return on investment”?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Blue Sky & Smart Energy

Each month we choose to put our money where our mouth is by opting in to our local power utilities’ renewal power option. The Blue Sky program helps purchase renewable power projects that would otherwise come from non-renewable sources, like coal. 

The program is tiered with support levels to chose from. It’s not going to bust your budget, my last bill added $4, but it does help support projects that wouldn’t be possible without such voluntary demand.

For us the grid doesn’t end with power, since our home is heating by natural gas. NW Natural has a newer  Smart Energy program, where I you can offset all of your usage by sponsoring a new biogas plant to turn cow patties into . When you sign up they have an estimator tool to be able to see how much it would add to your bill, ours will add about $7. It will actually probably be less, since we just completed our Clean Energy Works insulation project.

The Oregonian’s PDX Green blog just wrote about why it’s an easy and important step toward reducing our collective carbon footprint. I love that she managed to sign up with a pleading child in the background; I can relate. I’m not condoning putting your “green” needs before your child’s, but your children will thank you.

Do you participate in voluntary programs?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.