It pays to go green at CVS

13 05 2009

IMG_1736I’m not much for entering contests and I’ve never even played North Carolina’s lottery. But I have  been known to enter a drawing now and then when I thought my chances were good. Click here to read a post about my thoughts on contest strategy. But in a nutshell, if the prizes are plentiful and/or the entries few, I will enter  a contest.

And that’s exactly how I won the Earth Day contest at CVS.

I picked up my winnings today and couldn’t believe how generous the prize package was. This is what I got: an eight-pack of two-ply paper towels, a 12-pack of one-ply toilet paper, a package of 250 napkins, a package of 12 lawn and leaf bags, a package of  12 tall kitchen bags, a package of 20 bowls, a package of 15 paper plates and two reusable shopping bags.

The paper towels, toilet tissue and napkins are made of 100 percent recycled material. The plates and bowls are made from sugarcane and are biodegradable. And the trash bags are also biodegradable and made from recycled plastic.

What a (cheap) thrill. OK, now you know exactly how much of a frugal geek I am.

I had almost forgotten about the contest when I got the good news yesterday via telephone.

In honor of Earth Day, each CVS store offered customers a chance to win a selection of its Earth Essentials and Go Green recycled products. For each entry, you had to purchase one of the drug store’s reusable bags.  The day I entered, I peered into the reusable bag holding the entries and there were only two slips of paper.  Opportunity was definitely knocking.

I bought a few bags at 99 cents each, and the cashier asked me if I’d like to use the 50-cent coupon attached to each bag. Until he told me, I didn’t even know there was a coupon on the bag! So for 49 cents each, I entered the contest and got a great reusable bag. I could feel the good karma percolating.

I’m not exactly sure how much the items I won are worth but I’d estimate the value of the paper goods at more than $30. Not a bad return on my investment.

As I said: a cheap thrill.


Frugal fashion: Recycled juice pouch purses

8 03 2009

During February, our month of no spending, I took advantage of my free time to get behind the peddle of a sewing machine. It’s not the most familiar territory for me, but something I have done on occasion. (My biggest claims to sewing fame are some Halloween costumes I made for boys, who are now in college!)

I had something in particular I wanted to try my hand at sewing — a juice pouch purse. For the last couple years, I have caught glimpses of these adorable little handbags being toted at the mall, pool, church and on vacation by everyone from little girls, to teens to grown women. I always thought how ingenious it was to create something that’s not only cute, but functional, not to mention made out of something that would normally be headed to the landfill.

img_1575On a whim, I did a search for juice pouch purses on the Internet and found them for sale, ranging in price from $10 all the way up to $26. Being the frugal mom that I am, I decided I would try making my daughter a juice pouch purse rather than fork out the cash to buy one. How hard could it be?

One friend donated her empty juice pouches from her daughter’s birthday party while another friend, who happens to be a superb seamstress, helped me with the sewing. Using free instructions and a zigzag stitch, we sewed juice pouches headed for the landfill into two adorable purses — within two hours time. We added a little trim later for some extra pizazz.

Click here for the instructions we used to sew our juice pouch purses. These instructions include photos and are the simplest ones on the Internet that I could find. On my unofficial craft meter, I would rank these a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. You do need a sewing machine and some basic sewing skills. To be honest, I did need a little bit of hand-holding from my seamstress friend, but now that I’ve made one I think I could go solo. And if I make a mistake, I’m only out a juice pouch or two.

My daughter loves her new purse and we can’t wait to fill the second one with a few freebies fit for a preteen and give it as a birthday gift.

I love it when I can save money, make a one-of-kind gift and do my small part to help save the planet from drowning in trash.

I would love to hear from any of you who have made or received anything that recycles while also saving money. Leave a comment and I’ll update the post with your ideas.

A new life for old Christmas cards

26 02 2009

We’re closing in on the end of February and I’m wondering how many folks still have their stacks of Christmas cards. Maybe they’re on the bottom of a pile on the kitchen counter. Or in the bottom of a junk drawer. No need to confess. You know who you are!

img_1529For many Christmases past, I have had good intentions regarding the recycling of my holiday cards. Once or twice, I even gave them to charitable organizations or my kids’ schools for projects. But most years, they would sit in a neat stack in a forgotten spot in my house. Periodically, I would run across the stack, mutter to myself that I should really do something with them, then move on. By summer, I would give up and guiltily throw them out. Sound familiar?

This year, following through on a promise I’ve made to myself to reduce, reuse and recycle, I spent one evening turning last year’s Christmas greetings into this December’s Christmas gift tags.

Using a tag punch, I placed it over the coolest part of the card and pressed down firmly. I ended up punching out about 30 tags in an evening.

img_1525Some cards yielded just one tag, on other cards I was able to punch out several, depending on the size of the card and the location of the designs. If a card had handwriting on it, I simply glued another hand-punched tag to it. I handknotted leftover yarns and embroidery thread for the string.

On the crafty scale, I would rate this a 1 or 2. Even the severely craft-challenged can do this. All you need is a little hand strenth to operate the punch.

I happend to borrow my tag punch from a Creative Memories scrapbooking consultant. But you can also buy tag punches inexpensively at any craft store that sells scrapbooking supplies. Michael’s and A.C. Moore come to mind, and, of course, they both offer 40 percent off coupons on a weekly basis.

And you don’t have to be limited to Christmas cards. Recyle all your old greeting cards into gift tags for birthdays, graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or any occasion. You’ll never have to buy another gift tag again. Or feel guilty pitching your cards in the trash.