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By Tricia Howley -

You don't need to spend a lot of green to be green. In fact, good old-fashioned frugality was always eco-friendly. Take a look at these basic things you can make yourself. These are simple "recipes" and formulas, and all of them will save both the environment and your bank account.

Lawn spray

Mix 1 cup baby shampoo, 1 cup ammonia, 1 can of beer and -1/2 cup corn syrup in a 20-gallon hose-end sprayer. Top off with warm water and soak your grass with this lawn spray once a month. It'll be green and healthy.


This one may seem obvious, and it is, but I think there are still many people out there who don't know that making compost is easy. To get started, check out or Plow & Hearth magazine.

Weed killer

Vinegar is a great weed killer. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray it on anything you can't get out by the roots. All vinegars are diluted, so try and buy the highest concentration you can find at the supermarket.

Laundry soap

A basic recipe that costs 3 cents per load and uses washing soda, Borax and grated bar soap can be found at Crafting A Green World ( There are variations on the basic formula for protecting sensitive skin and for stain removal.

Glass cleaner

This is a classic eco-friendly and frugal recipe. Mix 2-1/2 cups of water, -1/2 cup rubbing alcohol and 1 tablespoon white vinegar in a spray bottle. Use newspaper to wipe the windows. It seems counterintuitive, but newsprint has no lint, which is why it works so well.


A lot of new homes have taller ceilings, but off-the-shelf curtain panels are still sold in 84-inch lengths. Rather than buying custom drapery, use tablecloths measuring anywhere from 60 by 104 inches to 60 by 130 inches. Some are thick enough to stand alone. Thinner fabrics may require a lining.

Shopping Bag

Take an old T-shirt and turn it inside-out. Sew the bottom closed and turn it right side out again. Get a pair of scissors. Cut off the arms (save for cleaning rags) and cut out the neck. You now have two handles and a very cool bag. Bonus style points for using a favorite band's concert T-shirt.