I have a notebook of blog ideas to help me when the reading finance web sites and blogs or my experiences that day do not prompt a post. However, the idea to talk about squeezing less toothpaste seemed a bit spartan for one post. Upon further reflection, I thought "this idea still has potential for more applications than just toothpaste". I will give some suggestions that I implement in my life that you may find useful as well.
Those toothpaste commercials tend to show toothpaste squeezed from the tube and taking up the entire length of the toothbrush bristles. This is an awful lot of toothpaste, which foams quickly and necessitates spitting (sending the product down the drain) so brushing can continue. This also encourages the consumer to buy more often because more toothpaste on the brush means fewer applications per tube of toothpaste. It takes me well over a year, ~18 months, before I buy another tube of toothpaste. My usage is once daily with occasional twice daily application. I usually brush twice a session with toothpaste applied for each session.
How do I get away with buying toothpaste so rarely? I found just a dab will clean my teeth. I barely squeeze the tube and get just enough to cover the end of my pinky on the bristles and brush my teeth. I consume less of a disposable product. I throw away less plastic in the garbage and I save money by not constantly purchasing toothpaste for my overloaded brush. In addition, I only run the water to wet my brush and rinse it between uses. Water conservation is beneficial as well.
I have a front-loading washer that came with my house purchase. It was only two years old according to the manufacturing sticker on the appliance. The owner's manual said to use high-efficiency detergent. Instead, I use my regular liquid laundry detergent and use less than a quarter cup for each load of laundry. My clothes are clean, there are little to no suds left at the end of the rinse cycle and I go through 64 ounces of detergent about every nine months. Less functions well and I save a bit of money in the process.
I used to have a top-loading washer and I was quite happy to add lots of detergent. Therefore, I have no specific advice for cutting back other than recommending the empirical method. Frankly, I thought more was better but with a front-loading washer, this philosophy does not work.
I also use less hand soap than the pump will give me. Again, I find I can effectively wash my hands in half the liquid soap the dispenser will allow you. I have diluted the soap (somewhat effective), but found the rubberband trick works the best. This involves winding a moderately wide rubberband around the stem of the pump part, thus preventing it from going all the way down when pressed. I have noticed I fill the dispenser less often with the rubberband in place.
Other frugal people have suggested this idea and I have found this to be true: using half or three quarters of a pound of ground beef in recipes that call for a pound does not affect flavor at all. Using less will cut costs immediately and still satisfy the carnivore in your family. (I certainly like my meat.)
These are a few suggestions that reduce consumption (and waste) while leaving a few more dollars in your pocket. What other items do you use less of and still get results with use? I would love to read your comments!