Where do you draw the line? The six grossest ways to save money

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There's no doubt that saving money and being green are important aims, but there comes a time when every miser and would-be environmentalist faces an invisible dividing line. On this side lays all the money saving and resource-conserving things that are easy to do and emotionally acceptable; on the other side lays the abyss.

For some people, that line occurs fairly early, like when they're maintaining the speed limit on the highway, only to find themselves getting passed by a honking street-sweeper. For other people, the line occurs a little later, when they're dumpster diving and trying to decide if a half-consumed box of spaghetti is worth salvaging. For some, of course, the line never seems to come, and there is no act too humiliating, no money-saver too repulsive to keep them from trying to make a dollar scream for mercy.

As for us, there are things that definitely lie over the pale. With that in mind, we humbly offer the following six truly gross ways to save money. As you scroll through them, we have a feeling that you'll find exactly where your line lies!


DIY Feminine Supplies
While absolutely necessary, feminine hygiene products are also exceedingly wasteful. Tampons, for example, are mostly made of rayon, contain harsh deodorants, and are coated with a witch's brew of chemicals, including boron, aluminum, copper, and alcohol. For that matter, given their necessity, they are also very expensive; under the circumstances, it's hardly surprising that many enterprising souls have sought ways to derail the menstrual money train.

Many women have found that they can save money -- and the environment -- by making their own menstrual supplies. This site, for example, offers patterns for knitted or crocheted tampons. More artistic knitters can even work in decorative designs that undoubtedly make the experience all the more fulfilling. For the less crafty, the Hillbilly Housewife offers directions for making homemade menstrual pads and tampons. An added benefit of this approach is the distinct looks that one can create: the plaid flannel panty liners, for example, offer a jaunty LL Bean-style take that makes the traditional white pads look about as imaginative as a tennis uniform.

Using Poop
It's hard to fault people for wanting to make use of excreta. After all, it's cheap, plentiful, and loaded with useful chemicals. However, playing with the stuff is almost a universal no-no, which makes it rather hard to experiment with new and creative methods for processing it.

One popular use is burning. Supposedly, traditional Yemeni apartment buildings collect feces, allow them to dry, and burn them for fuel. Similarly, Tibetans use dried yak dung as a major fuel source, and this site offers a technique for building a stove that can burn dried cow patties. Of course, for many of us, the line between burning Bossie's cow pucks and our own feces is a deal-killer.

Another new use for old sh...tuff is composting. While the smell and microorganism count of feces tends to mitigate against their use around the yard, the "Graywater Guerillas" have suggested ways to process urine and what they call "humanure." Similarly, Toronto's "Green Bin" organics program collects and composts dirty diapers. While it's great that this program exists, I'd still have to argue that this is the kind of thing that is best undertaken by a large municipality, not by an aggressive environmentalist in suburbia.

Finally, for those who are eager to go the full nine yards, this site offers ecologically-conscious bricks that are made from cow patties. This, of course, gives a whole new meaning to the concept of crappy architecture.

Cooking Vermin
Even for the most omnivorous human, some animals are a little questionable. For example, although chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese are all acceptable, eating pigeons seems fundamentally wrong. On one level, this is silly: after all, the gray birds are little different from their more common brethren. However, there's something about their incessant cooing, their oil-slick coloring, their seemingly never-ending supply of poop...for many, pigeons are on the other side of the line. However, as this site shows, there are some of us for whom the little winged rats are fair game.

Speaking of vermin, this site claims that the classic French dish "Entrecote a la Bordelaise" originally was made with rats, not rib steaks. For that matter, as this video demonstrates, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is trying to convince Big Easy gourmands to eat "nutria," a huge rat-like rodent that infests the state's swamplands. However, as the site's author, The Cajun Boy, states, "We Cajuns will throw just about anything into a pot and serve it over rice, but we tend to draw the line at things whose scientific classification falls into the order of rodentia."

Recycling Nail Clippings
For some reason, nail clippings are the line for a lot of people. However, for those of us who can transcend our nail terrors, there are several uses for the things. According to this site, for example, they make great art, can be a homemade pot-scrubber, and can even serve as compost. Do not, however, try to boil them down to make gelatin; their primary ingredient is keratin, which is a definite no-go.

Hair Shirts
According to Ananova, a Romanian woman, Ioana Cioanca,
has used her hair to knit a hat, a shawl, a skirt, a blouse, a raincoat, a purse, a handbag, and a pair of gloves. This was actually a lot harder than it sounds: she has been growing it since she was 16, largely in the hopes of one day being able to wear it. As Cioanca notes, some of her hair garments are lighter in color, as they were made after her hair began to go gray.

As repulsive as this sounds, there's a definite bright side: Cioanca never has to worry about the clothes matching her complexion!

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