Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Cost of Going Green - The Dining Room

My dining room:

Craigslist antique furniture find - 1910 Mission-style dining set made of quarter-sawn oak - a table, 8 chairs, 4 leaves, custom made cabinet for leaf storage, buffet and mirror for $2300.

Planet savings: Buying used helps to control use of forested trees, toxic chemicals and factory waste and trucking carbon emissions. Buying locally put my $2300 right back into the hands of a family less than 30 minutes from my home.

Wallet savings: A comparable set of the same quality new would have cost around $11,000. Of course we have a few dings and scuffs and the chair seats should be recovered. So, I really only estimate my savings to average around $6000. However, with that savings I can contribute to all four of my boy's college funds for an entire year.

Setting the table:

We've nixed paper plates, disposable utensils and paper cups.

Planet savings: It's proven that an energy star rated dishwasher only run when full saves 25% more energy than the standard dishwasher. You save even more by choosing the no-heat dry cycle. One set of good quality stoneware and utensils will last for years. (Unless you have - ahem - boys with the dropsies!) All of the paper plates, utensils and cups saved from the landfill for a family of six is potentially staggering.

Wallet savings: When we used to buy paper plates I could easily use a $10.50 package of Dixie plates from Costco every two weeks - roughly the same for paper cups. A total monthly cost of $30-40. Factor in a slight increase in dishwasher usage and I approximate a monthly savings of $25. That sounds little today, but when you add it up over a year I am saving $300. One car payment. The January gas bill. Two nights of hotel stay on vacation. That's worth it!

Green changes are great for the planet, but when you add up the savings, it really is great for your wallet.


fearlesschef said...

When I bought my plates, glasses, etc. I purposely chose plain white so that it would go with anything else I needed to use. I haven't a clue how much money we've saved over the years hosting family get-together and parties using my mismatched dinnerware. It's easy on my planet, my wallet and my conscience. Plus, it's cute.

Our dining room set was inherited from my great-grandmother. In addition to the green benefits, I have wonderful memories of that table and my grandmother.

Joyce said...

I've got a dining table that was given to my grandparents as a wedding gift form her parents. It's Mission style quarter sawn oak, too. It has four little holes in the table top (not all the way through) that were made by my dad when he was four. He found a hammer and some nails, and decided to nail them into the table! It's fun to have some history with your furniture.

Green Bean said...

Buying used is my favorite way to go. I cannot believe the quality stuff you can get off of Craigslist for pennies on the dollar.

Lora said...

What about cloth napkins? I pick mine up out of the clearance bins, garage sales, salvation army store, etc. None of them match, but that is what makes it so much easier to wipe saucey hands and faces with them. No worries about lingering stains. I can't remember the last time I bought paper napkins.

Kim said...

Do average people really eat off of paper all the time though?

Maybe I'm not thinking with the right mindset but my initial reaction when I read this is that using dishes and washing them isn't really a green way to save money it's just normal life. I'm not saying that what you are doing isn't good it's just that when when you said you were going to post examples of how going green can save money I was expecting something different.

I'm hoping this comes across the way it was intended, just a friendly comment not as something negative.

Going Green Mama said...

We have a hand-me-down dining set as well. (#2, actually, my grandma's 1920s farm table, which has its quirks, went to my much-safer single brother's house.) We recently inherited my parent's dining set and hutch when they downsized. The cost savings and quality are huge!!

Jena said...

Our table is one that my hubby's Dad refinished before he passed away. Very special to us and definitely sticking around for our lifetime.

I did a little research on greening your dishwasher awhile back, and then I found an article on One Green Generation with more good information, if anyone is interested! :)

Chile said...

Parade of dining tables through my adult married life:
- Card table from yard sale - $7 (re-sold in our yard sale)
- Small walnut table from yard sale - $8 (given to MIL after we refinished it)
- Heavy oak table w/ matching chairs from friend - $100 (resold in our yard sale because too heavy)
- Built-in table in 25' RV that we lived in for 2 1/2 years - Sold RV when we left our 37 remote acres off the grid.
- Horrid but functional green formica table left in house we purchased - $0 (resold in our yard sale)
- 6 foot work table, the portable kind, purchased from yard sale - $12 (currently still in use but no longer as a dining table.)
- Custom table made from salvaged antique cabinet doors, legs from broken table, and glass top - handmade by my sweetie - $108 for glass top (resold in our yard sale)
- Small antique card table in poor condition - salvaged from shed in house we purchased (same one with green formica table) - $0 - currently in use.

This should tell you a number of things:
1. We don't really care that much whether our furniture is nice or matches.
2. We move too often and get tired of dealing with heavy stuff.
3. We hold a lot of yard sales.
4. We've often lived in small spaces and needed folding tables.
5. If you come to dinner at my house, you might need to BYOT (Bring Your Own Table).

Anonymous said...

I found that I was able to buy good dining room furniture for a great price at the spacify.com. It was less costly than elsewhere.

eco 'burban mom said...

Chile - hmmm, remind me to hit one of your garage sales if I am ever in town, sounds like that handmade table by your sweetie would have been an AWESOME find.

Rachel said...

I love this idea! I just ran into your website while browsing through some green parenting blogs, and I thought you might be interested in hearing about a campaign to make Disney more environmentally friendly. I'm working with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice on their Disney Go Green! Campaign, which is fighting to get green cleaning products in Disney parks, hotels, and restaurants, where children and workers face a great deal of exposure to toxics. We've learned that the only Disney facility that uses green cleaners is the Animal Kingdom. As much as we support this initiative to protect the animals from toxins, we feel that visiting children and company employees deserve the same level of consideration. Next week on October 29th, CHEJ is having a National Day of Action for the campaign, so we're looking to spread the word!

I wondered if you'd be interested in hosting a green cleaning party (maybe a green-themed Halloween?) or even helping us spread the word about the campaign through your blog. I suspect you could do an entire "Cost of Going Green" piece on green cleaners if you wanted to. There's a great deal of background information on our website (www.chej.org/disney), but I'd be happy to answer any questions. Thanks for your time!

Rachel Voss
Intern, Childproofing Our Communities Campaign

Anonymous said...

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