What Would You Do with An Extra $5,000 A Year?

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When confronted by a robber with a gun, who said "Your money or your life!" Jack Benny paused before responding. The robber, impatient, said "I said YOUR MONEY, or YOUR LIFE!" Benny responded "I'm thinking it over!" 

For those who don't know him, Jack Benny was a comedy legend with his "Schtick" being frugal/cheap. Starting in Vaudville, working his way through radio, movies, and television, Benny made millions laugh as he tried to squeeze the most juice out of a penny as he could. Today, Benny would probably also be the shining example of being green AND frugal.

Why replace when you can reuse? Why buy certain things in the first place if you don't really NEED them?  As Reach And Teach is once again honored to have a booth at the San Mateo County Fair, promoting sustainability, we want to share ideas with you that can help save you a lot of money and help save the planet.

What would you do with an extra $5,000 a year? We wandered around our shop a few weeks ago and looked at each of the produccts that we ourselves use in our store and at home and did a little math. How much does using each of these products potentially save us, and any family, each year. According to our research, the typical family spends the following on products and lifestyle choices each year:

  • Paper Towels $200
  • "Kleenex" Tissues $25
  • Bottled Water $250
  • Plastic Wrap and Single Use Plastic "Ziplock" Bags $300
  • Cleaning Supplies / Chemicals $500
  • Air Fresheners $200
  • Wasted Food $480
  • Older stereo left plugged in (standby mode) $67
  • Leaving air conditioner on while at work $180 to $200
  • Eating Out / Ordering In more than twice a week $3,000

As the old joke goes, a man went to his doctor and showed him that when he held his arm a certain way it caused him pain. "Doctor, it hurts whenever I do this. What should I do?" The doctor replied "Stop doing that!" There are some things on this list you can just stop doing, like leaving the air conditioner or heat on when you're not home. And you can also unplug appliances and electronics when you're not using them. The rest of the items on this list.... well, we've got some alternatives! 

AND... if you read all the way to the end of this post, you'll do Jack Benny proud by finding out how you can get into the San Mateo County Fair for FREE!!!! 

Paper Towels

If you had to guess what made up one third of all landfill waste what would you guess? Go on, take a few moments and think about that one. Believe it or not, the answer is..... paper towels! Wait what? But.... I only use a few of those a day, you might say. Nope. The average person uses 100 rolls of paper towels a year. When we were working on "greening" Reach And Teach, we looked at all of our daily habits at work and at home and one of the things we quickly realized was how often we went for the paper towels for quick cleanups. Why? They're convenient, relatively cheap, and we figured we could toss them in the compost bin. If only.  

Here's the lowdown on paper towels in the good old USA:

  • 13 Billion Pounds of Paper Towels Are Used Each Year
  • One third of All Landfill Trash is from paper towels
  • Average Person Uses 3,000 Paper Towels Each Year
  • 150 Rolls Per Year Per Family @ $200 Per Family, 100 Trees and 125lbs of Carbon Dioxide
  • Replace w/Skoy Cloths for just $15 a Year
Wait, what? There's an alternative to paper towels? Of course. Many public bathrooms have replaced paper towels with air dryers. Around the kitchen you can use a sponge, a rag, or.... Reach And Teach is pleased to offer, Skoy Cloths! We've secretly substituted our paper towels in our kitchen and in our soap refilling station area with Skoy Cloths and we like them so much we're offering them to our customers. Four cloths to a package, at just $7.20 each, can save you a lot of money and help the environment, including saving lots of trees.
Skoy Cloth is an innovative cloth that comes in an array of colors and designs and takes the place of your paper towels, sponges, rags, dishcloths and more. It is a European made product packaged in the U.S. and 100% biodegradable. Skoy Cloth is a chlorine-free, unbleached, and non-GMO product using water-based colors and inks. It has an absorption factor of 15x its own weight. It is long-lasting. It dries quickly, so it is not a breeding ground for bacteria. You can microwave your Skoy Cloth regularly to kill bacteria. It is also dishwasher and washer/dryer safe.
If you'd like to try Skoy Cloths for yourself, click here to visit our web store.


Sniffle, blow, throw? NOOOOOOOOOO! Check out this short video about our recommendation for replacing facial tissue... HankyBooks! 


Cleaning Solutions / Chemicals / Sprays

The average American household spends $42 a month on cleaning supplies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether it is the bathroom, kitchen, windows, wherever... when you think about cleaning something don't you always think about what spray bottle or can you're going to use? That plus a sponge, rag, paper towels (NOOOOOOOOO), latex gloves to keep the chemicals off your hands.

Why all this?

To kill germs? Well, yes, chemicals kill germs but what if you could REMOVE germs and get everything wonderfully squeaky-clean with just water? Would you go for that? That's what we do in our shop and at our house using e-Cloth! 


We have SOOOOO much fun demonstrating e-Cloth to customers in the shop. We start by cleaning a bit of glass and then hand the water sprayer and cloth to the customer and watch as for the next few minutes they clean any glass they get near. Why pay for a cleaning crew when we can get our customers to do all the work! Seriously, though, e-Cloth works really well, gets things very very clean, AND removes germs.

Storing Food So It Lasts

One of our biggest challenges at home is trying to cook and bake lots of stuff for ourselves one or two days a week, and then storing it all so that we can have quick healthy meals the rest of the week. We found that we were using WAY too much plastic wrap and aluminum foil and were hoping to find some other way and then, one day, wandering through another shop, we discovered Bee's Wrap.

We LOVE it and are thrilled to offer various sizes and packages in our shop. Here's their story.


Stinky Stuff 

The typical American uses at least one can of room freshener a month... that's a LOT of spraying and ends up costing a lot of money. Of course no matter how clean you keep a place there are going to be odors you'd prefer not to be there.

Every time we sprayed something in our house, in the car, or at work, we knew we weren't doing the best thing in the world for the environment or our wallets, not to mention our health. Finally, one day we happened upon a solution that we tried first with our dog's kennel, then in one of our bathrooms, and became SOLD on that product for all odor and moisture problems. 

One of our favorite customer success stories was a father who told us he could not go into his son's room because of the smell. He was a bit incredulous when we told him how Moso Natural works (just put it in the sun for two hours and then toss it into the room) but he agreed to try it. A week later he was back to buy more. He said that he had opened his son's door and literally tossed the Moso Natural bag into a corner. Two days later he said he opened the door, walked in, breathed deeply and decided he was heading back to the store for more! A mother with an athlete daughter was next, getting the shoe sized bags for stinky sneakers. She was back soon too! These bags really work! And, after a month, you put them back in the sun for a couple of hours and they release all the trapped odors and are ready for another month of work. MAGIC!!!  

Moso Natural 


Eating Out, Carry Out, and Ordering In

The Motley Fool reported: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, the average American household spent $2,787 on restaurant meals and takeout, compared to $3,971 on groceries. But in 2015, the average amount spent on restaurants and takeout jumped $221 to $3,008. Grocery spending, by contrast, increased just $44 per household to $4,015. What this tells us is that dining at restaurants and ordering takeout aren't just luxuries anymore. Rather, they're becoming the norm. And our finances are hurting as a result. 

Wow. Here in Silicon Valley and in the two years since 2015 with the advent of food delivery services like GrubHub, Door Dash, and Uber Eats, we're guessing that the numbers have gone much higher.

Personally, we LOVE to cook, but don't have a lot of time. Also, we're frugal about what we buy. So, with both of those in mind, we're starting to use this cookbook. The $4.00 a day comes from the typical amount of money a family receiving food assistance gets per person per day. So, how about saving a whole bunch of money to do something special, like take a great family vacation, instead of eating mediocre take-out or delivery??????? 

San Mateo County Fair Saturday June 10 - Sunday June 18

Once again Reach And Teach is honored to have an exhibit at the San Mateo County Fair's Sustability area in the EXPO HALL and it is all about the topic of this post! We'll invite people to think about what they would do with an extra $5,000 a year and encourage them to consider trying some of the ideas listed here for reaching that goal.

And... remember Jack Benny, who believed in anything except paying full price (old joke)..... Check out how you can get into the fair for free. 

Saturday morning at 10am the fair starts with a parade! And.... if you get in before 11am your ticket is FREE (you will have to pay for tickets or a wristband for carnival rides but the rest of the fair is absolutely free if you get in by 11am). 

Monday is Kid's day (kids 12 and younger get in free) and Tuesday is Senior Day (62+ free and $2 admission for everyone else until 3pm).

On Tuesday and Thursday at 1pm Derrick Kikuchi will be doing origami lessons using recycled stuff. Come on by and learn a fold or two!  

SO... stop by our exhibit in the Expo Hall (in the north section), try your hand at some origami, and....... in honor of Jack Benny you can find out a way to get DISCOUNTS on the products we've talked about in this post. But, you have to go to our exhibit to figure that out.

See you at the fair!  




Green America approved