Posted by: thatjen | June 10, 2008

Tightwad Tuesday: Gas Recap and FREEBIES!

Last week’s discussion on fuel economy was lively and useful. I thought I’d highlight a few key tips in case anyone didn’t read all the way through the comments. I’ll also steer (ha!) in a new direction at the end of the post and talk a little about the possibility of saving money on some fun freebies (so even those who don’t drive can get something out of this post… cough! Shelli! cough!).

  1. While many suggestions are debatable, I have yet to see anyone disagree here or elsewhere with the suggestion to keep your tires properly inflated. It may be the simplest and least expensive gas saving tip there is.
  2. The jury’s out on whether A/C or the drag from open windows is worse at low speeds, but on the highway you’re better off with the windows closed.
  3. Although the highway signs drive me mad (somehow the grammar and/or diction just seem off) Maryland is onto something with their admonition to “drive gently“. Gentle starts, smooth acceleration, and engine braking/gradual stopping all conserve gas. In fact, the day after I posted last week, there was a post on a listserv I belong to about a gadget that will “train” you to drive smoothly. The review is promising, as the test drivers did achieve impressive savings the first time they used it. However, I don’t know that a $60.00 gizmo is compatible with tightwaddery – I’m just paying attention to the way I drive – but it’s cheaper than buying a Prius with its fancy onboard fuel meter (I would so love a Prius… maybe someday?).

Enough gassing about gas – onto the freebies and cheapies!

BPA Free Bottles & Sippies
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the hazards of BPA. I’ve known about it for a couple of years, courtesy of Jo, and have been on a mad campaign to eradicate plastic from our lives (even BPA free plastic, because who knows what may be wrong with it??? Cait thinks I’m a little obsessed…). But I haven’t known what to do with our extensive stock of Dr. Brown’s bottles (one of the worst offenders) and our smaller collection of sippy cups with BPA. My mom gave us some Born Free bottles and sippies for Natalie, so we’d stopped using the others, but I felt bad passing them on to someone else, and didn’t want to just chuck them. So I stuck them in the basement.

Jude tipped me off to an exciting possibility some weeks ago – Babies R Us stores in her area were taking back ANY BPA items for store credit, regardless of age, condition, or presence of a receipt. Unfortunately, our local BRUs and TRUs weren’t participating. Over the weeks there has been more attention and pressure regarding the issue, and it appears that BRU’s corporate office has stepped in. When I called last weekend, the two BRUs in the area *ARE* now taking back BPA items, even though they had adamantly refused when I asked in May. You’re unlikely to get blanket store credit, as the corporate policy is to exchange them for BPA-free items, but I think that’s fair, and certainly better than boxes of bottles sitting in my basement. It is worth calling around, as one store insisted that I would have to exchange bottle for bottle, but the other allowed me to get a mix of bottles and sippies (with more new sippies and fewer bottles than I’d brought in).

If you have BPA items sitting around the house, I’d suggest exchanging them NOW, as there’s still nothing in writing about this policy, and it may not last, or may get more restrictive. Need to know if any of your bottles, pacifiers, and other feeding items have BPA? Check out Z-Recs. It’s a bit tricky to find what you’re looking for but it is the most extensive resource I’ve found.

BPA’s Bad for Grownups, Too
No baby bottles? Nalgene, beloved by outdoor enthusiasts/lesbians/weekend warriors (isn’t that all synonymous?) for decades, turns out to be a particularly bad offender in the BPA world. They now have BPA free versions, but again, I’m scared about the future, so we have switched to metal water bottles. Sigg’s lined aluminum bottles are attractive, and the kid ones are adorable, but there are other options, as they are pricey — and so much in demand, they’re difficult to get these days! I have a slightly less expensive stainless steel Klean Kanteen, but it doesn’t handle being dropped well, and I’m a wee bit clumsy (ahem). The bottom is now rounded, despite my efforts to hammer it back into shape, so it won’t stand up. Cait and Natalie have Siggs which have survived a similar number of falls without the same problem. However – and here’s the tightwad tip – I was tipped off to Ecowaterbottle, a stainless steel bottle with a design very similar to Sigg’s, at half the price! I hope to be testing them soon.

Starbucks Iced Coffee
In this hideous heat, what would be better than free iced coffee? How about SIX WEEKS of free iced coffee, from Starbucks no less? This one is a freebie, but with conditions. There was a coupon in our local paper last week promising free iced coffee EVERY WEDNESDAY from now until July 23. I got my first cup this morning, and the deal is as good as it sounds. In fact, they don’t mark the coupon or anything, so presumably you could go from store to store on Wednesday until you are a twitchy, irritable, but well-cooled javahead! The fine print on the coupon says it’s good “at participating stores* in CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, VT and WV” so those of you in the east or eastern midwest are golden! (And Cait and I can continue our frosty coffee ways while visiting the fam.)

If you don’t have a card, participating stores were given a limited supply, so RUN, do not walk** to your nearest Starbucks and ask for one. Also, obnoxious people are SELLING them on eBay!! (No link ’cause I don’t support that kind of profiteering…). If the store is out, ask for a manager – it never hurts to ask!

So stay cool, stay caffeinated, ease off the gas pedal, and get rid of those BPA-laden bottles, whether baby or otherwise. If you’ve got an idea for an upcoming TT topic, leave it in the comments!

*They always have to have an out, don’t they?
**but don’t drive if you can help it! šŸ˜‰


  1. That newer bottle may end up as part of my brother’s not!graduation present. Hrm…

  2. Also: Ideas for future weeks: blogs or links for online freebies/trial size things/etc? I am reminded of this because somehow J got on Wal*mart’s (ewwwww) list, which, ew, but in the last few days, we’ve gotten a bunch of free stuff in the mail, including some tasty cereal.

  3. heh – I almost inhaled my popcorn there! šŸ˜‰

    oh yeah, ALL Over the Starbucks thing – AND, if you are a TRUE addict, from say, the Pacific North West, and INSIST on spending a wee extra for your HOME coffee, by ONLY brewing Starbucks (you know, I’m just saying – in case anyone did – koff koff…) that if you buy your bag of starbucks coffee at a STOP AND SHOP grocery store, and use your little saver/fbi identifyer/key chain card, you get a coupon for a 5 dollar starbucks card – and dude – in our house? That’s free gold.

  4. Just FYI, I hear the innards and nipples of Dr. Brown’s bottles fit the BornFree really well (and are all BPA-free). So, if you might want those this time around, don’t return them.

  5. i returned all of our BPA laden bottles and 3 stages of nipples to the local toys r us. the employees were not thrilled to have to go through the hassle of the whole thing, but they took every single thing back. i got over $80 in store credit to use any old dang way i wanted! LOVED it, especially since the babies were off bottles by then and they were just taking up space in our house. i was also feeling badly about trying to hand them on to someone else, knowing that they had the BPA and were already well used and no stranger to the dishwasher and microwave.
    i like the idea of being pointed in the direction of freebies, as well, for a future blog entry.
    also, i have always felt left out that i do not like beer or coffee. and now i HATE that i do not like coffee even more, because it is being given out for free, and i love free shit! (true story: when the RE asked why we were hoping for twins after our IVF, i answered “two for the price of one. buy one get one free!” šŸ˜› )

  6. Thanks for posting this series – I’m really enjoying it!

    For an even cheaper water bottle solution I bought voss water ( and have been reusing the bottle. They sell their water in glass bottles for about $3 for the big size and less for the smaller. They sell them at wholey foods. It’s really sturdy though probably not good for hiking and such. I carry my big bottle back and forth to work and on weekend errands. It doesn’t seem to leak.

  7. In the interest of full disclosure, there’s some debate over Siggs and whether they are a good choice for those avoiding BPA. (I still use mine and we have them for the kiddos). Sigg uses a proprietary lining (proprietary so they don’t share the ingredients) that they say they have tested and the tests show no leaching of BPA, phalates, or other chemicals. Many of us (us included) take this to mean that the bottles are safe. Others argue that if the liner itself is BPA free, why won’t Sigg just say that rather than saying it has tested for leaching and found it not to leach. In other words, if you don’t think your liner is putting BPA in, why bother testing it to see if BPA comes out.

    I’ve actually added a BPA-free Nalgene to our collection of BPA-safe bottles… and I’ve been happy with it. There are a ton of cute and functional BPA safe bottles popping up these days, many more than the old standbys- Kleen Kanteen and Sigg)

  8. Good tip on the Nalgene! B/c I didn’t want to keep wasting paper cups at work I’ve been drinking out of mine every day for weeks. Oops!

    About my Elantra vs. my Taurus on the last post, yes the Elantra definitely gets better gas mileage than the Taurus. I think I’m filling up almost as frequently b/c we’ve been using my car twice as much since it’s the “new” car and gets the better mpg, so I haven’t noticed the effect as much as I expected to. Just whining really b/c it’s so painful to spend $20 to get like four gallons of gas!

  9. I was about to order a SIGG bottle and then I clicked on the Ecobottle site — it’s about $11 cheaper figuring in shipping. I just ordered one. Thanks for the tip!

  10. Not to get super grouchy, but I can’t seem to find where the eco bottles are made. I hate that being “green” often conflicts with being conscious of labor conditions. So I think we’ll stick with the Sigg. Of course, we aren’t actually looking to buy more, so that’s my tightwad earth saving tip: don’t buy more stuff.

  11. Bottle related feedback:

    I did return our Dr. B’s innards, as I want to try standard neck bottles since they’ll connect directly to the pump. But we may buy spare Dr. B’s narrow mouth vents to use in the Evenflo glass bottles we already have. Apparently you just have to trim the stem to make them fit.

    The EcoWaterBottles are not lined, as they are stainless. On the listserv where I originally learned about them, several people had questions about linings, exterior paint, and other manufacturing issues (though not labor standards per se) and emailed the company. They responded quickly and positively.

    The bottles are made in China but I am sure if you are concerned you could email the company and ask about labor practices.

    There is paint on the exterior of the colored bottles and the company asserted that it is lead free. The bottles are dishwasher safe but they recommend handwashing, especially for painted bottles.

    I don’t get a kickback from the company(!) but I do like the price, so we’ll give them a try!

    Other responses to come within a week. Things are a bit busy as the school year winds down!

  12. So…first of all, Starbucks can BITE ME for not offering free iced coffee here in the 101 degree NC heat. BAAAHHHHH!

    Also, re: the BRU stuff. I’m guessing I should just call my local store? I have a cabinet FULL of Dr. Brown’s bottles. I was wondering, though…is the tubey-filter thing of any BPA concern, because those are exactly the same in the glass Dr. B’s bottles. Just a thought….

  13. The tube, vent, and nipple on Dr. Brown’s are all BPA free and supposedly always have been. I’m not sure about the collars. However, for the BRU returns, you need to return all the parts (some stores, mine included, even ding you for not returning the brushes) to get a refund.

    If you’d rather not hassle with returns, you can take those innards and use them with other standard size bottles (assuming you’re talking about original/narrow Dr. B’s, not widemouth).

  14. ARRRRGGGGGG!!!! As if it wasn’t bad enough that Indiana is filled with flooding… we also don’t qualify for free Starbucks?!

    Stupid state!! *sulking*

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