Is there a difference between being green and being frugal? Aren’t they the same? I once thought the answer to this question was a resounding yes. Now I realize the answer isn’t all that clear. Sometimes being frugal is green. Sometimes it’s not green in any sense of the word. Frugal people do use less resources. They are very thrifty, but not always environmentally friendly. The frugal habits I was taught as a child have served me well. Still, some need a bit of tweaking to go green. What can we frugal people do to transition to an even greener lifestyle?
Using leftovers sounds green and frugal, doesn’t it? Plastic containers are re-usable. Are they ecofriendly? According to Scientific American, “Evidence is mounting that the chemical building blocks that make plastics so versatile are the same components that might harm people and the environment. And production and disposal contribute to an array of environmental problems, too”. How can we make saving leftovers a greener practice, while remaining thrifty? I’ve started saving leftovers by placing them in glass containers or a ceramic bowl and covering them with a plate. Turning frugal green can be as simple as that.
A garden is frugal and green, right? Not so fast. How does your garden grow? With chemical pesticides and fertilizers all in your rows? Did you know there’s a green alternative for every chemical pesticide and fertilizer out there? Don’t let garden centers talk you into buying something you and your family don’t want in (or on) your food. Why add to run-off pollution? Take the time to learn about companion plants that keep away pests and nourish growth. Look into composting and other ecofriendly gardening techniques. You’ll save money and the environment.
Driving that old clunker instead of upgrading is frugal. Is it environmentally friendly? That’s a matter of opinion. You must consider the age of the car as pertains to emissions. Older cars are not ecofriendly in that respect. What about buying a new car? Does manufacturing a new energy efficient green car present it’s own environmental hazards? Of course it does. Plus there are resources used to think about. No matter how you look at it, biking and using public transportation are more frugal and environmentally friendly than either option. Walking, of course, comes first in the naturally green race.
Going paperless is frugal and green. Or is it? If you’re an online writer, like myself, you have to at least keep an electronic record of your work. Going paperless saves the trees. What about saving energy? If you’re going paperless there are things you can do to be even more environmentally conscious. Away from the computer for more than 20 minutes? Shut it down. If you must print, use the two sided option. Keep the rest of your office green by using daylight for heat and lighting whenever possible. What else can you do to make your frugal office habits green? Go here for more ideas.
Being frugal isn’t always green. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to go completely green these days, frugal or not. Still, for those of us who care about our impact on future generations, doing so is well worth the time and research. It’s sad that our modern lifestyle gives us little choice but the option to weigh our odds. The best we can do sometimes is to make the least impact possible. It seems that in giving ourselves creature comforts, we have also given ourselves a whole new set of problems. Going green while saving money may not be as practical as it once was. Still, it’s the right thing to do.
More from this contributor:
Recipes for Organic Pesticides and Fertilizer
The Environmentally Sound Office
Depression Era Frugality
The Sierra Club