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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Does Frugal Living Equal Green Living

In the current economy, there are many who are needing to simplify the way that they have always lived their lives.  Disposable cash is not a concept that exists at the moment for many people.  So, for many, they are living a greener lifestyle without consciously thinking about it.  For many other, switching to a green lifestyle is a choice with the added benefit of it being a more frugal way to live.
By downsizing to one vehicle, turning down the heat, cutting meat out of a few meals a week, and walking to get where we need to go, we save money and lessen our impact on the earth.  People are reusing, bartering, borrowing, and lending with neighbors and friends.  This reduces consumption, and in my opinion builds community, and friendships between neighbors.
Here are a few ways to live frugally and consciously green:
  1. Pay bills online-There are very few routine monthly bills that cannot be paid online.  This saves money on envelopes and postage, and is friendly to the earth, because your envelopes do not have to travel across the country.
  2. Walk, ride bike, and carpool-I ride the bus into town where my business is located, and sometimes when the weather is more cooperative, I walk.  My husband carpools for the 35 mile trip to the school where he works.  This means that we are using one car for less than half of the week.  Our carbon footprint reduces dramatically based on the decreased number of miles that our car is driven.
  3. A lighter car is more fuel efficient-How many of us carry bunches of stuff in our vehicles that serve no other purpose than to add weight and decreasing fuel efficiency.  Although it may be a small thing, it is frugal and green over the long run.
  4. Breastfeed your baby-There is controversy over this, but if you are looking to save substantial amounts of money at the beginning of your child's life, there is no better way.  Paying for formula is ridiculously expensive, and I can guarantee that breastfeeding is the most efficient way to lose that baby weight.  I lost all of mine and then some during the 6 months that I breast fed my son.  It literally felt like liposuction.
  5. Cook your meals from scratch-Bulk food stores and whole food co-ops are a huge money saving resource.  For those who think that buying organic is prohibitively expensive, but bulk beans and grains, and make a few recipes for a week.  You will find that each meal for a family of four may end up costing only a dollar or so a meal.  This method is better for you, reduces unnecessary packaging, and supports farmers who use organic methods.
  6. Buy local-There are too many benefits to mention here.  In addition to supporting your local farmer, and community, this also decreases "food miles" that waste precious resources.
  7. Garden-This is a mostly relaxing activity that saves money, builds soil, and increases the nutrition your family is getting.  You have control over how your food is grown, and what if any, chemicals are used to produce that food.
  8. Grow what you love-Especially when first starting out, it can be tempting to buy veggie seeds that are hard to grow, and that your family will never eat.  We do this in my garden, because we sell a lot of produce during the weekend farmer's market during the summer.  Grow a few things that you and your family love, and that are easy to grow.  Cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, peas and beans are a few of these. 
  9. Preserve food for the winter-If you have bumper crops of the things that you love, or can find great deals at your farmer's market, buying in season and preserving those items is a great idea.  Make 2 dozen jars of spaghetti sauce, enough salsa to last the winter, and can tomatoes whole to use in recipes later in the year.  Peas and beans freeze and can very well.   

    Cooking down tomato sauce for canning

  10. Work from home-This is a great way to have a frugal and green lifestyle.  Telecommuting is becoming more widely accepted in many workplaces, and having a home business puts you in  charge of you working world.  This reduces the need for transportating to and from work, and in many cases may decrease the number of hours that childcare is needed.

This is just scratching the surface, but I do not feel that I need to point out all of the ways that you can simplify your life.  I hope that this will be a jumping off point that will allow you to think on your own about what will work for you, or your family.

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