I am convinced that living a frugal lifestyle can translate into also living an environmentally-friendly one. My parents and I were recently discussing how in more ways than one, we do actually live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. The more we thought about it, the more we realised the reason for this is that we try to live frugally. Here are some ways that we personally do this:
- We drink tap water. Yes, we do. None of us really care for bottled water. Plus, I find it quite difficult to justify buying water when so many people around the world have access only to contaminated, disease-infested water sources. With our water treatment plants costing millions of dollars to build and operate, water flowing out of our taps is expensive stuff. Why not just drink it?
Environmentally-friendly bonus: We do not throw out large numbers of plastic bottles into our recycling.
- We cook from scratch. My parents and I eat little prepared and pre-packaged foods. We do this to be both economical and healthy. We bake our own breads, cookies, cakes, muffins, granola, hamburger buns, etc. We can pickles and jams. We cook a variety of homemade meals from spaghetti to taco salad to dal. We always stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. And further, we rarely eat out.
Environmentally-friendly bonus: We do not have to put out our garbage and recycling at each scheduled time. Because we produce very little of it, we can often wait two or three weeks.
- We buy clothes from thrift stores (and Kijiji). I have no shame in telling this. I know some people will not wear second-hand clothing because they think it is unsanitary or somehow lowers them on the socio-economic bracket. I remember receiving hand-me downs from our neighbours/best friends who had 4 girls. I never cared where the clothes came from–they were new to me! Of course, we also buy brand-new clothes too. However, when we are ready to get rid of clothes from our closets, we gather them up and any other items, for that matter, and head straight to the Salvation Army thrift store, our favourite place to bring our recyclable items.
Environmentally-friendly bonus: We wear recycled clothes and recycle all of our items, that are not worn out, broken, or damaged. This idea of tossing perfectly good items in the garbage when they can be brought to a local thrift store or charitable organisation is simply out of the question. What an incredible waste!
- We clean with either homemade or gentle household cleaners and laundry detergents. Since my Mom and I are both allergic to scents, and my Mom suffers from eczema and has read the Canadian Cancer Society’ warnings about out how harmful many household cleaners can be, we use only the gentlest and simplest of products. We readily reach for the vinegar and baking soda, two extremely inexpensive go-to cleaners. We stack fragrance-free laundry detergents and goat’s milk soap on our shelves. We also use all these items sparingly. Most people pour way too much detergent in their washing machines and spray/squeeze copious amounts of their cleaning products onto their surfaces.
Environmentally-friendly bonus: We release few toxic and irritating substances into our household air. No perfumes, nor strong cleaners or soaps.
- We try to continuously cut down on energy costs. When I was only a toddler, my Mom labelled my Dad “The Fluorescent Man.” Our house featured the most energy-efficient lighting system my Dad could install. This was 20 plus years ago, when there was not a big push to cut down on energy costs. My Dad has also installed a heat pump and even a flow control gadget on our shower head, that decreases the water flow, hence saving on water costs.
Environmentally-friendly bonus: We conserve energy, thus helping to maintain our natural resources.
- We keep our things for a long time, making certain they last. I was raised in a home where everything had to last. We had to take especial care of furniture: couches, chairs, beds, tables, and desks. And even our toys, clothes, books, music, and just about any other item in our house had to receive lots of TLC. No careless, clumsy living permitted here. In addition, my parents and I tend to invest in quality over quantity. (Of course, at inexpensive prices.) For example, when my parents bought their Italian leather couch and loveseat at a going-out-of-business furniture store, my Mom asked a leather furniture expert: “Will this couch and loveseat last for at least 50 years?!”
Environmentally-friendly bonus: We do not wish to add more “stuff” to our landfills. Instead, we would rather keep our things, for years.
That being said, my parents and I do not live a minimalist lifestyle, nor do we necessarily meet all the requirements for living environmentally-friendly. However, we do try to be frugal, use our resources wisely, and take care of God’s world. What are ways that you do? I would love to know what they are.