Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Frugal & Environmental Living

I am finding some success with my frugal living and environmental goals, and I'm very proud of myself. I've been at it for about a month, and I can not believe how little I have purchased in a month, or how much we've cut the grocery bills. It's harder to see the impact on the earth, but our trash is approximately HALF of what it used to be, so that's something tangible, at least, and I'm proud of it.

Some small examples of my success:
- Got free canisters on Freecycle to hold my flour, flax, etc. instead of buying some ( - check it out!)
- I visited Target yesterday with Tessa to buy one thing, for which they were out of stock, and I left Target without buying a thing!
- We are using up what is in our refrigerator, and not throwing it away
- I am re-using the plastic sacks that I get veggies in at the grocery store, keeping them out of a landfill
- I am buying a LOT more local stuff than before
- I am planning meals around vegetarian options and around what's on sale, more than starting with a "what do I feel like" list and going from there
- We're having pizza night at our house once a week so that my family (Ryan & Tessa are pizza lovers) gets what they like without feeling deprived, and the costs are very low when I make it myself from scratch (with yeast! amazing!)
- I am consolidating errands to drive the car as little as possible, and walking to pick up Tessa from preschool (which Shep appreciates)
- Sharing seeds with the neighbors so that we get great variety in our veggie garden without having to buy zillions of packages (which have more seeds per package than we could ever use)
- While Tessa was out, Michele came over for tea at my house (served with china cups just for fun) instead of my going out for coffee and being tempted by sweets and spending money on the coffee
- All catalogs go instantly to recycling, and with them my unknown desires for stuff I've never heard of that I "must have"
- Going to Metropolitan Market and getting their free item without buying anything else (except what's on sale or already a very good deal)
- Walking two blocks to my doctor's appointment because then I can park on the street for free instead of paying $6 in the parking garage
- This week for fun we attended a church potluck and we're going to a free jazz concert - we're getting out and having a blast without spending money (and we'll take the bus to skip the hassle and expense of downtown parking for the concert)
- making home made waffles instead of buying pre-packaged ones
- still making all our own bread (and making it for others' as well)
- using reusable bags for ALL shopping, not just groceries
- lowered the temp of our hot water heater (safer for kids now, too)
- still have the house at 66 degrees (down from 70 five years ago, 68 last year)
- using up all of the stuff in the downstairs freezer so that we can unplug it, hopefully next week
- switching almost 100% to cloth napkins (which I already owned) instead of paper ones
- got rid of all of my "toxic" cleaners (on Freecycle) and now using exclusively environmentally friendly ones
- using old yogurt containers for vegetable starts instead of buying specialty containers
- Ryan dug up the whole vegetable garden by hand instead of a mechanized rototiller

I spent $20 on consignment stuff this week - I got an Easter flag (new in the package, usually $12.95 and I paid $4 and it makes Tessa dance with happiness) and some 75% off china teacups from their antique sale for my tea parties with girlfriends and Tessa, as well as a hand mixer (the kind where you turn a handle), two aprons, and a wooden rolling pin that looks like it was somebody's grandma's, and that Tessa and I will use for making cookies. No new stuff produced, no packaging at all. It's not "buy nothing" but it's pretty darn close.

Individually, these things don't mean much. Collectively, they ARE making a difference. We see it in our bottom line, and more than that, I feel it in my thinking. I worry that it's not quite yet a full habit, and I still struggle with bits and pieces, but I do feel good about the progress I've made, and continue to make.

It's important to me to list these succcesses. Too often I see all the things that I'm doing wrong, failing at. I could list that here, too, but I won't. I will just point out that I'm learning, and growing, and trying, and that I'm at least glad for that.

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