Most people want to take care of the environment, but it doesn’t seem like a high priority. In fact, it can seem downright expensive. Do you have to get solar panels or buy only organic products to go green?
There are lots of things you can do that are good for both the environment and your budget.
In fact, we can trace many of the worst environmental problems to waste. And when you waste electricity, water, food, or anything else, you’re wasting money. Let’s look at some of our wasteful ways and see what frugal living means instead
By this time, everyone has gotten the memo on how much less electricity CFLs use than incandescent light bulbs. LEDs use even less. They both cost a lot more, but last so much longer that you’ll pay much less for lightbulbs over time. You can hardly find incandescents anymore.
But did you know that your TV, computer peripherals, and other electronics use electricity even after you turn them off? To stop wasting electricity, you have to unplug them or plug them into a power strip that you can turn off when you’re not using the stuff.
If you need to buy appliances, look for Energy Star®-rated products. They use less energy than their unrated counterparts.
Since water goes down the drain and back into a lake or river, it might not seem like you can waste it. But all the water that comes into your home has been treated to meet drinking water standards, and you have to pay for it. Then what goes down the drain goes into a sewer, and you pay for wastewater treatment.
So use less water and make it work harder before you let it go down the drain. Frugal living sends as little money down the drain as possible.
The easiest way is never to rinse anything under running water. For example, have a large bowl in your sink. When you want to rinse fruits or vegetables, rinse them in the bowl of water.
Don’t pour it out just yet.
When you’re through with your meal and ready to load the dishwasher, use that same water and a brush to get the largest amount of food particles off the dishes. Then, instead of pouring the dirty water down the drain, you can use it to water houseplants.
Spend some money on low-flow faucets and showerheads now and save a lot of money over time. If you still have old toilets that use five gallons of water per flush, replace them with newer ones. Your water savings will eventually repay you. Not ready to spend that kind of money? Put a brick or two in the tank so it holds less water.
Food waste is an international scandal.
Frugal living means you don’t buy more than you can use before it goes bad. That five-pound bag of apples is a good deal for a large household. It costs less than buying five pounds of loose apples. But if you have a small household or live alone, some of those apples will rot before you can eat them.
You do cook instead of eating out all the time or buying prepared meals, don’t you? It’s a lot more frugal. But plan for what to do with the food once you have cooked it. Put the leftovers in the fridge, and then eat them later. Perhaps someone can carry them to work and heat them in the microwave for lunch. Is there not enough of something for a serving? At least it’s the start of a meal.
Some foods freeze well. Chili, for example. If you make twice as much chili as your family will eat for a meal and don’t want to eat it over the next couple of days, pop it in the freezer. A week or so later, put it in the fridge at supper time, when your fixing something else. You can heat it up the next evening and don’t have to use the same amount of time or energy you did to make it in the first place.
Do you have the kind of cleaners that take up so much space in the store? There’s a detergent for washing dishes by hand, another for washing them in the dishwasher, and still another for the washing machine.
Many of these products have harsh chemicals, volatile organic compounds, or other health hazards.
For frugal living, learn to love older cleaning agents like baking soda, vinegar,salt,borax, lemon juice, and hydrogen peroxide. They’re much more versatile and less expensive. They work just as well as their more heavily advertised replacements.
Earth in hands. Source unknown.
Energy Star. Source unknown.
Money down the drain. Some rights reserved by Images of Money.
Food waste. Some rights reserved by Nick Saltmarsh.
Cleaning product aisle. Some rights reserved by David 23.