Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Grass Is Always Greener...

I made a new friend this month, who is as interested as I am in eating healthy, living on a dime, and family matters. You can visit her blog here, which is a fairly recent initiative. Deep in conversation with my new friend, however, I felt convicted of not having spent enough energy blogging about the OTHER "green".

While a lot of my blog posts have focused on low-cost living, not so many have talked about our environmental impact. The fact is, my husband and I are both very concerned with living sustainably and practicing good stewardship, and finances are only part of the picture. Maybe I don't blog about eco-friendly living mainly because most of our household choices naturally tend in that direction without much thought. For a large part, frugality is synonymous with sustainability: For instance, buying in bulk reduces waste AND saves money. Cutting down on energy consumption reduces your carbon footprint AND saves money. Saving food scraps for soup and composting reduces waste AND saves money. Cooking vegetarian foods contributes to good health, puts less stress on the environment, AND saves money. Planting your own veggies cuts down on carbon emissions, lowers your pesticide intake, encourages you to EAT more veggies, AND saves money. Get the idea?

If you are truly living "on a dime", it's a pretty good bet that you are already doing a good bit towards preserving the earth. Which is not to say you can't do better. It is always good to be pushed out of our comfort zones and challenged to greater levels of responsibility. Here's what our own family has been doing, and what we have yet to do.

1. We work, play and shop locally. (But, we do love to go for long drives.)
2. I buy organic as the budget permits. (Not everything is worth paying for organic.)
3. I started growing some of our food. (Unfortunately, didn't turn out well this year.)
4. We exchanged all incandescent lights for CFLs.
5. We got energy efficient appliances & hot water tank.
6. We bought reliable cars with excellent fuel efficiency. (However, we do require two vehicles.)
7. I use vinegar and minimal soap when cleaning and doing dishes. (I still use storebought laundry soap and occasional fabric softener.)
8. I cook nearly everything from scratch and make at least one vegetarian dinner a week. (We still eat more meat and dairy than we need to, I think.)
9. I breastfed my babies as long as I was able (though not as long as I would have liked).
10. We reuse towels before washing, and wear clothes again if they're not dirty. (I'm sorry, I don't want to be dirty and smelly just for the environment.)
11. We keep our house cool in winter, open lots of windows in summer, and turn off lights when not in use.
12. I unplug small appliances when not in use. (Still a few electronics need a power bar.)
13. We buy secondhand when possible, and both use and pass on hand-me-downs.
14. We compost and recycle A LOT. Very little goes to the garbage. (I tried cloth diapers and EC initially, but the hassle was too much - so most of our garbage is diapers.)
15. We share with others and borrow things we would use once or seldom.
16. We buy in bulk when appropriate. (We don't have tons of storage space, so this is done judiciously.)

So tell me, what do y'all do to care for the earth and be good stewards?


  1. YAY...That's me you've linked to...Tee hee!! Thanks :)

    It really is amazing, the things we do for the environment without even thinking about it. Now, if everyone could just do the same :)

    I have a long list of things we have done and are doing but there is always room for improvement! I think I too shall compile a list and see just how much more I could be doing. It's also a nice way to get ideas.

  2. Hmm...good question!

    Well, our family eats leftovers without issues, but instead of packing away our food into the fridge with foil or plastic wrap, we use tupperware or just a bowl with a plate as cover. Also, I bake a lot, and I tend to double or triple the recipe--say, banana bread--so that I could freeze the extra portions and yet use up oven space. Saves on electricity, too!

    Finally, I cloth diaper...thanks to Sarah's suggestion! It's environmentally friendly, physically healthy (as disposables contain chemicals), and economical. Although the downside is the demand on laundry time, I'm hoping that since it promotes babies to potty train earlier, it's ultimately a worthy trade-off!

    Grace Hora


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