Saturday, December 6, 2008

Frugal and Green

I am certainly not the first person to note the obvious connection between frugality and environmentalism, and I'm sure I won't be the last. I know I first read about the connect in Amy Daczycyn's The Complete Tightwad Gazette.

I am definitely on the very frugal side compared to my friends, and I'm probably a little more "green" than the average person in So. Cal. But I'm no expert. Here are some of the things that we do to be frugal and green:

1. Drying Laundry. We dry our laundry outside whenever possible. Living in So. Cal, this is pretty easy. Except for rainy days, and days filled with fires or ash, or incredibly windy days, we hang our laundry out. Even if it doesn't fully dry, 10 min in the dryer is better than 60. My sister-in-law in NY has a basement with clotheslines along the ceiling, which is where she dries her laundry year round. Amy D (mentioned above) used her attic.

Some of my friends think I'm wierd and ask if it's just to "save money". As you can see, we have quite the setup. We have an umbrella stand, an umbrella style clothesline, and a sunshade. The sunshade is because we have birds and bugs who do their business (little brown drops) all over the back. I'm pretty sure that since our "setup" cost us about $100 total, it will take a few years to recoup our costs.

The reason we do it is that the sun is free. It seems incredibly wasteful to use electricity and gas to dry clothes when we can get solar power. In other areas where it rains and snows, it's less practical. People in apartments are unlikely to have enough room to hang all of their clothing. But we can, so we do. And in the long run, we are saving on our electricity and gas bill.

2. Washing Laundry. At some point in the last 100 years, as a society we went from having only 3-5 oufits of clothing to more than we could wear in a month. At some point we apparently also decided that we needed to wash all of our clothing after each wearing. This still makes sense for some things...I wash items when my toddler has been playing in the dirt, or I've been out running and sweating (phew!), or I spill something. If you are someone who has a sweaty or dirty job or are just a sweaty person, you'll need to wash clothing more often. But the average person doesn't need to wash their clothing after each wearing.

I wash my workout gear after each workout. My pants get washed about every fifth wear and my shirts after every third wear. We wash our sheets about every two weeks when we are being good, every month when we are not, and certainly after one of us has had a cold. We use about three dish towels a week, one hand towel, and one bath towel (so 3) per person per week.

We do not wash towels after every use. Some people do. Um, can you say wasteful? I know of people with the same family size as us, who wash 10-12 loads per week. We are at 3, 4 if we are doing sheets. This saves water and gas. It also saves our clothing.

3. Reusable water bottles. We recently switched to stainless steel, in the efforts to avoid plastic. But we used plastic before. We have a Brita filter. Some friends have the large 5-gal delivery service, and some people use a reverse-osmosis filter. Here our water tastes disgusting, so filtration is common. But I have friends who drink only bottled water. Bottle after bottle. This is not only expensive, but very bad for the environment.

Water filters are fairly cheap.

4. Canvas/reusable grocery bags. We have a ton of these. And I don't always remember to take them. Reusing a bag is better than getting a new bag, even if you recycle. And I am surprised at some friends who didn't realize (until recently) that you can recycle plastic bags. Most of the canvas bags I've found are $1 to $6. Even if you shop monthly and need 12 bags, you can slowly accumulate enough to do all of your shopping.

This can save money. At least one of our grocery stores gives us a 30 cent discount for bringing our own bag.

5. Washing/reusing ziploc bags. This could be the mantra and the love/hate for frugality. Some people use this as a badge of honor. Others feel it "puts off" normal people. We wash ziploc bags, until they fall apart. But we throw them away if they had meat in them.

6. Eating in/eating leftovers. Eating out is expensive, we know this. But think about the plastic, styrofoam, and cardboard that gets thrown out after one use.

Eating leftovers is a no-brainer. Don't waste food!

1 comment:

Amy B said...

I feel odd drying my clothes outside in the city, but I have done it. Mostly I use a drying rack inside my apartment. It feels natural to hang laundry on a clotheline because my mother hung clothes out to dry. I always loved helping her bring in the laundry. She even had to wash and dry diapers this way, which was not fun!
I think with this recession folks will go back to things like clotheslines. A pleasant change, in my opinion.