Tuesday, February 17, 2009

10 easy ways to be more sustainable when you're being frugal

Everyone trying to spend less money? We are around here. You know, frugality can lead to being much more green, but not always. I wrote on MNN last week about the fact that people are spending less on groceries and restaurants in general, but fast food restaurants have seen increased profits - people are taking advantage of those dollar menus. That's not particularly 
good for the environment (or your health).

What are some easy ways to be frugal AND sustainable? Here are ten of them.
  1. Make a menu for the week, make a detailed grocery list*, and stick to them both. This saves time and money. If your grocery budget has shrunk (or stayed the same but grocery prices have risen), planning meals really helps with the budget. You can buy better food, make less last minute trips to the grocery store, and avoid having to run out for fast food because there's nothing to make.
  2. Get reaquainted with your local library. Books, music, and dvd's are there and they won't cost you a dime. Just make sure your return everything on time.
  3. If there is a book, cd, or dvd that you are interested in owning instead of just borrowing, try Swaptree, Paperback Swap or Book Crossing. You can trade media that you already have for media that you want.
  4. Need something that you don't have the money for? Put out an s.o.s. to friends and family. My son's trial clarinet rental was up last week. We were facing a $30 a month rental fee. I put out the word through Facebook and e-mail that I was looking for a clarinet. I friend of mine had one that she gave us. Everyone's got stuff lying around they aren't using. It can't hurt to ask.
  5. Hit the yard sales. In warmer climates, yard sales happen year round. Where I live the yard sale season will commence in about two months. I predict lots of people will be having yard sales trying to make a little money. 
  6. Reuse what you've got. I've been buying a lot of grains from the bulk bins lately. I was thinking that I needed to buy some glass storage jars to keep them in, and then it occurred to me - I can reuse my glass jelly jars or pasta sauce jars. 
  7. Go to freecycle.org or craigslist for things that you need. 
  8. Entertain in. Invite friends  to your home for an Oscar party this Sunday night or have the whole family over for a board game night. Make it potluck and serve inexpensive wine and beer - skip the cocktails. Tell everyone to bring some reusable containers to take home food in so there's no waste. 
  9. Walk. Leave the car at home when possible. Save gas. Get exercise. Frugal, green and good for you.
  10. Do without instead of going cheap. It's tempting to buy the cheap version of something you want when you don't have the money to buy quality. But cheap means it will wear out more quickly and you'll just have to replace it. Try to do without it for a while until you can save up the money to buy quality. In the long run, you'll save money because you won't need to replace it so soon, and you'll keep the cheap stuff out of the landfills. (Yes, I know this one's not so easy - we're programmed to have what we want, when we want it. While, it's not easy, it's also not as hard as you think. Give going without a try).

* I downloaded grocery i.q. for my iPhone. Now my list is with me all the time and I just need to tweak it from week to week instead of having to create a new list each week from scratch.

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Samson said...

Frugal is good and these are great suggestions. My mom always said, waste not, want not. That was a long time ago but it still works today. thanks.

Ally J. said...

Great list! In regards to food shopping, I've found that some of the grocery delivery services, such as Peapod, actually help you stick to a budget. There are no impulse buys since you shop online. Plus, you can use coupons to offset the cost of delivery, which is usually nominal.