In our consumer culture, I worry that many people are getting the message that you have to have money to live ecologically. After all front load washers, hybrid cars, and organic foods cost money, right?
My family and I live an ecological lifestyle on one part-time income. To me, living out my values means living simply, living debt free, and living in a way that honors the earth. The primary way I do this is through frugality. The same skills and values that allow me to be resourceful with money also allow me to be a good steward of natural resources.
Here are things that my family does that are green and that save green:
- We live rurally. Because I work from home and we homeschool, we don’t find it necessary to live in a big city. It is much cheaper and much greener to live in an area where we can have cheap housing, renovate our home in unconventional ways, hang our clothes out to dry, and have large gardens.
- We grow our own food. Having a garden and fruit trees saves so much money. Every organic item I grow is one less thing that has to be shipped to the grocery store.
- We compost. Composting saves money on trash service and also provides great soil for the garden!
- We work from home. Saving money on business attire, transportation costs, lunch out, co-workers birthdays, etc. is green and frugal.
- We bought our house with cash. This allows us to be able to take the money we would spend on a mortgage (or just interest on the mortgage) and put it towards energy saving updates to our home.
- We buy organic foods in bulk. Since learning what you eat is more important ecologically than what you drive, I’ve taken my diet much more seriously and cut down on packaging and non-organic foods.
- We limit our driving. We use less than one tank of gas a month. Driving less is a great way to save money and reduce our carbon footprint.
- We eat meatless meals at home. Meat is expensive and takes a toll on the environment. When I’m budgeting with people I always encourage them to cut back on or eliminate meat from their diets.
- We make foods from scratch. Processed foods not only have harmful ingredients but they come in lots of packaging. We make all our own bread, torillas, noodles, and just about anything else you can think of!
- We buy used as a whenever possible. Every new product you don’t buy is one less item that has to be made.
- We make it, make do, and do without. We try to avoid buying things except when we absolutely must.
- We don’t have a dryer. Our dryer died several years ago and I bought two collapsible wooden racks. We dry our clothes outside on the line in the summer and inside on the racks in the winter.
- We don’t have central heat and air. Instead we have a wood stove for the winter and we use fans (or just sweat) in the summer.
- We focus on reusable products. For example, we don’t most paper/disposable products. By using cloth napkins, microfiber towels, hankies, etc. we save money and throw less in the trash.
These are just some of the frugal choices my family makes that are also green. You can read more about how we live ecologically and debt free on one part-time income at www.budgetingwiththebushmans.com.
Bobbie Bushman records her family’s adventures in frugal living at Budgeting with the Bushmans.