Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Environment and The Economy

First, wow, I can't believe I haven't posted here since May. I mean, I can, since I've been using twitter (@crstn85) to broadcast my thoughts, and since I haven't had a day off since Memorial day, but still, I used to use this blog regularly. Sorry blogger.

The August topic for APLS is Green on the Cheap: Has the economy impacted how you live green? Do you buy fewer green products to save money? Or have you redoubled your efforts to live sustainably? What have you learned about living environmentally friendly on a budget?

Helping the environment and surviving the economy are not opposing forces. You can succeed in each failing system via the same methods. If you lack resources (monetary or planetary) you have to learn to use less and to use what you do have effectively. Using less stuff means spending less money, just as buying less means getting less stuff. Of course cutting back can only go so far and so this argument doesn't hold well for anyone who has lost income and can no longer afford the basics. Assuming you can afford the basics though, it's a good time to look for alternate ways to get the things you want and need.

Recently I got a bigger TV, not because I particularly wanted one but because it was free and my friend couldn't think of anyone else who would want an old TV without a remote. This made me realize I must be in a special class of people - what most people think of as junk I considered an upgrade. This fact was made especially clear to me this summer as I began looking around the trash area of my apartment complex. So far I've scored a fun card game and a DVD rack. Some people are actually good about leaving quality items off to the side so it's like we have our own freecycle in the apartment complex. These are things we should be doing all the time though, not just when money is tight and we recognize that someone else might want what we no longer do. It should be second nature to check in with neighbors to see if they could use something you're getting rid of, and if not, it should be donated rather than left by the curb where hopefully someone will take it before the trash pick up date.

I've never been one to buy a lot of green products; I do fairly well as far as cleaning supplies with water, microfiber cloths, Dr. Bonners soap and hydrogen peroxide for emergencies (wine on the carpet). I use cloth rather than paper products and I've never been into gadgets, eco or otherwise. I suppose that just leaves food, where I do try to buy organic and local. But, the extra expense is far outweighed by the absence of meat, and the money I'm saving not buying all those other things I just mentioned. My low electric bill makes the additional cost of 'green power' hardly noticeable, and the cool, cloudy summer has certainly helped to keep that one extra low.

Since I've been trying to live sustainably for a while now, all of these shifts - toward conserving and saving money and generally consuming less - fit in with what I'm already doing. I hope that, if nothing else, people come out of this experience realizing that there is a lot to be said for sustainability, in all of its interpretations.


  1. Hey, you're not alone!! We recently "upgraded" to a 25-inch TV when my parents decided to upgrade theirs -- and our old TV went to a service for re-housing the homeless. (Who needs 2 TVs anyway.)

    Thanks for participating in the carnival!

  2. First, I love your tagline! Second, I love your post! There are so many choices that save both money and the environment. While the recession has many downsides, I'm hopeful that it will help folks see that being green doesn't require expensive products.

  3. I love hand me downs!! My parents furnished their entire house with stuff no one else wanted and guess what? It looks wonderful.

  4. Thanks for stopping by everyone. Robbie- my new tv is a 20 inch and seems huge in comparison, perspective really is everything. Steph- I totally agree no one should be worried about stuff they might need to get to become eco-friendly (but they might be justified in worrying about stuff they'll need to get rid of!). Green Bean- my entire living room is filled with the old basement furniture from my parents house, while it may all be as old as I am it works great and meant they didn't have to throw anything out when they re-did the room.

  5. I'm right there with you and Robbie! We got a "new" TV a couple months ago when my sister was cleaning out her basement. It's still ten years old, but it's much bigger than our old TV, so my husband is very happy. Hurray for junk!


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