What’s good for the earth is usually good for your finances. That’s because our capitalist system runs on both our financial and environmental resources. Conversely, the most meaningful things in life are friendly to the earth and free. So yes, being both environmentally-conscious and a frugalista are good for you. Below, let’s look at some life changes which have a positive effect on both.
What’s an environmentalist? In my definition, it’s someone who loves the environment and is willing to get a little uncomfortable, to shew conveniences, in order to benefit the natural world. If you are frugal you agree that you can give up something up to benefit your long term finances. These are people who take a long-term view of things. In this post we will examine the positive effects of being an environmental and cost conscious person.
Give Up the Car
This point is first because for some reason people are most resistant to giving up their cars. Also known in some circles as clown cars, a car is a massive drain on your time and resources. Feel like waiting 15 minutes for the car wash? How about 30 minutes for an oil change? Would some $40 parking tickets change your mind? It sickened me that someone dinged my partner’s car door and it cost $400 to fix it. That could pay for a decent bicycle instead.
Cars are also horrible for the environment. That black gunk you keep filling your tank with is one of the dirtiest forms of energy around. The exhaust contributes to smog and pollution in cities. Never mind all the water used in refining oil, habitats at risk because of pipelines, and forests clear cut and mined to get oil.
How do you give up your car? As with any habit, slowly. Think about how you will replace your car, before proceeding. Will your trips be primarily by bike, or by transit? Leave your car home for a few days a week and commute your alternate way. My suggestion is to bike for 60% of your trips. In the winter, when you are sick, or because you’re exhausted, you should have a backup. My recommendation is to check out the transit options near you by pulling out a transit map and seeing what stations are nearby. You can use all the gas, car payment, insurance, maintenance and parking fees savings to pay for taxis now and then. Pretty sure I know which one will be cheaper and greener over the long run.
Sometimes, simple is best. The oldie and goodies used by our grandparents have been replaced with name brand objects which rely on a lot of fuss, advertising and chemicals to complete their task. Here are some old school, healthy ways to get shit around the house done:
Use vinegar as a cleaning spray rather than conventional Lysol and windex sprays.
Arrowroot powder is ridiculously cheaper than dry shampoo spray and just as effective.
Rather than protein powder, start your day with lemon juice in water, followed by a boil egg.
Use baking soda in place of your Magic Eraser to get rid of scuffs.
Use tea tree oil in the place of all skin products, especially for rashes.
Here are some other suggestions from The Art of Simple.
Avoid Animal Products
According to the Scientific American, the meat we eat causes more greenhouse gas emissions to enter into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry. The reason this is the case is because it takes a lot of resources to feed and hydrate an animal until it’s mature enough to eat. Those are resources which can be used to feed others or yourself. At our grocery store, you can buy a bad of dried chickpeas, which will feed a family for a few meals, for $2.99, or ground meat (which is often the cheapest cut), for $4.99, which will feed a family for one meal. Also, if you like trees and rainforests, know that these are cut down to clear land and grow feed for animals.
There are other reasons to avoid animal products, but just seeing the cost savings and knowing your decision has a positive impact on the environment should motivate you to give these meat swaps a try:
Try grilling portobello mushrooms for a burger rather than a hamburger.
Eggplant has a very meaty taste, and is a good substitute for meat in curries.
Try making your chili meat free and instead add some liquid smoke and paprika.
Give up meat entirely for a meal, and instead make two large veggie sides.
If you are giving up your car, greening your home, and avoiding animal products, those are the three biggest-impact things you can so to save the world, all with positive effects on your wallet. What other things do you do to be environmental and cost conscious?