Everybody I know is quite thrifty and green, and I try to do my part!
Here are the big-ticket things I’ve done to amp it up:
- Moved back to my hometown where people are proud to be frugal (it makes life so much easier when no one is trying to keep up with the Joneses)
- Bought a small house. It is 900 sq ft with a finished lower level = 1800 sq ft. Abundant! This is considered a starter home. It was great for our family of 3 and continues to be suitable for us now as empty-nesters. In fact, it has more space than we need!
- Downsized from a mini-van to a subcompact AWD hatchback. Next time I may give up the AWD and just buy snow tires. AWD adds to the weight of the vehicle and uses more fuel year-round.
- Installed programmable thermostats
- Installed low-flow toilets
- Gradually replaced all major appliances with Energy Star versions
- Take care of house and car maintenance so they last as long as possible
- Do product research and buy things that are built to last
- No trendy home decor that needs to be replaced in a season or two
- Reduced tolerance for non-functional items and clutter, such as ornaments and collectibles
And here are the everyday practices that have become engrained:
- Prepare meal plans and shop from a grocery list – eliminates food waste
- Make meals and snacks from scratch – reduces amount of packaging purchased
- Buy local and in season as much as possible – reduces food transport
- Bring reusable bags for groceries, produce and other shopping
- Recycle all paper, plastic, metal and glass
- Use municipal curbside composting program
- Lawn herbicides and pesticides are illegal here; mulch or compost all grass trimmings
- Use pine cat litter
- Commute with spouse to take one car; rearrange our schedules to accommodate this
- Don’t idle car while waiting for each other
- Group errands to require only one car trip
- Use cloth napkins & cloth cleaning rags rather than paper or disposables
- Use only one locally-made cleaning product made with sodium carbonate (washing soda)
- Use refillable pens, razors, etc
- Bring refillable coffee mug everywhere
- Use CF light bulbs
- Use rechargeable batteries
- Use power bars to turn off small electronics at night
- Clean and maintain stuff so it will last, e.g. shoes, shovels, microwave oven, printer
- Use public library – obviously, since I work in one 🙂
- Buy downloadable music and movies instead of CDs and DVDs
- Borrow items needed rarely, e.g. cake pans, power washer
- Buy used goods at second-hand stores and flea markets (I like vintage kitchen ware)
- Wear more classic clothes and footwear that will last for several years (style icon I am not)
- Challenge ourselves to bring the power and water bills down
On the other hand, here are the things I have not done:
- Bought a house within walking distance of work, in case job changes
- Become a one-car family. Second car is used sparingly but not ready to give it up. One of the cars is also used on the job.
- Bought a hybrid vehicle. Our electricity is coal-generated, so what’s the point?
- Used public transportation – would more than double our commute time
- Got rid of lawn or bought a rechargeable battery mower: property is too big. However, I use a mulcher-mower, and weeds are tolerated!
- Turned the heat down when we are home – programmable thermostat takes care of the hours we are out. I am willing to wear two heavy layers and have a “TV blanket,” but if still cold: hike the heat!
- Given up clothes dryer – two reasons: changeable/perpetually damp weather, and time involved (clothes dry slowly in damp weather, and must stay home in case weather changes and clothes need to be rescued)
- Planted vegetable garden
- Made own cleaning products
- Given up eating meat – but will be trying this for a month starting mid-May
- Let the government know how I feel: I have not been telling my elected officials what I think of environmental policy and law, as a concerned citizen. This is my top action item!
Illustration credit: hamilton.ca (City of Hamilton ON Public Works)