Does anyone else feel a bit funny about Earth Day? While I won't argue that I appreciate Earth Day it does feel that it is a day that many conventional companies all the sudden show their green side. I keep receiving emails from a clothing company that they are featuring an eco children's activity in their store. It's the same company that has been rumored to slash clothing and throw the destroyed items in their dumpsters. It's almost as if Earth Day gives some of the regular brands an excuse to play with the already green brands and companies.
At the same time I am in favor of the green movement spreading the message in any way. I still remember living in England with a baby and having to drive all the way into London to the only store in the country that sold anything remotely natural and organic.
I just looked up the store, Green Baby, and got goosebumps when I saw their labels on some of the products. What a flashback. I read their about us story and they had only opened up in June of 99 and Cerys was born in January of 00. Their store was so tiny but it meant everything to me. I bought all of her organic unbleached cloth diapers (nappies) there. It was just the beginning of my green adventure.
It was difficult to find organic food at that point let alone clothes and baby toys. Lots of family member thought we were rather odd. We had no idea that the organic and green movement would be what it is today just ten years later. I remember going to a used book store in Glastonbury and trying to get my hands on anything about natural living. Nearly all the books were from either the 70's or right around 1990. Much of the information was dated but it gave me a starting place on how to live green. The first book that I read was Debra Lynn Dadd's "Nontoxic, Natural & Earthwise". I don't know where I found the book but I remember reading it during the first week after Cerys was born. This book shaped my life to what it is now.
My thoughts about living Green are very similar to frugality. I believe in the freedom to make choices on where to be green. As I confessed a few posts ago, I haven't let go of my Best Foods Mayonnaise (I still need to try the suggested Trader Joe's kind) because in that situation taste trumps organic and natural. That is a rare example though. We use tiffins for our school lunches but the occasional plastic baggie will go into the tiffin to hold some ice cubes. I tried to go down the path of dressing in organic clothes but I quickly grew tired of spending so much money for all beige-somewhat-dull clothes and instead switched to 2nd hand.
Many of my green choices in a way have to do with frugality. It seems that we are are making green choices because it can often be cheaper. Spending less could definitely be considered a green choice.
I went to a food co-op this week in search of some supplies to make my herbal ice tea. I was surprised to see that they were going to charge me .10 cents for a paper bag. Another confession, I buy the reusable bags but end up taking them to rummage sales and forget to use them at the grocery store. And maybe I just don't have enough incentive to bring my own. I always fill the brown bags with items to go back to the thrift store so I don't feel that they are ever wasted during the time that I have them. Yet here I was being charged to buy them and something in my head said "bring your bags next time".
I'm rambling today about different thoughts that have been running through my head lately. Let me leave you with a small list of green ways you can be frugal. To me frugal green is really the spirit of Earth Day that I wish to celebrate.
- Buy 85% of your household items from thrift stores & garage sales
- Shop Discount stores such as Grocery Outlet for organic and natural foods
- Support local co-ops and stock up when they have sales
- Teach your children to recycle. Ours do all the recycling and every week at the farmer's market they get a treat of honeycomb.
- Instead of hotels & rental cars do a Home Exchange. We did and have made friends for life through this experience.
- Make or Upcycle birthday and holiday gifts
- Make your own household cleaners using the book Clean House Clean Planet
- Make your own cosmetics, essential oil blends & shampoos with books from Storey Publishing
- Create a buying club with friends and buy wholesale from Frontier Co-op
- Start a babysitting co-op
- Barter for goods and services in your community. (For those in Sonoma County you can do this on our Sono-Ma Sharing Big Tent Group in our classifieds section)
- Carpool to Garage Sales & Estate Sales with a group of thrifters
- Throw a Clothing Swap Party twice a year
- Organize a park or beach clean day with other families. Take a potluck dish to share when the work is finished
There are lots of very expensive ways to be green out there but living green isn't about necessarily buying an organic couch with bamboo legs for $2,000. Live simple, live frugally with the earth in mind and you'll really achieve the art of being green.
Do you have a suggestion for our Frugal Green list? I'd love to hear your thoughts.