5 Frugal Ways to Go Green in 2013

by Kentin Waits on 1 January 2013 0 comments
Photo: JasonDGreat

Contrary to what advertisers would have us believe, going green doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. If you’d like to green-up your life in 2013, but don’t have the budget for a hybrid car or wind turbine just yet, here are a few easy and inexpensive ways to still make an impact. (See also: Why Recycling Is My Lowest Priority)

1. Share

The most revolutionary thing we can do to lessen the demand for more stuff, reduce waste, and stretch our budgets, is the simplest and oldest solution of all — share.

Sharing things like lawn equipment (does every homeowner on the block really need their own lawn mower?), DVDs, cookware, books, and tools can build stronger relationships, set a great example for kids, and keep our needs in check. Try it with your friends, neighbors, and coworkers. It’s easier than you think.

2. Repurpose What You Already Own

Be suspicious of any simplicity or green-living advice that requires you to purchase a new product.

With few exceptions, hard-core green living means living (happily) with less and getting creative with what we already own. Stores are filled with reusable tote bags for every season, color-coded recycling containers, and aisles of gleaming energy-efficient products. But how green is it to toss out what we already own and restock our homes in the spirit of environmentalism? Before you buy, ask yourself, “Is there any other way to achieve my goal without buying new? Is tossing out a perfectly good appliance truly helping the environment? How can I make what I need or re-imagine what I already own?” Though it might not be nearly as sexy, reusing is usually smarter.

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3. Redefine Convenience

It’s no newsflash that convenience products in all their forms usually mean higher price tags, smaller portions, and more packaging. If you’re serious about going green, skip the pre-packaged, single-serving, drive-thru world and embrace the stumbling, sometimes messy world of inconvenience. From hamburgers to paper products and from coffee to car washes, our drive to consume conveniently is playing havoc with our budgets and with our environment. Simple planning, a bit of prep time, and combining work with play can go a long way toward changing habits and making inconvenience far less…inconvenient.

4. Learn a Skill

Sometimes living green takes a bit of skill.

Before it was fashionable or had a name, our grandparents and great-grandparents were green pioneers. They darned socks, made their own clothes, planted gardens, cooked from scratch, changed their own oil, and hunted and fished. Now, I know we live a much more complex world today, and I’m not suggesting that everyone channel Thoreau and move to a one-room shack in the woods. But maybe there are a few things we can take better control of — and save a few bucks on in the process. Think about it. What new household skill would save you a bit of cash and reduce your need to buy new?

5. Buy Used

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Every thrift store shopper is secretly delighted that most of the country turns its collective nose up at the idea of buying used. Why? Because it means more great stuff for us.

Seriously, if you’ve never ventured into a thrift store with an open mind, make 2013 the year that you try. Once you see the price difference between new and gently-used, you may never look back. Besides being budget-friendly, buying used helps the environment by giving a second life to cast-off items. Typically, the items you find in these stores are just as good as new (I’m not exaggerating here) and, if you’re up for some hunting, you can find amazing deals and a few treasures along the way. Try it. If you hate it, you can swing by Target on your way home and pretend it never happened.

These are just some of the ways to be greener in 2013 and not break the bank (and your spirit) by buying a bunch of stuff. Going green should be less about addition and more about subtraction — what bad habits can we resolve to correct? How can we better manage our personal resources for the greater good? Once you begin to look closely, you’ll see other ways to green your 2013. Happy New Year.

What’s your favorite green tip? Do any of your resolutions for 2013 involve living greener?

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