Finally, Frugal Rules
For most of my life, I felt slightly ashamed at my frugality. You know, if I held onto a piece of furniture that wasn't showroom-new, made a meal out of leftovers, or shopped for clothes at Goodwill, I was being "cheap" or "a packrat." I thought, this will do for now, but it's not as good as having everything brand new.
You've heard the comments. Most people don't brag about frugal acts, they confess them. "Sometimes I save tissue paper, iron it, and use it again," my aunt once said as she opened a gift bag. "Isn't that terrible?"
But glory hallelujah, in the last year or so we have this environmental surge that is bringing the sexy back to reusing stuff. Now when my husband throws out a bunch of clothes or coat hangers or whatnot and I rescue them from the trash, I can fall back on the Earth as an argument. As in, no, I'm not mentally ill, I just love the Earth! Don't you? Do you want Al Gore to be mad at you?
What used to be called being tight, a hoarder and a skinflint is now called reducing, recycling and reusing. And I love it.
I still hope I don't end up as one of those old ladies with plastic over every piece of furniture, keeping everything forever so I can be buried with all my money. But come on, washing out a few Ziploc bags is nothing compared to the life led by No Impact Man, who says he composts his own poop! And he's having a book published and a movie made about him.
Making stock out of that chicken carcass and a bunch of the tough ends of broccoli stalks? You thought that was penny-pinchy of me? Obviously you have not heard about the freegans who are out there Dumpster diving for their supper. That's right. Eating food out of the garbage is now cool in some circles. If only George Costanza could see us now.
Deep down in my soul, I know when I take a Little Tikes toy from my neighbors' trash, I'm not doing it out of true environmental concern. Yeah, that's a bonus, but I'm really doing it because
a) I'm cheap -- that is, I'm not willing to sink into the tar pit of consumer debt but I still want my kids to have a little fun.
b) I just hate to see anything wasted. It offends my sensibilities the way an unkempt front yard might bother other, classier people.
I'm not above letting others believe I'm garbage picking out of environmental concern. After all, hotels can do it: They're always claiming that conserving water is the reason they don't want to wash our towels and sheets every day. Maybe if I practice acting like it long enough, I'll actually grow the nobility needed to really do things to save the Earth. Or at least become more believable than those hotel bathroom signs.
In the meantime, I'm just glad I get to save a buck now and then without lurking in the shadows. Then again, staying in these shadows does save me money on sunscreen.