Thursday, February 7, 2008

Commentary: Is being "green" too expensive? I don't buy it. (Pun intended)

I have heard people complain that being "green" is too expensive. I don't buy it, literally.

One can be green and actually save money by applying the environmental catch phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."


Obviously, reducing one's consumption saves money. And, as pointed out by some of my other posts, "reducing" is also a gospel principal. Live within your means. Buy a smaller house. Buy a smaller car (or, don't have a car at all). Buy fewer clothes. Eat less. Take shorter showers. In short, don't buy it!


I'm going to pat myself on the back...I just bought a nice suit at the DI for 15$. Sure, I could afford a new suit, but why? I saved a bunch of money, and I helped Mother Earth. Second hand clothing is not taboo. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something...don't buy it!

You can reuse lots of things besides clothes. My son's tricycle: Second hand. My daughter's crib: Second hand. My spouse's piano: Second hand (but it sure looks brand-new).


Depending on where you live, and what you recycle, you may actually earn money by recycling. One of my co-worker's children gather paper from our office for recycling. A local company pays them for the paper. I think they are saving the money for a swing-set.

True, you don't get paid to recycle many (most?) materials. Some places may even charge for collecting recyclables. However, on the whole, recycling is generally cheap-to-free.

Other earth-friendly ideas that can save you money

Plant a garden (a post for another day)
Eat-in (I'm failing at this)
Use cloth bags for groceries (you may get strange looks in Idaho -ignore them)
Use public transportation (Washington State Ferries are among the best!)
Turn off your TV (save electricity and your brain...but Lost is OK, right?)
Buy long-lasting quality goods (rather than cheap disposable junk)
Give hugs instead of thoughtless gifts (Valentine's Day?)
Read the Ensign online (I still need to cancel my subscription)

Final thoughts and a couple questions

You don't have to buy expensive "earth-friendly" products to be green. Nor do you have to drive a Prius, install solar panels, or plant trees -All of which I applaud. In short, being green doesn't have to cost money, and often times it can save you money.

As a recent convert to the green movement, I confess that I am only beginning to apply the "3-R's". This post is as much for me as anyone. What ideas do you have that can help me be green and save me money? What is a better way of saying "go green"? So much of the environmental lexicon is becoming cliche.


Knit2dye4 said...

One of the first things I did was switch all my lightbulbs to compact flourescents. You might think that that costs money, but it didn't. I bought them at Costco, where you can buy a bulk package for much cheaper. We spent about $20 for enough to do our entire two bedroom apartment, and the FIRST month, saw a reduction of more than $20 in our electric bill. So, I switched to compact fluorescents, which save a lot of energy compared to incandescents, without it costing anything.


green mormon architect said...

The intriguing thing is that many “earth-friendly” products are prohibitively expensive because they are green. Something like reclaimed wood is rare compared to the demand that exists for it, so it has become very expensive. Now people want a “green story” behind their home, and they will pay whatever it takes to get that story.

I think using public transportation is among the most impacting of all the strategies listed – and it is definitely cheaper. In fact, that’s the main reason I use public transportation. It is cheaper than buying another car, insuring it, and keeping it full of gas. And that says nothing for the negative impact it would have on the environment. My commute is a little longer because of this, but it gives me a great time to read!

An interesting report came out several months ago showing how in Nevada it would be more expensive to build large coal power plants rather than use renewable power.

Great idea about reading the Ensign online. Pretty much any newspaper or magazine would also fall into this category.

Mellifera said...

GMA- you just hit on one of my big pet peeves! My favorite is the "Seventh Generation" toilet paper (or even better, paper towels. Someone explain to me the psychology of buying a green version of something that's a disposable version of something else?) They're not bleached, right? (Or maybe they're just peroxided instead.) So these and other unbleached goods require *less* processing and capital, meaning they should be cheaper... but they're not. Ditto for whole wheat, turbinado sugar, etc. I love how less handling equates to higher price... and thus cheap, low-input goods are priced out of the market for the very folks who would benefit from the price change in a lower-input good, and where the impact of lots of consumers could really make an environmental difference.

Since you already hit on that pet peeve, here's my other one. Girls! DON'T BE HIGH MAINTENANCE!!! Do you think it's a coincidence that people who sell clothes have found a way to make all the exciting things you buy this year look ugly next year so you have to buy a whole new set?

I'm all for combing hair and not smelling bad, but the sheer degree of STUFF that goes into your average suburban debutante's toilette... gah.

green mormon architect said...

that's pretty funny, especially since it's true! Although my wife is actually quite good when it comes to having 'stuff' - I would say she is very low maintenance. My sisters on the other hand...

Bob Hall said...

Here's a radical idea: The amount of environmental damage you cause can be *roughly* measured by how much you spend. Yes, there are all sorts of counterexamples you can nitpick about, but I'm putting this forward as a rough measure. And it's a pretty good one.

One could conclude pretty quickly that if you live the average LDS lifestyle, it doesn't much matter what kind of toilet paper or light bulbs you buy...