What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Frugality Verses Sustainability

Yesterday while blog hopping I came across a blog post asking the question "are frugal and sustainable mutually exclusive?".  The author admitted to subscribing to a newspaper to get coupons then recycling the paper that they considered wasteful.  The author said they sent away for samples and gave an example of getting two single serve packets of mayonnaise.  The author said they buy whatever they can get the best deal on but doesn't buy anything with phosphates in it, occasionally buys a small package of meat that was not humanely treated or chocolate grown with slave labour.  Finally the author sends for coupons and rebates.  There are a lot of fundamental concepts going on in this post but frugality and sustainability are not there.

My comments on the post: Using coupons is neither frugal or sustainable.  For the most part coupons are for higher priced brand name products that in many cases are over packaged.  Coupons are printed on paper that has been made from trees using a process that has a large carbon footprint.  A frugal person and one interested in sustainable living would not use coupons.  Buying foods produced in humane ways or not using slave labour are ethical and socially responsible morals.  Unless you grow the food yourself or personally know the farmer/producer well you have no idea as to their animal husbandry, hired help policies or use of synthetic chemicals.  The choice to not use products containing phosphates is a personal and eco-friendly decision.  However, if you use laundry soap which most people do while no phosphate is added, trace amounts may be present due to normal manufacturing conditions (from the Ivory laundry detergent box).  Unless specifically marked all dishwasher detergent contains phosphates with some heavy duty dishwasher tabs containing as much as 8% phosphates.  Finally recycling is better than having the item go to a landfill but simply putting an item into the blue box for cubside picked up is not eco-friendly.

Frugality and sustainability do interact nicely when done properly.  For example as a frugal person living in Ontario I am very concerned over the rising cost of electricity.  The frugal choice is to move off the grid by going solar which would effectively eliminate the electric bill.  At the same time this is a sustainable choice because solar once installed keeps producing with no further costs.  Home heating is another concern so choosing to use a renewable source for heating is both frugal and sustainable.  When it comes to foods it is frugal to grow as much as possible organically with a high portion of the fruits and vegetables being heirloom varieties for seed collection for the following year making the garden sustainable.  Hybrid varieties do not breed true and while the seeds can be collected you might not be happy with the results.  Foods should be home canned, home dried, home cured or home frozen to eliminate cans and excess packaging.  This is the least expensive way of food storage.  For example a 14 oz can of brown beans in the grocery store costs about 79¢ but a 500 ml (16 oz) jar of home canned brown beans costs about 10¢.  However the home canned is eco-friendly in that it removes the effects of transportation from farm to factory to grocery store and eliminates excess packaging.  Foods that you can't produce yourself should be purchased from organic local growers as close to your home as possible and within a 100 km radius of your home.   This is both a frugal and sustainable practice.  Riding a bicycle to work or other activities is both frugal and sustainable providing you are physically able.  The list of how integrating frugality into sustainability is quite extensive.    Anytime you integrate sustainability into frugality you are bound to save money while treading lighter on the environment!

Garden Gnome