The Upside of Being Cheap

How to stop wasting money by going green

Amid the news of billion-dollar bailout packages, plummeting Dow Jones averages and unemployment fears, there is one clear benefit: We are all learning to be more frugal. That, I suspect, is a good thing, both for ourselves and the planet. After all, in recent months, I have become extra conscious of where to cut back, and the ways I can stop wasting money. All of these changes add up to a greener lifestyle. I'm probably not the only one whose dwindling bank account is motivating me to adopt a lot of healthy changes. And, making all those small but vital changes add up to real differences.

6 tips to stop wasting money (and start going greener!):

  • I kept my thermostat lower than ever this year.

  • I learned that many sweaters and clothes can easily survive a hand-wash and don't need to go to the dry cleaners on a regular basis.

  • I realized that my grocery bills drop in half when I am careful about menu planning, avoid prepared foods, and seek out simple ingredients like bulk dry beans and whole grains.

  • Unable to get over the sticker shock of household cleaner prices (green or otherwise) and found that baking soda and vinegar really do make great alternatives.

  • I am bargain-hunting on Freecycle and Craig's List before running out to buy a brand new product, and listing dusty, unused items on eBay.

  • I'm partly responsible for the surge in seed sales, and plan to grow more herbs, tomatoes and other vegetables this year because they'll be local, organic and far more affordable.

Basically, all my penny-pinching is adding up to a simpler, greener lifestyle. Indeed, leaner economic times are motivating me to change a lot of habits that are — simply put — wasteful.

I suspect that I'm not the only one making a number of small changes. And, if adopted collectively, maybe being cheap will lead to a bigger payoff for all of us.

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