Being Really Green
The Dollar Stretcher Blog
by Gary Foreman

Lately everyone has been touting their 'green' credentials. You don't have to look too hard to find someone talking earnestly about 'carbon footprints' or expounding on renewable energy. I admit that some of them seem a little phony to me. Here's why. Their lifestyles don't match their rhetoric. In other words, they're walk doesn't match their talk.

When the conversation turns to environmental issues, I have my own 'green test'. It's my way of finding out whether the person really cares about the environment or is just mouthing something that they read in a magazine or heard at a rally somewhere.

I'll ask if the person shops at garage sales and thrift stores. It takes natural resources to make most things. Buying used means that you're not consuming those resources. That's real environmentalism.

The person who's really concerned about the environment will make sure that items they no longer need are given a chance for a 2nd (or better still a 3rd) life. Donate your used items to a thrift store, hold a garage sale or sell them on eBay. Just because you're through with something doesn't mean that it can't be useful to someone else.

I'll try to find when was the last time that they fixed something instead of replacing it. Often I get blank stares on this one. "Fix it??" You know the people I'm talking about. If the least little thing goes wrong, they're out shopping for a replacement. Nevermind that a repair might be easy. Or the problem might not affect how they use the item. They've never had a screwdriver or pair of pliers in their hands. Wouldn't know how to use them if their life depended upon it. But, now they have their excuse to buy a new one. And they're not going to let tossing one more item into a landfill stop them from impressing the neighbors with their affluence!

You see, I've known many people who have been good to the environment. But, many of them never thought of it that way. They were just living frugally. Looking for ways to avoid spending money came naturally. That meant fewer purchases. Considering alternatives before throwing something away was automatic. Just something they did without thinking about it. In the process they walked gently on the earth and only consumed what was necessary.

Personally, I'd much rather talk to the person living a thrifty lifestyle than the expert in carbon offsets. I find that I learn much more practical info that I can apply and benefit from. Things that can actually make a difference in my life. It may not impress the dinner party crowd or make me look smart or important, but it does make a difference for the earth.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

Gary Foreman is the editor of The Dollar website and newsletters. Not only does the site host thousands of articles on various ways to save money, but you'll also find a vibrant forum where people share their dollar stretching ideas. Comment on this entry here.