My Frugal Life: Two Part Agenda

My first career was as a musician. Despite some good breaks and a substantial amount of business success, music was basically a hand-to-mouth existence. So I learned to manage on the little money that I had.

I also got bitten by the environmental bug. I accepted the goal of reducing my personal impact on the environment as much as possible. "R" number one is Reduce, so I learned to do without. It's amazing how much stuff you actually don't need when you look at it objectively. I don't have a garage full of trinkets that I don't need, want or use, because I never bought them in the first place.

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"R" number 2 is Reuse. When you used something a second time, you reduce your environmental impact by 50%. Using a shopping bag twice has far more environmental benefit than a lot of people produce in a lifetime. I shop at garage sales, Goodwill and the local ReUse Centre regularly. Buying a jacket from Goodwill or a book from the ReUse Centre reduces the impact on the environment by 100% because these items will not go to landfill.

"R" number 3 is recycle. I'm not a fan of recycling because it requires absolutely no change in lifestyle. In my opinion, recycling doesn't work. It's too easy to put garbage into the blue box and expect someone else to deal with the problem.

Today I am a stay-at-home father, freelance writer and part-time college instructor. I don't have to live a frugal lifestyle, but I do. I have a young daughter who has to live on this planet for the next 60, 70, 80 years or more. She may choose to have children and her children might have children. I would very much like future generations to have healthy air to breath, clean air to breath and unpolluted land to live on. Besides, I'm cheap!

Richard from Oakville Ontario Canada

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May 26, 20060 found this helpful

Bravo! Good strong thinking on all of this. I especially like the comment on recycling. Never thought of it that way. I am not ready to throw out the notion of recycling, but I do see your point about there being no lifestyle change required. With global warming at our doorstep as well as other issues we need to become a society of doers, activists. Thanks for the thoughts.

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June 11, 20120 found this helpful

Although recycling does less than reducing and reusing, it is at least doing something. My town only recycles a few basic things, and I am constantly shocked at the lazy people who won't even bother to do that because it's just too much of a hassle for them. Maybe it doesn't make as large a lifestyle change, but it's a start, and most people need to start someplace, only to move forward once they feel comfortable with their meager beginning.

Near where I live is a factory that uses plastics to make composite lumber; a few towns over is a place that uses composite material to make raised garden beds and stepping stones. I've bought their products and like seeing things remade like this.

Rather than hauling our trash to dump sites, they make usable products, create jobs, and save other resources in the process. Plus the raised bed garden kits have encouraged many to start kitchen gardens, thereby getting exercise and fresh food. I believe recycling can evoke positive changes in people, but it effects them in differing ways that may not be as easy to track or even to see when you look.

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