Skip to content

It’s not frugal being green….

February 13, 2008

People claim that CFL light bulbs save money. I just can’t convince myself of it, even though it is “common knowledge”. I buy them anyway, and feel happy (but skeptical) when I hear on the radio that replacing one CFL bulb is like taking some huge number of cars off the road. I bought a 3-way floor lamp, and the one 3-way CFL bulb was about $11. Yikes. Then I hear these are bad for the environment, because now we have all this mercury to dispose of.

The wastefulness of plastic bags bothers me, and I’ve been eying these Baggu reusable bags online. Or when I’m feeling frugal, the cheaper Chico bags. Both brands fit in your purse when not in use. Then I hear some plastic lobbyist (ok, so I don’t know his real job) claim that plastic bags are actually more environmentally friendly because they take so little energy/material to make. While I am skeptical, he does have a point–if I pay $22 for three reusable bags, how long do I have to use them before they offset their own manufacturing and shipping environmental impacts?

Then there is food. I don’t eat a lot of meat in the first place (I just don’t enjoy it too much) but am considering cutting back even more due to the environmental impacts of the meat industry. I’m sure not willing to spend the money to “go organic” with my food, but since I don’t even love meat, I could give it up. Maybe.  But which is cheaper, meat or meat substitutes? Besides beans and tuna (or is the tuna industry environmentally unfriendly as well), what are some frugal protein sources?

I also sort of want a Toyota Prius, but they are ridiculously expensive (to me), and you can worry about the environmental costs associated with manufacturing and disposing them as well. A Honda Fit is my “compromise” (in gray please), but even those aren’t cheap yet because they are too new.

Have you heard of co-housing? Check out this piece if you haven’t (I ♥ NPR). It sounds a little fabulous (to me), sort of like glorified apartment living. I actually looked into it when I was moving to LA, but the only things I found were not they type of thing Marketplace portrayed. More like, they were in bad neighborhoods and the “members”… well I didn’t understand how it worked. It wasn’t the same.

To bring a little more personal finance into this, I’d really like to invest in green initiatives. Not only because I think that it could pay off monetarily, but because it is something I believe in. Do people invest in that way anymore? But what if I choose something like ethanol, then people say it isn’t so environmentally friendly after all. It isn’t about “socially responsible” investing, or even just investing in companies that meet some environmental threshold. What I really want is a “green” index fund that invests in a whole bunch of companies that are doing research on ways to prevent (and adapt to) global warming. Is there a “Save the Earth” fund I can invest in?

It’s just all so confusing!
I want to be green without spending more money. I want to trust that what I am doing really is helping. Then you hear that global warming can’t be stopped even if we quit all pollution today, and it is just discouraging. Why didn’t we do something bigger back when people first realized the harm we were doing?

I apologize for the depressing tone of this. Also, some of the things I linked to may be extremest or fringe views–I know that. It’s just… They make enough sense to cast some doubt.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. CHB permalink
    February 15, 2008 6:03 am

    I think about these things all the time and feel the same way you do! Thank you for sharing some of your frustrations. I keep telling myself, “If there’s really no point in trying to be green, then there’s no point in NOT trying to be green, either” if that makes sense. One example from my own life is that most of my coworkers seem to have no concerns for the environment – they all drive to work every day even though we have a great bus system, they constantly order take out lunch, buy starbucks and bottled water all the time, and seem to have no qualms about throwing anything away and buying a new one – all things that I don’t do and dislike. However, none of my coworkers like to travel as much as I do, and therefore have very rarely flown in a plane. I fly at least twice a year. I feel that just by doing that, we’re all negatively impacting the environment on an equal scale, even though I feel like I try to put in so much more effort not to.

    I’ve been a reader for a while but this is my first comment. Keep up the great work!

  2. leigh permalink
    February 21, 2008 11:30 am

    a few comments…

    i have been using 3 way cfl’s for a while now. they take some getting used to but there is a far lower chance of burning your house down with one of the floor lamps like we have. coal fired power plants also release a LOT of mercury into the air, and i would sooner buy a bulb that uses less electricity to reduce that mercury emissions and then have to properly dispose of the ~1 mg of mercury in the bulb every several years.

    check out i got 10 bags from them for $17 shipped when they had a special offer last year. since you don’t toss the reusable bags away, there is NO environmental impact on landfills, which is important. it may be cheaper to *make* the bags, but it has a bigger effect throwing them all away. sometimes the better long term option costs more up front in more than just financial terms.

    the grocery story gives me 2 rewards points each time i bring my own bag, as well.

    the prius enviro damage story has been debunked all over the place. i purchased one for $24500 new, which was about the price of a nicely equipped camry at the time. though, ALL new cars have far higher associated costs and it is far smarter to buy used so long as the previous owner can provide all the service records for the car. prius are more expensive used because they depreciate slowly, which is both a good and a bad thing for a buyer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: