I guess I’m what you could call an armchair environmentalist.
Standing on the side of the road on Unter den Linden (the main drag in East Berlin) in 1990, being choked by the fumes emanating from the hundreds of two-stroke Trabants and Wartburgs passing by, I became convinced at an early age that once fouled, the air we breathe becomes much less enjoyable. I’m no environmental crusader, but certain things are just common sense. I try not to throw things out before they’re used up or broken beyond repair. I try not to take more than I need. I recycle.
That having been said, I still drive on the weekends, and when I go camping, I light a fire, even if I don’t need to; I’m certainly no tree-hugging granola-muncher.
Yes, you’re in the right place; this is a personal finance blog.
I can’t claim the halo of being a hard-core environmentalist, but it struck me the other while on a walk that lots of frugal habits, as well as being financially sound, have the additional benefit of being good for the environment.
Here are some environmental benefits of being a cheapskate. Or, if you prefer, here are some financial benefits of being an armchair environmentalist.
- Use public transportation for your daily commute. If practical, this is a great way to save on parking, wear and tear, gas. Fewer noxious fumes.
- Re-use shopping bags or bins. The places I buy groceries, I have to pay for bags. I consider this a tax on forgetfulness, and I like paying taxes as much as the next guy. Fewer one-use plastic bags.
- Don’t drink bottled water. I hate being played for a fool, so buying items with a 4000% markup is something I try to avoid. I always carry a metal waterbottle. Fewer one-use plastic water bottles.
- Make your own coffee at work. Like bottled water, the 600% markup on coffee (same article as previous link, item #6) is way too high for me. Fewer one-use coffee cups and plastic lids.
- High-efficiency appliances lower my monthly utilities bill. My bill is lower because I’m using fewer resources.
- When I shop for vehicles (not that I do this very often, mind you) fuel efficiency is one of my most important criteria. That experience in East Berlin had a lasting impression; Dirty air: BAD.
- Living/moving close to where you work, if practical. I sacrificed big-city fun for a short commute when I lived in Taiwan. It was a short, convenient drive to work, and I only had to put gas in my scooter about once every two weeks. To re-iterate: Dirty air: BAD.
Like I said, I’m no David Suzuki, and I willingly admit that my primary motivation for these habits is financial, but I like the idea that I’m lessening my impact on mother nature, too.
If the price of installing solar panels continues to fall as it has over the past few years, I’ll be taking a closer look at that option in a few years. Again, my primary motivation is/will be financial, but I’m more than OK with helping out the environment at the same time.