The Story of Stuff -- A Look Back
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  1. #1
    Registered User Nada.Leona's Avatar
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    Default The Story of Stuff -- A Look Back

    By now, I`m sure you`ve all seen The Story of Stuff. I watched it again this morning and it got me thinking about consumerism and frugality.

    As frugalites (frugalistas? Frugal folk? Frugalettes?) we naturally consume less than the average household. Or do we? I got to wondering if that were actually the case. For instance, if we buy fewer expensive versions of things -- for example, a package of frozen peas instead of buying fresh peas -- are we contributing more to consumerism because of the packaging requirements? The chemicals usually used in cheaper versions of products? The cheap labour of those in third-world countries?

    We indeed do things that cost less -- we all turn our lights off instead of leaving them on, we all take shorter showers and use less product. But are we doing everything we can to reduce our carbon foot print or reduce our own household consumerism?

    What do you do that benefits you both as a frugalite and reduce your impact as a consumer? And what areas do you need to change?

  2. #2
    Registered User Nada.Leona's Avatar
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    I will post my own answers.

    Things that we do frugally that keep us from being high-impact consumers include:

    • buy organic products as much as possible
    • buy second-hand as much as possible
    • keep our lights off throughout the day
    • set our thermostat so that it`s cooler when we`re not home, and warmer in the evenings when we are home
    • eat almost exclusively at home
    • shop at local grocery stores
    • buy as little as possible from big box stores
    • for the most part, clean with environmentally conscious products (CLR takes on our biggest issues, otherwise it`s vinegar and baking soda)
    • I don`t wear makeup or do much with my hair really
    • travel very far outside of the city
    • compost all biodegradable things (even kleenex and paper towels)
    • use fabric shopping bags
    • use any plastic bags we acquire for garbage can liners
    • hang dry most of our laundry


    However, the things we need to work on include:

    • buying too many canned and prepackaged goods
    • throwing out broken items instead of having them repaired
    • driving too much
    • buying big items brand new
    • buying little dollar items too freely because "it`s only a dollar!"
    • using too much water
    • buying wants over needs
    • not walking enough
    • not voting or voicing our opinions as often as we should


    I`m sure I could add more.

  3. #3
    Registered User Josephhgoins's Avatar
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    I think the biggest thing that we do to help cut our footprint is not only keeping the thermostat low in the winter in high in the summer but......We buy a lot of second hand items. We LOVE to reuse things. Given the chance we will reuse any item until it can be reused no more.

    As an example I bought my couch and chair second hand in lieu of a new one. Buying used kept these items out of the land fill, meant that one less couch was made and all of the packaging and fuel for shipping it.

    A lot of us also grow gardens which is the ultimate in the "new" locally grown food movement.

    Car usage is another area we are more green than most. We combine trips and how often does anyone brag on this forum about driving around town all day shopping?

    I have no doubt that a frugal home is far greener than an un-frugal equivalent.

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  5. #4
    Moderator mauimagic's Avatar
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    Mahalo for sharing this - Had never heard of or seen The Story of Stuff - am glad you brought it up!!

  6. #5
    Registered User KeithBC's Avatar
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    Thank you for raising this issue. It is important.

    Some things that we do to save money also reduce our consumption: buying second-hand items instead of new, donating surplus items instead of trashing them, just buying less stuff. But some things that save (us) money are harmful: buying some over-packed item from the other side of the planet just because its (subsidized) price is lower than the price of a greener, local item.

    My interest in frugality is mostly to reduce my carbon footprint. Dollar-frugality is nice, too (and a bit of a necessity), but carbon-frugality is where I am at.

    We heat with wood, which is carbon-neutral, since we also grow wood. We grow a lot of our own organic veggies and buy local organic as much as possible for what we don't grow. We recently switched from imported commercial orange juice to local organic apple juice. We collect rainwater to irrigate the garden, and pump it with a solar-powered pump. We drive a small, fuel-efficient car, and use it as little as possible. We usually walk to the store. We avoid overseas vacations, to save jet fuel, though we do fly to visit our parents (not exactly a vacation) every year or two.

    Things I'd like to do if money were no object:
    - Install a solar hot water heater
    - Install solar electricity
    - Buy a lightweight fully-electric vehicle for local trips, saving the gas-burner for longer trips.
    - Do more work within the community to promote a carbon-neutral lifestyle. This one needs no money, and might be where I will put most of my effort.

  7. #6
    Registered User KeithBC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josephhgoins View Post
    We combine trips and how often does anyone brag on this forum about driving around town all day shopping?
    LOL! Okay, I'll brag.

    That is about the only way we shop. We live on an island, and the local stores have a limited selection (though they are getting better). So most shopping means an expensive ferry ride to the nearest city. We go there once every two weeks. In between trips to town, we make up a big list of all the errands we need to do. Then, on the next trip, we spend most of the day running around town shopping.

    Just about everyone in this community does the same. Combining trips is definitely a good thing.

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    I never heard of "the Story of Stuff either. And no being frugal doesn't necessarily incl. consuming less. It involves "consuming differently. Let's start w/ the premise that I am 2 decades older than you. When I was first married this neat new idea came along. We could take our stuff like newspapers to a recycling center down the road. You could take paper,glass and some plastic.
    Therefore, I am prob. not as consious of the green movement. We do buy almost everything used,we now recycle cardboard and some paper. My goal this year is to double that.

    I never equated buying things in cans as bad. We recycle them. It is not possible to buy at roadside stands most of the year in this climate. If I buy veg/fruit and freeze I am running a refridge, if I go to the store often I am running a car. If you think we could walk your full of- misinformation.
    I guess what I'm saying is how can you ever judge whats best.
    I went to all cfl bulbs and now we find out they contain mercury and led lights are the rage. i always feel like I am catching up.

    I have to say it is economics first and then the environment. In other words we do the best we can but are lagging behind the next generations. We are relearning radically new things.
    When i was a kid we just threw garbage out. We didn't know where it went from there. I had never heard the term "carbon footprint until last year. I would prob. shrink to hear my mistakes.
    My point is please don't make the assumption were all up w/ the game because it's not true. I am always glad to hear new (to me) ideas.

    1 question-How is driving outside the city frugal?? Did you mean walking or taking public trans. inside the city limits?? (We would be killed).

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    Thank you for bringing up the Story of Stuff. Although I have never seen it-it makes me start thinking a bit more about what we need to do here. I do some things but after seeing your list I think that we could do quite a bit more!

  10. #9
    Registered User Shelli_wnj's Avatar
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    LadyNada,
    Looking at some of your recent posts, you and I think in very similar ways. These are the things I think about! When I buy something, the two things I think are "do I need it" and "can I make it". For food, of course I need it, but do I need the highly packaged stuff, or could I make whatever it is I want out of lesser packaged ingredients? Usually it's cheaper that way anyway. Of course we take shorter showers, use less of everything, buy used whenever I can...
    When it comes to clothes, we participate in "swaps" throughout the year at church. Everyone brings wearable clothing they no longer want/need. Then we all "shop" each other's tables. Everything is free. Whatever isn't "sold" is taken to the local Salvation Army.
    When it comes to purchases, I always check freecycle and craigslist first. If I don't need it soon, I will wait and check again - the thrift stores, too. If I do need it, I will buy, but I don't like to!
    My husband is great at fixing things. He recently fixed my food processor that I thought was a goner. I was pretty happy to not have to buy another.
    Not to mention not throwing things out. Even if they are broken, I will offer them up on freecycle as parts - I offer everything up on freecycle, from the baby's crib to the unused griddle. Sometimes it goes, sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, if it's usable we will donate it somewhere. If it's not usable we will trash it, but it takes a lot for us to trash something! For the 5 of us, we go through about one kitchen trash bag a week.
    That's my novel

  11. #10
    Registered User gottadance's Avatar
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    Yes, sometimes being frugal is not being green. A lot of things that are inexpensive are also bad for the environment. It's one of the things I struggle with. I try to be as green as I can, but being green isn't always frugal - organic foods. When it comes to organic foods, that's high on my list of important, so I spend the money. I save money in other ways.

    I think each person has their things they're willing to go cheap on. I use freecycle all the time - even for gifts for kids. Or I get their gifts from resale shops. I buy gift bags from resale shops (this way I know they're not creating more consumerism and going to a good cause). I use a low flow showerhead, but I know some people who just can't do that - they need their strong shower.

    My yard is all native plants - I spent a lot of money on native plants because not only are they good for the environment, but they attract wildlife, which I love. I could have just left my yard as was - mostly lawn with a few trees and shrubs - it would have been cheaper - but for me, this investment was worth it.

    I feel like I'm doing everything I can right now to be as green as I can and as frugal as I can. But there are always choices to be made.

  12. #11
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    Well, I don't have a car. I use the bus.

    My thermostat is set at 60 degrees during the day. Lower at night during the winter. 80 degrees during the summer. Lower at times to get the humidity out.

    I am starting to use vinegar and water to clean my floors. Slowly switching over to more organic or natural personal care products and cleaning items.

    I shop regularly at the thrift store. I repurpose items as much as possible. Right now I need to sew a seam in a shirt and it will be as good as new again.

    I try to do as much as I can. However, for me it really comes down to what my budget is.

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