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Does anyone ever struggle with the issue of trying to be green with also trying to be frugal? I'm on a very tight budget these days and I try to eat organic as much as I can afford to - Trader's Joe's is usually pretty reasonable and even Jewel and Dominick's have some decent prices on certain organics, but my mood swings when it comes to spending more money.

Sometimes I just feel very frugal and feel like I have to go with what's cheap, over what's organic. There are certain things I absolutely won't eat non organic - apples and lettuce - but being green can be expensive in some ways. Other things of course, like composting, etc., cost nothing. I do shop at thrift stores to keep stuff out of landfills. But food in particular is a conundrum.

Anyone have any tips or good finds or advice for being green and thrifty?
 

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I struggle with the same thing. I would be interested to hear some of the other ladies answers. Organic is so expensive, we don't have a trader joe's or anything like that around here...so I have to rely on what the supermarket offers for organic.
 

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I think being frugal and going green can work well for each other.
It's frugal to wash and reuse containers and it's green too. But I don't think I have to explain that to anyone here , LOL

Now when it comes to eating organic produce that can be tricky. For the life of me I can't figure out why less cost more.
Some ways I keep cost down is to shop the flyers.
Store x has the apples on sale and store Y has the Lettuce.
Lucky for me store x will price match so I just take store Y's flyer with me.
I have also learned to substitute frozen whenever possible. YOu can stock up on that when it's on sale.

And I also "rob peter" to pay "Paul".
I had to clearly decide what my priorities where in order to afford them.
For example. I eat a cereal that is regularly 4.89 a box. I need this cereal period. But it's double the cost of my old cereal.
In order to afford it I had to decide what I could do differently to make the room in the budget.
I gave up my bodywash in exchange for Bar soap. That saves me over 2.00 maybe even more because my bar soap lasts longer then the bottle of soap ever did.
 

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I'm sure it gets even harder in the winter. Some of the mom and pop style fruit and vegetable stands or stores here in Fla. can tell you exactally where the produce came from and it's usually cheap.
 

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I think in part they go hand in hand...
why not do some gardening? If no plot space, container gardens work well. You could grow lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, herbs...

as far as organic foods go, I buy what's in season, which tends to be cheaper. Also, getting to know some farmers (Farmer's Markets or Stands) is a great way to get produce cheaper. And you can ask how they grow the food.

Some recycling centers will pay you to give them your recycleables. There are plenty around, just give 'em a call. I know of a place near me that gives money for soda and soup tins. Not only will they recycle the metals, but they pay out too. It's not much, and won't cover the cost of what you give them, but it's something!

Things like using CFL's or decreasing the use of electronic appliances, unplugging (or turning off a power strip), or modifying the AC/Heat in your home are huge helps that occur over an extended period of time.

Sure, the initial investment of some things seems like it might outweigh the long term benefits... but it's worth it.

Think of the cost of CFL's (though they're moderately priced now) as the same thing as your organic foods.
Sure, there's a cost up front... but the long term (health!) benefits will last years. :)

But, yes at times it can be difficult, especially being on a budget. But, it can very easily be done.... I've been doing it for well over a decade. :)

more ideas to come later...
 

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I don't necessarily equate organic with green, since it takes the same amount of gas to get the truck here. I think the key thing is to do what you can. I can't always get fresh local pesticide free vegetables, but I can recycle the bags they come in. I can't afford organic hand picked fair trade rice, but I can re-use the container the ordinary rice comes in.
 

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I've posted this before, but it's pretty good advice for folks having to make the difficult choices...

"If your budget for organic foods does not cover all of your food purchases, then spend it first on the fattiest foods. Because toxins concentrate in fatty acids, avoid commercial-quality meat, dairy, oils, nuts, seeds, and grains --- in that order." (Source: The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood)
 

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Like the Good Book says--everything in moderation. I don't think you'll go wrong if you try to buy frugally whenever you can with a green approach whenever you can.
 

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green vs frugal
healthy vs cheap
natural/homemade vs processed/unhealthy

yea, I understand.........

~~sigh~~
 
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I struggle with the same thing. I would be interested to hear some of the other ladies answers.
Well, I'm willing to chime in, but I'd have to have an operation so you can hear "some of the other ladies answers" Such an operation would not be frugal. ;) :D

I went to a Book Discussion and Signing by Jeff Yeager who is billed "The Ultimate Cheapskate." I brought up this issue because most of the green cleaning products (detergents, etc) are more expensive and asked, "Is it more expensive to be green or are companies cashing in on something that is currently 'in vogue'?"

He responded that you can do a lot of cleaning using things like baking soda, etc. (Not totally sure, but he might have mentioned vinegar as well.)
 

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I don't necessarily equate organic with green, since it takes the same amount of gas to get the truck here.
This is a good point. If you ever have to choose between organic and local, local is the greener choice, because of the environmental cost of trucking. With local produce, you often have the opportunity to find out directly from the grower how the crop was grown. You might find out that something that may not be certifiably organic nevertheless is healthy for you.
 

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I am slowly (stres slowly) trying to stock up on more organic items. One reason is for the long term effects on my health. It is expensive, however since I have a good stock pile going right now I can hold out for the really good sale on organic products. Not everything will be organic but as much as possible. I always remind myself that even though produce may be organic they still were probably transported by some gas guzzling chemical producing machine to get to the supermarket, which to me seems to negate the organic part.

One thing I did recently was buy a jar of organic virgin coconut oil. I used coconut oil last year as a moisturizer. And it worked very well. Apparently they used it alot in asia. There is a slight coconut smell but since my haircair products also have coconut in it, well lets just say there are a lot of coconuts around here (specially when it rains, the smell is more noticeble). But you could probably use any organic oil for this.

Recently stocked up on some organic shampoo and conditioner that was on sale for 1/2 off.

The grocery store that I go to has recently started placing different items on some shelves that always have reduced manager specials on them. Many times I find organic food there. Always check the exp date first, but I have found canned soups, quinoa, etc. there all organic. The store is also getting more storebrand organic items.

I am seriously considering making a garden this spring. Not big but large enough for two people.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think there are two different issues - the green issue and the "don't ingest chemicals" issue. I eat organic not only because it is green, better for the environment and the workers, but because I don't want to ingest those chemicals (and now that I'm adopting a child I especially don't want them exposed to chemicals). So even if something isn't local, but is organic, I prefer to eat organic. Yes, it may negate the green factor due to transport, but my health is more important. For example, I don't care where an organic apple comes from - I'd prefer it to be local -but the bottom line is that nonorganic apples have been found to be SO loaded with pesticides there is no way that I would eat one, no matter the cost. Same with lettuce.

But there are other products that I'd like to eat organic, but sometimes my budget is just so stretched. Sigh...wish I were independently wealthy.
 

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I always buy organic butter, because pesticides and herbicides accumulate in animal fats. Meat has to be from an animal someone I know knows personally and without growth hormones or antibiotics. Mostly the meat I eat is venison or from a friend's farm. I grow organic vegies, and eat non-organic ones otherwise because I get them free! So I do a good balance, I think.
 

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I read somewhere (and I can't remember where) that the organic vegis/fruits that should be at the top of your priority list include those with a soft, or edible peel, such as strawberries (pesticides/chemicals will leach into the strawberry & you will not be able to "wash" it off) - but the hard outer peels or unedible peels, such as bananas, are safer to eat conventional, non organic.

grapes = organic
leafy greens = organic

oranges = non organic

I suppose if someone is determined to eat EVERYTHING organic, well - I don't know how to make that any less expensive - but I thought this may be helpful :D
 

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You may not like what I have to say, but,

I personally don't think "organic" is really an issue. Buy the least expensive veggies and fruit that you can. Why? Because you can afford them! If you can't afford to buy organic and don't buy as much produce, you're not eating it. And probably replacing them with something less desirable, like foods with too much fat or sugar.

My Mother and Father both lived into their 80's without much health problems and I have an aunt that will be 101 next month...her mind went in the last year or so, but other than that, she's healthy. They didn't worry about organic or not. Dad was a grape and dairy farmer and you better believe he used chemicals.

I don't think any one has lived long enough to see the benefit of not using chemicals on produce.

Lee
 

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Great thread! Most of what I would recommend has already been stated, so I'll just keep reading and enjoying. :) I *do* second "grown your own" if you are in a climate where it is possible. Carrots grow readily in containers, as does lettuce and peppers. Even if you can't garden year round, you can take advantage of your seasons and stock up. This summer, although my tomatoes didn't do very well, I got a huge harvest of peppers (bell and banana), so I chopped and froze most of them and dehydrated the rest of what I didn't use right away. Those should last me into next summer easily. I was able to get a bunch of tomatoes from a friend of mine, who had better luck than I did, and I made up catsup and some taco sauce. I have also tried to learn to eat more seasonally with those foods that can't be stored easily, and I don't buy summer fruits in winter, because I know the only way they are available is via being air-freighted in from some country that probably doesn't care much about the pesticide content in its exports.
 

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I agree with the thought that "green" is more than "organic", there are lots of ways to be "greener" that don't involve organics. And I do believe that greener can be a great bedfellow to thrifty.

We stopped eating meat as a part of our frugal push a few years ago and if we're talking in terms of "carbon footprint" then not eating meat is a step towards lessening that impact. So I guess what I'm saying in my garbled way is that it all depends on what your view of "green" is.

Things that we do/don't do and are eco friendly and frugal include not having a tumble dryer, halving the amount of detergent, diluting handwash, shampoo etc, I don't drive so walk wherever I can, buying second hand - especially clothes and furniture, not using disposable items, no paper plates, kitchen towel and things like that. Composting and growing your own (no matter how little) saves lots and uses up everything we have, we can even use the contents of the bunny litter tray in the compost bin!

I think another fantastic thing is that if you decide to avoid certain brands, ingredients or animal products then it automatically rules out lots of more expensive junky food products anyway. For example we don't eat meat so we don't go to places like KFC, McDonalds etc, we avoid MSG and other additives so that rules out alot of junk food. It makes things easier.

So I think what I'm saying is that it's not all about the fact that certain products are more expensive, it's about looking at what you don't buy and the cash you don't spend too. If that makes sense...
 
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