But I Can’t Afford to Be “Green!”

We don’t worry too much about how sustainable our power source is.  My family doesn’t think a lot about whether the electricity we get is from coal, gas, or wind.

We also don’t think too hard about the school supplies we’ll be buying.  I don’t worry about whether or not my clothing is organic, or if the junk food we eat is fair trade.   I don’t think at all about the resources used to grow the flowers I’ve placed on my mantle or how they got to my house!

But why?  I’ve talked so much about how thinking about what we use is important – that the decisions we make support ethical and sustainable manufacturing, as well as send a message to the buyer of any given store that we, the consumers, want that particular product.  So why would I say I don’t think much about it myself?

It comes down to this:

When I am buying something, I do think about it.  It may mean I make a decision to pay more for something that is eco friendly.

(On a side note, I am usually willing to pay a little more, but $44.99 for this paltry school supply kit is insane. Enjoy that link now.  As more and more reasonably priced eco-friendly items are placed on store shelves, over-priced options like these will disappear – or be branded by Abercrombie!)

Expensive School Supply Kit from SustainableGroup.net

Expensive School Supply Kit from SustainableGroup.net

But I can’t afford to be green!

I hear that a lot, and it’s really the point of this article.  Being green doesn’t require that you rip out your oak floors and replace them with bamboo.  It doesn’t mean that you buy the most expensive gourmet coffee because it’s got all the ecofriendly labels. And it doesn’t mean you have to replace your like-new wardrobe with all organic cotton clothing!

Being green actually means spending less money in the long run. If we throw perfectly usable things in the trash so we can replace them with newly manufactured “green” items, we are really just treading water in the eco-friendly seas.  To be truly “green” we need to be looking for ways to keep what we have longer, and to consume less (and thus spend less.)

It means that you clean your oak floors with a natural, non-toxic cleanser and you maintain them to keep them looking their best and lasting until your grandchildren inherit.  It means that you mend your clothing when they tear or need buttons, clean them with gentle cleaners and line dry them to not only save energy, but save on your clothes.

And that coffee?  Well, buy the more expensive if you like the taste. But I just picked up a bag of organic Seattle’s Best ground coffee for $6 – one of the least expensive brands at the store!  And I’ll be able to put the savings in the bank for that new bamboo floor I see in my future!

So why don’t I worry about the things I mentioned before?  Because I creatively consume.  I don’t have a choice regarding my power source (coal,) so I try to consume as little as I can, especially during the summer months when I can line dry and I don’t need heat.

My son’s school supplies will mostly be leftovers from last year. He’s only in preschool, so he doesn’t need much.  His backpack should last at least until Kindergarten, and we have lots of notebooks, pencils, and crayons around here!

I’m starting to make more of my own clothes, and we buy used clothing as much as possible. When I do buy clothing for my family, it’s always a bonus to find reasonably priced organic clothing, and if I can see it’s well made, I’ll buy it.  But I won’t support an organic clothing maker just because they are organic – they must have quality as well.

That junk food? Definitely not fair trade.  I don’t make a decent wage making cookies.  LOL.

And the flowers are from our hydrangea bushes out front.  We rarely buy cut flowers, but all summer we cut our perennials from our yard.  A few bulbs a year ago, and some potted plants, and we have all organic flowers that have not been transported cross country.   They may not make traditional flower arrangements, but they sure are pretty!


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