Frugal and Green Living

Frugal and Green Living

I’m always looking for the sweet spot where green and frugal living come together. That’s where good for the environment equals good for my wallet, too. These are some things I do that save my family money and help lower the cost to the environment.

I’m saying “me” and “I” here but really it’s “we” because I’m not the only one doing this stuff – my husband and kids are on this program as well. That’s important because our entire household is working together and it’s not just me.

We’re also raising (trying to!) our kids to think about their consumption decisions, spending habits, to put away money each month, and not to waste resources. Do we accomplish these goals every day? No, but we do try.

Here’s what we do…

Frugal and Green Living

First, you should know that we’re normal, everyday people who do these things.

We live in the city, we live on the grid, and we live in a modest sized-home.

Frugal and Green Living

We keep chickens in our backyard for eggs and so they can eat our kitchen scraps.

We harvest our rain water to water our vegetables growing in our garden.

We pick berries in the summer to freeze and eat them in the winter.

Blackberry Picking

We walk to and from school and bike as often as we can to the store, the library, and other errands, instead of getting into our cars, first.

We drive older, reliable cars instead of upgrading every few years.

We have added awnings to our house to keep the house cooler in summer, 5 awnings which we made ourselves. We close the dampers on our furnace to not heat every room in winter.

We buy clothing and household items second-hand to reduce packaging.

We mend, fix, and repurpose instead of buying new. This is not to say we never buy new but that we really think about our spending.

We have once-a-month garbage collection which forces us to not buy items with lots of packaging.

We compost (we have 2 compost bins, not just 1) to add richness back to our soil for growing our food.

We buy food from the bulk bins (where you scoop them out yourself) for lower price foods that have less packaging.

Frugal and Green Living

Through our electric company, we’re on time of use program and run our dishwasher and washing machine at night to keep electricity costs lower.

We hang our clothing to dry year-round. This reduces our dryer costs by more than 50% and it makes our clothes last longer.

Go Gingham Clothes pins in basket

For renovating our home, we installed second-hand kitchen cabinet doors which we customized with wood trim and painted, rather than removing them entirely and replacing with new ones.

Repurposed kitchen cabinets
I found these doors for our kitchen at Hippo Hardware in their basement. Total cost for 4 doors? $18.00 and they fit, too! I added wood trim to the back and painted it a different color.

We re-did our bathroom recently with a “free” sink that was in a garbage pile at an estate sale and a laundry chute door that was previously a metal access door.

Frugal and Green Living

We rebuilt our garage with a mixture of dumpster windows and wooden brackets from the ReBuilding Center, which is a salvage building store.

While some may think this path we’ve chosen of frugal and green living is more work, we have found pleasure and enjoyment in this “stylishly frugal lifestyle” and in teaching our kids that you don’t have to buy something new when a need arises.

With patience, desire, and ingenuity, we’re finding our way living the good life on less. We’re living richly in ways that we’ve chosen. Frugal and green living is good for our wallets – and the environment.

How do you live frugally? How do you live green? Are you looking for the sweet spot, too?

Go Gingham related links:

How to make raised garden beds in a city yard
My new briefcase – re-purposed and super cute!
Our claw-foot bathtub and the hunt for the 4th foot – it was missing
How to install an inside laundry line in your home – it’s easy!
Technology free Sundays – our weekly break from technology

Sara

Sara, creator of Go Gingham, is passionate about cooking and feeding her family healthy, real food. She's a green enthusiast, too, who loves to grow food organically. Sara loves to travel - especially by trading houses. An avid runner, she can also be found chasing after her chickens in the backyard.

14 Comments


  1. Oh, for the experience of rain to catch! Live in a semi-arid area and are about 5″ below average rainfall this year. Also the city allows us to water the lawn only once a week. At least it will not need so much once the growth starts slowing.


    1. Karen, I’d be happy to share some of our rain water with you this winter! We’re looking for more rain barrels because we run out so quickly once summer hits. With very little rainfall in the last couple of months, our rain barrel could use some filling up but I know it’s coming. Thanks for leaving a comment!!


    1. Thank you, Carrie! I’m so glad you love the ReBuilding Center. It’s really a spot to find the unexpected. I even found desks for our kids there years ago. They were demolishing an old hotel in downtown Portland and all of the furniture was at the ReBuilding Center. They’re just simple tables with trim and a drawer – not too big but just right for homework.
      Thanks, Carrie!


    1. Thanks, Charlene. We just enjoyed some berries this morning in our smoothies. I love freezing them and enjoying them year-round. Well, until they run out!
      Thanks for leaving a comment.


  2. This post gave me good reasons to keep you on the ‘to read’ pile. Great and inspirational work!


    1. Oh, Sarah, thank you. That is so nice to “hear” from a regular reader like yourself. Thank you for reading and keeping me in your pile 🙂


  3. Great ideas, Sara! Michigan’s fruit trees froze after an unseasonable heat wave in March and we are mourning the lack of local fresh apples, peaches, cherries, pears, plums … you get the idea.

    You have many great ideas for home improvements. I am trying to incorporate more green ideas as well as buying local. I don’t always accomplish this, but it’s a good goal.

    BTW, your house is so charming! Just a wee bit jealous here. 🙂


    1. Kris, that’s too bad about the heat wave in early spring. I am so thankful that our weather wasn’t extreme like other parts of the country.
      Thank you for the compliment about home improvements. I really think the salvage materials add much character to homes as well as costing less. We try and make it our goal, too, but sometimes buying new is the only option with construction.
      Don’t be too jealous of the house – it was pink aluminum for the first 10 years we owned it! It’s a work in progress – like any house is. 🙂 Thank you, Kris.


  4. Oh! Just gotta see photos of the garage remodel!


    1. Miggie, it looks so much better on the outside but is still a mixture of bikes, farm/chicken stuff, wood scraps, and free chairs inside! It was much less expensive than tearing the whole garage out and we did all the work ourselves. Soon on those photos 🙂 Thanks!


  5. Great round-up of your methods and ideas! I love seeing how you do things at your house – especially how you get your kids on board. It really makes it seem like mere mortals (such as myself!) can accomplish what you have been able to do. I keep trying because you are such an inspiration!
    Annie Kip recently posted..Evolution


    1. Thanks, Annie! It’s hard keeping my kids on board right now – they both are not into homemade anything. That includes granola bars (my son) and clothing (my daughter). Ah, teens!!! 🙂
      Thank you and you are an inspiration yourself!

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