Sometimes the environmental cost involved with “green living” isn’t exactly what we expect. When I wrote about using reusable cotton or canvas grocery bags, as opposed to using plastic grocery bags, who knew that, scientifically speaking, the best choice was a reusable bag made of recycled plastic rather than cotton? Green living is often grey and the professor who made this fact known may not have heard that I’m reusing cotton or canvas second-hand bags!
This article from The Oregonian, “University of Oregon chemistry professor turns beliefs about environmental consumerism upside down,” is a good reminder that sometimes we need to keep in mind the facts behind the decisions we make about being green and not just go with what is popular, fashionable or subjective. As you might have suspected, the overall “life cycle” environmental impact is almost always more nuanced and less black and white than we think.
As it turns out, plastic bags aren’t as bad as we all think, as long as we’re talking about the big global picture. Until the plastic bags end up in a landfill where they don’t break down or they land in a waterway and fish choke on them, they’re not all that bad, relatively speaking. Global warming? Pollution impact? Overall resources used? Green living that gets grey? See what I mean?
Green living is often grey
What works for me in terms of green living may not work for someone else and visa versa. And that’s okay – at least we are all thinking about it.
The point where frugal and green living meet is what I shoot for. Because I want things to cost little and be good for the environment, I try to take both factors into account. Usually, that sweet spot is win-win where good for the environment equals good for my wallet. When I stop myself from buying something new because I want to put more money into our savings account rather than buying something, that meets both criteria.
I’m not going to be upgrading my 20-year-old car (that we’ve owned since the beginning!) to buy a Prius anytime soon even though according to this article, that may be the best environmental choice. For my pocketbook, driving our well maintained older car less and walking or riding my bike more is the best choice for us. This may not be the best choice for someone else and that’s okay.
I love the ideas that we’re sharing and exchanging here when the topic is green living like hanging laundry, buying second-hand items, and reducing the amount of garbage we generate. Living well on less means less money spent and fewer resources used, regardless of how you choose to go about it.
Just knowing that we’re thinking about it and changing our behaviors (or trying to!), even if what we do may be arguable in terms of its overall environmental impact, is a baby step in the right direction. Reducing our consumption, reusing more items, and recycling rather than throwing out are all small steps that we can each make every day, in our own way.
Do you think green living is often grey? What “eco-friendly” things do you struggle with or wonder about?
Go Gingham related links:
Using nature to decorate your home – frugal and fancy decorating
Found treasures for decorating your home
A free chair – that was rejected!
Wrapping presents with free maps makes for pretty gifts
Green and frugal living – the sweet spot where green and frugal meet
More related links:
Another article about the same topic can be found on OPB: Ecotrope – Fresh ideas fresh ideas on nature and community.
Lili from Creative Savv, who’s an expert at using more ingenuity than cash to create the life and home she wants, wrote about conserving water. Check it out HERE.