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The environmental impact of frugality

 
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One aspect of frugality that I rarely hear about is the environmental aspect of frugality.  Quite often, when I hear leading environmentalists talk about what we can do to help the environment, the first thing that they say is, "Buy less stuff!"  Most of my clothing is teenaged or older, so older than my students.  Cotton creates a lot of environmental degradation, with pesticides and water issues.  People talk about recycling, but way over 90% of the plastics ever created are still on the surface of the Earth.  Just because styrofoam is theoretically recyclable doesn't mean that very much of it is actually recycled.  Brand new cars generally pollute somewhat less, but the manufacturing process of making the cars creates huge pollution.   New buildings generate a massive amount of pollution that is rarely talked about. Let's talk up the environmental aspects of frugality!

John S
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I totally agree on the importance of frugality for reducing our footprint. I do not agree that you rarely hear about it.
Not sure if it is in my "bubble" but I often hear that we have to fight consumerism with less - less buying, less want, less advertising, less everything.

And I think it is important to define frugal.
I sometimes read, e.g. on blogs, that people claim to be frugal when they actually mean cheap: buying cheap feedlot meat, using sales on conventional produce, collecting give-aways of sauce, ketchup, soap, shampoo etc. that comes packaged in lots of plastic, using coupons or free meals for fast food take-outs (the sites I am referring to talk about the US, I am not aware of similar blogs for Germany).

Definitely we cannot buy our way to a healthy environment even if all the ads tell you so (also the organic shops).
Buy less it is!
 
John Suavecito
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Good point, Anita.  

Driving and idling through the fast food window creates smog, paper waste, rainforest destruction and health problems.  Foraging is probably one of the best frugal environmental practices, as long as you leave enough for others.  Growing your own food and fixing things greatly helps the environment.  I am really impressed with France's new system of estimating fixability for products.

Even just encouraging all of the advertising pushes us to emphasize that part of the economy instead of something that really helps people.

John S
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I like the bit about the car.

A friend got a new car a couple of years ago.  We did a competition about who got the most kilometres to the litre. You put the milage thing to zero, then work out the math when you fill up based on how much fuel it took.  do this over 10 tanks of gas and average it out.  
Our 30-year-old van got over twice as many kilometres per litre to his brand new car.  I wonder if that means our van is more eco?  It certainly is more frugal.

But also, we plan our trips to avoid left turns and waiting in traffic and to make sure that each outing is as efficient as possible (many stops).
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