My Green City Life


Green vs. frugal
May 31, 2008, 4:16 pm
Filed under: on the town, your green lifestyle

Much of the time, living environmentally friendly and living frugal go hand in hand. One of the reasons to go green that those easy-to-swallow articles and top ten lists often reference is the money you save when you switch to CFLs or take public transportation or whatever. But sometimes being green and being frugal go head to head. One of the obvious times when this happens is at the grocery store, and you are deciding being conventionally grown food and local/organic/sustainable food. If being environmentally friendly is your top goal, you’ll choose the latter; if being frugal is your top goal, you’ll choose the former.

A few months ago, we got a chest freezer. The reason for its purchase was to store veggies purchased at the market at the height of the season. I completely filled our normal freezer last year and didn’t feel as though I had done enough. (I must admit there is still a bit of eggplant and cauliflower in there.) I realized recently that I could finally start doing that frugal thing where you more than you need of stuff when it’s on sale and then stash it in your freezer. It all seems rather suburban mom to me if taken to a certain extreme, but if you do it wisely, it’s a smart move, I think.

Anyway, in a google search to find out if you can freeze milk (you can) I stumbled across The Grocery Game which is a site for those ultra-frugal, coupon-crazy suburban moms (or, to be fair, non-suburban non-moms) who know and utilize every trick in the frugal grocery book. On the site, there is a link to a morning show interview the Grocery Game founder did, and in the video, one of the things she mentions is that sometimes with sales or coupons or whatever, buying two small packages is a better deal than buying a big package when you get down to the ounce-to-ounce value.

This is the part that got me. I am definitely a shopper with an eye for the per-ounce (well, per 100 grams around these parts) price on the price tags at the store. But this can’t always be the only determining factor! Sure, you may save twenty cents by buying two small boxes of Cheerios instead of one big one, but you end up with more packaging being thrown away or recycled. It took more resources to make those two little boxes, and they probably took up more space on a truck being shipped across the country than that one big box.

It’s a delicate balance, and it makes me a little sad. For a lot of people, that twenty cents is an important twenty cents and not something that can be wasted, not even in the name of less packaging. I wish that being green and being frugal went together all the time.

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