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Be a Sustainable Consumer

Is it possible to be both a green and frugal shopper? Yes, it is possible to go green and use more organic products without spending a fortune. A finalist for “word of the year” by New Oxford American Dictionary, frugalista defines a person who spends conservatively but “stays fashionable and healthy by swapping clothes, buying second-hand, growing own produce, etc.” You, too, can be an aspiring frugalista.

So what does being frugal have to do with sustainable living? All that stuff you buy requires fossil-fuel-powered energy to manufacture it, ship it, store it, sell it, use it, and throw it away. Behind every new possession — from designer dress to electric toothbrush — is a cadre of increasingly endangered resources.

Economic meltdown aside, this hyper-consumption doesn’t bode well for the environment. Continuing at current levels, we’d need 1.25 planet Earths to sustain ourselves. And if the whole world consumed as much as the United States? We’d need six planets.

Let’s face it: We’ll always want and even need stuff. But curtailing our irrationally exuberant acquisition helps reduce the impact on the environment. Here’s what you can do:

  • Follow a fix-first, replace-last philosophy.

  • Shop used. Consignment shops, garage sales, thrift stores, and online services such as Craig’s List offer great deals.

  • Choose quality over price. One vacuum cleaner may cost half as much as another, but if you have to replace it twice as often, where are the savings?

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