Monroe on a Budget is a frugal living blog based in Monroe, Michigan. This is my second year participating in Blog Action Day. The 2008 Blog Action Day theme is: Climate change.

What on earth does frugal living have to do with climate change?

If you are already a frugal person or working toward such a lifestyle, many of the money-saving tactics you choose also happen to be good for the environment. Here are 10 things frugal people do, that those who are studying the climate change issue would certainly approve of:

1. Frugal people are interested in home economics, self-sufficiency and survival skills. Gardening, canning, hunting, fishing, sewing, basic carpentry, or making your own bread or beer or jelly are hobbies for many frugal people. When you have your own DIY skills, you have less need for commercially made products. That means less need for plastic or paper or cardboard, and less need for trucking and shipping. Bottom line: less of an impact on the environment.

2. Frugal families can, and do, live in smaller homes. A frugal family doesn’t want to pay the utility bill to heat and cool a larger home; or pay for the watering, gas and expense required to maintain a larger yard. Frugal families don’t need as much storage space because they don’t acquire as much stuff such as clothes and shoes. It also doesn’t take as much furniture, or as many curtains, or as much cabinetry, or as much carpet, or as many electronics to create a cozy environment in a small house.

3. Frugal families love recycling. Frugal families tend to recycle no-longer needed things out of the house because they know someone else might still use it / want it. Why do they know that? Because frugal families are quite willing to acquire items second-hand themselves.  Since some families pay for trash on a per-bag basis, recycling is a great way to limit the trash bills. If your trash collection is paid for by your city budget, like my trash collections are, city council can use the money saved from recycling efforts for another expense. But the eco-friendly friends remind us that recycling helps keep items out of a landfill for as long as possible.

4. Frugal families can’t stand high electric bills. Frugal families run the dishwasher on the most efficient cycle. They’ve started to phase in or have already converted their light bulbs to the newer technology. Some frugal families hang-dry their clothes to save using the clothes dryer. When possible, frugal families landscape their properties so the homes can be shaded from the hot sun. Frugal people shop for energy-efficient appliances when it is time to replace an item. When they use air conditioning, frugal families use ceiling fans and programmable thermostats to get the most use out of that feature for the least amount of money. Frugal families unplug phones and other gadgets when they are not in use. The smaller electricity bills that frugal families aim for has the side effect of less impact on the environment.

5. Frugal families can’t stand high water bills. Some frugal families have installed rain barrels to collect rainwater for watering their yards and gardens. Some of them have low-flow shower heads or set timers on the kids’ showers. They fix the faucet leaks and running toilets as soon as problems are noticed. Frugal families give consideration to planting native plants that do well in the existing local environment with minimal upkeep. Frugal families who rely on well water have been known to work  with their neighbors and local governments to help keep that resource clean and clear. Frugal families are more likely to use tap water rather than rely on bottled water as a beverage choice.

6. Frugal families sometimes eat meatless meals. There has been a growing trend in frugal circles towards serving one meatless dinner a week to the family. Depending on what you serve for dinner, this may or may not result in noticeable savings at the grocery bill. There are nutritional details to consider when planning meatless meals, and you might want to branch out your menus to foods traditionally served in other cultures. But it is certainly an eco-friendly choice because it takes more energy to produce meat than it does to produce plants.

7. Frugal families use less paper products. There are some families who take paper-free lifestyles to extremes that we have no interest in. But it is increasingly common to hear of young parents using cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers, and increasingly common to see shoppers bring cloth bags to the supermarket. And while we still use paper napkins at the table and put the occasional plastic spoon in a lunch box, a roll of paper towels lasts a long time in our house because we use washable rags for most cleaning tasks.

8. Frugal families like smaller, fuel-efficient cars. Frugal families are often DIY people and therefore need cargo space on occasion. But they plan their vehicle purchases around what is needed on a daily basis. If the family can get by with two smaller vehicles and borrow a larger vehicle only when needed, or choose one larger vehicle and one smaller vehicle for the family fleet, they use less gas on a monthly basis. In the long run, the fuel-efficient vehicle choice is cheaper for those families – and less of an impact on the environment.

9. Frugal families don’t like to spend a lot of money on cleaning supplies and chemicals. Frugal families save money by changing over some, and sometimes, all of the products in their cleaning closet to “old school” techniques such as vinegar and baking soda or to refillable bottle systems. The less expensive methods also involve less plastic, less packaging and therefore less shipping than a collection of commonly used chemicals.

10. Frugal families appreciate free fun. Frugal families enjoy the natural beauty of their national, state, city and township parks … and they clean up their campsite and picnic sites so the next family can enjoy their visit. The correlation for climate change is that frugal families have an interest in what’s being done on a wider scale to preserve and protect natural places.

Where did I get the inspiration for this post? The Together.com and U.S. EPA sites gave me some good insights.

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