You want to do right, but you are watching your budget? Me too. I realize that even on a budget, my purchasing dollars are voting for or against the earth. I’ve really tried to simplify my thinking around this issue. If I buy lettuce that was trucked from South Carolina after being heavily sprayed with chemicals that damage the soil and water it was grown on, then I’m endorsing that practice. I’m also subliminally telling my daughter that I believe that the chemicals are harmless, and am willing to experiment on her to find out if there will be cumulative negative health impacts. On the other hand, cost is a major concern. If I buy a lightbulb that is cheap and not energy efficient, is it really a cost savings, and again, I’m voting with my purchasing dollars to support inefficient lighting sales.
Over the coming months I will be sharing tips and my finds to balance out budget with health and lowering the eco-impact of the items I consume. To start, here is how I prioritize like:
NEEDS: this is where I put basic foods, basic personal care items, medicines, school supplies, household ‘necessities’
- What does my family need to maintain optimal health?
- What items do I need to purchase now?
WANTS: this is where I put items like a new shampoo I’d like to try, or a jacket, curtains or a pet.
- What items do I want to purchase in the next month?
COSTS: this is where I do a little research online and by phone if I don’t know a store’s prices, and assess my finances. One key to
budgeting is tracking what you spend, from there you can better consider changes. I constantly explore both local and online ordering options, and will be sharing what I find over the coming year.
- What can I spend this week?
- What do these things cost within 15 miles? Within 30 miles?
- What can I order online?
- Do a cost comparison
- What impact do these items have on the environment? If high, is there a better alternative, or could research help me find a way around it?
- What are the fuel costs related to my shopping options?
- What are the time/efficiency costs related to my shopping options?
PLANNING: this is where I figure out the shopping logistics, and look for ways to cut down on the carbon impact of my shopping. This is increasingly a focus of carbon impact studies. The results of a recent study found that there isn’t a simple answer of whether or not home delivery and online ordering had a lower carbon impact than driving to a store, but is very clear that with a little planning you can significantly lower your carbon impact with a little planning.
Is there one destination where I can get everything on my list? Can I plan a logical route that would get all shopping for the week done on one loop? Often shopping locally will make more sense than driving the extra 15/30 miles to a box store.
- Are there stores along the route I take to work/school/meetings where I can find what I need?
- Do my neighbors or friends need to go to the same stores, is there a carpool possibility?
- Are there items I can buy on sale and stock up at home efficiently? Would this require a freezer? More storage space?
Join me over the next weeks and months as I share my shopping finds that save money while getting the best quality items and the food, personal care items, household supplies and even cars that help us to reduce our carbon impact. I’ll be exploring regional sources as well as online options and evaluating them.
All of this comes down to a few things: how aware am I of my impact, how willing am I to make change, how aware do I want to become? It is a process, and every step we make towards conscious spending makes a difference. Let me know how it is going, post your questions and comments below, forward this to friends and family, post the discussion to Facebook and see what your friends say.