Tag Archives: Earth Day

Frugalista

Children grow so quickly that there was always a market for their "gently worn" clothing.  Now more and more women are buying "vintage" clothing for themselves.  Photo by Cathy Sherman.

Children grow so quickly that there was always a market for their "gently worn" clothing. Now more and more women are buying "vintage" clothing for themselves. This is a Kansas City consignment store, which recently underwent a major renovation and expansion. Business is brisk!

Being frugal is cool these days.  I like the new name — frugalistas, people who are experts at finding frugal ways to enjoy life.  Becoming or remaining debt-free is one of their top goals. (See link below.)

I was born a coupon clipper and a recycler.  There’s a photo of me as an infant with a pair of scissors (blunt, of course) with the caption “Cathy’s first tool”.  OK, I’m just kidding about the photo….. (I did recycle the photo above from my post on consignment stores.)

Couponing and shopping at sales are two obvious ways to save, but only if you buy items or meals you need. (Yes, need is a vague term, which is why our houses are full of stuff we thought we “needed”. )   These days, the half-life of a coupon seems to be about ten days, so some of the joy is gone.  What happened to “No expiration date”?  Of course, companies don’t last that long any more, either.  Being a frugalista is much more than coupon clipping, though.  It’s an attitude. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy life. You don’t need as much as you think.  Sometimes, it’s a decision not to buy something or to find a different, cheaper way to do something you enjoy. 

  • Check out books and movies from the library.  Yes, it means you won’t have a clue about this year’s Academy Awards nominees, since you’ll still be catching up on last year’s.  But so what?  We haven’t rented dvds in years, but I have bought a few dvds that I want to keep. (More on those dvds in a later post, probably entitled “Shameless Promotion”.)
  • Walk in the park.  Kansas City has more than a two hundred miles of walking trails in stream-side parks with lots of access, so that’s easy for us.  You can be a bird-watcher, cheap entertainment.
  • I save the newspaper plastic sleeve and use it to clean out the cat box.  (There’s no way you can make this fun, sorry.)   Plastic grocery bags, if you’re still getting those, can line trash cans, but everyone knows that!
  • Consignment stores.  I’ve bought some great stuff there and sold some stuff, too.

    I'd be lost without my scissors. I have ten pairs, so a pair will always be near.

    I'd be lost without my scissors. I have ten pairs, so a pair will always be near.

  • Garage sales. Yeah, I know, it’s pain in posterior, if you conduct one yourself.  However, sometimes it’s the only way to clear out your house.  You can donate your stuff to charities, which is good, too, but a lot of that stuff gets dumped, unfortunately, because charities don’t have the resources to sort, display, store and distribute the zillions of tons of donated stuff.  When someone invests a dollar for an item in your garage sale, they might actually use it.   There’s also www.freecycle.org  Conversely, you can get some great stuff at garage sales. We’re working on putting together a garage sale right now, because our neighborhood and several others around us are having one May 1-2.  I’m going to try to enjoy it.
  • Eat at home, including making your own espresso and lattes.  I tried giving up coffee, mostly to avoid caffeine withdrawal in the morning, but I just couldn’t do it. I have a cheap machine, but I’m not picky about my foam, which is a good thing because the foamer is clogged. I order my coffee  in bricks by the case from www.cafebustelo.com  with free shipping in the U.S. on orders over $50. I order six months’ worth of ground coffee.  I’m not hung up on grinding it myself. I’m happy if it’s strong and full of caffeine.
  • Since recycling is the theme this week of Earth Day, I’m recycling another blog of a young frugalista from Kansas City who explains how she does it.  She also has other great frugalistas on her blogroll.  Carrie on the Cheap, a young frugalista.

I’m recycling this blog post of mine because I forgot to put tags on it the first time around, Coffee, the Miracle Drink. I’m sure it’s still steaming hot, ha, ha.

 “Austere Times? Perfect” — Article from the New York Times on Frugalistas.

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Earth Day 2009

Black Swallowtail Butterfly on Coneflower Postcard
This black swallowtail butterfly visited my garden.  Now he’s featured in my Zazzle store.

 This is one of my first posts on this blog, first published April 19, 2008.  I’m re-cycling it, in honor of Earth Day on April 22.   It is still a good, somewhat patched-up, usable post with some wear left, I hope. 

The economic meltdown since I wrote this has focused more attention on cutting back, recycling, making-do, re-using, etc., but we’re still nowhere close to the same frugality the Depression-Era and World-War II Era citizens made such an integral part of their lives, even after prosperity returned.

On the first Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 1970, I slipped out of my house at 4 a.m. and hurried to the next street where my good friend Kathy Dawson was waiting for me at her kitchen door.  It was chilly.  Rather than dress sensibly, we were  in our school uniforms — navy blue wool blazers, skirts and knee socks – as we began our thirteen-mile trek to our high school, Mt. Carmel Academy, a Catholic girls’ school where we were seniors. (There was a much closer high school within walking distance that we could have attended.)  We soon left the comfort of Derby’s streetlights, crossing into the darkness of fields and pastures.  We trudged in the ditch along Rock Road, passing the chain-link fences of McConnell Air Force Base.  We picked up our pace as we reached Eastgate Shopping Center in Wichita.  Traffic was getting heavier.  There was nowhere to walk.

What were we thinking?  This was no fun.  Four hours after starting, we finally reached school just as the first bell rang.  We hustled to our desks, exhausted, rumpled and relieved.  We wanted to save gasoline for just one day to show our concern for the environment, although we did catch a ride home with our regular carpool.   We knew how limited our lives would be without cars and how our lives were not set up for walking or biking, but we were already living fairly frugal lives because of the way we were raised.  The following is an off-the-rack standard issue lament about consumerism. If I were you, I’d just go outside right now and enjoy nature!

Our parents lived through the Depression and World War II rationing.  Frugality was second nature to them.  They slowly and cautiously accumulated the comforts of technology and abundance.  The baby boomers left that caution and frugality behind.  On average, we had smaller families, but built bigger homes with all of the trimmings.  Our expectations grew.  We sought frequent vacations far more exotic than those old driving trips to Grandma’s house.  Cheap energy, an explosion in innovation and far-off labor created thousands of new gadgets that soon became a necessity — we recorded our children’s every move, cell phones for everyone, televisions with a hundred channels in almost every room.  Computers gave us instant access to the world.  Food arrived from all over the globe in every season.  Will we change?  We don’t even know how to do to make much of a difference. (See the link to “Why Bother?” below.)  It’s possible, but it won’t be easy.

We have to get back to the spirit of the first Earth Day.  Appreciating the simple.  Understanding the long-term consequences of our choices.  Acknowledging and respecting what the earth gives to us. It’s the only planet we have. Since I wrote this, I’ve been to Australia and New Zealand, which I know makes me sound like a hypocrite, because that took a lot of energy and resources.  Do I wish I hadn’t gone.  No!  Do I feel guilty? Yes.  Would I like to do it again?  Yes, but I probably won’t because it’s expensive. I do try to enjoy what I have right here at home — most of the time.

Will I walk again rather drive to my destination on Earth Day this year?  Unlikely.  I live in suburbia, at least a couple of miles from everywhere I usually visit.   I’m dependent on a car.  Biking in the traffic isn’t safe, as least not for a scaredy cat like me.  In the heart of cities I’ve walked almost everywhere –Chicago, New York, Boston — I do love walking.  It was great to have everything so close — for a while.  Then I tired of walking in the rain, hauling groceries a couple of miles, not knowing how to transport anything large.   I was happy to leave the noise and the congestion behind.  My car seems like freedom, but I’m trapped by it, too.  As gasoline costs climb higher again, I’m being even more careful about the trips I take.  There’s no public transportation in my neighborhood, and won’t be until people are desperate for it and demand it.

One really important thing we suburbanites can do, as Michael Pollan (“Why Bother?) suggests, is turn part of our suburban lawns into gardens, which is what we’ve gradually been doing. More on that later.   (In memory of Kathy. I still miss her so much.)

Why Bother?” is a link to a story in the New York Times by Michael Pollan.

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Earth Day

Female cardinal waits her turn at the feeder on a pear tree outside my kitchen window. Photo by Cathy Sherman.

A female cardinal perches outside my kitchen window in a flowering pear tree.

On the first Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 1970, I slipped out of my house at 4 a.m. and hurried to the next street where my good friend Kathy Dawson was waiting for me at the door of her house.  We were chilly in our school uniforms — navy blue wool blazers and skirts — as we began our thirteen-mile trek to our high school, Mt. Carmel Academy, where we were seniors.  We soon left the comfort of Derby’s streetlights, crossing into the darkness of fields and pastures.  We trudged in the ditch along Rock Road, passing the chain-link fences of McConnell Air Force Base.  We picked up our pace as we reached Eastgate Shopping Center in Wichita.  Traffic was getting heavier.  There was nowhere to walk.  What were we thinking?  This was no fun.  Four hours after starting, we finally reached school just as the first bell rang.  We hustled to our desks, exhausted but satisfied.  We wanted to save gasoline for just one day to show our concern for the environment, although we did catch a ride home with our regular carpool.   We realized how limited our lives would be without cars and how our lives were not set up for walking or biking, but we were already living fairly frugal lives because of the way we were raised.

Our parents lived through the Depression and World War II rationing.  Frugality was second nature to them.  They slowly and cautiously accumulated the comforts of technology and abundance.  The baby boomers left that caution and frugality behind.  On average, we had smaller families, but built bigger homes with all of the trimmings.  Our expectations grew.  We sought frequent vacations far more exotic than those old driving trips to Grandma’s house.  Cheap energy, an explosion in innovation and far-off labor created thousands of new gadgets that soon became a necessity — we recorded our children’s every move, cell phones for everyone, televisions with a hundred channels in almost every room.  Computers gave us instant access to the world.  Food arrived from all over the globe in every season.  Will we change?  We don’t even know how to do to make much of a difference. (See the link to “Why Bother?” above.)  It’s possible, but it won’t be easy.

We have to get back to the spirit of the first Earth Day.  Appreciating the simple.  Understanding the long-term consequences of our choices.  Acknowledging and respecting what the earth gives to us. It’s the only planet we have.

Will I walk again rather drive to my destination on Earth Day this year?  Unlikely.  I live in suburbia, at least a couple of miles from everywhere I usually visit.   I’m dependent on a car.  Biking in the traffic isn’t safe, as least not for a scaredy cat like me.  In the heart of cities I’ve walked almost everywhere –Chicago, New York, Boston — I do love walking.  It was great to have everything so close — for a while.  Then I tired of walking in the rain, hauling groceries a couple of miles, not knowing how to transport anything large.   I was happy to leave the noise and the congestion behind.  My car seems like freedom, but I’m trapped by it, too.  As gasoline costs climb higher again, I’m being even more careful about the trips I take.  There’s no public transportation in my neighborhood, and won’t be until people are desperate for it and demand it.

One really important thing we suburbanites can do, as Michael Pollan (“Why Bother?) suggests, is turn part of our suburban lawns into gardens, which is what we’ve gradually been doing. More on that later.   (In memory of Kathy. I still miss her so much.)

Why Bother?” is a link to a story in the New York Times by Michael Pollan.

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