Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Frugal Versus Green

While the Greenes aren't actually feeling the pinch in our pocketbooks just yet, the economic downturn has us on edge.  Franklin is stressed at work, and I was talking with a neighbor about the anxieties of being over-reliant on one income in a housing market where even a modest home carries an astronomical mortgage.

Yup, our income might be stable, but our confidence is badly shaken.

It's not a completely bleak picture.  Franklin and I sat back the other night and reflected that what we value is life isn't stuff.  Not being able to take off for a week in the Greek Isles or drop $1,000 at the mall on Saturday isn't worrisome.  Heck, I'm okay if we can't go any farther than the local park.  I might be allergic to the mall.  It would be great to be able to keep on affording our trips out to the local ice cream place and bagel shop on the weekends, but again, I could give them up and not be heartbroken.

But it does shake my confidence in some of our green choices.  Faced with buying gift wrap yesterday, I bought the clearance aisle, non-sustainable version.  Okay, there was only one sustainable choice, and it wasn't kid-friendly anyway.  But I couldn't bring myself to spend $6 instead of $2.50.  (I'd already used the Sunday comics for the other birthday party we went to this week.)

I've been meaning to buy hand soap pumps for ages.  Yesterday, I found one at Target made from "recycled glass."  But it had no indication of how much recycled glass.  And since it was made in China, just like everything else on their shelves, I didn't feel like 20% or even 50% recycled content justified paying $2.50 more.  The one I bought cost $7 on clearance.

Then I went to CVS and bought Purex laundry detergent at a rock-bottom sale price.  Combined with a coupon, I got it for $1.50/bottle for 39 loads.  That's cheap.

In a week where I've discovered that Tom's of Maine deodorant costs twice as much as Secret, and Tom's of Maine toothpaste costs four times what Aim costs, well ... I'm anxious.  I know what the right choices are, but I'm not sure that I can justify the price tag attached to every one of those right choices.

It's not a happy place to be.

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