Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Balancing Act of Frugality, Simplicity, Minimalism, and Eco-Friendliness



I love finding new tips, tactics, and behavior changes that help me to further my goals of making my lifestyle more frugal, simple, minimalist, and eco-friendly. But it can be a balancing act. Those goals can get in the way of each other.

Frugality without minimalism...

If you see free furniture or broken electronics by the side of the road, take it home--you can always upcycle it or repair it and sell it for a profit.

Minimalism without frugality...

My only possessions: MacBook Air. iPhone. iPad. One (1) pair Levi 501s. Two (2) biometric smart shirts. Apple Watch (wearing). Moleskin notebook. Fisher Space Pen. USB-enabled Victorinox Multi-tool. GoRuck GR1 backpack, to hold all this STUFF!

Frugality without eco-friendliness...

Shop at Walmart and dollar stores. Always buy whatever is cheapest. Grab any free swag you can. Hoard ketchup packets.

Eco-friendliness without minimalism...

Hang onto anything you might be able to re-use. You can never have too many empty spaghetti jars! 
Keep any plastic forks that come into your life and use them until they completely wear out. 

Frugality without simplicity...

Open a new credit card or bank account every time you see a rewards offer. You can keep track of them on a spreadsheet. Take on as many side jobs as you possible can. You should be earning every moment of the day. Don't just sit on the can, you could be doing Mechanical Turk right now!

Eco-friendliness without frugality...

Only buy clothing made of cruelty-free silk from this one organic worm farm in Nepal.

Minimalism without simplicity...

I only own one pan. I just cook in shifts, one course and then another. It's really not that hard. Oh, and I got rid of my fridge, so you can just put the leftovers in the root cellar or submerge them in that pan of ice. Better yet, just take them home. I'll buy new food tomorrow.

Simplicity without frugality...

Just be rich and life is so much easier.

Eco-friendliness without simplicity...
Live in a tent off the grid and recycle your own urine.

Minimalism without eco-friendliness...

I'm so much happier since I threw everything I owned right in the garbage!


Okay, so some of those positions are extreme. Still, when making ordinary, everyday choices, I often have to choose between these goals according to my priorities in the moment, which change from day to day, decision to decision. Do I keep my food processor for the two times a year it comes in really handy, or resign myself to the difficulty of mincing and grinding by hand in order to reclaim cabinet space? Do I buy the fancy walnut coir eco-sponges, or the basic plastic sponges at a fraction of the price, or do I give up using sponges altogether and scrape food off my plates with my fingernails and an old rag? There's no right answer that satisfies me in every way. I have to make compromises.

Luckily, there are a few tactics which hit every single one of those goals. In fact, that's probably what's so sticky and great about the zero waste tactics that have stuck (carrying a water bottle, using cloth napkins and hankies, making my own laundry soap and cleaning supplies). Those are the big wins that delight me, stick with me, and change my life for the better. By trying new tactics regularly and reporting back to you, I hope to find as many of these as possible. 

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