It’s Not Easy Being Green

I'm not as green as Kermit, that's for sure!
Kermit knows!

How Green Are You?

That was the question posed by my fiance to me on the road trip back from Virginia Beach last weekend.  Since I have this blog, studiously avoid Walmart, and wanted us to carpool with my friends to CT for a friend’s wedding last weekend, I was feeling pretty proud of myself.  Of course I was more green than my fiance, who insists on driving everywhere!!

The unfortunate thing about planning to marry a man with a Masters degree in History Education is that “history” is brought up in our (mostly) friendly debates.  So, when I challenged my fiance that he might not be as “green” as his regular outrage over corporate America suggested, he demanded that we do a shot for shot comparison.  Here’s how it broke down:

Shot for shot comparison on our environmental impact
Shot for shot comparison on our environmental impact

For the clothing, I assumed $300/month since college, with 40% of purchases being used clothing (and therefore not counted).  I furnished my apartment with all new furniture, which came in at a steep $3500 at the time.  Later home furnishing purchases have been relatively small but added up.  I was a little proud of myself for only acquiring one new piece of technology (my monitor) and that I have thrown no technological devices out (just lost a lot of cell phones).  Of course, there were a lot of things left off here – electrical usage, water usage, etc.  We stuck to the stuff that was easier to measure.

All in, I had done 134% more damage to the environment than my fiance!!  $24,599 is a sobering number, especially when so much of it was wasted on things I didn’t need (clothing) or could have found for much less $$$ (furniture).  Trying to figure out how you stack up? Mint.com is an excellent resource.

Mint - Best Budgeting Tool

Mint.com tracks your purchases over time, which is the easiest way to evaluate environmental impact. If you want to reduce your impact, build a budget that keeps environmental waste under control by creating categories based on potential impact, rather than just needs.  Here are some ideas:

  • Give yourself more money to spend on organic food, and less for traditionally grown foods.
  • Force your car budget into an uncomfortably small size and figure out how to get around within it.
  • Allocate 80% of your clothing budget to used clothing and 20% to new clothes (including socks, underwear, and accessories)
  • Stop buying disposable napkins, paper towels, and Swiffer accessories
  • Stop buying coffee at Starbucks (those coffee cups don’t just evaporate when they hit the trash can)
  • Bring your own lunch to work in washable containers
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