Cheap. Frugal. Penny pincher. Miserly. Scrooge. The concept of “cheap” seems to have a negative connotation in our society. But then I thought about some of the things I do that might seem cheap on the surface but in actuality, aren’t half bad when you think about it from a sustainability perspective. Could being cheap be good for the environment? For example, I often:
- Re-use plastic sandwich baggies. As long as the contents aren’t perishable or wet or sticky, I can re-use a bag for at least a few days to hold dry food like pretzels or popcorn.
- Use scrap paper for notepads. I’ve been guilty of sending a 50-page, one-sided document to the office printer and finding mistakes in the text after the fact. Usually the document would go straight to the recycling bin but I remembered that my mom used to cut up similar one-sided documents into quarter-sized sheets, staple them together blank side up and voila: a notepad! It’s nowhere near as cute as those notepads from Paper Source but it’s free and does the job (and reduces the guilt of printing 50 pages for nothing).
- Re-wear clothes instead of going directly into the hamper. The sniff test is just as valid as the 5-second rule, people. Obviously, underwear and socks go straight into the hamper (I’m not that cheap!).
- Save interesting glass bottles. I’m too cheap to buy a vase for flowers, so I always keep my eye out for interestingly-shaped glass bottles that contain things like pasta sauce, jelly, roasted red peppers, or, if you’re in Europe, water. I was recently in Spain and when you order water at a restaurant, the waiter gives you an individual glass bottle, rather than just a glass of water itself. At one restaurant in particular, the bottle was just too pretty to leave on the table so I stuffed it into my bag when no one was looking (yes, I paid for the water!). Now, not only do I have a vase but I have a great souvenir from Spain!
I guess I could add “Don’t drive” to this list but that’s kind of lame. Who actually wants to drive in New York City?
What kind of cheap habits are you willing to confess to?