It’s no secret that one of my passions is finding ways for the every day family to Go Green. But I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to turn my household upside down. That would have been counterproductive and the effort would have been short-lived.
So I decided to make the journey one small step at a time, allowing my family to more easily make the transition. Once one particular habit was established, I was able to move onto the next step.
Something that I hear quite often is that people have a desire to Go Green, but they’re concerned about sticking to a budget. This is especially true in the area of groceries and household needs.
If you purchase your local Sunday paper, you will likely find an entire section devoted to coupons. Manufacturers spend an enormous amount of money creating colorful, eye catching coupons in hopes that people will clip them and use them. My mother and mother-in-law have been doing this for years and they swear by the savings.
Recently, I happened to catch an episode of Extreme Couponing on TLC. The episode featured a woman who takes clipping the newspaper coupons to an entirely new level.
While I was fascinated by her ability to buy hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for less than $20.00, the entire premise made me very uncomfortable for a couple of reasons:
First of all, she had shelves and shelves in her garage filled with pre-packaged food items and various toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.). While it’s great to be prepared, part of the Going Green concept is only using what you need and minimizing the amount of packaging you purchase. If her intention was to donate all of these items to a local food bank, I would be her biggest cheerleader. However, I was left with the impression that her goal was about “beating the system” by acquiring a lot, while spending little.
My second issue was that the majority of the food items were pre-packaged foods filled with preservatives, GMO’s and chemicals. Part of the green lifestyle is eating foods (as much as possible) that are whole and natural. I saw rows and rows of yellow cake mix, macaroni and cheese, and canned spaghetti.
My final issue was the amount of paper that was being wasted in this effort. The lady featured on this episode had the help of both her parents, her husband and a brother. They were all sitting around the living room surrounded by stacks and stacks of newspapers.
I sat there hoping that all of that paper was going to be recycled. But judging by some of the other practices I witnessed during the episode, I definitely had my doubts. I found the whole process very wasteful and sad.
I want to be clear that I am not against coupons or saving money. I have a family as well and saving green is only second to going green. But I think there are better ways to go about it.
If you have certain products that you buy on a regular basis, Google the company’s website and see if they list online coupons. More and more manufacturing companies are trying to cut corners as well and purchasing space in newspapers and magazines is expensive, especially if you consider that not all of the newspapers may be sold and not all of the coupons are going to be clipped.
Use websites like Groupon, or here in the Chicago area, Spealo. These companies work with merchants who want to offer deals on everything from food, entertainment, travel and more. Many of these deals would not be offered in print.
Shop online. More and more people are turning to the Internet for their shopping needs. They understand the convenience of online shopping and many companies offer deals to the online customers that are not offered in store.
Do a Google search for coupon sites. One I especially like is Qpon Junkie. You can find coupon “codes” for products from your favorite stores and no printing is required.
Given the economic downturn of the past several years, most families will need to employ whatever means necessary to save money in their budgets. That’s a given. But it is possible to use these methods without a negative impact on the environment.