Frugality and sustainability

Crossroads by bradleyolin via flickr CC

I’m inspired to write today’s post by a couple of things.

First. I need some urgent, very expensive dental work done – so expensive it is going to completely wipe out my savings (such as they are).  While I’m pleased that I have savings that I can use to pay for it and that I won’t need to borrow or use credit, I’m stressed because I was enjoying having that buffer between me and flat-brokeness and because it was intended to be part of a larger bundle of savings that will eventually enable me to buy my own place to live.

The second inspiration is a post on The Greening of Gavin about the challenges of meeting the goal of living in a manner that is both frugal AND sustainable.  I love Gavin’s blog, he has documented his sustainability journey with a refreshing and candid honesty that appeals to me so much.

Where is the connection between these 2 inspirations? Well, in order to minimise the shock and awe effect of emptying my savings account into the dentist’s account I am going to have to consider some aspects of my spending routine and live a little (a lot?) more frugally in order to recoup that money as quickly as possible.  I’ve lived on a really low income before – it wasn’t much fun but we all survived.  Unfortunately, since starting full time work and having a little more income to play with, I’ve fallen out of quite a few (but not all) of my good habits.

One of the things Gavin raises in his post is that sometimes the choices we make or the things we buy in the name of frugality don’t meet sustainable or ‘green’ criteria.  He uses the example of cheap trinkets in $2 shops and indeed, if you trawl the internet for frugal living tips, or look at well respected sites such as Simple Savings or Cheapskates the use of products from these shops features highly.  However, while you can decorate your home cheaply for Christmas from one of these shops for example (and I use them as much as the next person) there are all sorts of issues with this from an environmental or sustainable perspective – read Gavin’s post to take this further.

You only have to look at my blogroll to realise that sustainability and green-ness are becoming increasingly important to me.  I’m still a minnow in this field, still at the stage where I understand this is important, I understand that there are plenty of things I can do to get onto this path, I understand that there are actually quite a few things I am already doing – but am still making excuses about it being a bit too hard.

I have 3 weeks off over Christmas and into the New Year.  I need to use that time to do some serious thinking, planning and calling myself out on my excuses.  I need a plan for 2011 that will enable me to recover my savings that won’t compromise my goal of walking lightly on the earth.  I (literally) can’t afford to keep coming up with reasons why it’s too hard.  My partner and kids are both supportive of efforts towards sustainability (well, perhaps not the kids soooo much) but truly? Only I can make the changes I need to make – the rest will just follow on.  I’ve been looking for something to get interested and passionate about – perhaps this is it.

Epiphany by dentist’s bill? Who’da thunk?