Thursday, November 27, 2014

Being Sustainable When Things Are Going Well

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my U.S. readers, and happy Thursday to all the rest!

I am grateful for many things this year, including health and happiness for my family and for the love that surrounds us all.  That's paramount.

But I also am grateful that, for the first time since the Great Recession began, both Mr. FC&G and I are having a good business year.  We've spent quite a few years juggling a lot of balls -- one up, the other down, in a big circle -- and we're profoundly grateful that things are smooth right now.  We're also working hard and knocking on a lot of wood that it all continues -- and you know what I mean if you are a business owner too.

Writing in the sustainable living space, I know that nothing sparks interest in these types of ideas like an economic downturn.  Sustainability overlaps nicely with frugality, and people often turn to blogs like mine for ways to save money when work is a little light.

But what do you do when things are going well?

I'll admit, I've had some days recently when I wanted to hire a housekeeper, pick up take-out instead of cooking, and forget both the recycling and the gardening.  I'm just occasionally that busy.  But I don't want to abandon my basic beliefs in managing resources responsibly.  So, in case you are in a similar position, here are some of my techniques for practicing sustainability when you are happily busy:

1.  Make it count
I still make our laundry soap.  Yes, making a big batch takes about 20 minutes, what with grating the soap (and Mr. FC&G tends to do that), but the batch lasts about six months and saves us quite a bit on laundry detergent costs, to say nothing of keeping plastic bottles out of the landfill and reducing transportation costs.  It's a good project to prioritize, no matter how busy we are.

On the other hand, I haven't rebatched soap slivers to make new bars in over a year.  The savings is comparatively little, and the project yields fairly little soap.  That project can wait.

2.  Save time for the time-savers
No matter how busy the week is going to be, we still save one weekend day to cook a fairly big meal with as many of the trimmings as we can make.  Not only does a home cooked meal save us money and allow us to eat more locally, it throws off leftovers that can often get us through several days during the week.  That makes it less likely that we will succumb to a restaurant meal, even when things are feeling financially healthy enough that that isn't a worrisome hit to the budget.

3.  Spend responsibly
If you have a little extra money and feel like you can spend on some luxuries, spend responsibly.  Buy from local, small businesses.  Look for organic, cruelty-free, and fair trade products.  Patronize businesses that you want to see around for years to come.  They will thank you, and they may even return the favor!
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