Thrifty is the new ‘cool’

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George Hasara – Columnist As a child I was scolded a few times for leaving the front door open. “Were you born in a barn? Shut the door, you’re letting the heat out!” We never had air conditioning, but I understand there’s a version of the story for folks with AC. My parents instilled in me the value of thrift. They weren’t concerned about CO2 emissions in the atmosphere or maintaining a small carbon footprint. I never heard them talk about “saving the planet.” They simply worked hard and thought that wasting heat or anything else was wrong and foolish. They believed in the adage of “waste not, want not.” Of course, the ultimate wasteful sin was throwing food away. “Eat your food. Children are starving in China,” may have not been the most logical argument for cleaning your plate, but the point was understood. Today, I still try to follow the principle of waste-not. There are those much better than I in stretching a dollar, but I am pretty good at stretching a trash bag to its capacity to fully utilize the 27 cents or whatever it costs, and hoping like heck the raccoons don’t get to it before the trash man does. I prefer to use cloth shopping bags (when I remember to) instead of adding to our household’s mega million collection of plastic bags. Though we don’t directly save any money by using our own bags, I know somebody does. We downsized to a much smaller refrigerator a year or so ago and though at times it feels like a game of Jenga to pull things out – it feels good to see the difference in the monthly electric bill. To reuse or repurpose something means that something else doesn’t have to be manufactured to replace it. Thrifty people typically aren’t recognized as environmentalists, but in essence, they are. They may not retrofit their homes with solar panels but their thermostat adjustments can save as much or more. Owning a $80,000 Tesla may score hipster environmentalist points, but there is also something to be said for keeping that 1970 Ford F100 pickup or 1965 VW Bug in running condition. Plus, unlike the Tesla, those vehicles won’t switch to autopilot and then mysteriously explode. I’ve always been put off by the sanctimonious elements of the environmental movement, especially the shamming approach, such as calling people “deniers” because they don’t agree with a particular narrative. Back in 2007, an “inconvenient truth” was revealed that Al Gore’s home in Tennessee had a $30,000 plus annual utility bill. I didn’t visualize stranded polar bears on melting patches of ice. I just thought, “What a waste. His kids must be living on their own by now, just how big of a climate-controlled house does Mr. Environment need?” How much do any of us need? In this affluent society, for most of us, it’s probably less than we think. Thrift and ecology complement each other. They are two sides of the same conservation coin. Whether we think of the world or our wallets when making decisions, avoiding waste leads to more abundance. Contact George at georgehasara@yahoo.com.

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