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Sep 23

Keeping Up with My Frugally Green Commitments

progressThanks for dropping by today.  Frugally Green started 5 months ago in April and since then I have made a number of commitments to change they way I do things in order to live more responsibly.  I think it’s important to look back once in awhile to make sure things are still on track and I’m still moving forward, so that’s the intention of this post – to update you on my progress.  Also, keeping you up to date with what I’m up to creates a bit of much needed accountability for me.  Knowing that you’re out there reading and expecting some progress is a real motivator for me to stick with it.  So lets see what I’ve been working on and how it’s been going:

Green investment

Back in May and June, I wrote a 4 part series on my journey to become a green investor. After carefully detailing what was important to me about an investment and how I would choose it, I finally made a decision at the end of the series and bought it.  I intended to buy $2,500 in shares of the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF but this was my first time using an online broker, and I flubbed a little bit, only buying $2,410 because I could not figure out how to base my purchase on dollar amount instead of number of shares.  The share price dropped before my trade was completed and I ended up with $90 just sitting in my trading account.  Whoops.

Since purchasing the shares in early July, they have gone on a bit of a roller coaster ride anywhere from a few percentage points up to a few down.  At the time of this writing, it’s up about 8%.  I expect more turbulence through the rest of the year and that doesn’t bother me.  This is a long term investment that I did my homework on and I will do my best to keep my emotions from clouding any judgment along the way by checking the progress as infrequently as possible, but still keeping up to date.

Hypermiling

A lot of readers found my article about saving money by hypermiling fairly useful.  Personally, after 2 more months of practice, it looks like I’ve hit a plateau.  I’ve yet to make it significantly above 24 miles per gallon.  I’m still happy with this as it cements my roughly 7 mpg improvement over my old gas guzzling ways, but I still really want to hit 25 mpg.  I’m going to have to do some real zen/ninja like research as well as trial and error to figure out how to make it there.  You can be sure though, that if I figure it out, I’ll be reporting back.  In the meantime, you can follow me on Fuelly as I track my gas mileage at every fill up.

A reader disagreed with me in the comments of that article about the effectiveness of slow acceleration.  I used two tanks of gas to test his theory that faster acceleration is actually more effective and found that it did not work for me under normal driving conditions.  I actually performed worse than normal.  Still, his argument had merit and I can only encourage you to take the time to test and see which method is most effective for your car.

Also, I’ve quit turning off my truck at stop lights. I noticed after awhile that it was taking a long time to restart and, like I mentioned in the article, it might be wearing out my starter.  I’ve decided to be safe rather than sorry this time.

Air drying laundry

This has been going awesome and I’ve practically eliminated my need for a dryer. I’ve got a long chain-link fence in my back yard parking lot that is adequately protected from the sun and usually has a light breeze – the perfect outdoor air drying situation.  Every Sunday I actually look forward to pulling my clothes out of the washing machine and hanging them up on the fence.  I’ve even stopped using the dryer to soften the clothes at the end of the drying cycle as I’ve noticed that I actually prefer a little stiffness in my clothing now (though this may be a psychological trick I’ve played on myself because I hate using the dryer).

A lot of people thought this would be a real time sink having to hang everything up and take it down, but I’ve found it to be just the opposite – I actually save time. I’ve become very efficient in hanging and removing clothes from the fence.  And, when I’m not sitting around for an hour waiting for the dryer to stop so I can immediately pull my clothes out before they get totally wrinkled, I’m able to go off and do other important things with my day.  It doesn’t matter how long the clothes hang on the fence.

I am starting to run into a problem, though, as I knew I eventually would.  It’s started to rain again here as the seasons begin to change.  I still have not set up a good indoor drying solution.  I guess this had better move up the priority list.  Luckily for me, a reader left quite a comprehensive set of instructions for me when I decide to actually do something about it.  Thanks Debbie!

Be green, not elitist

I wrote this article after hearing a friend of mine argue with another friend about turning unused lights off in his house.  It made me think about how I approach my personal commitments with other people.  After some reflection, I noticed that I’ve fallen into the same trap before, criticizing others while trying to make myself look like a hero.

I am the last person on Earth that should be throwing stones and it really made me think about how to effectively communicate my values without seeming pushy or belittling others.

After some more development on this subject, I’ve adopted what I believe is the best principle for me: lead by example and let the rest take care of itself.  Most of the people I come into contact with on a regular basis know where I stand on environmental issues.  They don’t need me to explain it to them.  By simply being truthful with myself about who I am, I naturally attract those that are more interested in this kind of lifestyle.

Everyone is free to implement change in the way that they see fit.  They don’t need me to tell them how to do it.  If someone asks me how I do it, I’m eager to explain, but I try very hard not to offer unsolicited advice anymore.  It’s rarely appreciated.

I have to admit I’m still a little rude to litterers.  I haven’t figured out the best way to handle a situation like that besides kindly informing them that they ‘accidentally’ dropped something while offering it back to them.

Eat less meat

Wow, this one has been tough.  I started my eat less meat challenge about 2 weeks before actually publishing the article, and, like I mentioned in the comments, it’s been very easy to slip up and either forget which day I am on (I’m only eating meat every other day now) or accidentally eat something with meat in it without realizing it until it’s too late.

I’m starting to think it might actually be easier to simply go vegetarian! I’m not ready for that, though, and I must progress at my own pace.  After a few weeks, it’s certainly become more routine and easier to handle, but it’s no walk in the park yet.  I’d never realized until now how mindless a task eating has been for me – the steps often being little more than 1) buy food, 2) prepare food, 3) place food in mouth, oftentimes skipping step 2.

Changing such an ingrained habit is no simple feat, but it feels right, so I will continue despite the difficulty.

Final thoughts

Writing an update article like this has been really helpful to me.  Hopefully it’s been helpful to you, too.  Sometimes I’m stricken with doubt about whether or not I’m doing the right things or if I’m really making much of a change.  Looking back and seeing where I’ve started from has given me some useful perspective and confirmed that yes, I am doing some worthwhile things here and yes, I am making progress.

That feels good to know.  I’ve got a long way to go on this journey, but a quick celebration on the way there is a great motivator. Thanks for being a part of it all.

Now I want to know more about you.  Have you challenged yourself to make any changes to your daily life?  How’s it going?  What’s been hard and what’s been enjoyable? What are the things that keep you motivated and on track?

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  1. me in millions

    Congrats! It’s all about the small steps to making big change. You’re doing great and you’re on track to keep doing even better! A suggestion for another small step is to try to limit your trash consumption (I saw an article about a couple in New Zealand who had only a small shopping bag’s worth of garbage for the whole year!).

  2. Michael Thomas

    me in millions,

    That sounds pretty awesome. Do you have a link to the article?

  3. Susie

    Would you like a drying rack for your birthday?

  4. me in millions

    I win! I did a lot of googling, since it’s been a loooong time since I saw this article. Here is their blog: http://www.rubbishfreeyear.co.nz/index.php.

  5. Steph @ Greening Families

    Just wanted to say congrats on all your changes! I’m sure you are influencing more people than you know!

  6. Michael Thomas

    Thanks for the encouragement Steph!

  7. Nick Petersen

    Keep sticking to your commitments :)

    Here’s a suggestion for your indoor air drying dilemma. We live in an apartment and don’t have a clothesline, but still air dry our clothes using this laundry drying rack – being round it works really nice under a ceiling fan!

    No crunchy clothes that way!

  8. Michael Thomas

    Hey Nick,

    Thanks for the recommendation. That looks like a pretty good solution.

  1. Carnival of the Green #198! | Victoria Klein :: Writer + Eco-Consultant + Photographer

    [...] Keeping Up with My Frugally Green Commitments from Frugally Green: The first step to achieving your goals is to actually set them. The next step is to periodically evaluate them. I’ve made a number of sustainable commitments over the last 5 months. Come see how I’ve measured up on the most important ones. [...]

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