Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Inner Conflicts of a Frugal Environmentalist

I admit, I HATE to pay for things when I can get them for free. In fact sampling has become one of my favorite hobbies, if you can call it that. My favorite time of day is when my mail carrier pulls up in front of my house. Every day is like Christmas. I never know what I will get. Just this week I was given a sample box of cereal, a coupon for a free bottle of Excedrin, two sample packages of feminine products, a coupon for a free box of Kashi cereal, and a shampoo sample. Truly exciting stuff. In fact, I wish I would have known that manufacturers actually give things away for FREE earlier. I probably would not have needed to take out as many student loans during my poor college days. I have become quite adept at finding samples, stock piling, and planning ahead with my stash; however, I am left wondering, am I taking it a bit too far?

Admittedly, sampling is a rather large chink in my environmentalist chain. I do recycle absolutely everything I possibly can (packaging is reused for Amazon sales, plastics and cardboard are recycled, etc.) but I still cannot recycle everything. Not to mention all of the hours of energy spent producing the tiny bottle of shampoo and the energy it takes to get the tiny bottle of shampoo to me. Yet, I still personally find value in sampling. I haven't paid for shampoo for years. I haven't had to buy feminine products since college, even after giving birth in which I needed a plethora. I fortunately collected a large number of newborn diapers while pregnant, which we needed desperately when Little E came three weeks early and was too tiny to fit into our cloth diapers.

When I think about the amount of money that has been saved through sampling and the usual accompanying coupons, I am absolutely astounded. Almost every toiletry need that we have has been met through samples and I have to admit that I love the challenge of finding samples, as well as trying new products.

I am, however, left finding myself conflicted between being a frugal living enthusiast and an environmentalist. To this point I cannot financially justify cutting out samples, even if it does expend a large amount of carbon emissions in the environment. I suppose that I will simply try to off set that energy by trying to lower my energy expenditures by hanging laundry, breast feeding, and using natural light instead of electric.

In the mean time, I cannot wait for my mail man to arrive with my next present.

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