I didn’t grow up in poverty by any stretch of the imagination, but I did grow up with parents who were… shall we say frugal to the point of being cheap? 🙂
My dad repaired (and still repairs) mesh sliding doors with duct tape because he’s waiting for it to REALLY be destroyed or covered in tape before he uses the new one he bought on sale 3 years ago.
This of course, not only saves money but the environment because we buy a lot less than if we were to care about things like mesh sliding doors.
Other things I was used to doing or trained to do at an early age:
- Turn off any wasted running water — to this day, I get slightly sick when I see water being wasted
- Turn of any and all lights in any room you aren’t using
- Re-using some water that is not necessarily dirty, to water the plants with
- Buy secondhand items like winter coats, skates and bikes because I was still growing
- Buy items 2 sizes too big for me so I could grow into the coat
- Wait a year too long before buying another winter coat and wearing longer gloves to compensate
- Spend most of my life (even up to now), not owning a car or driving — walk or take the bus/subway!
- Not wasting food like overripe bananas — it becomes a banana cake!!
- When things broke, we did without them unless it was unbearable
I am sure there is a lot more, but those are the main ones I can think of.
They’re all eco-friendly things that saved my family money, and ended up seeping into my brain when I became an adult.
I can’t help but think that my childhood has a lot to do with what I do today:
- Don’t use laundry detergent 99% of the time (only for greasy, gross loads)
- Don’t use dryer sheets (they use animal fat, I was told, to make clothes softer)
- Use white vinegar, tea tree oil, and basic soap to clean the house
- Use napkins and handkerchiefs instead of tissues (unless I’m REALLY sick..)
- Avoid buying or using hand sanitizers, and use soap and warm water instead
And my favourite?
Learning how to buy secondhand items (consigned / thrifted) or higher quality items that last.
Wearing and buying secondhand is really solid for the environment, because it’s reusing what has already been made, and you aren’t purchasing anything new which will contribute to a stronger carbon footprint.
In addition, toxic chemicals in too cheap clothing can be a serious health concern because it’s how they cut costs.
I really got into consignment stores lately because you can find higher quality brands and really nice things that people have gently used.
I always wash and clean everything before I wear it, although I know it still makes people shudder at the thought (BF especially, so I just don’t tell him)…
…but when you score things like gently used cashmere sweaters for $30 that sell for $300 or more, or Manolo Blahnik heels for $60 properly taken care of and used by someone who paid $900+ for the shoes, your price point for actually buying those items drops.
It’s like finding a great deal, a gem of the lifetime and saving a lot to boot. I can’t tell you how awesome I feel when I find exactly what I want and have been searching for, for a price beyond reasonable.