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We’re Dirty Hippies Now

And by dirty hippies, I mean environmentally-conscious. Portland has turned us into granola-munching tree huggers…ish.

Coming from the Midwest and being part of a super Republican family, I laughed when this whole “green fad” started. (February is apparently the month of Erin making fun of herself.)  After all, only hippies would care about lame things like, um, the planet. I was wasteful and obnoxious about it. *hangs head in shame*

These days, we live in the Mecca for hippies — Portland, Oregon. I swear the recycling is picked up more often than the trash. And in such an environment, we’ve become much nicer to the Earth. Behold our new dirty hippy tendencies:

We recycle. While I would put paper waste in the recycling bin at work in Ohio, that’s the only time I recycled…anything. These days, we turn cans and bottles back in for the deposit (which is a genius program, and should be a thing everywhere) and all other recycling goes downstairs to the recycling bins. Anything else we don’t want, like clothes, is sold or donated, not trashed (unless it is beyond repair).

We drink from the tap. We have been purchasing one to two cases of water per week since the beginning of our marriage. A few months back, I decided to go the filtered route. But before I even purchased a filter, I actually tried the tap water. And it was good. Like, really good. Portland’s water rocks and we haven’t bought bottled since.

We have a reusable grocery bag. For like $5, we bought a decent canvas reusable bag from Trader Joe’s. As we don’t drive to the grocery store, we only bring one bag of stuff home at a time anyways.

We walk everywhere. With the exception of Steve’s commute, we literally walk everywhere. There is no reason not to. I can go literally anywhere I could ever possibly need to go by walking a mile or less — bank, grocery store, hospital, Chipotle.

We live in a smaller space and own very few things. We take up a very small amount of space (400 SF) and energy. We also don’t own much at all. While we are considering actually getting furniture (say, what?), we will first be considering gently used items and then locally made products.

We consume less. We rarely buy anything not food or hygiene related and we just use less in general. For instance, these days, I wear makeup maybe once a week so there is no need to buy it on a regular basis. I also don’t need special work clothes because my boss (me) doesn’t care if I look like a troll.

All that said, we have some areas on which we could improve. Dirty hippies would scoff at the following bad habits:

We use paper towels. I know they are the biggest waste of money and are totally wasteful in general, but I cannot wrap my head around using rags. Do you immediately put them in the dirty bin once you clean a single surface (I’m assuming you aren’t cleaning the toilet and sink with the same rag)? How much water and energy is then used to wash them? Are paper towels really that bad? Enlighten me, please.

Steve drives to work. There is public transportation straight to his job, but he is currently driving. There is a somewhat valid excuse for this. We’re currently trying to sell the car and as such didn’t renew our parking pass. So it can’t be parked here during the day without getting a ticket. Once it is sold, he will take public transportation exclusively.

We have an addiction to aerosol hair spray. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get rid of this. Aerosol hairspray just rocks and keeps my crazy hair in check. Have you ditched aerosol sprays yet in your home?

We both shower daily. So we aren’t literally “dirty” hippies. I’ve showered daily for my entire life and just recently found out many people don’t. I feel like absolute crap if I skip a shower. Do you shower daily?

So, we’re like halfway to dirty hippy-ness. Which is much better than the wasteful heathens we used to be. Turns out “going green” often saves some green (oh dear god, Erin, that was so lame) and less consumption = lower expenses. Win for the environment, win for frugality.

Are you a dirty hippy? Is your city dirty-hippy-friendly? Do you have any suggestions for being even nicer to the environment?

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Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson spent years managing her own blog about budgeting and debt. Because of that, she has great insights not only about managing spending and borrowing but also about running websites profitably. When she's not writing articles for us, she's traveling and looking for new types of wines to try.
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