Cheapskates Can Be Green – But Extreme Can Be, Well, Brown

I am admittedly a fan of TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” even taking a page from the coupon book and greening it into my own version of healthy, organic couponing.

But the new show “Extreme Cheapskates” is even far-fetched for the green and frugal. At its core, living frugally is often living green – using less, reusing, and repurposing. But some of the folks on this show are trading in respectable green and simple living for some entirely unhealthy ideas!

One woman used only cloth toilet paper for her family of 8. As an advocate for cloth diapering, I agree that it is possible and entirely safe to wash, dry, and reuse a diaper. Some of my green mama friends even use cloth wipes for their babies. But cloth toilet paper for the whole family crosses the line. In the segment, a child held up a very brown cloth and said it didn’t look clean and the mother insisted it was fine. If my cloth diapers came out like that, I wouldn’t want to use them either. But a proper washing of a cloth nappy should leave nothing more than a very faint tint. These people have crossed the line from delightfully crunchy to downright skeevy.

But that wasn’t even the part that bothered me. What really grossed me out was the meal she prepared for not just her own family, but the children of neighboring families who she was charged with babysitting. She went to some kind of bargain supermarket where everything was expired and bought some processed cheese and pasta sauce from 2009 to make pizzas. I would be leery of these products at their freshest, let alone well expired. But if that’s how she wants to feed her family, fine – just don’t feed that to other people’s children!

Then, for a salad, she went out into a public park and picked weeds. A public park, loaded with dog poop and litter and who knows what else. I would have been thrilled had she picked some salad greens from her yard or a community garden – but even if wild chives are edible, they can get seriously contaminated by dog waste. Plus who knows what those lawns are treated with?

I don’t even mind the guy who took leftovers from other people’s tables. I wouldn’t do it and I’d be mortified if my dining partner did, but if I’m honest, I’m very happy to see the leftovers not get trashed.

Frugal can and should be a green way of life. But it doesn’t have to be stupid.


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