Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!
I’ve been pondering this for some time and I can’t find an answer so maybe you know…
I produce very little trash. I have once a month garbage collection only $6.00/ month that includes a recycle pick up twice a month. I shred junk mail etc to create browns for my compost. (I don’t have any trees to produce leaves.)Here’s the question….
Is it better to put paper in the recycle bin or recycle it myself by making compost? I know I can’t recycle shredded paper.
In your case, I think that shredding is a better option. If you don’t have enough browns, your compost won’t work very well, so if you didn’t shred your paper, you wouldn’t be able to compost.
I know from my own experience that composting keeps an incredible amount of food scraps out of our trash, and I’m sure the same is true for you. So, shred your junk mail and keep on composting!
I do have plenty of leaves to provide browns for my compost bins (we have 7-8 oak trees in our yard alone!), but I do still shred some papers.
I shred paper with personal information on it, but I also shred small pieces of paper that will likely not manage to get recycled (strips of paper left from crafting, small to-do lists, parchment paper scraps from cutting round pizza shapes). Small pieces of paper can cause problems with recycling equipment, so in those cases, it’s much more responsible to shred them and then compost them.
Overall, though, I’m not sure which option is better. To my untrained mind, it seems like composting has to be at least as good as recycling. Recycling does reuse resources, but it also uses resources (the truck has to come pick it up, and the recycling plant uses a significant amount of energy and resources).
Composting, though? That uses no oil or gas, and the end product is used to enrich the soil and in my case, to grow food. So, I really can’t imagine that composting paper is an irresponsible thing to do.
(p.s. most paper receipts are printed on thermal paper, which contains BPA. So, they should not be recycled or composted. My best solution is to refuse the printing of them whenever possible, like at the gas station or at the bank. And I do shred and compost any receipts I receive that are not printed on thermal paper.)
I’m sure you have heard how gas prices are expected to increase in the upcoming year. Seems as though it will be quite possible for gas prices to increase to $4 or maybe $5/gallon. As you know if this happens it affects everything… driving, food, utilities, etc. When you read this information do you do and/or change anything in order to plan for the future increased prices on goods and services?
I saw that on the news the other day while I was at the gym. Very depressing.
But, in the face of news like this, I remember that I have mad frugal skills, and that makes me feel better.
You can’t entirely avoid price increases with frugality, but you can definitely experience less distress than people who are spendthrifts. Even if everyone’s budget costs go up 25%, the people with lower budgets are in better shape. A 25% increase in a $200 grocery budget is very different than a 25% increase in a $500 grocery budget.
For example, if you already batch your errands, carpool, and avoid unnecessary driving, your gas budget will not go up as many dollars as the gas budget of someone who drives a gas guzzles like there’s no tomorrow.
And assuming a 20% rise in food prices, if you eat the brown rice that comes in a box for $1-2/pound, you’ll be in better shape than the person that eats boxed rice mixes that cost far more per pound.
Also, if you work at buying local when possible, the rise in gas prices won’t be quite as noticeable. The beef from the farm near my house won’t be affected like the beef that has to travel halfway across the country.
And the stuff at my Goodwill store won’t be affected like the merchandise at traditional stores, which comes from the Phillipines and China and who knows where else.
Anyhow, my advice in the face of $5/gallon gas is the same as my advice under other circumstances…advice like:
- buy second-hand
- fix your possessions instead of buying new ones
- cook with ingredients instead of with prepared foods
- drink water (from the tap, dear readers)
- look for local merchants
- try growing some food (even 1 pot is something!)
- eat the food you buy instead of wasting it (buying less is a good start)
- batch errands and avoid unnecessary driving
Basically, I think that simple, frugal living habits will help to get you through hard economic times with as little financial distress as possible. Yay frugality!
Today’s 365 post: Hey Elizabeth! This is for you.