When I’m Busy, I’m Busy, and being eco-conscious just adds more

Mutant cucumber

Tuesday was one of those days. A million things on my plate and more coming every minute. Here’s how my day went:

  1. * Got up, got dressed, made breakfast for Little Cheap and me. Put a load of laundry in the washer, watered the garden, made a grocery list including what I’d need for canning projects, gave the dog his three medications to try to get his allergies under control, counted my canning supplies.
  2. * Ate and walked with Little Cheap to the grocery store. Stocked up on fish oil supplements, bought a gallon of milk (local Organic Valley 2%, because Little Cheap says she might drink cow’s milk instead of soy milk — a move that would eliminate a lot of packaging from our lives, and I know that Organic Valley milk in Colorado comes from a co-operative of farmers in northeastern Colorado). Bought recycled tissues for Little Cheap to take to school (we looked at Target yesterday, but Target had no recycled tissues). Walked home sagging under the 50-pound load (we bought honeydew melon, 15 ears of corn, canning salt and some other heavy items).
  3. * Went home, put away groceries, hung laundry out on line, turned off sprinkler accidentally left on (oops).
  4. Rushed into my office while Little Cheap watched the DVD we rented at the store. One conference call was canceled, another was very short. Finished some other projects. Little Cheap got bored, went outside, broke the rule about climbing trees with no grownups present, and was stuck in the tree crying when I found her.
  5. * Calmed down Little Cheap, washed her face, made us grilled cheese sandwiches and watermelon for lunch, cut up 4 lbs. of cucumbers for bread-and-butter pickles (yes, the mutant cucumber from above is in there, somewhere) and mixed them with peppers, onions and salt to macerate for three hours. Boiled (homegrown) beets for dinner; boiled beet greens and leaves pruned from the Brussels sprouts and put them in the freezer.
  6. Checked voice mail.
  7. Refilled the dog’s dish about 4 times (he is extra thirsty from the steroids he’s on this week).
  8. * Shucked 19 ears of corn with Little Cheap. Ate (homemade) popsicles.
  9. * Took down and folded laundry.
  10. Ran the dishwasher.
  11. Went to the post office to send a gift to a friend, the library to stock up on books and movies for Little Cheap, and the consignment shop to drop off a bag of kids’ clothing and buy soccer cleats for Little Cheap. A meeting is canceled tomorrow, so I’ll save my Department of Motor Vehicles errand for tomorrow.
  12. Checked e-mail and voice mail.
  13. * Started canning — spent 2.5 hours in the 95-degree heat (and our evaporative cooler isn’t working due to a burst hose) canning one quart of dill pickles, 7 pints of corn relish and 7 pints of bread-and-butter pickles. Dragged a fan upstairs to help circulate some of the steamy air.
  14. * While the jars processed, I got together a spare change of clothes for Little Cheap to leave at school (today is her first day), put together her snack, remembered hot lunch doesn’t start until Sept. 1, put together her lunch and started pulling out food for dinner. Used the leftover water in the sink from “shocking” the boiled corn to water potted plants in front and back yards.
  15. Got Little Cheap to turn off her DVD and come take a shower. Helped her lay out her clothes for tomorrow’s school and her first soccer practice tomorrow afternoon.
  16. Mr. Cheap arrived home just in time to help pull dinner together. Ate beet salad (with organic blue cheese from Organic Valley), Colorado corn on the cob and clearance-priced bread with the family.
  17. Helped get Little Cheap ready for bed. Emptied and reloaded the dishwasher. Paid bills. Checked e-mail and completed two quick work projects. Turned off the computer and went to sleep.

What did I save? What did I spend?


The items with an * above indicate times when I spent more time doing the green thing than I would have spent otherwise. All told, I estimate that yesterday — admittedly, an extra-busy day, but not beyond the pale for me — “cost” me at least 4 hours in work. No wonder I don’t have time to watch television.


  • By shopping carefully, I saved $30 at the store and spent $60. I spent some extra on organic products.
  • I saved money and resources by washing my laundry in cold and hanging it out.
  • I saved resources by canning my own food in re-used jars with re-used bands. We’ll also benefit later from local food saved at its peak.
  • I saved resources by walking to the store and combining later errands in one trip. (I wanted to save more by buying postage for my gift online, but the site wasn’t working.)
  • I re-used some water and saved water with Little Cheap’s shower instead of bath, but I wasted some in the garden by forgetting to turn off the hose!
  • I saved energy by turning the dishwasher off on its dry cycle.
  • I saved paper by taking an extra step to buy recycled tissues. (I asked Little Cheap if she would take handkerchiefs in her backpack instead, but she said no thank you.)
  • We saved resources by getting our entertainment from the library.
  • I save resources every day by working from home.

I don’t know how much the canned goods cost to make. It’s not free and it may or may not be cheaper than purchased goods – but they are organic and local (mostly).


  • I didn’t need to go to the gym, because I was on my feet a good part of the day.
  • Some of my neck pain went away from the continuous movement.
  • Part of the time, I was spending quality time with Little Cheap on her last day of summer vacation. I’m very fortunate to be able to do that.

What does living consciously save you? What does it cost? Is it worth it?


4 thoughts on “When I’m Busy, I’m Busy, and being eco-conscious just adds more

  1. Melissa says:

    Phew! I’m tired just reading through your day! I guess I should be glad I was just at work in the air conditioning yesterday! I did quite a bit of “no bag, thanks” and “please fill the bags as full as you can, thanks” yesterday, and did take the light rail (like usual) to work… but you’ve got me beat on the green routine!

  2. Queenofthehill says:

    Hi, I’m a first-time reader of your site, but I see you comment occasionally at Sixredheads’ Living Deliberately. I noticed this, in today’s blog: “I save resources every day by working from home.” I wondered, and this is a sincere question, whether or not Homeschooling would decrease your impact on the environment? Someone, somewhere, surely has some algorithm that would determine how many carbon credits homeschooling is worth.

    I do homeschool, so I hope the question won’t make me sound like some sort of militant!

    It is possible that I’ve missed a reference to this in an earlier post.

  3. cheaplikeme says:

    It would be interesting to look at homeschooling. My daughter goes to private school, so homeschooling would save financial resources. On the other hand, she’s an only child, so she sure would be lonely — and I’m our family’s primary breadwinner while my husband is in grad school, so we’d be hungry! But maybe we should look at it here. Thanks!

  4. alottaerrata says:

    Phew! And I thought I was busy. I work from home too and while I do get lonely (i have no little errata to keep me company, and my schedule is not that flexible) It saves me resources and money because I 1) don’t need to commute 2) packing a lunch is as easy as going to my fridge 3) I don’t spend nearly as much on clothing.

    I also wash my clothes in cold water, though I can’t line dry (living in my condo as I do, it is prohibited) and I would LOVE to learn how to can veggies. Maybe when I’m done with grad school. Hmmm.

Comments are closed.