Condo Blues: Extreme Green Couponing?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Extreme Green Couponing?

On Lazy Budget Chef (You didn’t know I have a food blog?!) I wrote about the show Extreme Couponing  and how I once was a couponer but stopped. Between careful shopping and cooking more from scratch the quality of food we eat went up, the price went down, our heath improved, and our lifestyle turned a deep dark shade of green.

I don’t generally take those “How Green Are You?” quizzes because they are very subjective based on the entity that creates them. Nevertheless, through One Million Acts of Green and helping out Practically Green, I took their quizzes and scored extremely green. I am Superbly Green (the highest rank) on Practically Green and been in their top 10 for almost a year.


Pretty good for a gal who doesn’t have solar panels, a Pruis, or eats solely certified organic food, eh?

Dipping a Toe in the Extreme Couponing Water

My last super mega deal shopping bargain.
The show, a coupon flyer in the mail, and needing dishwashing detergent (Seventh Generation coupons are always available on their Web site) made me rethink couponing.

The Internet makes extreme couponing much easier! I don’t have to buy a newspaper. I can print them from coupon and product web sites or load them on my Blackberry.  There are a boatload of coupon blogs that list coupon and deal match ups. That makes the stacking thing so much easier.

As an eco-gal, I didn’t think there would be many coupons/deals for the things I use. I found coupons for more products than I realize. It’s not for everything we need. That's fine because I don’t want to spend every other day at the store trying to get a deal. I’ll never get everything free either (that’s the exception and not the rule the show implied.) I’m not knocking those who make extreme couponing a super time consuming hobby. I’d rather be knocking a wall down with a sledgehammer as a super time consuming hobby. I’m looking at some extreme couponing as a way to fund more sledge hammer projects  :) 

As an experiment, I started couponing again. With some reservations and house rules.

My Green Extreme Couponing Rules

  • House Rule 1: I’m trying to limit myself to the two printout and purchase limit due to storage space (many stores have limits, which they lifted for the Extreme Couponing show.) April Earth Day deals may be an exception because some of those items only go on sale for Earth Day and that’s when I normally stock up.  

  • House Rule 2: Even if I can get something for super cheap or free, if it’s something that we don’t use because of the ingredients, etc. I’m not going to do it. I’m going to be content (even if it kills my frugal side) with deals like finding Tom’s of Maine at Big Lots for half price than getting a free tube of conventional toothpaste with coupons. I’m not knocking those those who do, it’s just not for me. Apparently I’m an extreme green gal, remember?

  • House Rule 3: If the stockpile gets out of control/messy it’s time to stop. One of the blessings of a small house is that it’s easy to clean. It also lacks storage space. Now, I’ve always stock piled to some degree but I have no interest in having a garage full of deodorant. We don’t sweat that much!

  • House Rule 4: If the trash and recycling significantly increases it’s time to stop. One of the strategies is to buy the smallest size possible with a coupon to get it as cheap as possible. That goes against the big green tent pole of buying the largest size possible to reduce waste.  I appreciate having a city recycling to help me lower my trash output but I have to physically take it to a city dumpster. That makes the amount a concern. Then again, Blitzkrieg might like an extra car ride to the dumpster…

  • House Rule 5: If constant trips to the store cuts significantly and often into family time, it’s time to stop. I don’t think couponing or super duper sales like Black Friday MAKE people shop and overspend.  We all have free will and the ability to say no to a deal. I also don’t think that the person with a shelf full of deodorant is a hoarder either (most people with those big stockpiles regularly donate it to charity.)  Generally, people that can’t say no to shopping and spending have bigger issues than something being on super duper mega sale. Don’t get me wrong, I love the deals I’m getting on allergy meds right now (I live on the stuff come spring) but I don’t need the act of buying something to make me feel good about myself. In fact, not buying something and finding a free creative reuse option makes me feel much better!

What about you? Do you coupon? Do you think you can use coupons and be green? Do you think extreme couponers are greedy or hoarders or just smart shoppers?

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Jenn @ Peas and Crayons said...

My friend goes extreme couponing for food and household items and then donates them =) its pretty cool!

I hunt online for coupons on real food whenever possible =)

Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

From what I've read most extreme couponers donate. One lady said she and her husband were able to donate over $40K worth of food and household goods she exteme couponed to local charities. Very cool.

When Husband and I donate to our local food pantries we generally just ask what they need and buy that. It would be cool to be able to throw in expensive extras we got inexpensively.

julee said...

I started to get out of control with couponing just recently. I guess it was a new hobby, but I've calmed down and only get coupons for what we use. However, I do find it difficult to find coupons for some green products.
For example I thought I could get a coupon for venus razor refills and I haven't found one yet. I'd rather just get the refill than a new razor. Less waste.

I started to get freebies on dog/cat food and then realized the 'energy' to mail and truck to my house probably defeats the 'freeness' of the goodies. Which I donate to the spca.

The more I try to be green the more I have to learn about it. (such as the trucking/mailing etc)

Anyway. coupons are still good. Why not use the ones you can! Saving alittle money is a good thing.

julee said...

On a side note. I installed 2 dual flush converters on my toilets this week.
#1 - @ $18 I thought that was a good deal to save water and money on water.
#2 - super and I mean super easy to install!
Have you done so and if not why not? haha ;)

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Julandmatt - Most of the coupons I used so far have been for non green things like allergy meds and dental floss (I know there's a greener alternative but haven't put it on my Small Change List yet.) I'm finding coupons for rice, soy, & almond milk that brings the price down to $1 which is pretty good if you can't drink cow's milk. If there's a Whole Foods near you they often have coupons. Trader Joe's takes coupons for the few things they sell that aren't their store brand.

I don't have a duel flush toilet. All of the toilets in are post 1994 and low flow. Husband hated the duel flush toilet in a cabin we rented. I don't think I can talk him into a converter kit after that trip.

Laura Kaeding said...

Controlled couponing can be super useful, and I definitely agree with only buying stuff you agree with! This alone is the reason that my household RARELY uses coupons (except if it's the 'save 20$ when you spend more than 50$ at the grocery). And we almost never use the brand specific ones, unless it's a brand we want to try. :) Using coupons to buy food to donate is a great idea though! :)

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Laura - I tried couponing for the past three weeks. I have to say I kind of dread going shopping so often to do a sale + coupon. I generally grocery shop monthly with milk runs in between. I'm not anti-shopping, it's just cuts into my weekend crafting time. However, this couponing thing might get me to Whole Foods more often (it's inconvenient where I live and Trader Joe's is so much closer)because that's where most of the things I want to use coupons are for. They have a great deal on a coupon (check the website)for cans of organic tomato paste that make them come out to .24 a can of tomatoes or free for the paste. Canned tomatoes is just about the only canned food we buy.

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