What motivates you more – environmentalism or frugality?

I have been using swapacd.com for years to recycle my old CDs. For younger millenials, a CD is like 10 MP3s that you had to buy prepackaged on a disk, before iTunes became popular. Swapacd is a funny site because it looks like it hasn’t changed since the 90s (which would make sense because what’s more 90s than CDs?).

Years ago, my ex had 100 old CDs that he no longer listened to, that he just moved from apartment to apartment in a large green bin. Of course, he could have just donated all the CDs to Goodwill, but I’d seen the jumble of CDs that they sell at Goodwill. They’re not organized and there’s no guarantee of quality so they never seemed to get bought. It seemed like a huge burden to give them to a charity organization because they might never get bought.

I could have sold the CDs but that wouldn’t get rid of most of them in a hurry. I’d have to wait a long time for a buyer and most of the CDs weren’t worth much anymore. I could have just thrown the CDs away, but that hurt my environmental sensibilities. So instead I listed all the CDs on swapacd and got rid of most of them that way. (I did eventually donate the rest of them). Packing and shipping the CDs cost about $3 each and it would cost me about $1 for any CD off my list that I receive. This is approximately the cost of just buying a used CD.

It really doesn’t save much money. It’s much more effort. And I realized that I don’t do this to save money; I do this because I hate wasting things. And I find that environmentalism is more of a driving force in my life than frugality. I would pay to keep things from being wasted.

There’s a lot of overlap between environmentalism and frugality. Helping the environment is a great side effect of frugality and frugality is a great side effect of environmentalism. But if they come into conflict, I would pay more to reduce waste.

What are the principles for which you would give up frugality?

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