For every frugal idea that I have and am able to implement, I have at least two or three that simply aren’t reasonable at the moment. They seem incredibly fun and, in the long run, would save some significant money, but due to various factors (my living location, the time investment required, etc.), they aren’t particularly feasible. So I thought I’d share them – perhaps you’re in a situation where you could give one of these ideas a shot (you can freely assume that I’m jealous).
Raise chickens My parents raised chickens when I was younger and it wasn’t as big of a chore as you might expect and it was useful in many ways: the eggs, of course, and the chicken meat, but we would occasionally scrape off some of their droppings in the fall and till them into the garden, replenishing the soil. The only problems were the noise and the smell, which were minimized by living in the country and keeping the chicken coop far from our home. Now, though, I live in an area where a chicken coop would not be particularly welcome – I guess I’ll have to hold onto this dream for a while.
Install a wind turbine I live in a very windy area, so as I’ve discussed before, a wind turbine can actually become profitable in less than a decade. Given a lifespan of forty years or so, it’s not only incredibly environmentally sound, it also turns a solid profit over time and vastly reduces your energy bill. Unfortunately, a wind turbine in my back yard wouldn’t exactly be smiled upon in the neighborhood.
Initiate a large community garden This is one where everyone is involved with a percentage of the effort and the expenses, and everyone takes equally from the food. You have to have a trusted arrangement with people and also need to have a centrally available location. My neighbor growing up used to do this – he had a ton of land and liked to garden somewhat, but he wanted a huge variety of vegetables. Thus, he co-oped his garden with the people living around him. Everyone was involved with the work in this multi-acre garden, and everyone got a share of the vegetables. It worked out really well and they’re actually still doing it.
Implement a home water recycling system Basically, I’d like a system where some home waste water (say, from the kitchen sink when rinsing stuff off, for example) could be drained into a receptacle which could then be used for watering the garden. This would save on water usage substantially. My father actually did this for a while using water from the shower / bathtub; it worked fine at first, but then the soap started to mess with the Ph of the soil, so I wouldn’t want to use bath water.
Install solar panels This idea is actually within reason – I might do it in the future when the efficiency of the panels grows and their price drops a bit more. Simply install them on the roof and have an electrician splice them into your home energy feed and suddenly you’re gobbling a lot less energy off of the electric company than before, meaning savings on your energy bill. (Read more about how solar panels affect home insurance rates.)
Construct an enormous garden By enormous, I mean at least half an acre. The problem? This would devour our entire back yard and I also don’t have the time to properly devote to it. For now, I’ll stick to just a pair of small rectangular gardens – not all that long ago, I was content with just a tomato plant.
Practice manual lawn mowing I’m referring to using a non-electric lawnmower, which means you have to move across the lawn a bit slower and take multiple passes. I tried this a few times in the past, but I have a good portion of an acre to mow and the time commitment each week makes this not worthwhile (though it’s great for getting into shape). What I’d actually like to do is get three or four of them and do the yard all at the same time with my kids, all of us running around out there with our non-electric mowers – great for the environment, a good workout, and it can be fun, too.