« Shoppers shifting priorities in recession | Main | No new Vegas hotels for "at least" 10 years: report »

October 05, 2021

Are we getting greener or just cheaper?

No one ever wonders why Larry David drives around in a Prius on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Yeah, he gets praised as an “image-conscious” celeb for doing so, and indeed helping the environment is likely part of his motivation here.

But the guy is also stinking rich. Like, Seinfeld--royalty rich. He could run errands in one of those gold-plated stagecoaches the Count of Monte Cristo used and no one would think twice.

So it stands to wonder that, if you’re familiar with David’s George Costanza-esque neuroticism and frugality, he might just be zipping around in a Toyota because he’s too cheap to pay anything more than $30,000 for a car.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, Consumer Reports has just released survey results showing Americans have become more “green” with their behaviours than ever.

The site concluded, among other things, those in the U.S. have taken to “drinking tap water instead of bottled,” “using a programmable thermostat,” “buying fresh food from a farmer’s market,” and “line-drying clothes.”

For example, 83 per cent of Yankees say they always – especially now – run the dishwasher full in a bid to conserve the energy used to heat water load-after-load.

Now, isn’t the timing of these results a little … fishy, insomuch as to give all the credit to some kind of newfound environmental conscious?

Shouldn’t we stand to believe that, while these are all commendable acts, we’re probably more likely to be cutting back on environment-sapping costs because there’s an awful recession going on and a ton of us are reeling from the wake-up call that it sucks to be broke?

The Consumerist is sure sceptical, at least. But the most important question here - one we’ve posed in this space before - comes from Consumerist reader gStein:

“The real test will be after teh [sic] economy improves – will people go back to their wasteful ways, or will they keep these new habits?”

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...