For all the low-income environmentalists wandering through Gristmill, this week we’re launching a new, sorta-regular column, “Ask a Brokeass.”

As your resident Gristmill brokeass, I’ll be (attempting to) address the concerns of folks with skinny wallets and big hearts.

If the organics section at Safeway makes you queasy and the conventional veggies section wrecks you with guilt, while even entertaining the thought of hitting the local, organic market seems far-fetched at best, lean in close. There are a lot of expensive ways to buy yourself out of a large carbon footprint, but there are plenty of cheaper ways, too. I’m hoping at least.

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As a lot of people have now heard about, some folks down in San Francisco banded together last year in a pledge to buy nothing new, and got creative about getting what they needed. You can catch the play-by-play on the group, known as “The Compact,” on their blog, as they’ve continued and grown in the ranks this year. As Compacter Rachel Kesel told WireTap Magazine, “We’re constantly on the drive to consume more stuff. It becomes about habit and not necessity. (Compacting) forces you to look at what you really need.”

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Much like being broke.

By borrowing ideas from them (I’m attempting to follow suit this year, so, uh, you’ll be my witnesses on how that works out) and other smart people, number crunching, price comparing, coupon clipping, creative creating, and dogged deal-hunting, we can figure out how to be earth-friendly on a budget. Hell, I’ll even throw in some Q&As with expert brokeasses, so if you think you’re a noteworthy brokeass, nominate yourself.

So pass along any questions, ideas, or advice you’ve gathered, and we’ll be broke together — and feel warm and squishy about being good to the earth anyway. Direct your electronic mail my way, ‘cuz if you don’t, I’ll have to make them up. And I’ll have to change the title to “Watch a Brokeass Invent Questions and Answer Them Herself.”

And remember, as the old saying goes, it’s better to be broke than to further the break-up of the Arctic ice shelf.

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