"She's so frugal, her pennies will forever show her thumb and finger prints." My family didn't make up the phrase, but did oft apply it to me. I thought economy long before I thought green.
About five years ago, I read the Tightwad Gazette and Cheapskate Monthly issue for issue. I was fascinated with tips such as recycling paper coffee filters and even tried it with success. I calculated the cost of everything I did, but mostly purchases of consumer goods. I was on a mission and completely blissful.
These thoughts (d)evolved leaving me now lost in figures relating to my water, gas, and electrical use. I read my bills; I've figured my meters; and I compare month to month behavior. As Jesse points out, it's still about money. For example, I knew we had a gas leak in our water heater, but lived with it until the gas company hiked their rate by 30%. Nevermind how it may have impacted the health and safety of my family.
One of the largest energy users for residential domiciles is the refrigerator. Last week, I pulled mine back from the wall and saw a huge wad of Boris hair mucking things up. Being a good housekeeper, I swept it up, but didn't think much of it except that it satisfied my fear that someone might someday want to look behind my refrigerator. I mean I knew, but I didn't really think about it. But guess what! Cleaning refrigerator coils makes a HUGE impact on energy use and there is a right way to do it.
I guess I'm not all that green. At my core I just don't like waste but do like manipulating the numbers. I do it while driving too. If I'm headed to Oklahoma at 80 mph and it's 1000 miles away and I'm held up by icy road conditions, how long before I yell at my kids to quit touching each other?