I was in Borders the other day just hanging out, and a magazine caught my eye because on its cover was the winner of the Social Capitalist Award. However, as I was flipping through this magazine, Fast Company, an article by John R. Ehrenfeld called "Feeding the Beast" resonated with my perspective on our problem. (You can't read this online yet, but I'll link it again next month when it'll be free in the archives. Or you can just read a copy in the bookstore.) He basically states that we are all guilty of, simply put, consuming too much. We have somehow created a culture where we define ourselves by our possessions, so in order to keep defining ourselves, we need to consume more.
The first foundations for being cheap is that one must be disciplined. Every time you want to buy something, ask yourself, "do I really need this (magazine, coffee, $200 Juicy sweatpants)?" If the answer is yes, at least see if you can buy it used. This will keep a lot more money in your pockets and prevent that one item being made for your personal consumption. Look around you and ask "do I really need this (iPod, TV, book)?" Sell it on eBay, and it'll put a lot more money in your pockets. If something breaks, instead of throwing it away, first ask yourself, "can I fix this?" If something is being thrown away, ask yourself "what can I do with that (perfectly good chair, half-eaten hamburger, used condom)?" Ok, the last one's a little bit of a ...... stretch. If you think of being cheap in relation to consumption and sustainability, you may think twice before you make that next purchase.