9 Ways to Save and Go Green

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Eco-Friendly Woman Here’s a helpful post from Savvy Sugar: 

One of the greatest perks about being more eco-conscious, aside from saving resources and living a more sustainable life, is that doing so encourages us to cut back. Focusing on the motto of recycle, reduce, and reuse can do wonders on our budgets and help save more instead of spending on things we don’t need. The secret to jumping on the green bandwagon and saving more cash is simple — you just have to commit to it. Check out my guide for 9 ways you can cut back, save money, and lighten your footprint.

1. Unplug and Embrace the Dark!

Turn off the lights and curl up with your cutie. Or at the very least unplug when you’re not home. According to financial adviser Jeremy Vohwinkle, turning off electronics using 100 watts for 18 hours a day could save you $131 over the course of one year. Sure it’s pennies a day, but wouldn’t you rather spend those pennies on something other than wasteful electricity?

2. Know What Green Goods Are Worth Your Money

Contrary to the convincing signs you see at health food stores, you don’t always need to choose the so-called eco item. Knowing which products or veggies are worth the extra cost will arm you with better decision-making power in the grocery store.

According to Lisa Freeman, editor in chief of ShopSmart magazine, organic produce is safer and more nutritious and is therefore, worth the premium. She recommends purchasing organic fruits and vegetables that you eat whole or with the skin on and organic baby food, but suggests that it’s not worth your money to buy produce like bananas, watermelon, and avocados because you don’t consume their coverings.

Lisa says that the “grass-fed” label on meat is meaningless, but you should try to buy USDA-certified organic meat, poultry, and dairy products. Regarding household products, she thinks green cleaners are a better choice because regular ones can impact your health. And while eco-friendly paper goods like toilet paper and paper towels are better for the environment, they do not directly affect your health, so it’s up to you if the extra money is worth it.

3. Keep Empty Tupperware at Your Desk

Storing a few containers at your desk to take home leftovers from company-sponsored lunches in the office is a smart idea — around here we’re constantly getting emails to scoop up leftovers before they’re trashed. If nobody takes the food, it will be thrown away anyway, and it’s a simple matter of remembering to bring the Tupperware in the first place.

You’ll save money by getting another meal out of an already free lunch. You might be self-conscious in taking home leftovers and think your co-workers are judging you, but there’s nothing shameful about using more and spending less. If it’s not implied that it’s OK to take food home, simply ask the person in charge of cleaning up if you can pack up a doggie bag. Now, time to set a calendar reminder to bring empty containers to the office!

4. Try a Car Service or Hop on the Bus

These days more fantasies are about ridding the burden of owning a car than trading up for a luxury vehicle. Zipcar, which has cars available to rent for as low as $9 per hour or reserved for a minimum of $68 per day, offers an alternative to the expense of owning a car, and people across the US are signing up.

If you currently have a car and you don’t regularly use public transit, embark on a no-car experiment by purchasing your own public transit tickets and experience how much life would cost without a car. This idea only works in areas with developed transportation system, but for those of you who do, it’s worth considering ditching your set of wheels.

5. Swap Entertainment With Friends

Grab your best friends and create a media club of sorts where you share magazine subscriptions, books, CDs, and DVDs. You will cut back on subscription and shelf costs and save paper and packaging. You’ll also have a jump off point for a budget-friendly book club!

6. Save Money and Energy Whether It’s Cool or Hot

Real Simple created a handy list of energy-related savings solutions, and while some are givens (like buying energy-efficient lightbulbs) others are surprising (I had no idea that it makes a difference if a washing machine is top loading or front loading).

7. Pay Your Bills Online

Switching to a system of electronic bill pay is as easy as green-apple pie, and you’d be reducing your carbon footprint drastically — the Environmental Protection Agency reports that paper billing uses more than hundreds of millions of gallons of fuel each year! Visit PayItGreen.org to learn more about making the switch.

You’ll save money on postage and can set up handy automatic payments and/or reminders.

8. Make a Green Budget

If you’ve been looking for ways to start greening up your lifestyle, there are changes you can make immediately that will allow you to afford living in a way that promotes sustainability. Take a look at your current habits and pick out the ones that are particularly wasteful. Cut back your spending in those areas first — the money you save can be used to support habits that are healthier for you and for the earth.

9. Forget Paper and Plastic, Pick Up the Porcelain

Some employers are offering lucrative benefits to help employees live greener lives, but I recently started thinking about how much trash offices churn out.

Help your office cut back by bringing in reusable utensils and a dish set to work. Stop buying expensive paper towels for home and whip out the cloth napkins. You can throw them in the washing machine with your towels once a week.

More From Savvy Sugar

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  • Bathroomsprayers

    Save money and the Earth and be clean at the same time! Get serious and add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all your bathrooms. Available at http://www.bathroomsprayers.com with these you won’t even need toilet paper any more, just a towel to dry off! It’s cheap and can be installed without a plumber; and runs off the same water line to your toilet. You’ll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. And after using one of these you won’t know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we’re talking green and helping the environment without any pain. As for water use a drought is always a concern and must be dealt with prudently but please remember that in the big picture the industrial water users always far exceed the water use of household users and in the case of toilet paper manufacture it is huge. The pollution and significant power use from that manufacturing process also contributes to global warming so switching to a hand bidet sprayer and lowering your toilet paper use is very green in multiple ways. 

  • Jacqueline G

    In regard to the comment below and #9 – it’s not always eco-friendly to use water instead of paper for cleaning.  Being eco-friendly solely depends on the resources that are available to you locally.  For example if you’re in the middle of a drought, but there is amble space for waste disposal (i.e. TX or AZ) then you should use disposables instead of washing china/dish ware. However if you’re in an area that gets plenty of rainfall then you should leverage off of reusables.

    • Jacqueline G

      ample* not amble

  • Fluffy

    Great reminders in going green. :) Though I find your list really okay, I’d rather have your #9 to #1 and vice versa, as I think plastics are big threats to the environment. More so, the use of toilet papers should still be avoided. At home, we have a bidet so we could minimize the use of toilet papers. :)