Polls suggest that many Americans would like to go green but just don’t know how. Or worse, we think it’s too expensive. All most of us need is a quick trip to Whole Foods to rethink the whole thing and concede that what may be more practical than saving the earth might just have to be sparing the green already in our pockets. It’s tempting to think this way, especially when you’re living on a budget, but contrary to popular opinion, most environmental practices can actually save you money. Here are 7 steps you can take right now to start reducing your carbon footprint while reducing your expenses:
No, we’re not ripping on Whole Foods but the notorious priciness of organic-labeled produce can too frequently be off-putting to consumers looking to shop healthier and reduce the negative environmental effects of mass-produced foods. But you can get the same healthy food at a cheaper price at your local farmer’s market. There’s a caveat: you will have to buy produce when it’s in season and not year-round. Take the chance to try a greater diversity of food while cutting down on the cost of your groceries.
Consider taking turns hitching a ride with a coworker or a friend or family member who share your work schedule. You can split the gas and save on fuel, help the environment and, who knows, maybe grow closer during those morning conversations. If your work is only a walk away, leave the car keys at home and get your exercise for the day.
Here’s something you’re bound to have in abundance: old “brick” phones, unusable chargers, gadgets you don’t even remember buying. You might be tempted to throw them out but think twice. The harm electronics can cause the environment when thrown away is a very serious matter. It’s not hard (and it’s completely inexpensive) to check out the EPA’s eCycling list for recyclers near you where you can take your old electronics. But this list is meant to show you ways to save money, not just how not to spend it when you weren’t going to in the first place. So for newer electronics you wish to dispose of, check out BuyMyTronics.com, NextWorth and uSell, all sites where you can actually sell your old stuff. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, eh?
Still haven’t made the change from incandescent light bulbs to more energy-efficient ones? We have a feeling we know why. It’s no secret that your old lightbulbs are much cheaper than a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) but changing them now can save you up to $30 to $50 on your electric bill during the lightbulb’s lifespan. That’s much more than what you’ll spend for it in checkout. Because CFL’s use less electricity (about 1/4th of that used by incandescents) you help the world become more energy-efficient and help yourself save on energy.
Meat can be expensive. Worse, it’s production accounts for almost 1/5th of all the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. You don’t have to go full vegan, but skipping out on preparing meat for dinner every now and then isn’t the worse thing you can do. You’ll save on what can sometimes be the most expensive thing in the fridge.
We’ve discussed this is in a previous blog post but it’s advice worth repeating: use what you have to save on what you shouldn’t get. We’re talking about easy-to-make household products like glass cleaners, deodorizers, stain removers, et. al. You can use a potent combination of baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar to make most of these things.