Saturday, June 8, 2013

Living Green - One Step at a Time: Living Green and Saving Money

Saving money and living green can go hand in hand.  We can all do things to reduce our carbon footprint, waste less and save money in the process.  Before making a new purchase, consider other options to accomplish your goal.   Here are some different ways this can work:

1.        HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS:  Instead of buying toxic cleaners, try using baking soda, vinegar and castile soap.  They are much less expensive in the long run and you can avoid contributing more toxins into the environment or into the air you breathe in your home. 
2.       DISPOSABLES:  Stop using disposable products.  Instead of paper towels, use rags.  Instead of plastic bags to store foods, use containers.  Instead of paper lunch bags, use a lunch box.  Bring your own reusable cloth bags to the grocery store instead of using plastic bags each time you go.  Instead of paper napkins, use cloth napkins.  Instead of paper plates and cups, us your regular dishes.  The safest plastic products for people are numbers 2,4, and 5.  Many disposable items are made of number 1 and number 6 which are not as safe. 
3.       LAUNDRY:  Use one half to one third the amount of soap you regularly use to wash your clothes.  Wash only full loads of clothes.  Hang up the clothes on a clothes line instead of using your dryer.  Clothes dryers take a lot of energy to run.  You can also wash things in cold water to save money and use less energy since you won’t be heating water to wash your clothes.
4.       BOOKS, MOVIES, MUSIC:  Instead of buying your own, reduce your clutter and save money by using your local library.  If our library doesn’t have a book I want, they can get it through inter-library loan.  With movies, check the internet to see if it is available for free.  Youtube and Hulu have many movies available to watch.  The library also has a lot of movies and music available to check out.  For newer movies, consider renting them through Redbox instead of buying movies when they come out.  You can also borrow a movie you want to watch from a friend. 
5.       PLANT A GARDEN:  Organic produce can be pricey.  Why not grow your own for a fraction of the cost?  Plant fruit trees and grow your own apples or whatever grows well in your area.  You can make applesauce, pie filling or jelly from your own fruit.  Use these for gifts when Christmas rolls around.  Another benefit of growing your own food is that you will know just exactly what is in the food you eat.
6.       TRANSPORTATION:  Use public transportation, ride your bike or walk.  You will save money as well as improve your health in the process.  Combine errands so you don’t have to drive as much.  Just cutting your trips in half by consolidating trips can save you a lot of money that you would normally spend on gas. 
7.       FOOD:  Skip the processed food and junk food and soda and buy fresh healthy food and make your own meals.  Go out to eat less or split meals when you do.  You will save money as well as eat healthier.  You will also not generate as much trash as you do when you buy processed food or when you eat out. 
8.       8.  BUY USED vs. NEW:  Save money by buying used clothing instead of new.  By recycling someone else’s clothing, you are also helping the environment.  You may be saving those clothes from ending up in a landfill.  You can clothe yourself very inexpensively by buying used clothes at garage sales, thrift stores or trading with friends.  Why not host a clothing exchange in your home and help others to save money as well? 
9.       CLUTTER:  Stop buying things you don’t need.  Not buying something saves more money than getting a great deal that you don’t need even if you get it for a fraction of the cost.  Get rid of the things you do not like, do not use, do not need, do not fit,  and do not want.  You can resell them or donate them.  One Christmas, I limited the amount of money I spent to whatever money I got from reselling items.  We didn’t go into any debt for Christmas and I just sold things I didn’t need and used that money to buy gift cards for everyone.  The less clutter you have, the easier it is to find things and to clean what you have. 
10.   HOLIDAYS:  Give gift cards instead of gifts.  You won’t have to buy wrapping paper and will create less trash this way.  If you do want to wrap a gift, wrap it in a shirt or a scarf using the Japanese art of Furoshiki.  Buy fewer gifts for people and focus on experiences and activities instead of the gifts.  Instead of buying for everyone in the family, why not choose names and buy for one person instead?  Why not try a white elephant Christmas one year?  Make less expensive, healthier things for people.  Homemade bread is a good option since it uses less expensive ingredients than desserts.  People get so many sweets during the holidays that it is nice to get something different for a change, and healthier choices will help to avoid the holiday weight gain.  Give homemade jam that they can use later in the year.  Use last year’s decorations instead of buying new ones this year.  Make Christmas more meaningful and at the same time find ways to decrease the amount of holiday trash that you generate. 
11.   BORROW, BARTER AND TRADE:  Why not borrow something from your neighbor if you are only going to use it occasionally.  Maybe they have something you want and you have something they would like.  Instead of everyone owning their own, just share!

The best way to save the environment and save money is to refuse to bring things home in the first place.  Be careful when you shop and ask yourself if there is another way you can accomplish what you need without buying something.  You can make a difference and save money and reduce your carbon footprint without much effort. 

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