There’s a common misconception that going green is expensive. However, you don’t have to spend a small fortune on green products like solar panels and an electric car to benefit the environment. In fact, many eco-friendly lifestyle changes can actually save you money (cha-ching!) — and a tree! Whether you start going green on Earth Day (April 22) or another time this year, make a lasting difference with these Mother Nature-approved ideas below!
Green Ways to Save Money…
Swap out disposables for reusable, eco-friendly products.
It’s easy to get into the habit of using disposable products that you use once and throw away. However, repurchasing these items over and over again can start to add up. Not to mention the millions of pounds of waste that are generated due to single-use items. Instead, let’s look at some options you can use many times over.
- Washable rags: In 2017, global consumers spent $12 billion on paper towels for at-home use, and in the U.S. alone, Americans spent $5.7 billion, almost as much as every other country in the world combined, according to the Atlantic’s article, “Americans Are Weirdly Obsessed With Paper Towels.” You can probably guess that cutting down on paper towel use helps the environment, but have you thought about how it benefits your wallet? For example, buying a 12-roll pack for $28 every month could easily add up to $336 a year. On the other hand, you could spend that same $28 on terry towel rags, microfiber towels, glass cleaning cloths, and cloth napkins that can be washed and reused for an entire year or longer.
- Fabric food wrap or storage container: If you’re like most people, you wrap your kid’s sandwiches or leftover produce in aluminum foil and cover bowls full of leftovers in plastic wrap. Instead, try reusable food wraps made out of cotton and beeswax and glass food storage containers (think, Pyrex and Rubbermaid). Typically, a four pack of reusable food wraps runs about $14, and glass containers cost around $4 each. However, you can also make your own food wrap (we love DIY!) for half the cost. Simply rinse after use and repeat!
- Rechargeable batteries: Whether it’s a remote control, clock, or flashlight, most of us need batteries for something. While we think it’s normal to recharge things like our cell phone battery, not everyone buys rechargeable AA, AAA, or 9-volt batteries. However, if your household changes batteries regularly, rechargeable batteries can be a cost-effective (and convenient!) solution. Prices vary, but generally, you’ll have an upfront cost of $12-$30 for the charger in addition to the rechargeable batteries (which are often comparable to the price of regular batteries).
- Reusable water bottle and coffee/tea cup: If you buy bottled water regularly or grab a coffee from a café to go, you could be saving money (and the planet) with your own water bottle or coffee mug. Choose from an assortment of colors and designs that’ll take your drink from home to school, work, the gym, hiking, and beyond! It’s easy to find affordable drink containers online or at your local discount store for under $15. Or, for a bit more money, invest in a water bottle with a filter, or a water filter for your home. One person estimated that they saved $1,393.39 in their first year of ditching bottled water for a water filter, and over $1800 the second year! Plus, some coffee shops, like Starbucks, offer a discount on drink purchases when you bring in a personal cup.
Reduce your energy consumption.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 40% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. is used to generate electricity which impacts our air, water, and land to varying degrees. If everyone reduces their carbon footprint, it can help reduce the environmental impact of energy use. While there are many ways to do so, such as insulating your home and purchasing ENERGY STAR products, the following are a couple easy solutions that could also save you a little money.
- Consider your lighting options: We all know to turn off the lights when we’re not using them, and that it’s a great way to save some money on the electricity bill. However, there are other things that can save energy and costs too, for example: energy efficient lightbulbs. Consumer Reports recommends CFL lightbulbs as a budget-friendly choice (much cheaper than LEDs) which use about 75% less energy than a standard incandescent and have a life range of 7-14 years at 3 hours per day. (Note: It’s not recommended to switch CFL lightbulbs on and off multiple times within a period of 15 minutes as it can shorten their life.) But if changing the lightbulbs in your home or apartment isn’t right for you, consider lowering the wattage on your regular lightbulbs or using a timer and motion detector to help regulate when the lights are on.
- Use a power strip: Did you know? Even when you power off your TVs, electronic equipment, cable boxes, WIFI routers, and computers, they can continue to draw electricity, or standby power. According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, almost 25% of all residential energy consumption is used on devices in idle power mode. That can add up! To save on your electricity bill, plug appliances into a surge protector power strip, and switch it off when they’re not in use.
Cook from scratch.
According to data analyzed by Forbes, ordering food from a restaurant is almost five times more expensive than cooking at home. And while meal kit services are a little more affordable, they’re still almost three times more expensive than cooking from scratch. So, there you have it! Shop for minimally-packaged groceries like fruits, veggies, meats, grains, eggs, and spices that will not only save you money, but also have less of an impact on the environment. Plus, knowing which ingredients go into your meal can make cooking at home the healthier choice. Bonus! Need some cooking inspiration? Check out some of our favorite easy, delicious, and affordable recipes below that the whole family will enjoy.
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