Too often, people are afraid of being more “green” because they figure it will be more than they can afford. The truth is, ninety percent of the time, the frugal choice (the best choice for your pocketbook) will also be the best choice for the planet.
On the other hand, there are folks out there who are tightfisted and who would hate to be considered a”tree hugger”. But the truth is, if you’re a frugality, or learning to be one in the new economy, you’re also becoming pretty green along the way.
Yes, there are a few exceptions. Most of these have to do with large home alternations or other technological choices that that a long time to pay for themselves. Just because we can’t afford to add solar panels to our homes, doesn’t mean that there aren’t many green choices to be made daily that also save us money. Surely in these uncertain times it makes sense whenever possible to save money, save the planet, and often, our health as well.
For those who are looking for ways to keep more money in their pocketbooks (and bank accounts), and for those who think they ought to help the planet but aren’t sure how, here are some ideas on how you can kill two birds with one stone. Remember that developing a frugal (or green) lifestyle isn’t just for the short term, temporary emergency. These aren’t things ideas to throw out when we get a better job or things generally “get better”. Developing long term habits will help us all out more in the long run. Rather than jumping in and trying to do at all (and giving up because it just seems too much), choose one or two areas to begin with.
If you question whether any of these options are actually saving you money, I suggest you set a trial period. Keep the money you’ve saved over, say, six months in a separate account and see how it adds up. Much of the time the green benefits will be easier to see than other times. Our lower fuel bill, or a smaller garbage load, is something that we see immediately. Some of the ideas below may seem obvious. Some you may have been doing to save money without thinking of the fact that they were green. Sometimes, truth be told, being green and/or saving money take more effort than the obvious choice. In both case, if we develop habits and think before we act, we’re already ahead.
Reusable shopping bags are abundant, cheap and often free. Save a few plastic bags you then use for walking the dog or very messy garbage. Stop buying paper napkins and paper plates and swiffer cloths. Either make or buy some cloth napkins (identify them in some way so they can be used more than once if you have a neat family, unlike mine). Old T shirts and towels and other absorbent items can be turned into cleaning rags, or reusable swiffer wipes. If your baby doesn’t go to daycare, use reusable washcloths and a spray bottle instead of baby wipes. Keep one roll of paper towels for the raw chicken and dog or chicken gak, and see how long you can make it last.
Although some plastics can be recycled, a reusable bottle and coffee mug are easier on the wallet and on the planet. Unless your city or county has unsafe water, get a water filter, or a Britta Jug. Using your own water and container is less expensive as well as better for the environment and can even be a fashion statement. Decorative cups and bottles with logos of every kind abound. If you must have your latte on the way to work, ask your favorite coffee place if they will fill the cup. Make it a habit to take water with you on your outings (even food) and resist the fast food foam. In this case your health and your waistline will help you as well.
Using less of our various “natural” resources both lowers our bills ad home and saves community resources. This is especially true these days as the cost of oil and other resources fluctuates up and down. Take control of your utility expenses and you’ll be helping the planet as well. Add a blanket to the bed, dress appropriately for the weather. Develop simple habits that save money and resources. In the summer, open the house at night and the cool of the morning and then as the sun comes up close the blinds. Hanging even a few loads of clothes reduces your electricity cost.
In general, the less convenience food you eat, the less packaging you’ll bring home as well. Cooking mainly from scratch will not only help your pocketbook and eliminate packaging; it will also keep you healthier. Most of the time, produce grown closer to home will be fresher, healthier, cheaper and have used less resources to get to you. Planning proper portions and remembering to use leftovers eliminates obvious food waste. Eating at home instead of ordering in saves money, gas and lessens the use of throwaway items,
One of the biggest Eco Marketing areas are so called “green cleaners. Truth is, the greenest way to clean your house is to use items you already have on hand or buy a few basic items. Companies are advertising themselves as non toxic and other labels. Baking soda, washing soda, vinegar and lemon juice will clean almost anything in your house; you probably already have most of these, and are all environmentally safe. If you can’t stand the smell of vinegar, mix with a small amount of essential oil.
There are many resources on the web that have resources for using or creating your own products., as well as for saving money. I’ve just shown you a few ideas.
,One last thought. Consider “investing” some of what you have eventually saved into items with more long term benefits to both planet and pocket book. Solar panels may be out of reach. That said, new appliances are almost always more energy efficient. If you have a freezer on its last legs, you’ll serve finances and the environment better by choosing a newer more efficient model than a ten year old one listed on Craigslist. If you live in a warm climate, invest in dark shades for your windows. In a cool climate, look at more energy efficient windows. Always look at the cost of the purchase, the money savings, and how long it will take you go get “paid back