Monday, January 23, 2012

Ways to go green and save money

Much about going green can save you money.
January is the month of resolutions and also the time that Christmas credit card bills start coming due. A time of optimism and belt tightening.

Not everyone makes New Year’s resolutions but early in each new year most people do think about ways to improve their lives. Consider it a bonus then when making a change for the better can help your pocketbook as well.
Case in point: resolving to be more eco-friendly. Although it sometimes gets a bad rap for being expensive, much about going green can actually save you money.
Last year the World Watch Institute came up with a list of 10 ways to go green and save green, ideas for saving money while making eco-friendly lifestyle changes. Here are a few from the World Watch list, and a few of my additions.
1.      Think before you buy. Do you really need it? Will you use it? Can you borrow or rent it instead of buy it? (A Patagonia ad last fall featured one of its jackets with the headline "Don't Buy This Jacket" and asked customers not to buy what they don’t need and to think twice before buying anything.)
2.      Eating less meat is one of the best things that you can do for the environment. Going meatless, even one day a week is (environmentally speaking) like taking your car off the road for a few months. Buy better quality, locally-raised meat and eat less of it. On average we eat twice the protein that we actually need and skimp on vegetables.  Try for a meatless meal at least once a week. You and the environment will be healthier for it. The bonus: plant-based protein (like beans and lentils) is cheap. 
3.      Buy in bulk when it makes sense for your family.  Bulk means less packaging and lower per unit cost.
4.      Use natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar instead of buying conventional cleaning supplies. Natural products are cheap, and easy on the environment.
5.      Reduce your energy consumption. Turn your thermostat down a degree or two, switch to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) as your old incandescent bulbs burn out, unplug appliances when they’re not in use to avoid power sipping. Wash clothes in cold water and use a drying rack or clothesline when possible instead of the dryer.
6.      If you pay for water use, taking steps to use less can save you money too. Take shorter showers, use a low-flow showerhead (saves on energy use), use a dishwasher instead of the sink washing and only run the dishwasher when it’s full. If you are sink washing, only fill the sink half way. Install a faucet aerator on each faucet.
7.      Avoid bottled water and other packaged drinks and drink more tap water. Buy a good quality travel mug or stainless steel water bottle so you can bring your water with you.
Resolutions or not, making a few eco-friendly lifestyle tweaks can be a simple way to leave money in your pocket.

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