I love the knowing I’m using less of the earth’s finite resources. I also adore finding new ways to stretch my own financial resources.
Doing both at the same time is icing on the homemade, whole grain cake.
Here are 12 crazy simple ways to help the environment while padding your wallet, too:
- Compost. I’ve got a black thumb and don’t garden, but I still compost. According to the EPA, food that ends up in landfills breaks down and produces methane, a noxious greenhouse gas. I heartily stash our coffee grounds, fruit, vegetable and grain waste in a compost bin, which keeps it out of the landfills. It also means we use less of our town’s pricey pay-per-bag trash bags.
- Bulk up. If your grocery store has a bulk section, check out prices for items like grains and spices. You will likely save a lot of money, as well as packaging—plus bonus points if you bring your own containers.
- Cool down your laundry. Washing your laundry in cold water saves money and energy, and also could expand the life of your clothing. Hang your clothes to dry for extra energy savings.
- Be a borrower. Need a fancy tool but don’t want to cough up the cash? Ask a neighbor if you can borrow theirs, or see if your town has a tool library.
- Buy second-hand. Your cash will go much further if you purchase needed items second-hand. Additionally, you’ll be helping keep gently used stuff out of the landfills. Try shopping at thrift stores or join a local trading/selling network for kids’ clothing and toys, furniture and kitchen gadgets.
- Make your own cleaners. Did you know that all you need to clean the surfaces of your home is a little vinegar and water, and maybe a few drops of essential oils to make it smell better? You can also make your own laundry and dishwasher detergent. Making your own cleaners can help you save money on expensive, and often toxic, cleaners. You’ll also use less packaging by reusing the containers you store your cleaners in.
- Head to the library. While libraries have been around for thousands of years, I still find them revolutionary. You can borrow books, magazines and movies? For free?!? Many libraries also host a bevy of cool community events, like free readings, children’s programming, live music, writing groups and discounted tickets to museums.
- Unplug it. Even when plugged in appliances are turned off, they’re still sucking up energy. By unplugging items that you’re not currently using, you can save energy and lower your power bill.
- Eat less meat. I know… bacon! But the livestock industry is an enormous drain on natural resources and a huge contributor to methane emissions. Decreasing the amount of meat you consume and replacing it with less expensive food like beans, nuts and grains for protein is both frugal and good for the environment.
- Go paperless. Sign up for online, paperless billing for your utilities and other regular bills. Going paperless saves paper, the cost of a stamp, and cuts down on the amount of clutter entering your home.
- If it’s yellow, let it mellow. Think twice about flushing every time you pee—at least while you’re at home.
- Check for rebates. Many states offer substantial tax credits or rebates for switching to more sustainable heating systems, efficient appliances, electric vehicles, installing solar panels, and more. Search here to see what’s available in the U.S.
Making these small but simple changes can help the earth and your pocketbook.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Jay Erickson at Flickr Creative Commons 2.0