Save Green by Going Green for Earth Day
Earth Day is coming up on April 22! Have you been thinking about ways to make a difference, but are worried it’ll be too expensive? Guess what—it is possible to save money AND the environment at the same time. From conserving electricity to shopping, eating and drinking thoughtfully, there are tons of ways to start being more eco-friendly while also saving some money.
Save electricity and turn off the lights.
Maybe your dad was right about not leaving lights on after you left a room. He was trying to teach you to save energy and money. According to Energy Star, lighting is responsible for about 12.5% of a home’s utility bill. By turning off lights you don’t need, you’ll begin saving immediately. And at the same time, this simple act will extend the lifetime of all those light bulbs, which saves you money in the long run.
Change out your light bulbs.
According to Arcadia Power, those swirly Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) use about 70% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. And you know those Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs? They use 75% less energy while lasting 25 times longer than a standard bulb. Despite the up-front cost, if you replace 40 incandescent bulbs in your house with LEDs, you’d save about $300 per year.
Both LEDs and CFLs are great options to save energy, but the main difference is the initial cost. An LED bulb will cost you around $4-6 per bulb, whereas a CFL will only run you about $2 per bulb. But when you factor cost savings of electricity and lifespan, the LED wins by having an average lifespan of 25,000 hours vs. a CFL’s average of 8,000 hours. It’s all dependent on what you feel comfortable with, but both are great ways to save money and go green.
Care for appliances.
Like lighting, every appliance in our homes sucks up energy, hurting our utility bills AND the environment. Take a tour of your home appliances and consider taking the following steps:
- Thermostat – Turn down the heat and keep blinds closed.
- Furnace – Replace dirty air filters to reduce energy consumption up to 15% and potentially save 7.5% of your monthly energy bill.
- Water Heater – Turn down the temperature to 120 degrees.
- Fridge – Keep your fridge temp at 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees for freezers).
- Air Conditioner – Keep filters, coils, and fins clean to lower energy consumption by 5-15%.
Turn off the water.
Well, we aren’t saying shut off all the water to your home, we are saying you can be more conscious of when and how you use the water in your home. While you’re doing the dishes, consider shutting off the running water as you scrub the dishes with your sponge and soap. Or as you brush your teeth, turn the water off as you get your pearly whites squeaky clean.
Cut down on eating meat.
OMG, please don’t take my juicy burgers away from me! That said, we could all probably eat a little less meat and still be pretty happy. Why in the heck would we want to do that? Turns out, livestock is responsible for 18% of global warming emissions. To put that in perspective, if you became a vegan overnight, you’d save 1.5 tons of greenhouse gases. (That’s half a ton more than if you switched out your Camry for a Prius!)
So, let’s talk money. Those meatless alternatives are pricey! But think of it more like a flexitarian diet. Maybe Meatless Mondays. Maybe just eating more plant-based protein (think: beans, peas, and whole grains). Or even exchanging red meat for poultry. And you know what? On average, vegetarians and vegans spend $23 less than meat eaters on their weekly grocery bill.
Please note: Before making any major dietary change, you should check with your doctor to make sure that’s the right decision for you.
Waste less food.
When was the last time you tossed a bruised or moldy apple in the trash? Despite how often we all struggle sometimes to afford groceries, a whopping 30-40% of food in the U.S. is wasted. Maybe it spoiled, wasn’t stored properly, or just looks yucky.
Whatever the cause, keeping food waste out of landfills helps reduce methane emissions and prevents pollution. And if we focus on using ALL our food—by freezing leftovers, eating ugly produce, and using up pantry items before heading to the grocery store—we’ll save money, too!
Reduce car usage.
Now that the sun is shining a bit more, it’s easier to imagine walking or biking places instead of driving. In fact, going carless for a year could save literally TONS of carbon dioxide (about 2.6 tons). But if that’s not a possibility, consider some alternative strategies like public transit, carpools, and using cruise control on long commutes.
When thinking about your car usage, keep in mind that the average cost of maintaining a car is $200 per year for a 2015 model. And that doesn’t include parking (or parking tickets!), fuel, insurance, and registration fees. Kiplinger estimates that going carless could save you about $2,000 per year. Not to mention if you’re in the market to buy a replacement, it can take a while to save up for a new car (or at least, new to you).
Nix disposable stuff.
It might seem obvious, but seriously. I’ve probably spent at least $200 in the last year on single-use paper and plastic stuff. Granted, disposable stuff makes my life easier. But I could sure use that money, and it help also reduce landfill waste. Consider replacing the following ‘disposables’ with ‘reusables’:
- Plastic sandwich bags – Use reusable containers for food storage.
- Straws – Buy a reusable straw (a cleaning brush is usually included!).
- Napkins – You can make cloth napkins out of old t-shirts.
- Paper towels – Use microfiber cleaning cloths, wash, and repeat.
- Water bottles – A water filter can purify tap water.
If you’re already a Goodwill junkie, more power to ya! If you’re not? Guys. The fashion industry is seriously wasteful, and it costs a ton. In the U.S., 10.5 million tons of clothing end up in landfills each year. And every pair of jeans uses about 1,800 gallons of water to make. So think about buying used clothing from a thrift store, eBay, Thredup, or Swap.com.
Going green isn’t just for Earth Day! You can keep up these tips throughout the whole year to continue to save money and the earth. Wanna find out how you’re impacting the environment right now? This quiz can help you calculate your personal carbon footprint and give you ideas on how to improve. (Apparently I should be line drying my clothes?!?) Do you have some great going green tips you’d like to share? Be sure to post them in a comment on our Facebook page!
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