Go Green

Source: sxc.hu Photo: xymonau, adapted

This post was written in support of Blog Action Day 2009. It’s a day when writers all over the world band together to write about the same issue. 2009’s theme was global climate change.

Saving the environment is not the only reason to go green. You can save money in the process too. There are many ways to be eco-conscious and financially savvy at the same time. Here are a few things you can do:

1. Reduce your energy consumption

The pollution that results from energy consumption is real. The fossil fuels we use are dirty, and obtained in destructive ways. When you reduce  the need for these types of energy, you also save money. For example, when you reduce your home energy usage, your power and heating bill goes down. You can save hundreds of dollars a year. Some of the easy steps you can take include using CFLs for lighting, unplugging electronics when they are not in use, line drying your clothes, automating your thermostat to work less when no one is home, etc.

2. Use less gas

Being too dependent on gasoline fueled cars means that your wallet is at the mercy of the volatile oil market. The emissions are harmful to the environment (and your health) to boot. If you can, walking or biking to work can help you save money on gas — and give you a good workout. Public transportation can help you save money on gas and parking, while reducing emissions. When running errands, plan your trip so that you use less gas. And, if you can afford it, a hybrid car or a car that runs on alternative fuels can help you spend less on gas while reducing your emissions. My family’s Prius is saving us about $360 a year on gas.

3. Eat more locally produced foods

Transporting foods long distances to bring them to our grocers’ shelves is inefficient on many levels. You can save money when you buy locally produced foods. Or you can even grow your own. An organic garden can be a great way to save money on trips to the grocery store, while using fewer toxic resources. Local farmer’s markets and other operations can be good places to find local foods and reconnect with your community. We get our meat from a local family farm with grass-fed and free range animals. It costs less for us, and it is better for the environment.

Eating less meat over all can also save you money. Meat is one of the more expensive grocery items, and is hard on the environment from the time its raised, processed and shipped. We have reduced our consumption of red and white meats, and noticed a change in our grocery bill of between $25 and $35 a month.

4. Buy second-hand, or rent

What better way to reduce waste and live sustainably than to avoid buying lots of new things? You can avoid production of a new item, packaging, and transportation. Besides, new things are expensive. When it makes sense, you can save money by buying second hand. There are many stores that offer gently used items of reasonably high quality at discount. You can also use web sites like Freecycle and Craigslist to find  people with items to sell. Using rentals can also be a cost-effective and more sustainable way to accomplish what you need to on projects of limited duration. This also keeps an old item out of the garbage dumps for longer.

5. Make your own cleaning supplies

Many of the household cleaners that we are familiar with use harmful chemicals, non eco friendly packaging. And they are expensive! The good news is that you can make your own cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda, lemon and a little soap. Making your own laundry detergent costs less and is more environmentally friendly than buying from a  store.

Sure you can put solar panels on your roof (and get a tax credit  and possible state subsidies) to save the environment and money. But these small steps you take right away can actually add up to hundreds of dollars in savings every year — and help you towards a greener  lifestyle, much faster.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.