It used to be that being “green” was a luxury, as many environmentally conscious products were much more expensive and out of reach for the every day spender.
Fortunately, nowadays that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a number of amazing products, as well as choices you can make, that will not only help lessen your environmental impact, but help keep your pocketbook flush with cash as well. So, let’s take a look at eight easy things anyone can do to both be green, and save some green.
Cut down on bottled water
After a hot day or a tough activity, it can be almost a reflex to go to the store and grab a bottle of water or soda. But at a dollar or a dollar fifty a pop, those little expenses can add up. And they also really add up to a lot of unnecessary plastic in landfills.
So, before you head out for the day, bring an aluminum water container, filled with ice cold tap water from home. It’ll last you hours, you can refill it at any old water fountain or sink, it’ll help save lots of oil from being turned into wasteful plastic, and best of all, it could save you up to $50 of drink expenses per month.
Borrowing, not buying
Here’s one any tech junkie will really appreciate. Not only are social networks great for keeping up with friends, and occasionally killing time, they can help you save some real cash by avoiding unnecessary purchases. Think of all the random things you’ve had to buy for an odd project or event, only to barely use ever again: drills, lawnmowers, tents, sleeping bags, etc.
Instead of buying those, with all the energy that goes into manufacturing them, consider renting one instead. There are a number of great sites that let you rent or borrow items from your friends and neighbours in the community: Zilok, Cloud of Goods, and more. So instead of shelling out a few hundred bucks for any of those items, you can rent it for a fraction of the price.
Grow your own garden
There’s nothing more delicious than biting into some fresh fruits or vegetables. But, stores like Whole Foods can charge an arm and a leg for seemingly anything that they’ve slapped a “local” or “organic” label on.
Instead of fretting about your grocery bill, head to a garden supply store, buy some seeds, and plant your own! Not only will you be cutting way down on packaging, and the fuel that goes into transporting produce to your town, but these’ll be way tastier and fresher than anything you can get at the store. Best of all, being a green thumb means spending only about $2 per pack of seeds, which wouldn’t even be enough to buy you one bag of carrots at the grocer.
Solar powered savings
It used to be that solar panels only made sense in the sunniest of locales. Due to increasingly efficient panels, as well as plummeting prices, that’s definitely no longer the case. In fact, thanks to a number of interesting programs, your upfront solar panel costs could be $0, while you still lock in savings (both monetarily and environmentally) on your monthly energy bill.
First, check with your local utility company to see if they have their own solar rebate program. Then, hit up established brands like Sungevity and SolarCity, which offer zero upfront cost solar programs of their own. As long as you’re not living in a cave, chances are this could save you big!
Check that thermostat
Here’s another one for your house, which actually requires basically no work at all, as well as nothing to purchase or sign up for. All you’ve got to do is keep tabs on that thermostat, and make sure you’re not using too much energy just for the sake of unnecessary cooling or heating, and all the pollution that entails back at the power plant.
For starters, make sure to turn off your thermostat whenever you leave the home, as well as turn it off (or way down) at night. In the winter, try setting the dial to 68 degrees, as opposed to 72. That should still be warm enough for most people, but you can always throw on a sweater if need be. Then in the summer, set it to 78° at a minimum. But, every degree above that you can tolerate will save you an additional 6 to 8 percent on your energy bill. So throw on some shorts and watch the savings roll by.
It seems like nowadays most light bulbs you see are those little bendy tube lights, known as compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs. But what about the light bulbs at your house? Next time one burns out, don’t reflexively reach for an incandescent, old-school bulb.
Instead, make sure to grab a CFL. They’ve plummeted in price, so as to be about only $2 per bulb, and they will quickly pay for themselves. Over its lifespan, each CFL bulb will save you about $30, and will also mean way less carbon is emitted into the air over at the power plant. And here’s a bonus for those really looking to make an investment – consider LED bulbs. They cost a little more up front, but are even more power efficient.
Use the library
Think about it – when was the last time you were at your local library? Now consider the fact that you’re already paying taxes to keep it open and stocked with amazing books, magazines, periodicals, movies and more. Given that the average American spends $118 a year on books, this one seems like a real no-brainer.
So, stop by your local branch, pick up some books, and kiss your Amazon budget goodbye. Not only will you be saving some trees from being pulped, you’ll be putting some serious paper back in your pocket.
Consider and electric bike
Here’s one you might not have considered – electric bicycles. Given that the average trip people make is only a few miles, almost every journey you do could actually be done on a bicycle. And when you add in the convenience of an electric bike, which helps you power over hills and not worry about getting sweaty, the convenience becomes obvious.
Then, think of how much you’re spending monthly on your car payments, gasoline, insurance, parking, repairs, and more. It adds up! A high quality electric bicycle, with a battery range of 40 to 60 miles, is only about $2,000. But to make it even more pocketbook friendly, select brands offer 0% financing, meaning you could be riding a brand new ebike for only $175 per month. Since a full charge only adds about 8 cents to your electric bill, the savings will start rolling in really quickly.
With so many great ways to save money and the earth at the same time, there’s only one question left: which one are you going to do first?
Brought to you by EVELO Electric Bicycles, the maker of amazing bikes for people of all ages and abilities.
Jonah Bliss writes about our cities and the people that they’re composed of, as well as the trends and technologies that help bring them together. Find more at The Love at First Ride blog.