Earth Day is a great time to remember what we can do to help “green” the planet. These suggestions have dual benefits; they contribute to environmentally friendliness, but they also save us money. Let’s take a look at some everyday ideas you can implement around the home, outside and at work.
When you eat and drink
- Use cloth napkins: Instead of repeatedly buying packages of paper napkins, set the table with cotton or linen ones that eventually end up in the washer, not the recycling bin.
- Carry your mug: Coffee shops often give discounts to customers who bring in their reusable cups.
- Grow your own: Vegetables, herbs, berries and fruit from your garden taste better than store-bought and save you trips to the market.
- Eat less meat: Too much meat, especially beef, negatively effects our health, so bulk up those dishes with vegetables, a much cheaper way to go.
- Utilize residual heat: Cut down your power bill by turning off the oven five minutes before your casserole is finished. It will continue to cook.
- Track your trash: This helps you know if you’re buying too much of a certain food or beverage and not getting to it before it spoils.
- Freeze or can: Preserve the bounty from your home-grown produce for eating the rest of the year.
When you get ready in the morning
- Replace your showerhead: According to the Department of Energy, a low-flow model costs between $10 and $20 and causes you to use as much as 60 percent less water than a regular showerhead.
- Turn off the water: Don’t let the tap run while brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving, which lets much of that precious resource go down the drain.
- Insulate your hot water heater: The Department of Energy says you pay a one-time cost of $30 for a heater blanket. That investment gives you a savings of up to $45 every year.
- Buy wash-and-wear clothing: Clothes that need dry cleaning cost you more money and add toxic chemicals to the environment.
When you garden
- Kill weeds with vinegar: Instead of buying pricey weed killer, mix one gallon of inexpensive white vinegar, one cup of salt and a tablespoon of dish detergent. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and dowse your weeds with it. This solution works best on a sunny day.
- Add a compost bin to your yard: Compost gives your soil the nutrients it needs without having to buy a special soil mix from a nursery. It also helps you get rid of table scraps including coffee grounds, tea leaves, fruit and vegetable peelings and egg shells.
- Reuse pantyhose: For those garden vegetables like pole beans and tomatoes that need stakes to grow straight, cut off pieces of old pantyhose to use for ties.
- Start a co-op: Ask your neighbors or co-workers to go in together and swap extra vegetables, fruits and eggs from backyard chickens. That way nothing goes to waste.
When you drive
- Turn on cruise control: You’ll get better mileage and won’t stress your right foot as much.
- Drive sustainably: Idling, braking often, speeding and carrying cargo on the roof all negatively impact your gas mileage.
- Maintain your car: Performing routine maintenance like changing the oil, air filter and keeping the tires properly inflated also saves on gas.
When you work
- Flip the computer paper: Whenever possible use both sides of the paper you print on, which should make it last almost twice as long.
- Unplug machines: As long as computers, copiers, printers, etc. are plugged into live outlets they use power, which increases your power bill.
- Ask to telecommute: By working from home you save on travel, clothing maintenance, you don’t use the office’s supplies and best of all the boss can’t monitor you.