How being eco-friendly can help you save hundreds
Sure, you know that saving the earth is important, but buying “green” products can be super-expensive. But there are affordable ways to do your part to lessen your environmental footprint — you’ll even save some cash at the same time.
Go Shopping (for New Appliances)!
If your appliances are from the mid-’90s or before, they’re probably so inefficient that it makes sense to replace them. Look for appliances with the Energy Star label, which means that they use 10 to 50 percent less water and energy than standard models—a substantial savings on your utility bills. (According to Department of Energy calculations, a new clothes washer can save you up to $110 a year on your energy bills.) Find more information on the Energy Star program.
Break Out the Baking Soda
Baking soda is a nontoxic substance that helps regulate pH, getting rid of bad odors caused by too much acidity (food, BO) and two much base (fish and smoke). Plus, it’s a gentle cleanser. Make a paste with BS and water for a chemical-free way to shine your silver, pour it down the sink and run warm water to deodorize, or use it to scrub the tub.
Slay (Energy) Vampires
Energy vampires are electronics (like TVs, DVD players and cell phone chargers) that still use energy even when they’re turned off. Guess what? This wasted power can add up to 20 percent to your energy bill. The best way to cut down on energy-sucking is to unplug your appliances when they’re not in use, or plug them all into a power strip and turn that off. If all that switching is too much of a hassle (and let’s face it, having the clock on your DVD player is convenient), at least unplug your cell phone charger when it’s not in use.
Pack a Bottle
According to one estimate, Americans go through more than 30 million water bottles a year. If you’re drinking that water on the go, you’re probably throwing the bottle in the garbage — and that adds up to a lot of trash. Fill up a reusable water bottle and you can stay hydrated, cut down on waste and save cash. If the bottles of water you buy in a store are about $1 each, this baby will pay for itself in about eight uses.
Cruise in the Slow Lane
Gas mileage drops considerably when you go over 60 mph. According to the Department of Energy, you pay about 20 cents more per gallon for each 5 mph you go over 60. Over time, that’s a lot of extra fuel, and cash! Excessive accelerating and heavy breaking can also make your car less efficient, so make it a smooth ride. For more ways to save on car expenses, go to fueleconomy.gov.
Plant a Tree — Seriously
Adding trees to the south, east and west side of your house shades your home, keeping it cooler. That means savings of up to 25 percent on your home cooling costs. Get more ideas from the government’s Energy Savers Web site.
Print on Both Sides
Whether you’re at work or in your home office, whenever possible, print on both sides of your paper to reduce your consumption. Or, even better, store files and emails on your computer, so you’re not using any paper at all.
Try to use plants and flowers that are native to your area in your garden. The benefit? Because they’re already adapted to the soil and water conditions, you won’t have to use as much fertilizer and water to get them to grow. For more information and lists of regional plants, go to plantnative.org.
Say, “It’s Vintage”
Shopping at thrift stores like Goodwill or buying used goods on eBay can be super-cheap, but it’s also eco-friendly. Why? There’s none of the energy consumed that would be used in manufacturing and transporting something new. Plus, you’re reusing furniture and clothing that might otherwise get thrown away. No need to say it’s a thrift-store find. Just call it “vintage” or “antique.”
Get Your Kids in on It
Visit The Greens at meetthegreens.org, an interactive site for teens and tweens that features animated clips, a blog, games and more. Hosted by two cartoon middle schoolers, the show teaches kids ways they can conserve and save the environment. Will it get your kid to do the laundry — line-drying, of course? One can only hope.