You’re probably very kind to your mother but you should also be kind to your big mother – mother Earth. And being kind to that mother can pay off in another important way. It can help you save money. You may already know many of the conventional ways to save money such as carpooling, couponing and cutting down on restaurant meals. But here are some “green” things you could do that would both save you money and do nice things for the environment.
Plant a garden
You could grow vegetables and herbs in pots if you don’t have much yard space. The best vegetables to grow are ones that cost a lot at the store. Growing carrots or kale won’t save you much money but you could save a lot if you were to grow something such as asparagus. Plus, you would not be contributing to the environmental cost of moving those vegetables from the farm to the store to your house. If you just can’t grow your own and need fresh produce try buying it at a farmers’ market.
Don’t throw away those containers you get with salsa, yogurt, margarine and so forth. Turn them into small garbage or recycling bins for your car. You might also be able to recycle items such as those foil drink pouches as art supplies for your kids. After you use paper to print something on one side why not turn it over and print on the other? Instead of buying bottled water, carry a reusable water bottle or coffee mug with you wherever you go. And of course, you’ll want to have reusable grocery shopping bags.
Don’t buy as much
There’s really no reason to buy some stuff such as household cleaning products. You could use lemon, vinegar, and baking soda to create your cleaning products. Try to stay away from dryer sheets, all-purpose cleaners, and air fresheners as they can be toxic and their costs will add up. Use old socks and T-shirts in place of napkins and paper towels. Or go to yard sales and swap meets and collect vintage tea towels. As long as you are there why not look for cheap plates and utensils you could use for parties in place of silverware and paper plates? This will keep from adding stuff to the landfill as well as saving you money. The less you spend for the house, the more you can put aside for other expenses like debt payments.
Switch to a fuel-efficient car
If you upgrade to a more fuel-efficient car this will save you a lot of money and, of course, put less pollution in the air. The best alternative would be one of those zero emission, fully electric cars but this requires a pretty big initial investment. If that would be more than you could afford, look for a car that promises 35 or more miles per gallon. Almost every carmaker we can think of has hybrid versions of its best-selling cars that combine battery power with the gas engine. As an example of this, the Ford Fusion FWD hybrid promises a combined city and highway mileage of 42 MPG. The Toyota Prius, which started the whole hybrid automobile thing, claims 53 MPG in the city and 48 MPG on the highway. The Honda Civic Hybrid claims a combined 42 miles to the gallon, as does the Jetta Volkswagen Hybrid. And the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid checks in at 35 MPG.
You should also try to switch to energy-efficient appliances. Depending on where you live you might be able to get cash rebates for doing this and of course, you would be using fewer resources. If you have a backyard or a reasonably sized patio put out a drying rack or clothesline and dry your laundry the old-fashioned way.
Lose that lawn
It costs both money and energy to have a grass lawn. Ditch that grass and replace it with drought-resistant native plants or with urban landscaping. You will still have a nice-looking outdoor space and you will be conserving water and reducing the use of pesticides as well as saving money. You might also earn cash incentives from your water district for removing that water-hungry grass from your yard.
Whatever you’re going to places close to home, leave the car behind. Walk or ride instead. For example, you could bike or walk with the kids to school. If the school is just too far away park your car a few blocks away and then walk with your kids and you will be demonstrating a low-pollution solution and creating a habit that could stay with them for their entire lives.
Look for materials that are recyclable
There are actually people who make a sort of living exploring neighborhoods and scavenging for recyclable scrap metal. And no, not all of them are homeless people looking to earn a meal. You may not want to scavenge for scrap metal but at home, you could save paper, bottles, electronics, and cans with your family. You might be able to earn some extra cash by redeeming the stuff at your local recycling center. And you would certainly be doing something good for the environment. There’s an electronics recycling store near us that charges $.10 a pound to recycle just about everything except computer monitors and CRTs. We don’t mind paying the $2 or $3 it typically costs us to have them recycle our old tape players, Blu-ray players, computers, and DVRs because we would rather see them recycled that in a landfill. We may not be saving any money but we do feel much better about this solution.
Use little ways to save water
There are some little things you could do to save water and hence money that don’t require you to tear up your yard. For example, teach your children to turn off the water when they are brushing their teeth and you could also try to have them flush toilets less frequently. You could use rinse water to irrigate your plants and bath water to fill your toilet flush tanks. Every one of these little ideas will help conserve water and keep your bill down.
More ways to save money and still be green
Finally, here’s a short video, courtesy of National Debt Relief, with a bunch of other ways you could save money while being green.