We only have one Earth and we must do our best to take good care of it. The good news is that it is easier than ever to be green. And we want to help you out in that noble endeavor. So we did little research, compared our notes and came up with this list. Hopefully, it will help you save the money while doing the right thing. Here are…
10 Ways to Save Money and Help Save the Planet
Some of these tips you can adopt today…
1. Get a reusable bag
This is not only the right thing to do, but soon this will be the only option you could take, with many cities and municipalities banning or imposing charges for single-use plastic bags and/or paper sacks at grocery stores and other retailers. For instance, Chicago has a tax of 7 cents per bag that applies to any bag purchased from a retailer, whether made of plastic or paper. In addition, there are some retailers, like Target, that will actually reward your decision to bring your own (reusable) bag with a nickel, which isn’t a lot but it’s a nice touch — and that’s another reason why we like Target so much.
2. And a reusable cup
A reusable tumbler for your latte is no longer a weird thing to do — it is rather hip, and also a rewarding experience with Starbucks offering a dime if you bring in your own reusable cup. To put it in different perspective, this way you will get 100th coffee drink for free. And Starbucks is not the only one taking this route — other coffee and fast food chains are joining this trend, as well.
3. Limit your driving
Even if you live in Houston where literally everyone is driving, you can use ride-sharing apps and save. In other places, there is public transportation, biking and walking — the last two of which are becoming increasingly popular as they are not just good for your wallet but also for your health. In comparison, driving a car costs $8,550 per year, according to AAA’s estimates based on 15,000 miles of annual driving at 57 cents per mile.
4. Shop thrift stores
Do you really need new clothes all the time? How about checking a second-hand shop to save some money and the environment. At a thrift store, you can get up to 90 percent off the price of retail first-hand goods and extend the use of clothes. Also, you can drop off things you’re not wearing and make yourself much greener than the vast majority of American whose clothes end up in landfills.
5. Recycling pays
Start at Earth911.com where you can locate the nearest recycling center that accepts the types of items you want to dispose of. You will also want to learn the rules to know how to prepare stuff for recycling. Speaking of stuff, you can recycle bottles and earn 5-10 cents per bottle, printer cartridges (around $2), phones and electronics (varies a lot), clothes, and more. For clothes, you can also bring them to a local nonprofit and write off the donation on your taxes.
6. Sell scrap metal
Again, check out Earth911.com for all the details how to put used metal back to work. Generally speaking, you can sell brass, iron, steel, copper, aluminum and wire that can be turned into cash at a scrap yard. You may want to use a magnet to know what kind of a metal you have — if it sticks to the item you want to sell, it’s made out of not-so-valuable steel or iron. Otherwise, it could be copper, aluminum, brass, stainless steel or bronze, which have a higher resale value. Check out iScrapApp or ScrapRegister for scrap yards and prices.
7. Reset your thermostat when you’re not home
To save money on your heating and cooling bills, make sure to reset your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. According to Madison Gas & Electric, people save $74 per heating season by setting back the thermostat by 3 degrees. The utility recommends setting daytime temperature at 68 degrees when you’re at home and 55 degrees at night and when you’re out. If you still don’t have one, consider getting a programmable thermostat to adjust at different times and days, so you won’t have to fiddle with the setting throughout the day.
8. Consider replacing old appliances
If you have some old appliances in your home, consider replacing them with newer Energy Star models. The Energy Star label ensures that the product meets energy-efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and the Department of Energy. Appliances with this label deliver up to 30 percent lower energy consumption, hence the premium price of compliant products is easily paid off. Whether we are talking about a refrigerator, a washing machine, an AC or some other appliance — you can get an Energy Star “version” of it.
9. Remember to unplug
Just turning off lights when you leave a room is not enough — you will also have to consider other so called “energy vampires” which keep sucking electricity even when they are (seemingly) turned off. Start with your cellphone charger, which consumes 0.26 watts of energy when it’s left plugged in after your phone is disconnected, and 2.24 watts when your phone is fully charged and still connected. Also, there’s a cable box with DVR left on and unused, computer that is working throughout the night with no good reason, and more. (Related: 7 Ways to Save Money on Electricity)
10. Consider solar power
This won’t work for everyone as it requires to pay a significant amount upfront or take a loan for that purpose. Also, depending on where you live — the price of electricity, the cost of installing solar panels and the amount of sunlight available are a few factors that vary a lot. Nevertheless, with solar technology becoming cheaper with the day, you may want to check out whether there are some savings it could bring to your electricity bill. To that end, you’ll want to learn whether there are financial incentives from local, state and federal governments and utility companies available to you. Type in your ZIP code at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to see incentives where you live, and then contact a local solar installer to ask for an estimate of costs and payback. Then do the math.
There are many other ways you could try, but we had to limit our list somehow. For instance, you could use natural vinegar or baking soda instead of traditional petroleum-based household cleaners. Or you could make your own compost for the garden (if you have one), get a hybrid or all-electric vehicle, and/or start buying stuff exclusively from eco-friendly vendors. That being said we would still like to hear your thoughts — is there anything else you think we should include to our list? Do let us know…