The Dirt-Poor Dozen
Reprinted from The Triangle, April 2011
12 Ways to Go Green On a Budget and Save!
Grass fed beef, eco-granola-organic everything and planting trees to offset that last airplane flight are all great for the planet, but may cost more than the average greenies can afford. If your budget doesn’t run to buying a new hybrid vehicle and Energy Star appliances or having extra insulation or solar panels installed, lower cost actions certainly exist, but what if you are barely rubbing two nickels together by payday? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could save money while you get your green on?
Read on for what I am calling the Dirt-Poor Dozen: green actions that save the planet and your money at the same time.
- Replace burned incandescent bulbs with CFLs. Yes, they cost more upfront, but use 80 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing 10 bulbs with CFLs saves about $67.50 per year.
- Buy in bulk. It costs less, reduces packaging waste and eliminates shop-ping trips.
- Cut back or reduce paper product use. Cloth cleaning rags and cloth napkins work just as well. The average household uses 1.5 paper towel rolls weekly. So plan to save around $4.50 per month.
- Buy rechargeable batteries. Earth 911 did the math and while you’ll spend $9 more the first year, you’ll save $11 per year after that.
- Invest in a programmable thermo-stat. Units run $60, installation around $50, so you’ll save $70 the first year and $180 each year after, according to Energy Star.
- Deep six the bottled water and buy your own re-usable bottle. Use faucet filters or those in pitchers to make your own filtered water. You’ll save money and landfill space.
- Make your own cleaning supplies. Baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and soap can do what most bottled products do, without harmful chemicals, for a lot less money.
- Buy second hand. Not just clothing, think furniture, vehicles, appliances and more. Our mobile society makes for lots of gently used items no one wants to ship long distances. Reduce the use of raw material and factory emissions; check garage sales, Craig’s List and Freecycle before you spend a dime.
- Grow some of your own food. No yard? No excuse! Containers of cherry tomatoes, climbing beans on balcony trellises and herbs in the windowsill make compact money savers for urban-ites.
- Wash clothes in cold water. Most get just as clean while you save money and reduce power plant emissions.
- Inflate your tires for better gas mile-age and lower auto emissions.
- Clean your home air filter monthly and clean refrigerator, freezer coils once per year. You’ll save on energy costs, the unit will last longer and you’ll reduce emissions, too.
Savings will vary depending on each household’s current habits, but why not give some of these ideas a try and track the savings? If it works for you, expand the impact and tell a friend.