You don’t have to spend a lot to go green. Advertisers and corporations want you to think that you do, but in truth it’s the exact opposite. You don’t need to buy a solar-powered house, lease a Tesla Model S, or live in the dark eating berries from your backyard. In fact, going green is not only inexpensive, but it can also help you save money and live a frugal lifestyle.
With a very small outlay of cash, you can clean up your carbon footprint like a champion. Here’s how.
Make your own safe, nontoxic, natural cleaners. You can unclog your drain with vinegar and baking soda. You can wash your windows and countertops with vinegar and the juice from lemons. You can kill mold with tea tree oil and you can buy safe alternatives to bleach. For a few bucks, you can naturally clean your entire house for the price of one or two bottled cleaners.
Stop using so much electricity. If you don’t want to buy CFL or LED bulbs for every light in your home, at least buy a few for the lights you use most. Many people prefer incandescent bulbs and have been buying them when they can find them, but eventually the supply of those is going to run out. For now, pick up a few (very) inexpensive CFL bulbs (LEDs are more pricey) and use them sparingly. The couple of dollars you spend on them will significantly cut your utility bill while lasting up to 10 times as long as “old-fashioned” bulbs. No need to run out and get new stoves, fridges, washing machines. It would be nice if we all could, but that’s not the case for most people. $10 on lightbulbs, though? Easily doable and saves a ton of money (and energy).
Grow your own food. You may consider yourself a “brown thumb” but growing your own vegetables is fun and rewarding – and very, very cheap. Packets of seeds often cost less than $1, and organic seeds are readily available should you want to go that route. Plant them in the dirt, give them some water, and chances are you will be able to replace at least some of your weekly grocery store vegetable shopping list. Plus, you get outside and get a little exercise in!
Shop for used goods. Not everyone loves a good thrift store, but I do. And I have no issue with buying used clothes, shoes, or household items. In the “old days” people used to keep things forever; nothing got thrown away. Today’s society likes to toss perfectly good stuff in favor of the newest whatever, so lots of good items end up in thrift stores. What’s better for the environment and your wallet: a $3 used t-shirt or a $30 new t-shirt? That’s what I thought. Start shopping at thrift stores, garage and estate sales, flea markets, and clothing swaps. The only thing you have to lose is a few hours of your time.
Stop it with the bottled water. Just stop. Except in certain situations, there is absolutely no need to buy bottled water. The majority of it is just tap water anyway! Pick up a good water filter and a reusable water bottle. Voila – all the fresh, clean water you can drink and no more plastic bottles to fill landfills. A few bucks investment pays off in spades.
Turn your water heater temperature down. This costs absolutely nothing and can save you hundreds of dollars per year. Turn the temperature down to 120 degrees and not only will you stop scalding yourself every time you turn on the hot water, but you will save a ton of money. Seriously, do this one immediately. It’s the first thing I do when I move into a new place.
Don’t go out to eat as much. Stay home and eat some of those delicious veggies you grew in your backyard! This eliminates a trip in the car, eating foods of unknown origins, and paying through the nose for a meal that would have cost a fraction of the price if you made it at home. I am not saying give up eating out entirely, just do it less often. I like a good meal out as much as the next guy, but we do eat at home the vast majority of the time.
Turn your thermostat up or down just 2 degrees. You won’t know the difference but your wallet – and the planet – will. Just a few degrees warmer in the summer or cooler in the winter can save you money while reducing your draw on the utility grid, resulting in less emissions. What’s a few degrees between friends, anyway?
Get a bike. Carpool. Take public transportation. Personal automobiles take up quite a bit of our monthly income, don’t they? If you really want to save money and go green, try riding your bike to work, take the train or bus, or hitch a ride with a coworker. Not only are those options a lot cheaper than owning and maintaining a car, they are better for the environment too. Less money, less pollution, more fun!
Seriously, I could go on and on with this list of frugal things you can do to go green. Power strips for all electronics, visit the library instead of the bookstore, line dry your clothes – the list is pretty much never-ending. And the best part is that most all of them are free or dirt cheap; you really have no excuse to get started at your house. Many people think that being frugal means going without, but the truth is that it actually means living more green and with much less of a carbon footprint with your free-spending peers.
Enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing you are doing your part!
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