Here are some low-cost ways to green your life:
1. Line dry your clothes. Dryers don’t even come with an “Energy Star” rating – that’s how bad they are in terms of energy consumption. Line or rack drying your clothes saves a ton of energy and thus CO2 from going into the environment. Cost: $20 or less.
2. Compost your food scraps. Small indoor composters are very inexpensive and save a ton of waste from going to the landfill. The newer ones don’t even smell, and worm bins are even more effective! Cost: $40 and up.
3. Replace your light bulbs with CFL’s or LED lights. A small upfront investment can save hundreds of dollars (an a lot of energy) over the lifespan of these bulbs. Cost: CFL’s cost about $5 each.
4. Install a programmable thermostat. By having the temperature in your house automatically regulated, you can save money on your utility bills. Cost: Starting at $50.
5. Install sink water aerators. These cheap little things slow down the flow of water out of your sink, saving you money and saving us all water use. Cost: $2-$3
6. Replace the weatherstripping on your doors and windows. Stop the cold air from getting in and the heat from escaping during the upcoming winter. Cost: $5+ per roll.
7. Plant some native trees in your yard. By spending some money on trees, you not only shade your house so you can use less AC, but you also help to absorb CO2 in the air. Cost: $30 and up.
8. Insulate your hot water heater and your water pipes. This can help keep the heat in your house down (in the summer) and help your heater to work less to heat your water. Cost: $50 or so.
9. Keep your fridge coils clean. Do you clean the back/underside of your fridge? If not, it might be working harder than it needs to to run efficiently. Cost: $0.
10. Run your dishwasher only when it is full. Make sure you make the best use of the water and energy needed to run a dishwasher! Cost: No more than your regular use!
11. Make sure all your major electronics are on power strips. Even when they are “off”, stereo equipment and computers continue to draw electricity. Turning off a power strip at night or when you leave the house reduces energy use and saves money. Cost: As little as $10.
12. Wash your clothes only in cold water. I don’t use hot water for anything anymore, and our clothes are just as clean. Cost: Nothing, really!
14. Buy a convection oven. Using a convection oven for smaller meals instead of the big oven can save a ton of energy use. Cost: $50-$150.
15. Use rechargeable batteries. We no longer need to buy any batteries, as we have a full set of rechargeables for all of the gadgets, remotes and smoke detectors in the house. Recharging batteries keeps dead ones out of the landfill and saves you money in the long run. Cost: $10 and up.
16. Be sure you have a low-flow shower head. Today there are great ones available that actually provide a great amount of pressure but use less water. I just got this one and we love it. Cost: $39.
17. Spend some money on houseplants. A lot of plants inside your house both clean the air and provide fresh oxygen. Cost: $10 and up.
18. Make an all-purpose cleaner from baking soda and water. Combine 4 spoon-fulls of baking soda and a quart of water in a spray bottle, and you can use it to clean almost anything. Cost: $1.50
19. Use washable rags instead of paper towels. Using old rags to clean up messes not only saves you a few bucks but also keeps paper out of the landfill. Cost: Potentially $0 if you have rags laying around.
20. Invest in a barrel to collect rainwater from your downspouts. This water can then be used to water any and all outdoor plants. Cost: $50 and up.
21. Use both sides of computer paper. Once you print something and no longer need it, cut it up and make a notepad out of it. Cost: $0.
22. Stop the bottled water use! Bottled water has been shown to be no better than your typical tap water – it just costs more and leaves a trail of empty plastic bottles everywhere. Invest in a faucet water filter and a reusable water bottle to save money and help the environment. Cost: $20
23. Bring your own bag to the store – any store. Most people talk about bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, but why not bring them everywhere? We leave a few in the car in case we stop to shop somewhere unexpectedly. Cost: A few bucks, if not free.
24. Use online banking. I know a lot of people are afraid of it, but really – it’s much easier for a thief to grab the mail out of your mailbox then it is for them to access your online accounts. Online banking saves you time, money for stamps, and reduces the amount of paper mail coming to your house. Cost: $0.
25. Rotate your car tires on a regular basis. Keeping your tires inflated to the right PSI and rotated regularly saves fuel. Cost: $25 a couple of times a year.
26. When painting, choose low or no VOC paints. Volatile Organic Compounds are what makes paint smell so bad and make it hard to breath. By choosing low or no VOC paint, it’s healthier for your home and yourself. Cost: The same as regular paint.
27. Read your favorite newspaper or magazine online instead of receiving the paper version. I enjoy sitting down with a magazine as much as the next person, but we are trying to get our delivery subscriptions down to the bare minimum as we try to read the rest of them online. Even the NY Times is now free to read online. Cost: $0.
28. Get yourself a library card and use it. Self-explanatory, I think! Cost: $0.
29. When buying big ticket items, spend the money and buy things that will last. Buying a toaster that will last 5-10 years is a better use of money than buying a cheap one that will break in a year. Doing so keeps things out of landfills for longer.
30. Shut off your computer and monitor when you leave work for the day. Nothing used to bug me as much as when my boss would leave for the day, leaving his office lights on, his monitor on, and his computer on. Unless your company backs up your computers at night on a network, there is no need to leave it on.
31. Unplug your cellphone once it is done charging. Once that light turns green, you are just wasting electricity. I only charge mine once it is about to run out of juice! Cost: $0.
32. Buy recycled paper toilet paper. The good brands (Seventh Generation, to name one) feel just as good as virgin paper, but save tons of chlorine pollution from the bleaching process and conserve millions of trees and gallons of water. Cost: Exactly the same as virgin paper TP.
33. Have a small yard? Why not try a push lawnmower like grandpa used to use! Cost: $50 and up.
34. Install outdoor solar lights. Instead of lighting the path to your front door using electricity, try some solar lights that charge all day and light up all night. Cost: $25 and up.
35. Buy it used. Anything – furniture, clothing, electronics – can be bought used in good shape. This saves one more thing from going to a landfill! Cost: Cheaper than new!
Do you do anything to green your life that I did not mention? Let me know in the comments!
Copyright © 2002-2013. All rights reserved