35 Low-Cost Ways To Green Your Lifestyle.


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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!

13. Stop junk mail from coming to your mailbox. Services such as Opt-Out Prescreen and Catalog Choice are both free and do a good job of stopping that flow. Cost: $0.

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!

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  1. If you live in the city, use public transportation. It is cheaper than owning a car and it saves you the time hunting for parking.
    If you really need a car consider diesel engines and use bio-diesel. Bio-diesel is mostly made out of recycled oils and fats.
    Hybrid electric cars are also good, but consider buying a gasoline powered car with a 1.1 liter engine, they are better on energy than the hybrids and they are very popular in Europe.

  2. Markuspea – What about when you go to work, go on vacation, or just go to sleep for the night? If you only had window unit AC’s, for example, you would only have 2 choices – on or off. That’s where the value of the programmable units come in.

  3. I have a problem with the programmable thermostat. I think i’ve read that its much more efficient to maintain a constant temperature rather than trying to heat up or cool down larger temperature differences.

  4. I don’t think you mentioned using a tankless water heater, did you? These will only heat water when you need it. And you can set the temperature to one desirable by you.

  5. In reading this post, I realised that I had not been aware of the use of LED lightbulbs as household lighting. It makes perfect sense to me that this technology would be used in this fashion, but I had not been exposed to it. How popular have LED lightbulbs become in the home? Are they readilly available and compatible with standard light fixtures? I need to do some research on this. I have several LED flashlights, but haven’t looked into LED lights for the home.

  6. They are getting more popular, but they are still expensive. I am testing some out in my house right now and will be writing about it soon. Thanks for the comment Chris!

  7. Also buy 100% recycled copy paper instead of virgin stuff. I just convinced my work to switch, i calculated we were using over a tree’s worth of paper a week!

  8. Great tips!

    Noam: I agree completely with you about using public transportation. Having just moved from a city with a great subway system to one where having a car is almost unavoidable I really miss riding the subway. It’s soooo much cheaper than driving and much more relaxing too (I miss my reading time). .

  9. Hi guys,

    Here’s a great tip that has saved me a lot of money. Go to a local corporation and ask if you can put a “paper box” inside of the copy room, where people can put one-side-printed non-confidential paper for reuse by you. I did this and now I have bucket loads of one sided paper I use for disposable printing (like Yahoo maps, ToDo lists, etc.l)

    Refill your ink instead of buying new ones. I know, it’s a PITA, but it saves money, resources, but not your time. 😉

  10. If you live in Metro Vancouver, shop for all your office needs at http://www.frogfile.ca — every thing they sell you is good or better for the environment. Even if you can’t get their service, check out their products and buy them where you live. Their 100% post-consumer paper is simply excellent!

  11. Use your push bike for going to your work if you can
    petrol is not cheep in the UK at £5 or $10 a Gallon
    try and workout a rout that takes you away form any majar roads

  12. One new item (and I’m not affiliated with them in any way) I found is Memorex has a new line of products that are suppose to be enviromentally friendly. I haven’t evaluated it myself in depth, but looks good on the surface. It can be found at

  13. “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! ……..”

    I don’t like this one. This is absurd, for it is non-sustainable. Buying used stuff is opportunity based. Being green need not be at the dispensation of others.

    I suspect most will not agree. I do buy used stuff but not to proclaim to be green.

  14. I avoid buying liquid detergents. They require larger PLASTIC bottles and they are heavier which means more weight to ship to stores which means more trucks.

    And you forgot a big one! (i think)
    Use cloth diapers!

  15. Of course, all of these ideas suggest ways that an individual can reduce his/her footprint, and are all admirable. BY FAR the best way to reduce the load that humans put on this planet is to REDUCE THE NUMBER OF HUMANS… controlling the plague of humans is the ONLY long term solution. Even if we all HALVED our individual impacts (which is highly unlikely) it makes no difference if the human population doubles (which, without a global population policy, is very likely). It is estimated that the Earth can sustain about 2 billion people with an acceptable living standard. We already have three times this number! All other suggestions are merely delaying the inevitable!!

  16. It’s a little difficult to use as you have to find your catalog. However Victoria’s Secret is in there along with Avon and probably other big names. It’s just a little too much manual work. It would be nice to opt out of everything and be able to opt in specifics :-).

    The Opt Out Pre-Screen of credit cards and insurance though is a one stop shopping and I have used it before. It works great.

  17. Just about everything in my home, furniture included is used. You can get some very nice things used. sometimes they’ve been used by several families and are still in good shape, its not absurd at all.

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