You don’t need to spend thousands to put solar panels on your roof to feel like you are doing the right thing; even simple inexpensive changes can go a long way to helping the environment. For those of you not at the point of building a house out of tires and cans, here are some easy changes you can make starting today that won’t cost you any more than the same “non-green” item does, contrary to public opinion:
Buy office paper and envelopes made out of 100% post-consumer recycled paper. It is available most everywhere nowadays, and when I bought envelopes last week they were $.15 more than the virgin paper version.
Stop buying disposable sponges. Right next to the disposable ones in the store, there are washable ones that you use for a week and then throw in with the laundry. We have not bought a new sponge in over a year now!
If special eco-cleaners are too pricey where you live, don’t buy them. Instead, mix up some vinegar, water and any essential oil that you like the smell of to make your own for mere pennies. Most of the time, cleaners from companies like Seventh Generation or Ecover are about the same price as their toxic cousins, but sometimes not. Making your own can save you money and clean your home without toxins.
Buy recycled-content toilet paper. Yes, I know some of it is horrible – but the stuff from Trader Joe’s is great, it costs less than “regular” toilet paper, and is made from recycled paper. Do I really need to talk about how dumb using virgin, new paper in the bathroom is?
Pick up toothbrushes made from recycled yogurt containers. We buy the Preserve brand, which are a few cents more than a typical toothbrush except that A. it is made from recycled plastic and B. the company takes them back when you are done with them to turn them into playground equipment.
Next time you need batteries, consider rechargeable ones. I have not bought new batteries in forever, as when they go dead I just put them in the charger for a few hours and they are good as new. A one time investment can stop you from buying batteries year-round and is well worth the minor expense.
Get a few reusable bags for the grocery store. Our natural foods store sells bags for $1.00 – a very small expense to stop using paper and plastic. And when I need to ship something like a book to someone, I go ahead and get a paper bag at the store to use as a wrapping for shipping!
Keeping your tires inflated to the correct PSI costs nothing and saves you money. Filling them up can improve your gas mileage by more than 3% on gas costs.
Find a “green” dry cleaner instead of the ones that use toxic chemicals. It doesn’t cost anymore, and it is better for both you and the rest of us. Here is some help for finding a green dry cleaner.
All of these tips and ideas do not cost any more than what you are spending now; it’s just about making a better choice when you have the opportunity to do so. I understand that people are concerned about the cost of “going green”, but if you take the time to check it out I think you will find that most things do not cost more than their regular alternative. So next time you are at the store, look for the better version of whatever you are buying and check the price – I think you will be pleasantly surprised!
For those of you already on this path, what could you add to the list? What simple steps have you taken that didn’t cost you any more than you would normally spend? Let us know!
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