Going green normally gets a bad rep as being an expensive lifestyle. But in reality, caring for the planet and being conscious of your surroundings shouldn't cost you a cent! In fact, it should reduce your overall spending in the long run. Here are ten things that you can do to not only live an eco-friendly lifestyle, but also to save some money or even gain some in the process.
Conserve water. It sounds like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, many still under appreciate the value of water. In the U.S. alone, 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste more than 90 gallons a day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Census reports that there are 128,203,000 housing units in the country, and if you do the math, that's 1.15 billion gallons wasted a day! So do your part, fix your leaks and use water-efficient fixtures in your home. Additionally, try and limit your water usage - is a one-hour shower really necessary? There are a number of ways to conserve water, from little things like turning off the faucet while you're brushing to large-scale ones like properly managing your water sprinkler system, so it's up to you to be aware and responsible in your overall water usage.
Save on energy. Just like water, conserving energy at home is not only the green thing to do, it will also save you hundreds and perhaps, thousands of dollars on your bill. So turn off those lights when no one is in the room and unplug those appliances when not in use. Those with a central air-conditioning system should also ensure that their home is properly insulated, and that gaps and holes around your windows and doors are properly secured. It's all about being conscious of what you're using in your home and subtracting unnecessary energy-spending.
Grow your own garden. Most people balk at the prices of organic goods in their grocery stores, so why not grow them yourself? Turn your backyard space into an organic garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables. How amazing would it be to serve fresh tomatoes that you grew yourself? Even if you live in an apartment, you can still do your part by growing herbs that you can easily bloom in a pot and place on the windowsill. Opt for a plant that you would normally purchase on the grocery store shelves to add on your favorite dishes, like parsley or basil.
Work at home. Of course, not everyone has the option of being able to work remotely, but if your job allows you that opportunity, then do it! Many companies these days are beginning to understand that allowing their employees to stay home can be very beneficial in many ways as long as they have the proper technology to effectively do their jobs. Besides having a more satisfied workforce, businesses who allow workers to do their tasks at home can add savings to their overhead expenses. For the individuals, working from home has many advantages - no longer do you have to wake up two or three hours early just to prep and commute. Doing your job in the comforts of your own home can also reduce your carbon footprint since you're not traveling in a vehicle to get to your office, and best of all, you don't have to pay for gas or transportation fare!
Alternative forms of energy. Whether solar panels, wind turbines or hybrid vehicles, alternative energy options are now readily available for residential use, and it's up to you to choose whether they have a spot in your home. Of course, switching to an alternative form of energy requires capital, so you have to weigh different factors including your location and the overall effectiveness in using these types of energy sources, as well as the money that you'll be saving in the long run. However, for certain homeowners who qualify, renewable energy rebates offered by individual states, as well as the federal goverment, can provide a significant return for the initial investment of alternative energy sources.
Recycle in every sense of the word. Recycling not only means sorting your paper with your plastic, it also means reusing and repurposing things that you might otherwise throw out after they've been used. Got jelly jars everywhere? Use them to store small knickknacks and hardware, as opposed to purchasing storage units. There's also nothing wrong with handing down clothes from your older children to the youngest ones. Of course, there's a chance that the young'ins will cringe at the thought of wearing their older sibling's clothes, so get creative! If you're good with the sewing machine, reconstruct the fabrics and create a piece that your kid will love. Not only are these eco-conscious decisions, you will also be saving some extra cash in the process.
Go paperless. The internet is not only the greatest source of information for individuals everywhere, it's also a tool that you can use to go green. Opt for paperless billing on your next month's electric and water bills. Most payments can be done without you having to mail it in or traveling and wasting gas to get to your local branch office - you can pay in the comforts of your own home with a computer or a smartphone. You can also go paperless for your book purchases. Sites like Amazon.com offer electronic versions of books and other publications that you can easily view with a computer or an e-reader. If you own a company, going paperless is also a great way of being eco-friendly and saving money at the same time. Transferring all your documents into an electronic format will enable you to free up extra storage space in your office. Having all your documents virtually stored (just make sure you have a backup!) will also make it easier for everyone to search files without the need to dig around.
Buy online. Going hand in hand with using the Internet to go paperless is purchasing online, or to at least compare prices through different websites before going out and buying something. Instead of driving around store to store and increasing your carbon footprint, why not sit down and relax in front of your computer first and look at your options online? Many stores these days post the prices of their products online so you can shop around for the best deal even before stepping in your car. Additionally, you can just as easily buy something online with the click of a mouse button. For even more savings, many companies post deals where you can save more money if you buy the product online. An Amazon Promotion Code, for example, can be used to further your savings if you purchase anything from the Amazon.com website.
Invest your green in green companies. This is not so much saving money as it is making money by going green! If you're an investor looking to buy shares for your portfolio, why not look for companies that are socially and environmentally responsible? You can also invest in green sectors like renewable energy, organic foods, and any industry that involves pollution control and cleanup, according to the Tree Hugger. Investing your green in a green company can not only potentially multiply your investment, it might also help the company further its eco-conscious goals because you're providing them with the necessary funding needed to expand their business, giving them the opportunity to evolve.
Teach green. Perhaps the most effective form of going green is to teach others about your initiative so they can, in turn, do the same for others. If you have children, start educating them about the importance of conserving and caring for the environment at a young age. Growing up with this ideology instilled in their minds will mold individuals who will actively participate in green initiatives without you having to force them into doing so. Imagine a home where your kids consciously turn of the lights when not in use or eat fresh organic vegetables! It's up to you to foster their growth as they become responsible adults who will care about their environment. Besides your children, you can also let your voice be heard by doing volunteer work in your community. Be an active participant and converse with like-minded individuals - you never know, what you say and do can greatly impact someone else's life.
In the end, going green will not only help the future of the planet, it can also help the future of your savings! You don't even have to do these all at once - a little bit goes a long way. So the next time you're home alone, be conscious about your surroundings and see what you can do to help, even just a little, whether it's replacing a leaky faucet or turning off the lights in the next room. You never know, that split second action of turning the switch can eventually save you money in the long run.
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