“Going green” is more important than ever as we learn the increasingly negative impacts of wasteful habits on the environment. Your weekly trash pickup makes it easy to forget how much waste you’re creating, but our landfills are the reminder: these sites are the second-largest source of methane gas emissions. And you may be surprised (or horrified) to learn that by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean, according to a study conducted in 2016.
Though high prices on organic and all-natural products might make you believe that “going green” is a costly endeavor, you don’t have to buy stuff to live more sustainably. Eliminating waste in landfills and oceans starts with adopting frugal consumer habits. Living more mindfully will not only make you feel good, it will help promote a cleaner, greener planet. Consider these eight ways being more eco-friendly is also better for your wallet.
1. Eliminate paper waste. Since everything is digital these days, it’s easy to go paperless with practice. Save some trees and keep paper-waste out of landfills by going paperless whenever you can. Cancel magazine subscriptions you no longer use, opt for paperless billing for your monthly statements, and start using e-cards or e-invites for special occasions. Avoid buying paper plates and napkins, which are not only costly but create waste. Instead, invest in cloth napkins and reusable dishes, subscribe to newspapers and magazines online, and when you do use paper, recycle what you can.
2. Save energy. Saving resources is always great for the planet, but it also saves you money off your monthly utility bills. You can save up to 10 percent when you invest in a programmable thermostat to better control your usage at night or when you’re not home. Turning back your water heater a few degrees can save up to 22 percent annually, while only running the dishwasher when it’s full and turning of heated dry option also saves energy. Line drying your clothes not only cuts out the need for chemical fabric softeners but reduces your bill for running the dryer. Also, don’t forget to turn off lights when you’re not in the room and never leave the water running when you brush your teeth.
3. Use mobile coupons. If you’re considering ditching your weekly newspaper subscription, you might be worried you have to sacrifice access to valuable coupons. Not so! You can find coupons from Coupon Sherpa online and through their app for access to coupon codes, mobile coupons and local offers. Many grocery store chains including Safeway and Kroger offer a savings app, which allows you to digitally clip and apply coupons to your purchases.
4. Thrift and donate. Waste not, want not! Recycling goes beyond just bottles and cans; you can repurpose and recycle everything from clothing to housewares. Not only will you get a great price on gently-used items, you’ll help to keep clutter out of your house and away from the landfills. Check out your local second-hand stores or look into consignment sites like Swap.com where you can sell your old clothes and find great deals from others.
5. Eat green. Don’t let the high price of organic foods scare you away from healthy eating. Select produce including strawberries, apples and spinach is better purchased organic while you can save money on those fresh fruits and vegetables that aren’t as susceptible to pesticides, such as avocados, onion and pineapple. Rice, beans and other healthy food items are actually affordable when you purchase such organic store brands as Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value or King Soopers’ Simple Truth. You can also save money by cutting down on the amount of meat you consume weekly. Need help getting started? Check out this guide to frugal healthy eating via Frugalwoods.
6. Make your own cleaning products. The negative environmental impact of harsh chemical cleaning products isn’t exactly breaking news. However, it might surprise you to learn that some of the best ingredients for cleaning cost just pennies compared to expensive brand-name cleaners. Vinegar is a highly-versatile natural cleaner for carpet stains, water rings, coffeemakers and just about everything else. Lemon has long been used in households for its numerous antibacterial properties, and is a popular cleaning agent for wooden cutting boards and butcher block countertops. Ultimately, you can make your own cleaners with ingredients you likely have in your pantry for a fraction of the monetary and environmental cost of traditional cleaning agents.
7. Repurpose plastic. Plastic is one of the biggest pollutants to the world’s oceans, with approximately 8 million metric tons finding its way into the briny waters each year. Cut down on your plastic consumption by repurposing it as often as possible, or by swapping plastic containers for glass and other materials. Invest in a water filter instead of buying bottled water, and reuse containers and bottles for crafts and storage. When you go shopping, bring reusable cloth bags or opt for paper over plastic. If you end up with a collection of plastic bags, use them to line small trash bins instead of buying bags.
8. Carpool. Everyone likes to save money on fuel, and one of the best ways to do this is to only drive when you absolutely have to. Organize carpools for work or school, or take advantage of public transportation. In the warmer months, ride your bike or walk to nearby places. You’ll be cutting down on gas costs, reducing atmospheric pollution and in some cases, getting a good workout!