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7 Ways to be Green and Save Green

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Tomorrow is Earth Day, so why not start off the week with an environmental friendly post? When most people think of being green, their brains immediately jump to organic foods and recycling. Organic foods can be expensive, recycling can be a pain, and many come to the same conclusion as famed philosopher Kermit The Frog, who once sang, “It’s not easy bein’ green.” In all fairness, what Kermit was singing about was entirely different but it perfectly sums up what many people think of environmentally conscious living – it’s not easy. That’s because many focus on the difficult and expensive aspects of going green, because we commonly associate difficulty and expense with impact, rather than the relatively easy things we can do that can still make a difference. In fact, many of the easy things can save the Earth and a few dollars (and even a few pounds!).

Reuse Plastic Containers

Most people think recycle, recycle, recycle – but remember the mantra is actually reduce, reuse, recycle. Reusing plastic containers, when it’s safe to do so, is a great way to reduce the amount of plastic we consume as a whole. When we order take-out food from the local Indian restaurant, our meals come in plastic containers we can then turn into lunch boxes. While it’s great to also recycle, some municipalities don’t take certain types of plastic so reusing is the only option, besides throwing them away. Reusing plastic containers helps your wallet because you don’t have to buy these containers yourself! Plus, I always get the feeling that those Glad or Tupperware containers are overpriced anyway.

No More Bottled Water

I understand it’s convenient, I understand it’s healthy, and I understand you think your tap water tastes like crap. But every single year 29283094293 plastic bottles are thrown out and the poor penguins are choking on them. If you think my random number is an exaggeration, it’s actually not too far off because the Clean Air Council estimates that Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour (that’s 21,900,000,000 a year). Can you imagine that? No, I can’t either.

Want a good reason for your wallet? The cost of tap water, even if you add in a filter, is microscopic compared to the cost of bottled water. Buy a reusable water bottle, a filter, and fill your own each day and you can save yourself some serious money. If you buy a $1 bottle of water each day, that’s $365 a year you can spend on anything else. And you don’t contribute to this ridiculous level of wastefulness.

No Prepackaged or Premade Food

We love convenience right? We love throwing a Healthy Choice or Stouffer’s freezer/TV dinner into the microwave and eating it for our lunch or dinner. The only problem is that you introduce a paper box and a likely non-recycleable plastic container into the trash. Plus, to be honest, it’s really really not good for you. The amount of sodium in a typical meal like that, even if you can get it for a buck when it’s on sale, is ridiculous. If you consume that much sodium on a regular basis, it’ll have significant negative effects on your body (high blood pressure, heart disease) which will definitely impact your wallet in medical costs down the road. Instead of going with the prepackaged or premade foods, check out allrecipes.com and try making your own meals. You’ll find them more fulfilling (who eats only one of those meals anyway?), healthier, and perhaps even cheaper.

Carpool

You can’t have a list about being green and saving green if you didn’t throw in carpooling. The secret to cutting your gasoline bill by 20% is to carpool once a week. Brilliant right? That’s because saving on gasoline is not difficult, people just don’t want to be inconvenienced and the best way to do that is to strategically pick the day you’re going to carpool. By consuming less fuel, you contribute less in greenhouse gases, reduce the demand for petrol, and you save yourself some money each time you hop in a rideshare. Considering how many people complain about fuel prices, it’s amazing there aren’t more carpoolers.

Eat Less Red Meat

How could I, editor of Grill Maestro and lover of red meat, possible endorse the idea that we eat less red meat? I do this because I read in a recent Ode magazine article that stated a single cow produces as much as 132 gallons of methane a day! The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization calculated that the livestock industry accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 13.5% produced by all of the world’s transportation. That’s downright amazing. And meat is hardly cheap too, chicken on sale is $1.99 around us and beef is far more expensive (obviously depending on the cut). I don’t think I’d ever go vegetarian, ever, but consuming less red meat is something we’ve done accidentally given the rise in prices and changing food preferences.

Bag Your Lunch

Bagging your lunch is better for the environment because you don’t need to drive somewhere to eat and you don’t have all the waste associated with the restaurant. For your wallet, saving yourself that $6-$10 lunch each day is going to translate very nicely to your bottom line and you’ll probably be eating healthier if you cook the food yourself. There’s a reason why so many restaurants are fighting new regulations regarding nutritional information – their food is terrible for you. Super Size Me may have been a gross exaggeration but the point is still clear, fast food restaurants are horrible for you and the fact that they don’t want to list nutritional information on the menu is proof positive they know it too. So, save yourself a few dollars, save yourself the gas, and save your arteries!

Buy Stuff Online

I once gave 8 reasons I do my shopping online and reason #5 was that online shopping meant less driving. Less driving, of course, means less fuel. Now, the trade-off here is that companies will have to ship you the packages, which will mean more driving on their part. I believe that since they are shipping packages anyway and are on optimized schedules and driving routes, their consumption, after you factor in how they won’t need to ship that product to their stores, will be less than yours. I think there will never be a provable answer to this but I’m confident that shopping online is better for the environment.

There you go, seven easy ways you can be green and save green – just try one this week and see how easy is and good it feels!

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12 Responses to “7 Ways to be Green and Save Green”

  1. It always amazes me how we can help the planet and save money. Normally if we want to do something good for the world it means paying money to charity. It is fantastic to be able to save money and help the planet.

  2. Glenn Lasher says:

    You mention carpooling, but don’t overlook bicycling or using public transportation, either.

    Bus/Subway/Streetcar fares vary from city to city, of course, but in my area, I can use the bus all month for about ⅓ of what it would cost me just for the fuel to drive, and I drive a fairly efficient car, at 30 MPG. Just the fuel, for my 20-mile trip, would cost me about $4.65/day, $23.28/week, $102.30/month. The bus pass costs me $36/month and allows unlimited weekday use.

    Additional benefits of taking the bus include the fact that I can actually use the time I am commuting to read (whereas all I can do while driving is listen to the radio and fume about traffic) and reduced stress (reference the aforementioned fuming about traffic).

    Additional benefits of bicycling include that I get a good aerobic workout, and arrive at work fully awake and not needing caffeine.

    On a final note, the buses in my area are equipped with bicycle racks, and, as such, I can do a hybrid bicycle-bus commute, which I plan to attempt for the first time tomorrow.

  3. miller says:

    I definitely wish I use public transportation more easily as Glenn mentions. However, I do get to carpool with my girl friend a fair amount. We work about one mile away from each other and live together, so it’s pretty easy. We don’t do it all the time because it can be… inconvenient (*wince*). Like if either of us has an after work commitment or need to drive back and forth during the day. But we carpool two or three times a week (on average). And even though our commute is short (8 miles), I swear I can tell the difference in my gas bill each month!

  4. Trent Hamm says:

    Along these same lines, I’m currently reading David Bach’s “Go Green, Live Rich.” It’s the first book of his in a long time that wasn’t just a tired rehash of the ones before it, and quite interesting if you’re into these kinds of topics.

  5. poolis says:

    I bought a bike 2 summers ago, to use to commute to work. Financially speaking it probably wasn’t the best idea. I live less than 3 miles from my office, and my car gets great gas mileage to boot, so I was only saving a whopping 50 cents a day by riding. In NE, there are probably only 24 weeks of reasonable biking weather. Factor in weather and an inconvenience factor and I’m lucky to get 40 days in a year. At that rate it would take me 15 years to recoup my costs! Its good exercise and I enjoy it most times, so I don’t really care about it too much. If I had to do it again, I would have gotten a more versatile bike, as the one I own is a “commuter” bike that can fold up if you want to bring it on the train (which I’ve done once).

    As for public transportation, its a rip off in this area. To take a train to the city costs me $4.75×2 + $1.70×2 = $12.90 per person. Or I can drive and park for $10 (or $2 if I get lucky and find a meter). If the train ran often enough to be convenient, it would be an ok deal. As it stands, its not worth the hassle.

  6. Darin H says:

    Should we eat MORE red meat? I mean, the cow isn’t farting anymore if they are dinner :)

  7. you completely skipped over the savings of bicycle and public transportation. A good road bike can get you a pretty far distance and still carry a load, and most buses will have a bike rack.

    I recently wrote an article on how biking can save enough money to partially fund my retirement.

    zach
    pennywise-poundfoolish.typepad.com

  8. jim says:

    I skipped bicycle and public transportation because it’s not as easy as carpooling once a week, that’s all. Plus, for many the option of biking or mass transit just isn’t available. It’s certainly a good idea to try to bike or take mass transit (it’s actually a topic of a future post).

  9. VicfromATL says:

    Great post!!

    If you investigate further, you’ll find being a vegetarian is much more eco-friendly, ethical and less cruel.

    I understand it is difficult to imagine but it happens..with some thinking like we do regarding other things in life.

  10. Belinda says:

    To cook at home means to spend more time at home and how to do that? Push for shorter working hours!

  11. It’s true! I just switched to a brita filter and a Nalgene bottle and I’m saving quite a bit! Before I was buying 4 boxes a month of Smart Water from Sams Club for $10.00 a box! That’s $40.00 a month that I’m saving!

  12. Grace says:

    @Glenn: You’re lucky, I wish our city’s monthly pass is as reasonable. Within the past few years, the city’s monthly pass crept up from $45 to $75. Individual fares also went up. I now pay by the ride since it works out cheaper.

    @poolis: Same here, I was using public transportation until the prices no longer made sense. My husband & I drive to our gym during the weekends now. Parking is free and gas costs approx $1 roundtrip for us. Public transport would cost us $7.


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