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7 Ways to be Green and Save Green

Posted By Jim On 04/21/2008 @ 6:33 am In Frugal Living | 12 Comments

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 [3] estimates that Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour [3] (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 [4] 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% [5] 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 [6] 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 [7] 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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[1] Tweet: http://twitter.com/share

[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/7-ways-to-be-green-and-save-green.html

[3] Clean Air Council: http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html

[4] allrecipes.com: http://www.allrecipes.com

[5] secret to cutting your gasoline bill by 20%: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/how-to-cut-your-gasoline-bill-by-20.html

[6] Super Size Me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Size_Me

[7] 8 reasons I do my shopping online: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/8-reasons-to-do-all-your-shopping-online.html

Thank you for reading!