Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tips to go "green"

A few weeks ago, while we were in Florida, I was standing in line in a coffee shop when I overheard the people behind me discussing the "green" movement.  They seemed interesting in being "green" but complained that it was only for those with "lots of money and too much time".  I resisted the urge to jump in and tell them that was not true at all since I was eavesdropping on their conversation but it has stuck with me since then.  Being "green" and eco-conscience can actually be very easy and save you lots of money!  Yes, there are some things that do take a lot more time to make them environmentally friendly and there are definitely many ways to spend lots (and lots and lots) of money purchasing "green" products but there are a whole host of ways to be conscience of our environment that will help you out in the long run. 

Here is my list of some of the easiest ways to go "green" that will also save you money!

1. Turn out lights and turn off appliances when not in use.  Using less power is good for the environment and it'll make your power bill go down. 
2. Use less water.  Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they have full loads in them, turn off the water while you brush your teeth, and shorten your shower by 2-3 minutes.  Using less water is better for the environment and will save you money on your water bill.
3. Wash your hair less often.  Sounds weird but it's good for the environment and for the health of your hair!  Washing your hair every day actually causes your scalp to produce more oil since your hair ends up being too dry from such frequent washing.  So, washing less often (I do it every other day) will be better for the health of your hair, allow you to spend less on shampoo, and be good for the environment since fewer shampoo bottles will be thrown away and less soap residue will be washed down the drain.
4. Switch to bar soap.  Bar soap (in most cases) is cheaper than the liquid hand soaps and liquid body soaps that most people use and (again, in most cases) have fewer ingredients that are harmful and potentially toxic for you and the environment.  Personally, I really like Burt's Bee's and Dr. Bronner's bar soaps (both of which are also very "green" products and contain organic ingredients, no phthalates, and no petro-chemicals) and they are easily available at Target.
5. Drive less often.  This one is the hardest for most people since we really live our lives around our cars in this country.  Driving less will save you money on gas and less gas used is definitely better for the planet.  Try to carpool whenever you can and plan your errands so that you can stop once and walk to your various stops (I use the dry cleaner that is a block from the grocery store since I can walk to it when I am already stopping at the grocery store).
6. Use fewer pre-packaged foods.  Most pre-packaged foods are more expensive than buying the individual ingredients and making something for yourself.  Saving money is always good but it's also healthier for you since you can use less salt and sugar in your recipes.  And, it's "green" since you throw away less packaging. 
7. Wash your clothes in cold water.  Most of the energy used by your washing machine is used to heat up the water to clean your clothing.  But, hot water isn't necessary for clean clothing - cold water will do just as good a job since today's washing machines are designed to be very efficient at cleaning our clothes.  Again, less power used means a lower power bill.
8. Skip the bottled water!  Not only is bottled water expensive but it's usually from a tap.  Save yourself a lot of money and get a reusable water bottle that you can fill up with filtered water at home.
9.  Recycle!  Recycling maybe won't save you money but it's great for the environment and super easy to do!
10. Get a library card!  Public libraries are free (unless of course you don't return your books and end up with overdue fines)!  Why purchase a book when you can get it for free at the local library!
11. Use baking soda instead of scrubbing powder as a cleaner in your house.  Baking soda is super cheap, super environmentally friendly, and works just as well as all the expensive scrubbing powders.  What do you think they used before we had so many choices for cleaning products?
12. Change the settings on your thermostat to 1-2 degrees lower in the winter and 1-2 degrees higher in the summer.  This 1-2 degree difference isn't really enough that you would notice it but it lowers your daily power (or gas) usage which means you save money on your monthly bill!

It's a short list and I do have many other tips if you are interested but this is enough to get most people started on the "green" movement and help them save some money in the process.  Good luck!  =)

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