10 Ways to Save by Going Green
Our carbon footprint directly tied to our consumption
(c) M. Ryder
Recession-era frugality has been good for our wallets, and the planet, too
The era of new American frugality ushered in by the recession has an added benefit.
Many measures that families take to cut costs in tough times -- turning down the heat or shopping secondhand, for example -- are also good for the planet.
"Our carbon footprint is directly tied to our consumption, whether that's consumption of energy or a consumer product," says
"Certainly, saving money is more important to most people than going green," says Dorfman. "For people to green their lifestyle, the solutions have to fit how they live. I think there are a lot of ways to make that possible." Below, you'll find 10 -- all of which will minimize not only your footprint but also your spending.
Get there, greener
You don't have to own a Prius to drive green. Any driver can increase fuel efficiency and thus save on gas by getting regular tuneups, keeping tires properly inflated, and avoiding idling. But considering that transportation accounted for nearly 30 percent of carbon emissions in America in 2006, the cheapest and best thing you can do for the environment is to drive less. According to the
Enjoy home-cooked meals
Prepared foods may be convenient, but they cost more than the ingredients for a home-cooked meal -- and come loaded with salt and preservatives. Chef
Eat your veggies
According to the
Flip the switch
The sight of a monthly utility bill can make you shiver -- or sweat. But there are simple ways to keep cool in the summer, stay toasty in the winter, and still cut your bill drastically.
Work from home
"There was a time when people might have looked askance at home-based businesses," says
Buy none, get one free
The best way to save money, of course, is to pay nothing at all -- and for free goods, one should look no further than the computer screen. "The trend is towards this community online where people can share or trade what they have and save money," says Dorfman. Freecycle, the pioneer of the bunch, is an online community where people can post items they want to give away or items they want, finding a new home for old stuff. Based on that model, there's Zwaggle, a community for new parents, and Goozex, where video gamers can swap their old games. Those on SwapStyle trade fashionable clothing, while NeighborGoods facilitates the sharing of tools and household items. There's even the self-explanatory PaperBackSwap. "In a time where we're so concerned about our budgets, these solutions that aren't necessarily designed to be green still enable us to live well," says Dorfman. "A byproduct of that is we consume less and reduce our impact."
Get paid to recycle
Sometimes, going green doesn't just save you money -- it earns you money. Old phones, printers, monitors, iPods, and personal digital assistants -- stashed in drawers and closets when they kick the bucket -- are valuable to companies that refurbish, resell, and recycle them, and they'll reimburse you in cash. "From the lazy environmentalist's point of view, [recycling] is a pain in the neck," says Dorfman, who recommends E-cycler Gazelle. Second Rotation, EcoNew, and BuyMyTronics will also buy your broken gadgets. "You're getting paid to sit on your couch," says Dorfman.
Don't be trashy
Reducing your share of trash provides instant green gratification and can help you save on your grocery bill. Whether it's tissues, plastic sandwich bags, or cotton balls, most of our disposable goods have a durable alternative -- like handkerchiefs or sponges -- that will get the job done just as well and will pay for itself in savings. A surprisingly stylish influence has been the AMC television show Mad Men, which has brought 1960s-era accouterments like long-lasting straight razors and handkerchiefs back in vogue. But even if you find it hard to do without your paper napkins, the easiest change is to replace bottled water with a reusable water bottle.
Your water bill is inextricably tied to your energy bill through your water heater, so reducing your use of hot water can mean extra savings. Dorfman endorses a low-flow showerhead, enabling him to take long showers guilt free.
Don't buy it -- rent it
Savvy entrepreneurs have launched sites to rent out anything from cars to handbags for short-term use and big-time savings, both carbon and financial. Car-sharing company Zipcar is the best-known example, but sites like couture-lending Rent the Runway are growing fast. "Sites like these enable you to get what you want without actually owning it and allow other people to use it as well, collectively reducing the environmental impact," says Dorfman. "It allows you to save money and still enjoy your lifestyle."
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(c) 2010 U.S. News & World Report