The following is a post from contributing writer Angie.
Making a choice to live a greener life doesn’t mean that you have to live off the grid in a yurt in the wilderness. While you could do that if you wanted, you could also just choose to make small changes to your current lifestyle to green it up a bit.
An amazing side effect of many environmentally friendly changes is that they might also save you a little bit of money. Great for the earth and your budget? Score!
Simple Ways to Be Green
Use a White Board or Chalk Board
Instead of using paper or sticky notes for reminders or notes between family members, a dry erase board or chalk board that is centrally located can save paper. This will also save you money on buying all those little slips of paper that might just get lost anyway.
If you don’t have space for a dry erase board or chalk board, consider saving scrap paper to use for notes.
Buy Clothes Second Hand
This is another great money saver that is also green in nature. Why go to the mall and pay top dollar to buy a whole new wardrobe for yourself or for your kids (especially when they sometimes grow so quickly) when you can shop at a fraction of the cost second hand?
Of course, this is not to say that I do all of our shopping second hand. However, since our town has a couple of Goodwill options, two children’s clothing resale shops, and a women’s resale shop, it does make it easier to find new-to-us clothing.
Another thing to look into is whether any particularly nice areas within driving distance have resale shops. When I travel out of town to a large city near us, there is a suburb that has a children’s resale shop that is jam packed with clothing from stores like Gymboree, Hanna Andersson, Gap, and many other name brands.
Reuse Shopping Bags
Reusable shopping bags are a fabulous way to keep plastic bags out of landfills. Of course, you will need to be careful using reusable bags, as they can hold bacteria and other nasty things after being used. It’s best to pick up varieties that can be laundered or that have an interior that can be wiped out. (My favorite are the insulated bags available at Whole Foods grocery stores.)
While reusable bags need to be purchased, you can sometimes save money by using them at some stores, as much as five cents per bag used. While you won’t save bundles this way, it is still a great way to be rewarded for doing something green.
Change Your Normal Thermostat Settings
During the summer, consider keeping your air conditioning set a few degrees higher and compensate with a fan instead. During the winter, set your heat to come on at a few degrees colder than usual and keep a sweater or jacket around to throw on when you get too cool.
One thing that we have done at our house is to keep the heat turned down at night but use electric blankets for a portion of the night. Typically, this has meant turning on the blankets prior to getting into bed and then either turning them off when getting into bed or turning off the kids’ blankets before I go to bed.
These changes can easily save you significant money (depending on how many degrees you decide to change for your normal settings) on either your electric or gas bills.
Use a Power Strip for Some Electronics
Another way to save some money on your electric bill, while also being Earth friendly, is to have some of your electronics plugged into a power strip that can be turned off when you’re not using the electronics. This, of course, won’t work for everything you have with a plug, but we find it a wonderful way to be able to fully turn off things like laptops (so they don’t keep charging) and computer peripherals.
This one probably doesn’t even need to be said, but it’s so true. This is a nice easy way to have a greener household. If you don’t already recycle, there may be options in your community for free recycling where you can either drop off items to a central location or even have it picked up curbside.
Because of where we live, this actually costs us money, since we pay for curbside recycling pick up. However, we do have options where we could drive it somewhere for free, rather than have it picked up on the same day as our trash.
Have Meatless Meals Once or Twice a Week
Mass producing meat for sale can be tough on the environment. Likewise, buying meat for every dinner can be tough on your budget. Consider planning for one or two meatless meals per week. If you feel like you just can’t give up meat in your meals, it can be helpful to just prepare meat in the amount that would be considered more of a side dish rather than the main portion of the dinner.
What are some of your favorite easy ways to be a little more environmentally friendly?