Well Being

25 Best Ways to Save Money and the Planet

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photo: Thinkstock

Sometimes it seems that spending loads of money is a prerequisite for going green. We'd love to install solar panels on our roof and drive hybrids to work, but very few of us have the disposable cash to invest in green technology. Thankfully, there are ways to go green without dropping your entire paycheck. Eco Salon put together a list of 25 things you can do to help save the planet that won't have you filing for Chapter 11:

1. Buy compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). While not quite as energy efficient as LED bulbs, CFLs last ten times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. Plus, they cost less than $2 each.

2. Consider getting a solar oven. The sun's rays are focused onto your food, which gets cooked just as well as on a normal oven. You won't use any electricity or gas, so you'll be saving a ton of money on bills.

3. Don't buy laundry detergent. Try Ecoballs – they're free of harmful chemicals, and a set costs $60 and lasts up to 1,000 washes. That's a lot less than detergent.

4. Install a programmable thermostat. Only heat your home when it needs to be heated, and you'll be saving energy and money.

5. Quit using gas-powered lawn mowers. They create pollution, and you have to buy gas. Try a push reel mower.

6. Walk or bike short distances. Your car uses the most fuel when you start the engine and when you go slowly – basically the entire time you're running errands. Biking and walking for those quick stops is much more efficient (and will cost less, too).

7. Don't start your car until you're ready to go. If you're waiting in the car for more than a minute, turn it off. More fuel will be used idling than restarting. Think about this the next time you're in the drive-thru or at the mall.

8. Pack your lunch. Buying your sandwich out at lunch involves a lot of extra money and packaging. Think about how many times they wrap your sub in paper and plastic, not to mention the extra napkins and the bag they stick it in. Bringing your own sandwich from home is cheaper, greener, and most likely, healthier.

9. Install a clothes line. Tumble-drying uses a lot of energy, which is hard on the planet and your wallet. Clothes also smell fresh after hanging on the line all day. (Raining? Try this spin-dryer.)

10. Turn out the lights. If you think your room is too dark, make the most of natural light by getting lighter curtains or moving the furniture around. It will make an impact on your electricity bill.

11. Catch rainwater. If you gather rain water in water buckets to fulfill your water use for anything but drinking, you could reduce your water bill by half.

12. Plant a garden. Growing food yourself saves money on grocery trips, and cuts down on the energy used to mass produce and transport food. Plus, you'll know exactly where your vegetables and fruits come from.

13. Unplug everything. Unplugging your electronics should be as much of a habit as turning them off. Even if your computer and TV are turned off, they suck energy just from being plugged in. Flip off that power strip.

14. Consider getting source heat pumps. While they're an investment, your heating bill will shrink completely and you'll be heating your water naturally.

15. Bundle up. Heating your house is much more expensive (and uses a lot more energy) than cooling it, so when cold weather strikes, pile on the layers.

16. Wash on cold. 90% of the energy you use for washing clothes is lost heating the water, so wash with cold. Clothes still get clean.

17. Cut back on meat. Meat is one of the least energy-efficient foods to produce; plus it's one of the most expensive things you can put in your cart. Try eating more fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

18. Use everything you buy. Letting food go bad and throwing out leftovers is a huge waste of money and resources. Freeze food for later, or compost it if you can't find a way to finish it.

19. Buy used. Even though it may not be as glamorous as buying something new, secondhand products are often just as good as new ones – and definitely cheaper.

20. Visit the tailor. Alter your old clothes to bring them up-to-date, or bring the clothes you buy at a secondhand store into the tailor.

21. Work virtually. Try to schedule video conferences rather than meetings that require lots of travel. They're cheaper, and use far less energy.

22. Shop virtually. Buying local is our preferred way to shop, but if you need something that involves hours of driving and shopping in a huge, energy-sucking mall, you'll save money and gas buy ordering it online.

23. Get a tote. Most homes could do with less flimsy plastic bags, and landfills definitely don't need any more of them. Plus, several stores are starting to charge for bags, and many offer small discounts to customers who bring their own reusable bags.

24. Clean naturally. Use natural, homemade cleaners like vinegar or toothpaste. You'll avoid chemicals and unnecessary spending.

25. Always choose green. These days, not making green choices is sometimes more expensive than going the eco-friendly route.

via Eco Salon

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