People tend to thing going green is expensive, as it seems everything good for the environment has added costs associated with it. While big-ticket items like solar panels and Eco-friendly vehicles are indeed costly and will take years to recoup your investment a few bucks at a time, there are a number of ways you can go green around the house and start saving money instantly.
The following 15 ways to go green will save money while giving the planet a helping hand:
1. Cook your own food from scratch.
Buying raw ingredients is less expensive than purchasing pre-made and prepackaged foods and you can typically get big discounts if you're willing to buy in bulk. Making your own food helps the environment by requiring less packaging material and less processing in a plant somewhere and your family will be happier and healthier as a result. You'll have ultimate control over what goes into your food and will save money in the process.
2. Turn the oven and stove off before the food is done cooking.
Here's a quick and easy way to save a little bit of cash and a little gas or electricity. Instead of leaving the oven or stove on until your food is completely cooked, turn it off 5 to 10 minutes before it's done and let the heat in the oven or the heat of the pot finish cooking the food for you.
3. Don't use disposables.
If you use disposable paper and plastic napkins, towels and silverware, it's time to start using cloth napkins and real silverware. You'll reduce the amount of waste you're throwing in the trash and will be doing your part to help save the fossil fuels wasted to make and transport the disposable tableware and napkins.
4. Start a garden.
Gardening on a small scale is easy and you can grow much of the vegetables your family uses in a small garden space. Grow organic foods at home and you'll save a small fortune in comparison to what they'd cost in the store.
5. Cut back your food waste.
Be conscious as to what you're buying and how much you can realistically use before it goes bad. It's estimated that as much as 40% of the food we buy ends up in a landfill somewhere. That's a lot of wasted money and a lot of wasted resources making and transporting food that's never going to be eaten.
6. Buy second-hand clothes whenever possible.
Hit thrift stores and garage sales to find gently-used clothes that will save you money and will lower your carbon footprint by saving the greenhouse gases that would have been used to make and transport that shirt you just found for pennies on the dollar at a local flea market.
7. Borrow and share.
If you have friends and family who live close by, consider the items you rarely use and see if they're willing to set up a borrow and share program where all the parties involved pay to buy a single item and everyone in the group shares it when they need it. An item like a lawnmower or a leafblower can be borrowed and shared and you'll save money and be doing your part to save the environment.
8. Go old school when it comes time to do yardwork.
While there's something to be said about the convenience of modern tools, you can save money and go green by going back to the basics when it comes time to do yardwork. I'm not suggesting you mow a huge lawn with a push-mower, but do you really need that ride-on mower for the tiny patch of grass you've got in the backyard?
9. Have a yard sale.
We've already discussed going green by buying secondhand items. You can help others go green by selling your second-hand items and put a few bucks in your pocket as well.
This one's an easy one and there's a decent chunk of cash to be made. My 6-year old son saves all the bottles and glass in the house and recycles it for cash to buy toys and go to the movies from time-to-time. I was shocked the first time we hit the local recycling center and the gentleman handed him $37 for a month's worth of recycled materials.
11. Run full loads at the right time.
Partial loads in the dishwasher and washing machine really rack up the costs and the energy usage. Wait until the evening or early morning hours and run completely-full loads in order to save both energy and money.
12. Flip the switch.
Simply flipping the light switch off when you're leaving a room can saving big bucks over the course of a lifetime. That 6-light bank of lights you left on in the kitchen when you went to work just cost you $0.30 over the course of the day.
13. Set the TV timer to turn off when you fall asleep.
Depending on whether you have a newer, energy-efficient TV or an older, power-sucking model, you're either wasting a small amount of enegry and money or a large amount of energy and money every time you fall asleep in front of the TV. This costly habit can run you as much $60 a year if your TV is an older model...Not to mention the shortened life span of your television.
14. Unplug old stereos and appliances.
Newer appliances, stereos, TVs, etc. are energy-efficient and will only cost a small amount of money to leave plugged in. Older appliances, on the other hand, can cost $40 to $60 a year, just to leave them plugged in and ready to turn on. Pull the plug on older items when they're not in use and you could save a good chunk of money every year.
15. Turn the AC off when you aren't home.
If you're the type of person who hates to come home to a hot house, so you leave the AC running all day while you're at work, you're wasting a ton of energy and money. It can cost as much as a couple hundred dollars over the course of a single summer if you leave the AC running while you aren't at home. Turn it off when you leave and turn it down while you're home to conserve energy and prevent a staggering bill every month.