3 Ways to Save Money and Save the Planet
We’ve all heard the buzz words: ‘eco-friendly’, ‘green’, ‘sustainable’…but what does it truly mean to be environmentally conscious? Does it simply mean consuming less? Perhaps it means being smarter about our consumption choices?
For the average American, going green truly does start with small habits that grow into an environmentally-conscious lifestyle over time. Doing your fair share for mother nature doesn’t require you to forego all your creature comforts and live a no-impact lifestyle. In fact, going green can not only improve your health, but it can save you hundreds of dollars each year!
Did you know that the pulp and paper industry consumes the most water industrially of any industry, and is the third largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions? The unfortunate reality is that the negative environmental impacts of paper products don’t end there. The average American family annually discards 2460 pounds of paper products – and if Americans alone conserved the wood and paper products that we throw away each year, we could power 50 million homes for 20 years.
The good news is that making a difference is as simple as making a quick phone call, or checking off a box online. Many banks and service providers (TV, internet, insurance, etc) that traditionally relied on paper bills and statements have now put in place more eco-friendly online billing and statement programs. Customers can opt in online or by phone and choose to receive all their communication electronically. Not only does this reduce your paper waste and de-clutter your mailbox, it can also save you money! Many service providers also offer a monthly discount of a few dollars off your fees for opting to go paperless.
A true win-win!
Get Tech-Savvy With Your Electricity Bill
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average American monthly household electricity bill in 2011 was $110.14, or $1,321.68 each year. While that might seem relatively low, America is the world leader in energy wastage. As business and sustainability expert Marc Gunther explains, “our houses leak, our light bulbs produce more heat than illumination, our big screen TV sets draw power when they are turned off, and that’s just the start of it” –as nation, we waste over $130 billion on energy.
And while there are plenty of conventional tips and tricks circulating on the internet to help you bring down your electricity bill (insulating your home, weather-stripping your windows, turning off lights, etc), the most exciting developments are in the field of consumer technology. Smart thermostats like the Nest are gaining in popularity for their user-friendly design and mobile integration, allowing you to control your energy usage on the go and keep your bills down. From eco-friendly appliances to ‘green’ plugs, there are a variety of affordable gadgets on the market today that can help you cut down on your utility bill while doing some good for the environment.
Rethink Your Transportation
Do you know –really know– how much your car is costing you every year? Between car payments, maintenance, fuel and insurance, the US Department of Labour estimates that the average vehicle costs its owner over $8000 annually. And with gas prices soaring, there has never been a better time to consider the multitude of environmentally-friendly alternatives to car ownership.
1. Public Transportation, Carpooling & Ridesharing
Most major cities offer public transportation such as buses, trains and subways. If you live in a rural area where public transportation is not available, consider communal transportation options such as carpooling. If there is a large group of residents from your community commuting to the same area (ie, a downtown core) each day, consider the option of renting a bus as a group that will bring you to work and take you home every day.
But for longer trips, consider ridesharing. Ridesharing is when someone with a car advertises that they are taking a specific trips and offer empty seats in their vehicle either for free, or in exchange for a small fee (usually to cover gas).
2. Car Co-Ops and Car Sharing
Companies like ZipCar and Getaround make it easy for you to go car-less by allowing you to rent available vehicles in your community for short periods of time. This is a great way to access the convenience of a car, without the financial and environmental cost.
3. Biking, Running and Walking
At the end of the day, the best way to keep your costs down and go green is to rely on good old-fashioned human power. It’s free, easy on your wallet and great for your health!
It’s Nice to Think Twice
Contributing to a greener earth doesn’t require you to sign a pledge, swear off fossil fuels or install solar panels on your roof. It’s all about thinking carefully about each choice that we make, and doing our best to choose the eco-conscious option whenever possible.
Each one of us has the power to make our communities healthier and more sustainable for generations to come. By taking a critical look at our habits, and making small steps everyday to make our lives just a little greener, we can make a lasting impact on our planet for years to come.
Share your best money saving eco-tips below, or tweet them to us @getMoven!