Going vs. Saving GreenMany people feel a strong desire to improve the effect they have on the environment, but in the majority of cases it's simply the seeming mountain of effort and financial strain that keeps them from making a change in their lifestyle. However, there's no need to fret. There are millions of easy and free ways to help the environment (and plenty more that can even save you some money as well!).
1. BudgetProbably one of the most important steps is to create a household budget. Start with the total net monthly income of the household. Then, write down what bills you are responsible for and the date they are due. Mortgage or rent, utilities, car insurance, car payment, gas, cell phone, food, miscellaneous (personal hygiene, household supplies, school supplies) and any other bills you may have. Most of these numbers do not fluctuate too much, but estimate a little higher than your average costs for each. Also be sure to pay attention to the costs of your base bills. It may seem like things such as your car maintenance and utility bills may be fixed, but making sure you to do things such as preventative care on your car and installing energy-efficient devices in your home can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Once you have subtracted your bills from your net income, you can budget out for other things. You may also want to have an emergency fund where you specify an amount that you contribute to monthly. Remember, you can have an entertainment category too; managing your physical and mental well-being is just as important as managing your wealth. The remainder should go into savings account for the future. Ask yourself about your purchases: do I need it or do I want it? Will it help me in the long run? Live within your limits and be responsible, but make sure that you also set aside some money for yourself and your family.
2. ConserveWell you have a budget, now where else can you save a few extra pennies? For those of you who have read our Green Tips, there are numerous ways to save money and help the environment. One tip that I am constantly reminded of (thank you mom) is if you aren’t in a room, turn off the light… There’s no reason to waste electricity. Something so little can make such a huge difference. Additionally, make sure your house or apartment is sealed. Another thing my mom used to do is time our showers. We had a kitchen timer set for 3 minutes and that was our shower time. There really wasn’t a reason to go much longer, plus all that water saved is money in your pocket. In the summer months, open a window and use a fan to bring cool air in at night instead of using the air conditioner. Use a blanket in the winter instead of the heater. Think of cost effective options. Look into Energy Star approved appliances; they will pay for themselves in the long run. Also, replace all light bulbs with Compact Florescent Bulbs; they have a longer life and save energy!
3. RecycleDid you know every time you purchase aluminum cans of soda or plastics that can be recycled, you are charged the redemption value? Therefore if you do not recycle it, you are losing that $0.05 per can. That can add up over the span of a year. So say you use 1 can a day (ex. soup cans, beer/soda cans for an entire year 365 cans x 0.05 = 18.25! That’s 4.5 gallons of gas (at $4/gal). For a family of 4, it amounts to $73.00! And that may not seem like a lot, but over the span of 10 years that’s $730. Not too shabby for recycling! Besides the money aspect, you are helping to conserve earths natural resources and reduce our carbon footprint.
Here are a few links to help you find local recycling facilities as well as some other recycling FAQs:
Now get out there and save some green!