Save the Planet and Your Wallet: Go Green

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You’ve heard that living green is good for the environment, but such a “big picture” notion isn’t always easy to incorporate into your life unless there are big benefits in it for you too. Well, there are! Living green not only saves the planet, but it also saves your bank account. Finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint can easily shave hundreds of dollars off of your grocery, electric and water bills each year. You can do your part to preserve our green earth and save some green at the same time. How do you start?

Recycle
Sounds simple, right? Throw your bottles and cans into a bin and take them to your local recycling center when it fills up. You may already be doing this. It’s a great start, but you can do more. Apart from recycling glass, aluminum, paper and plastics, find ways to reuse items. Line your small trash cans with plastic bags from shopping trips. Donate old clothes rather than trashing them so someone else get reuse them. Take old electronics, such as computers and cell phones, to a specialized recycling center to prevent mercury and other toxins from leeching out into landfills (some places even pay you for these items!).

Energy Consumption
Energy is a valuable resource. While some people seek renewable sources, such as solar panels, others can’t afford those options. But you can save money simply by using less energy. Turn off lights when you leave a room. Ensure that your exterior walls are properly insulated and use caulk or weather-stripping to seal leaks around doors and windows. Wash your clothes with cold water since 85 percent of your washing machine’s energy consumption stems from heating water. One of the biggest uses of energy in your home is the thermostat. Set it two degrees cooler in the winter and two degrees warmer in the summer. Blankets and fans can make up the difference so you can remain comfortable while saving money.

Shop Smarter
Knowing what to shop for can be very helpful while taking steps to live greener. Opt for Energy Star rated appliances and compact fluorescent light bulbs to cut down electricity costs. At the grocery store, select locally raised/grown, humane and organic meat, eggs, dairy and produce whenever possible. As a bonus, purchasing from local farmers keeps money in the local economy. Note that preparing at least one vegetarian meal a week is good for the environment, your budget and your overall health. And, of course, reusable shopping bags help eliminate plastic waste.

Reduce Waste
Avoid disposable tableware. Use washable plates and utensils for eating at home and even for hosting parties. Similarly, carry a washable mug and/or water bottle to school or work rather than using Styrofoam or paper products (aluminum or glass bottles are the safest). In addition, install a water purifier on your kitchen faucet or buy a purifying pitcher rather than buying bottled water every week. This will save money over time and reduce the amount of waste your household produces.

Incorporating even a couple of these suggestions into your lifestyle can make a positive impact on both the environment and your wallet. The adjustments may even be easier than you think, but you’ll never know until you try. Start going green today!

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