As most of you know, I’m a big fan of frugal living. But I also try to keep my carbon footprint as small as possible. I’m a huge advocate of living an earth-friendly lifestyle and try to conserve as much as possible.
However, it seems that whenever I mention the idea of a green lifestyle to people I meet, they often act surprised. They assume that living frugally and being green is an impossible task. The truth is, being green can actually help your frugal lifestyle. It can save you money in a lot of areas you might often overlook.
Being green does not mean you have to go out and buy all the green friendly gadgets you can find. It’s more about consuming less in your every day life. However, I do recommend a lot of green friendly products to people because they are better for the environment and our purchases help support the companies that make them. That way they can continue to produce more of their products and compete with the non-green alternatives.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the ways you can go green and save money at the same time:
Take Quick (And Cool) Showers
This is an easy one. Try taking quicker showers and using cooler water than you normally do. This will not only save you money on your water bill, but it also requires less energy to heat the water up. Trust me you’ll get used to it a lot faster than you think.
Wash Clothes With Cold Water
I’ve never been much of a laundry expert, but I have noticed that washing all my clothes is cold water has not had any side effects. Again, this helps save energy by using less to heat up the water.
Use Less Water In Your Toilet
A quick and easy way to save money on water is to place a liter bottle filled with water in the tank of your toilet. I’ve read that it can save up to 300 gallons of a water a month.
Turn Off The Water When You Brush Your Teeth
This is something I’ve always struggled with but once you get in the habit you’ll never have to worry about it again. This also helps save money on water costs and actually saves more than you would think.
Triple Check Faucets For Leaks
Believe it or not, a dripping faucet can use A LOT more water than you would believe. Make sure that none of the faucets in your house drip consistently when the water is turned off.
Walk Or Bike Instead Of Drive
Whenever possible, try to walk or bike where you need to go. The less you use your vehicle, the less gas you waste and the more money you get to keep in your pocket. If you do have to use you vehicle, try combining errands into one trip instead of driving to the store multiple times.
Work From Home (If Possible)
This is another way to reduce your gas costs since you no longer need to commute to work. Some may argue that you’re using more electricity since your at home but I beg to differ. Most office buildings run lights all day long even when it’s light out. I would assume this is because most cubicles don’t have the best window views.
When you work from home, you can utilize the sun to light up your home office and use far less electricity. However, this is not possible for everyone but it never hurts to ask your boss. Even if you can telecommute one day a week, it cuts your gas consumption by 20% for the year.
Turn Off The Lights
As a kid I was constantly told to turn the light off whenever I left a room. It’s a tough habit to break but it’s a costly one to keep. Never leave a light on in a room you’re not in. This will cut down on your energy bill and help you be green at the same time.
If you find it necessary to leave a light on when your not at home, invest in a small LED lamp or nightlight that doesn’t use much electricity.
Heat Or Cool Your House Only When Necessary
A big factor in energy usage is how often you use your heater or air conditioner. Try your best to only use them when you find it necessary. Make use of space heaters and fans that use far less energy and you’ll immediately notice a difference on your next electricity bill.
Buy/Rent A Smaller Home
This one goes right along with the last tip I shared. Buy living in a smaller home or apartment, you can heat or cool it for far less than a larger one. Plus you’ll need to buy less stuff to fill all of the empty space you have.
Use A Laptop Instead Of A Desktop
It’s true that the majority of desktop computers use far more electricity than laptops. So the next time you are shopping for a computer, think about purchasing a laptop even if you only plan on using it at home.
Unplug Appliances You’re Not Using
Some appliances use electricity, even when they are turned off. So get in the habit of unplugging them when you are not using them and you’ll also help cut down your overall energy costs.
Buy Locally Grown Foods
I love buying locally grown foods as much as possible. Why? Two reasons. First off, buying locally is much more environmentally friendly. The foods don’t have to be transported across the country which cuts down on the waste of gas and fuel. They are also much fresher since they make a shorter journey to get to your house.
The second reason why I really like buying locally is because I like to support local farmers. It’s a great way to give your money back to the community you live in.
Buy Food In Bulk
Buying food in bulk is a great way to reduce waste as well as keep some money in your wallet. Start by taking a look at what foods you eat often and then find out where you can get them in bulk.
A good example of a food to buy in bulk is brown rice, which I eat everyday. Many health food stores and Asian markets sell large bags of rice that are far cheaper per serving than the small packages you find at most grocery stores.
Eat Lots Of Fresh Food
Another great way to cut down on waste is to eat a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. Most of these foods come without packages as you usually bag them yourself. Try your best to avoid the foods that come in a lot of packaging. Plus you’ll find that fresh food is actually cheaper than the packaged stuff and much healthier.
Eat Less Meat (The Bad Kind)
This is a tough step that a lot of people might not want to do. I’ve always been a big fan of meat but I have drastically cut down over the years. I’ve finally made it to the point where I only eat a small amount of chicken and fish every week.
Eating less meat is a great way to go green because the meat industry is terrible for the environment. It requires far more resources to product meat than grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Update: As mentioned in my comment below, I’ve actually been eating more meat lately. The key is to find clean meats such as grass-fed beef, since they are free of the harmful additives. Plus the animals are raised the way they are meant to be.
Sign Up For Paperless Billing
This was a huge step for me and I’ve been much happier ever since. I signed up for paperless billing on every account I have and no longer get anything in the mail (besides junk). Not only does it drastically cut down on paper, but it can also save you money. Many companies will charge less service fees if you opt out of paper billing. It’s a win for everyone!
Ditch The Paper Towel
I must admit, I used to be a paper towel fanatic. I would use it for everything, whether it was a simple spill, cleaning the house, or blowing my nose. Sadly it’s a huge waste of paper and also costs a lot of money if you use it often.
So instead, set up a cloth towel system in your house. Cut up a bunch of old rags or purchase a few from a store. Then keep a separate clean and dirty container somewhere that’s easy to get to. Whenever you need to use a towel, grab one out of the clean container. When you finished, throw it in the dirty one and you’re all done. Then all you have to do is throw the dirty ones in with your laundry.
You no longer have to go out and buy paper towel every time you run out, which means more money in your pocket.
Use Cloth Dinner Napkins
The idea I mentioned above also works for dinner napkins. Purchase a set of cloth ones and you’ll never have to worry about running out of napkins again. It’s a really easy transition and something I highly recommend doing.
Use Recycled Toilet Paper (And Less Of It)
Believe it or not, I have read a few blog posts from people that have actually implemented cloth toilet paper, but I’m not even going to go there. That’s one thing I haven’t been able to get myself to do yet.
Luckily, there are a few companies out their that make recycled toilet paper. It does cost more than the regular stuff, but I feel that purchasing it is a great way to support the company. Who knows, if enough people buy it maybe we can get the prices to come down.
A good brand to check out is Seventh Generation, which you can find at health food stores as well as some regular grocery stores.
This is another area I used to struggle at. I would constantly print everything I received so I could have it in paper form. Once I finished with it, I would chuck it in the garbage and be done with it. What a waste of paper.
I have since ditched the printer completely and now do everything electronically. If someone needs something from me, I’ll scan it in and email it over to them or use some fax software. It’s amazing how much money I’ve saved on ink cartridges and paper.
Borrow Instead Of Buy
This is another easy thing to implement into your life. Whenever you feel the need to go out and buy something, see if you can borrow it instead. This works great for things you’re only going to use a few times.
A great example are books. Instead of rushing out and buying a copy of a book you want, hit up the local library. They’ve got tons of books to keep you content for the rest of your life.
If you need something that you can’t borrow, try purchasing it used. It’s amazing what people have for sale on Craigslist and other classified ad websites. Not only will you help reduce waste, but you’ll also save a lot of money.
Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
Not only are many household cleaners bad for the environment (and yourself), but they also come in tons of packaging. Not to mention they’re pretty expensive.
Instead, make your own cleaning supplies. It’s amazing what a little vinegar and water will do to clean up your house. All it takes is a spray bottle, a jug of vinegar, and some tap water. Talk about a cheap and healthy alternative.
Use Magic Soap
For things that require more than water and vinegar, check out Dr. Bronner’s All-In-One Magic soap. The stuff is completely natural, comes in a recycled bottle, and lasts forever.
Not only do I use it as shampoo, body wash, and face wash, but I also use it as toothpaste. And no I’m not kidding about brushing my teeth with it. You’ll no longer have to go out and buy a bunch of different soap. Plus you will drastically cut down on waste (packaging) and will save a ton of money.
I plan on doing a separate post about this soap because it truly is amazing. It’s the MacGyver of soaps.
Do You Want Paper Or Plastic?
My guess is you’ve been asked that question a few times this week. However, the best answer to the question is neither. Instead, use a backpack or a canvas bag that you can pick up at most stores these days.
Imagine how many bags (and plastic) we would save if everyone reused the same one every time?
Get Started Today
By no means do I expect anyone to be able to do everything I’ve listed above. It took me over a year to actually implement everything. It’s important to just get started in the right direction. Try implementing a few green habits and products into your life and you’ll start making a difference.
Have any other green tips? Please feel free to share them below.
Photo Credit: D Sharon Pruitt