It doesn’t have to be “earth day” or “world environment day” for you to start paying attention to the impact you’re making on this world. You may think that being eco-friendly is out of your budget, considering that things like solar panels and electric vehicles to come with hefty price tags, but there’s plenty that the regular Joe Blow can do to contribute to conserving the environment.
And the best part about these tips is that not only are you helping Mother Nature, it also saves you loads of money in the short and long run!
1. Stop Buying Bottled Water
An average American drinks about 34 gallons of bottled water on average in a single year. Imagine how many plastic bottles that add up to! Not only is this detrimental to the environment, but you are also just wasting money when you can get drinking water that’s straight from your tap. It tastes just as good, and you’re already paying for it anyway! Get into the habit of carrying a reusable water bottle so you can save your wallet and reduce plastic usage at the same time.
2. Bring Reusable Bags When Grocery Shopping
Similar to plastic bottles, plastic bags end up in landfills, or worse, in the ocean where innocent animals are the victims of our ignorance. Leaving the wildlife aside, plastic bags also have an enormous economic impact on every citizen – both individually and as a whole.
Since most retailers charge for plastic bags, your expenses increase. And even though it may seem like an insignificant amount, it can really add up over the course of your lifetime. As a society, about $8.5 million in taxpayer money goes to cleaning and recycling plastic bags that end up in landfills every year.
3. Give and Buy Secondhand Items
Have you ever heard the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Not only can you buy secondhand items at a much cheaper price, but you can also sell items that are in good condition that you no longer use and make a bit of money on the side. Or better yet, ask your friends and family if you can borrow something if it’s only needed for a short amount of time or their use of the item has run out, and do the same for them. There are even online platforms where strangers can give away or exchange items for free!
4. Recycle Electronics
Looking to buy a new smartphone or laptop? Before you chuck your old device into the bin, look into better ways of disposing of it. Specifically, recycling electronic items can end up making a huge positive impact on the environment. For instance, a million recycled mobile phones yield about 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium that can be recovered and reused.
As for the economical aspect of recycling electronics, many websites pay you to sell them your old appliances. Or you can get a great deal by trading in your old device/appliance for a new one, as offered by many major retailers. Some of them even have buyback programs for old electronics.
5. Ditch Your Cars
Driving to work every day is a hassle, so why not ditch your car for an entirely different form of transport? You could take the subway or bus, or even ride a cycle or walk to work if that’s possible. Not only does this save you a bit of cash and reduce your footprint, research even suggests it’ll make you happier than driving!
Other modern solutions to transportation include bike-share programs where you pay a fee depending on the distance (kind of like Uber, but cheaper). If your commute doesn’t have many options other than driving, consider booking a pool cab or even carpooling with your colleagues.
6. Install a Power Strip
Your electricity bill includes more than what you intentionally use due to something called phantom power where electronics can suck up energy even when they are unplugged! The obvious solution would be to unplug each device once you’re done using it – but let’s be realistic, who’s got the time for that?
Here’s a better idea: install a power strip. This way, you can plug all your devices into a single unit, which can then be all turned off with a single switch. You can simply turn the power strip off as you leave your home and this can save you a lot of energy and money.
7. Change Your Light Bulbs
If you’ve still got old light bulbs in your home, it’s time for an upgrade. These light bulbs suck up a lot of energy, most of which is used to produce heat rather than light. In comparison, a compact fluorescent light bulb is about 75% more energy-efficient, meaning you can save a significant amount of money on your power bill. Sure, these bulbs may cost a bit more than the traditional bulbs, but when you consider the fact that they can last up to six times longer, the decision to make the switch seems pretty obvious!