Ways to Save the Earth that also benefit your wallet...and some that don't (but you should do them anyway!)

Ways To Save The Earth That Also Benefit Your Wallet…and Ways That Don’t (But You Should Do Them Anyway)

Ways to Save the Earth that also benefit your wallet...and some that don't (but you should do them anyway!)

I remember the first time my oldest daughter had her first Earth Day lesson at preschool. She came home and declared “We need to save the pandas!” and then proceeded to analyze my every move in my own personal earth conservation efforts (or lack thereof).

If I left the water running, she’d run over and turn off the faucet. If I left lights on, even when using them, she’d turn them off. Anything I threw out, she’d ask, “mom, can’t we recycle that?”. She still does these things years later, although we’ve gone through a variety of animals we are saving (currently it’s polar bears).

I’m not sure how any of this will directly save the pandas and polar bears, but I have found that it really doesn’t take a whole lot of time or energy to make small but significant differences. It will truly take an entire world full of people that care to make small changes that will add up rather than just a few people making extraordinary efforts.

In addition, many ways that I’ve tried reduce my environmental footprint have also benefited me financially, mostly in small ways that have added up over time.

Saving Money by Being Environmentally Conscious

There are so many simple, small things that you can do all year long that will benefit the earth while also saving money. Here are some ideas to get you started. Each one of these things is something that I actually do personally (none of that reusable toilet paper stuff–who does that?!).

Saving by Reusing Items

  • Use reusable glass containers instead of Ziploc bags
  • Shop at thrift or consignment stores
  • Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water
  • Use rags to clean up messes instead of paper towels

Saving on Utilities

  • Consider buying/renting a smaller home
  • Use power strips to plug in computers, televisions, and other large appliances
  • Install and use a programmable thermostat to conserve electricity and gas
  • Unplug appliances while not in use
  • Use a drying rack for at least some of your clothes

Saving Money through DIY

  • Make your own household cleaners
  • Make your own food rather than buying packaged foods
  • Repair things instead of throwing them away
  • Stop wasting…everything

Other Ways to Save Money

  • Go paperless for all your financial statements (there are often discounts for things like cell phone plans, etc. if you elect paperless statement and automatic payments)
  • Set up a paperless filing system instead of printing everything out (bonus: you’ll have so much more space!)

If you think the word “frugal” when you look at these ideas, you’re completely right! I don’t consider myself an especially frugal person, but it’s easier for me to be frugal when it comes to things that don’t add a lot of extra time and also make me feel like I’m reducing my impact on the world.

Spending Money to Be More Environmentally Conscious

In addition, there are some ways that wanting to be more environmentally conscious that actually cost money, but I believe that it’s worth it. Some of these include:

  • Recycling service (although it’s crazy to me that this is still an add-on to trash service in our area!)
  • Take unneeded items to hazardous waste disposal sites instead of throwing them in regular trash cans
  • Buy and use quality reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags at the grocery store (plus they’re so easier to use anyway!)
  • Install energy-efficient doors, windows, and insulation (eventually this will save money, but initially it can be expensive)
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs
  • Stop buying cheap junk and instead invest in quality things that last (bonus: saving time by not having to shop for things more often!)
  • Buy from companies that have environmentally conscious processes

None of these things are especially costly, but all make a big difference. A big part of the process is to simply become aware of how polluted the earth is becoming and take responsibility for our own actions, whether they are contributing to the problem or mitigating the problem.

Final Thoughts

Our personal consumption habits around the world are unsustainable. I believe (and hope!) that in our lifetimes, we will be forced to address the problem by shifting to reusable, sustainable items instead of the disposable mindset we currently have due to our love of convenience.

Earth Day is a great time to take a look at your processes and purchasing habits and determine whether you’re doing your part to make the world a better place for you, us and future generations.

What are ways that you save or spend money to help save the world?


12 Responses

  1. I think my priority is to save money. But when it also helps protect the environment. I feel much better and happier with my decisions. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes, please save the polar bears! 🙂 Great list Kathryn. I’m happy to say I do almost everything you mention here, the one I haven’t yet been able to do consistently is get rid of the paper towels. We began composting last summer and that helps with the amount of garbage. I really would like to figure out how to stop the junk mail from showing up though, until then we shred and/or recycle it.

    1. It’s hard to get rid of paper towels. We had trouble finding paper towels when we lived in China and then they were pretty expensive, so that helped a lot for us (not to mention that we had a housekeeper, lol). It stuck with me, though, once I made it a habit. And yes, that junk mail is ridiculous. Even after trying to opt out to the credit card offers, we still get so much of it.

        1. I don’t – in the kitchen I just use regular kitchen dishcloths/towels and for most of the rest of the house I use microfiber towels (Costco!). I have to admit, I still have paper towels around for things like accidents (I have a 3-yr old) and other gross spills.

  3. I feel like my wife is the recycling queen. She will make sure everything we buy can be recycled and on top of that she tries to save money and the environment by walking to as many places as she can. We have a grocery store close by and she is constantly walking there when the weather is nice to pick up some groceries plus get a little exercise 🙂 Win/win for her!!!

    1. I miss being able to walk to a grocery store like we could when we lived in bigger cities. We don’t live in a walkable area currently. It’s such a trade-off between wanting a big outdoor space for the kids and wanting to be able to walk various places (we obviously chose the big yard!). I wish they would make American suburbia more biker/walker friendly.

  4. I’m glad that the trend of using reusable plastic/metal water bottles has really started to pick up. Compared to a few years ago, I don’t really see plastic one-time water bottles lying around anymore.

  5. “Stop wasting…everything!” Yes! It seems like everything is disposable and one-time use…or short term use. Everyone wants to buy something new. I like to buy things and use it for as long as it is still useful. I often buy used also…it’s surprising how often things that are sold used are in almost new condition for a fraction of the price. There are some things on this list that I don’t do that I should do though. One pet peeve of mine is wasted food and people who refuse to eat leftovers. My wife and I often bring leftovers for lunch.

    1. I think wasting less is THE place to start. I quickly learned living in a high cost of living city (Seoul) not to waste food and that carried over to other areas of my life. Leftovers are definitely part of our meal plan as well.



I’m Kathryn Hanna-wife, mother of 3 and a Certified Public Accountant. I love to budget (really, I do!) , build spreadsheets and spend money on travel, sewing supplies and good chocolate.


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