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.
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.