100 Frugal Ways to Go Green

With Obama in office, the movement toward a greener economy will continue. With the recession continuing, we’re going to need to save money. Fortunately, you can do both. This weekend’s LA Times reported that the recession is slowing the contributions to our nation’s landfills because we’re buying less stuff. Let’s hope these 100 ways will continue that trend.

  1. Buy less stuff. Less stuff = less packaging, less production, less waste. And it doesn’t cost a dime.
  2. Shop less. Saves money and the gas driving to the store or delivering packages to your house.
  3. Think before you buy. Do you really need that item? Wait a few weeks and see if you still want it
  4. Buy less packaged goods. Packaging costs money, so focus on simpler products. They might even last longer.
  5. Fix rather than replace. Many electronics can be repaired rather than replaced to save money and the planet.
  6. Turn up/down the thermostat. Being a little warmer in summer and cooler in winter will save money on your electric bill and reduce your energy usage.
  7. Buy CFL lightbulbs. Yes, they’re more expensive at the start, but they save serious cash later.
  8. Make your own cleaning products. They’ll have fewer chemicals and be cheaper.
  9. Turn off the lights. When you leave a room, turn off the lights, TV, etc. Watch your electric bill shrink.
  10. Unplug unused electronics. Turning them off isn’t enough. For serious savings, you need to unplug.
  11. Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth or wash your face.
  12. Use rags, sponges, and towels rather than paper towels to clean.
  13. Use cloth napkins.
  14. Replace the air filter in your house. When your A/C or heat is on, it will run more efficiently.
  15. Close the drapes at night. Keep the warm air in or out, depending on the season.
  16. Open the drapes during the day. Reduce indoor light use by relying on the sun.
  17. Choose energy-efficient appliances. They cost slightly more at first, but make up the cost quickly.
  18. Insulate your home. Again, it costs money at the outset, but saves a ton of energy.
  19. Plant native plants in your yard, rather than non-native water hogs.
  20. Don’t wear shoes inside the house. It will reduce carpet dirt, requiring less cleaning and allowing a longer life.
  21. Cover wood floors with throw rugs. In the winter, it will make your home feel a little warmer.
  22. Check the doors and windows for drafts and repair them.
  23. Check for gas leaks.
  24. Buy a water heater blanket or a tankless water heater.
  25. Buy a solar phone charger.
  26. Shower faster.
  27. Build a rainwater system for your garden.
  28. Trade the bounty of your garden with friends and neighbors.
  29. Make your own sauces, jam, jelly, and preserved fruit.
  30. Turn off your junk mail.
  31. Install low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads.
  32. Shower less. How dirty do you really get in a day? Consider a morning shower only unless you work out in the afternoon or evening.
  33. Reupholster worn but sturdy furniture. All you need is a sewing machine and access to good, cheap fabric. And lots of time.
  34. Ladies – buy a DivaCup. No more tampons for ten years.
  35. Wear less makeup. Less packaging, less water to wash it off, less energy to produce it.
  36. Buy or make mesh produce bags. You can buy tulle for $1-2 a yard. Use the bags for fruit and veggies.
  37. Carry tote bags. Take them to the grocery store. Keep one in your car for errands.
  38. Say no to plastic bags. If you forgot your bag and carry it in your hands, say no to the plastic.
  39. Only run the washing machine when you have a full-load.
  40. Resole your shoes.
  41. Repair seams rather than replacing your clothes.
  42. Be gentle with your clothes – they’ll last longer.
  43. Handwash clothes in bulk. If you have bras or handwash clothes, wash them in order from lightest to darkest in the same tub of water.
  44. Use towels for a week before washing them.
  45. Wash your clothes less often. You can go at least 2-3 wearings before washing them unless you worked up a sweat.
  46. Use the right amount of detergent. You don’t need to use the whole capful! Use the right amount for your washer.
  47. Drive less.
  48. Use mass transit.
  49. Walk.
  50. Ride a bike.
  51. Get your car tuned up to reduce pollution and fuel usage.
  52. Turn off your car when waiting more than a minute (lights not included).
  53. Ask to work from home. Reduce your company’s energy cost and your commute cost.
  54. Carry an aluminum water bottle with you.
  55. Bring a mug, plate, and silverware to work.
  56. Bring your lunch to work in a reusable container.
  57. Plant a vegetable or herb garden.
  58. Compost. Free fertilizer, less waste!
  59. Recycle. Not a money saver, but it doesn’t cost money either.
  60. Don’t buy bottled water. Either drink regular tap water or buy a sink filter.
  61. Use a clothes line or drying rack instead of the dryer.
  62. Don’t buy carbon offsets. I know, organizations push them, but I think they’re ineffective. Instead, donate your money to an environmental charity with a proven track record.
  63. Have fewer children.
  64. Switch to cloth diapers.
  65. Buy fewer plastic toys. Or really, fewer toys in general.
  66. Share kid’s clothes or buy used. They grow so fast that their clothes are usually in good shape.
  67. Share toys or buy used.
  68. Breastfeed.
  69. Make your own baby food.
  70. Don’t be afraid of dirt. Dirt is natural. Kids who aren’t exposed to it tend to have more asthma and allergy. Let the dirt in to reduce the need for medications.
  71. Eat at home. Less carry-out waste, less wasted food, more cash in your wallet.
  72. Eat less. Your wallet, your waist, and the planet will thank you.
  73. Learn to cook from whole, natural foods.
  74. Eat less meat.
  75. Don’t buy packaged food.
  76. Reuse plastic butter tubs and other containers.
  77. Use up all your food before it goes bad.
  78. Use a refrigerator thermometer to set the temperature right. Saves energy and reduces food waste.
  79. Don’t buy more food than you need.
  80. Learn to love leftovers to avoid food waste.
  81. Learn to use your freezer to avoid food waste.
  82. Reuse baggies.
  83. Buy from local farms. Many farmer’s market vendors are organic or sustainable even if they legally can’t use the “organic” label.
  84. Quit coffee. Can’t do that? Buy reusable filters or take your own mug to Starbucks.
  85. Buy local clothes and goods. Local goods are often cheaper because there’s less shipping involved.
  86. Entertain at home. You’ll reduce your energy use at movie houses and restaurants, and save money.
  87. Reduce your gift lists. Prepare now to trim down birthday, Valentine’s Day, and holiday gifts. Not only will you save money, but you’ll contribute to less waste from wrapping paper and stuff no one wants.
  88. Read rather than watch TV. Reading requires only the energy from your lamp. TVs, especially flat-screens, are real-energy hogs.
  89. Don’t watch TV (or watch less). No TV means no cable and no commercials. It also means less keeping up with the Jones.
  90. Borrow books from the library.
  91. Use Paperback Book Swap.
  92. Read your news online.
  93. Print coupons online, and only the ones you need.
  94. Don’t smoke. If you do, quit.
  95. Think before you print.
  96. Shred your mail and use it as mulch during winter.
  97. Print on both sides of the paper.
  98. Steal used paper from work and print on the other side at home.
  99. Get a spouse or a roommate. Shared electricity, food, etc.
  100. Live a simpler life. Enjoy activities close to home with family and friends. Fill your heart, not your home.

Okay, that’s 100. Some are cheaper than others. Nearly all will save you at least some money. They’ll also help you do your part for the planet, without being the smelly guy who only eats lettuce and wears hemp everything. Got more ideas? Post them in the comments.

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