Five Simple Ways Go Green in a Bad Economy

When people talk about “going green,” they’re usually talking about buying new environmentally friendly appliances, products, and clothes. All of those things cost big bucks, or at least a lot more than they should. Is that eco detergent really worth an extra $3? I doubt it, especially if you have an older dishwasher or washing machine that isn’t strong enough to make up for the difference. But there are simple ways you can have a green lifestyle without spending more green.

Buy Less Stuff
Boom, you’ve just reduced your impact on the environment, and it didn’t cost you a thing. In fact, it saved you money. Buying less stuff means buying less packaging. It also means less stuff is transported to stores, and less stuff is manufactured. The simple act of not buying has a major impact on the environment.

Switch to Fabric Grocery Bags
Just about everyone I know has a variety of fabric tote bags stuffed into various corners of their homes. Trade shows, parties, charities, everyone is flinging these things at us. Dig them out, wash them, and then tote them to the store with you. When they ask: “Paper or plastic?” Say, “I brought my own.” Some stores will even give you a few cents back for each bag you bring.

Unplug Unused Appliances
If your Wii, Xbox, or Playstation is unused for large chunks of the week, plug it into an accessible power strip and then unplug it when you’re not using it. The same goes for your cellphone charger, as well as any appliance with a standby mode. If you can’t directly flip an off-switch that actually turns the device off, then it’s sucking up energy even when it’s dormant. The biggest clue you have such a device is the “standby” light. If there’s a light on, the machine is always on, even when it’s off. Unplug it between uses. If it has a digital clock, it’s also always on, even when it’s off. Not only will you reduce your energy impact, you’ll save a lot of money on electricity over the course of the year.

Switch to CFL Lightbulbs
Many cities are running promotions to try to get people to switch to CFL lightbulbs. I came home the other day to find that DWP had left two lightbulbs in a recycled tote bag on my front door. I’ve also received bulbs at community events, electronics recycling drops, and Christmas tree recycling drops. Watch your city’s website for eco events, then go claim your free lightbulbs.

Eat Local Produce This Summer
You don’t have to eat everything local. Unless However, you can save money and eat local produce simply by shopping at a summer produce stand or farmer’s market. By buying direct, you’ll reduce the environmental impact of shipping produce thousands of miles. It will also be cheaper, fresher, taste better, and support local farmers. Even better, most of the market farmers use organic methods, even if they legally can’t say they’re organic. Just ask. They’ll be happy to explain.

There are also expensive, complicated things you can do to help the environment. If you have the money, you should certainly consider them. Many, like installing energy-efficient windows, will save you money on the long run. In the meantime, being short on cash doesn’t mean you can’t do your part.

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