While big corporations and governments can have a big impact on the environment – for better or for worse – individual efforts to “go green” can add up too.  Here’s how to save money by going green:

Reducing Your Environmental Footprint

You can reduce your environmental footprint and make the planet a cleaner, healthier place – and as a bonus, many of these ideas can help you keep more of your money in your pocket too.

  • Avoid excess packaging.  Use your own portable coffee mug instead of paper or Styrofoam cups.  Take your own reusable bags or bins to grocery stores instead of using their plastic bags.  Consider how much packaging is used in your purchases – children’s toys are exceptionally bad – and buy in bulk if it’s appropriate for your family.
  • Donate used clothing and household or office items to thrift shops instead of sending them to the landfill.  Give your local consignment and thrift stores a chance before heading off to the mall.  Brand new and lightly used items can often be found for a fraction of the price of new.

Related: How Many Clothes Do You Need Anyway?

  • Recycle.  Plastics, metal, glass and paper are obvious recyclables, but you can also recycle things like cell phones and toner cartridges.  Look for drop off spots in your neighbourhood, or send them back to the manufacturer if they have this option.

How To Save Money: In the garden

  • Plant native grasses, shrubs, trees and flowers that don’t need frequent watering.
  • Ban pesticides from your lawn.  Keep your grass looking lush naturally – let it grow a little longer and water it deeply but infrequently.
  • Compost.  If your city doesn’t collect organic waste for composting, install a composting bin in your backyard (or a vermicomposter – a natural worm-based composter – in your apartment kitchen).  Mulch grass clippings and raked leaves.

Related: Organic Food Gardening

How To Save Money: Inside your home

Conserve energy with your lighting, heating and cooling, and appliance use.

  • Use less water by installing a low-flow showerhead and turning off the tap when you brush your teeth.  A running bathrom faucet uses 10 to 20 litres per minute.
  • Turn off lights when you leave the room.
  • Use fans instead of air-conditioning to fend off summer heat, and close curtains and blinds during the day.
  • Install a programmable thermostat and use the timer to automatically reduce the use of heating or air conditioning, especially at night or when the house is empty.  Heating and cooling your home accounts for about 60% of your energy costs.  A programmable thermostat could reduce your heating bill by 2% (about $75 a year) for every 1 degree Celsius you turn it down.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.  ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.  Switching all the incandescent light bulbs in your house to compact fluorescent bulbs could save you $250 a year.
  • Weatherproof and insulate your home to reduce your heating costs.
  • Choose energy-efficient models when you replace appliances.  Trading your old basement fridge for a new energy-efficient model could save you more than $100 a year.  Switching to a high-efficiency water heater could save you up to $100 on your energy bill each year.

How To Save Money: Getting around

  • Take public transit, walk or bike.  The fewer cars there are on the road, the lower the emissions and the better our air quality.
  • Consider a hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle for your next car purchase.

Related:  Pros And Cons Of Living In The City vs. The Suburbs

Fun Facts

Did you know…?

  • If everyone in the Greater Toronto area turned off the tap while brushing their teeth (twice a day) they would collectively save 140 million litres of water – enough to satisfy the daily water requirements of a city of 560,000 people.
  • Every day the residents of the City of Ottawa use enough drinking water to fill 2.3 million bathtubs.
  • Almost 80% of the earth’s surface is water, but only 1% is fresh water suitable for drinking.
  • New flat-screen LCD monitors use 70% less energy than standard monitors – and contain 95% less lead.

Conclusion

Many of these changes are small ones that you can integrate into your lifestyle gradually without noticing much of a sacrifice.

Related: 35 Ways To Save Money

How much you can save by making “green” upgrades to your home depends on variables like the age and size of your house, the climate where you live, and your own personal consumption patterns.

But one thing is certain.  If you reduce your energy use, before you know it, you’ll be running a “green” household – and saving money too!


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