What Can I Do?

Green living doesn't have to be complicated.  In fact, it can save you time and money. Take one step at a time and see what a difference each step makes! You don’t have to be rich to save the planet. Here are 15 ways to live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle on a budget.  There are small things all of us can do every day to trim our energy use.  Many are low-cost or free, and some will even save money.  Check out these ways you can live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle on a budget.

Relight

Replacing five incandescent bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs (CFL’s) can save 50% on your annual light bill.  If every U.S. household did this, it would prevent the release of as much greenhouse gas as removing 8 million cars from the road for a year.

Fresh Eating

Buy produce from local farmers.  Not only will your food be fresher, they won’t have made a gas-guzzling cross-country journey just to get to you.

Measure Your Footprint

There are a host of carbon calculators available on the Internet like Carbonfund.org where you can determine your carbon footprint.  You can determine your direct emissions and emissions from everything you consume.  The first step in reducing your footprint is knowledge.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

Technology to the rescue!  If you own your home this is an inexpensive and easy fix to bring down your energy usage.  They cost about $30.00 and can save you more than $100.00 a year on your energy bill.  As we all know there is no reason to heat and cool an empty home, so set the thermostat to kick on just when you are around.  According to the Energy Star Action Guide, if just one household would do this in 10 the change would prevent more than 17 billion pounds of greenhouse gases.

Park Your Car

Try alternative methods of transportation.  Check out local bus systems or look into carpooling.  To run short errands near the home, take a power walk or dust off the bike.

Go Paperless

By checking out your bank account online and signing up for online accounts with creditors from your credit card company to utility payments you can eliminate the need for paper bills and monthly statements.  The rewards are twofold: (1) Less paper for you to store and (2) saving a tree.

Take a Volunteer Vacation

Instead of hitting the beach in a pricey rental or taking in the sights overseas, consider a trip to both help the environment and same some dough.  Trips with the Sierra Club are available for $500.00 to $700.00 plus travel cost and involve conservation efforts all over the country.  Among this year’s weeklong volunteer vacation offerings are an archeological dig in Southern Utah ($425.00), a trail-rebuilding project on a Cape Cod National Seashore ($545.00), and a scientific plant survey in New Mexico ($695.00).

Fix Drafts

Drafty windows and doors can be fixed (or at least upgraded) with a can of caulk and weather stripping.  The cost should run under $100.00 and can instantly save you money, while improving the comfort and durability of your home.

Around and Around

When you have to drive, roll in the right direction by making sure your tires are adequately inflated.  Pumping them up can improve your gas mileage by more than 3%, saving upwards to 7 cents per gallon.

Shop For a Star

When buying a new home electronics or appliances, check out the models that have the Energy Star seal of approval.  In the average home, 40% of the power used for electronics is consumed while they are turned off.  Energy Star models use as much as 50% less energy. Simply choosing an Energy Star rated product over one that’s not saved Americans $14 billion on their utility bills last year and saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 25 million cars.

Shower to Save

Replace your water-hogging showerhead with one that puts out less.  The standard showerhead spews 4.5 gallons-per-minute, but by replacing it with an alternative one that dispenses less water (2.5 gallons per minute).  You could save 20,000 gallons of water per year.

Fill’er Up

Run full loads of cloths and dishes.  Most of the energy used by dishwashers is to heat a set amount of water, so running smaller loads tends to wastes both energy and water. Try air drying dishes for added energy savings.

Get Off Mailing Lists

Use the toll-free number on junk mail and ask that your name be removed from listings.  Have online retailers email you instead of sending catalogs.  Almost half of all catalogs are never opened but nearly 62 million trees are destroyed and 28 million gallons of water are used to produce them each year.

Clean Greener

Find earth-friendly cleaning products at online retailers like Mother Nature and ShopNatural.  Many of the products they sell contain no phosphates or animal ingredients, no chlorine or petroleum and aren't tested on animals.  They are a bit pricier than your regular cleaning products, but only by a few dollars.

Plant It Forward

There are tons of ideas and ways to recycle, reuse and otherwise be creative with everyday materials.  Check out websites like abundantforest.org for a list of suggestions from cleaning your grill to making cookie racks.