There is plenty of advice everywhere you turn on how to save your money, but what if you could save your money and be eco-friendly as well? Other than the usual culprits like conserving water and using less electricity, there are other quick and easy things you can do to save green while staying green. (For more, see Go Green, Save Money.)
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- Save Some Coin Doing Laundry
Many detergents have added perfumes and colorants that don't bio-degrade well, and when they're washed down into lakes and streams, they can cause large blooms of algae to grow and choke marine life.
Detergents are there to remove oil and dirt and we've constantly been told by manufacturers to fill up the cup to the top, but according to a recent NY Times post: "The No. 1 sin, according to repair people and appliance experts, seems to be adding too much soap to washing machines or dishwashers."
For laundry, if your clothes aren't being covered on a daily basis with mud and grease, the agitation of the washing machine coupled with warm water will be enough to get your clothes clean; however to disinfect, use a little detergent. (Being environmentally conscious doesn't have to be painful. Don't miss 5 Cheap Ways To Go Green.)
For additional savings, washing your clothes with cold water costs 4 cents per load versus 68 cents if you choose the hot water option.
- Ignore Your Dryer
Let everything air dry in your apartment instead of using a dryer. You can buy racks or clotheslines for $20, instead of paying on average $1.50 each time, which pays off in about four months. After four months, you could be saving $6 a month or $72/year.
If you don't want to invest in a rack or clothesline, you can hang your clothes up to and use the backs of chairs. For anything that has to lie flat, place it on a dry towel and flip them every couple of hours. (Check out 10 Ways To Save Energy And Money for more great pointers.)
If you have a dryer in your home, the cost is about 49 cents per load, and assuming three loads a week you could save close to $80/year.
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- Use Cleaners from Your Pantry
Using cleaners you can eat means you won't have any qualms about placing a sandwich on a freshly cleaned counter. Taking white vinegar for example, the cost per ounce is between 1 and 4 cents compared to commercial window cleaners which range from 9 to 15 cents per ounce.
The savings may not be astronomical when you look at the final amount, but it means you now have a natural all-purpose cleaner to use for your tiled floors, sinks, windows and mirrors rather than having to buy separate cleaners for each function, even if they do last longer.
Other edible cleaning superstars include olive oil, lemons, baking soda and, although you can't eat it, soap and warm water works wonders. (These simple tips can make a big difference. Read 5 Painless Ways To Save More Money.)
- Eat Less Meat
We eat a lot of meat as a society, bellybytes.com reports that approximately 1.3 billion head of cattle worldwide consume a third of the world's grain. We not only need space to raise them, which causes deforestation, but we also expend a lot of resources into growing and preparing them for sale.
Let's ball-park it and say that on average meat costs about $2.50 per serving, when you compare that with other protein-filled options such as beans, rice and oatmeal, which cost on average 30 cents per serving, you're looking at a savings of $2.20 per serving. (Find out more great tips in 5 Ways To Get Healthy And Save Thousands A Year.)
Looking at the numbers for a month, at two servings a day, eating meat will cost $150/month, while a vegetarian diet will cost roughly $20/month (if substituted serving-for-serving). The savings add up to $130/month. If going completely meatless is not your thing, you can make one or two days a week completely meat-free or simply cut back on the amount of meat purchased.
The FDA daily recommendation is 5 to 6 ounces of meat for an adult, but we regularly consume up to 11 ounces per day; eating less meat and more grains and vegetables is not only good for your wallet but for your health as well.
- Buy in Bulk and Avoid the Packaging
Buy in bulk, refill the jars and avoid "gourmet" spices because they can cost three times as much for the same thing. For example, a gourmet jar of bay leaves can cost close to double that of a generic jar that's twice the size!
Don't limit bulk purchases to just food; you can buy travel-sized bottles of products and refill them from larger bottles. Some stores will even give you a discount if you bring back your old bottles to be refilled. (Learn more about buying in bulk in Buyers Clubs: Will You Really Save?)
The Bottom Line
Although you may not think you're saving thousands of dollars, every little bit counts in both your wallet and helping your environment. (To learn more, see Is It Worth Going Green?)
For the latest financial news, check out Water Cooler Finance: The End Of The Recession.