My Tips for Saving the Planet — and Money

Check out these eco-friendly, money-saving tips.

Going green isn’t just about recycling or planting trees on Earth Day. Businesses and individuals are realizing that not only is it the right thing to do for the health of our planet, but there are real savings to be had by being eco-friendly.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to be eco-friendly, either. I’ve put together a list of things you can try at home that are both good for planet Earth and your bank account.

Click to read more about energy-saving tips and tricks that will save you a bundle.

Reduce

Decluttering and downsizing is a great way to simplify your lifestyle and reduce expenses. When was the last time you cleaned out the garage or shed a light on all those hidden treasures in the attic? You might be surprised by the amount of stuff you no longer use and can either sell or donate to your favorite charity.

Further, before making a purchase, take 30 days to think about it. Does it really need to be added to your collection of stuff? This will help you avoid impulse buying and ensure purchases are truly needed.

Use Dump and Run for College Dorm Bargains

Do you have a child who is planning on attending college in the near future? Some colleges participate in a program called Dump and Run, which accepts donations of items such as appliances, books and furniture from outgoing students, and resells them at a discount to students moving into campus housing. Contact the Student Housing Department of the college your child is planning on attending to see if they offer this service.

Replace Disposable Items

Where possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones — like with batteries, razors, printer cartridges, coffee filters, etc. By switching to reusable items, I have saved hundreds, and now only buy portable electronic devices if they are rechargeable.

Install a Hard Start Kit on Your Air Conditioner

Your air conditioner uses more electricity during startup than when the unit is running. Installing a hard start kit on your air conditioner or heat pump will not only save on energy costs, but it will also extend the life of your compressor by reducing the heat generated during startup.

Go Green in Your Backyard

Starting a container garden is an easy and affordable way to grow herbs and vegetables, and because of their small size, weeding and maintaining plants is minimal. This year I am growing spinach and tomatoes in my container garden, and love the fact that I can step out my back door and pick fresh vegetables for my meals.

While you’re at it, why not make your own rain barrel and use it to water your container garden?

More on Being Thrifty: Composting and Other Uses for Leftover Coffee Grounds

Join a Local Fixers’ Collective

Over the years, I have saved literally thousands of dollars by repairing appliances and other household items myself instead of calling in a repairman.

If you are looking to learn repair skills and save money by repairing your own appliances or electronics, why not hook up with other like-minded do-it-yourselfers by joining a fixers’ collective in your community?

Teach Your Children to Be Thrifty

Involve your child in household spending decisions at an early age. Take your child shopping, and explain the cost of items in terms of how long one would have to work to pay for the item. For an older child, give them a small list of items such as apples or salad ingredients, along with a food budget, and have them “shop” for the items. To motivate your little shoppers, offer to split any savings with them and deposit the money into a savings account.

Instead of immediately replacing a broken toy or other items, allow your child to come to you with a plan for how to repair or replace the item, and how much they are willing to contribute financially. How much your child contributes isn’t the point. The goal is simply to teach kids financial responsibility and to take good care of their belongings.

Take an Eco-Sabbath

For one hour per week or one day per month, unplug from the grid. Turn off all electronic devices, don’t cook, do not buy anything, basically refrain from consuming all resources. I always look forward to our camping trip each summer. It’s an inexpensive vacation and a great opportunity to unplug from the grid and reconnect with my family.

Eat an Eco-Friendly Diet

Reducing or eliminating red meat from your diet cuts your risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries due to plaque buildup. Substituting other sources of protein like fish, poultry, dairy and beans will help to mitigate the large carbon footprint beef cattle have on our environment.

Avoid processed foods, and instead, try to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. When we go shopping, we avoid the grocery store center aisle and shop the perimeter for fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, meats and poultry. For instance, we enjoy making our own version of shrimp and pasta with pesto and olive oil. It tastes just as good as the Bertolli frozen meal and it costs less than half to make at home.

So what are you waiting for? Try one of these options, and I promise you will feel better by helping out the planet while you watch your savings grow.

Click here to learn how Starbucks will pay you $10 million for an eco-friendly cup design.