I’m probably the most unlikely Green Living advocate on the planet.
I’m an advocate of offshore drilling, I voted for Bush in 2004 (bad call I know), and I drive a crossover SUV.
Yet, more and more these days, I find myself being slowly taken in by the tree hugger movement.
Because every time I do something that resembles a frugal, penny-pinching lifestyle I later find out that I’m playing right into the hands of the Green Living crowd.
Am I upset? Hardly! I’m quite happy to be a convert.
But – big but here – I find this new revelation somewhat shocking that the two seemingly different lifestyles fit together very well.
What I’m really trying to say is that more often than not, whether you are a Green Living advocate or you are just looking to save a few bucks by Going Frugal, you are probably traveling along the same path. You just have different objectives.
10 Examples that Frugal Living and Green Living Go Hand in Hand
- Natural and Cheap Cleaning Products. I despise a product that is marketed like a cleaning product but really more like a poison. Take some time and read warning labels on your cleaning products that you likely rely upon everyday. I’ll take the cheap and easy baking soda and water cleaner over toxic cleaning agents any day of the week.
- Eliminate Disposable Product Usage as Possible. Anyone besides me notice the huge increase in disposable consumer products lately? The best example would like be a product like aluminum foil, which requires some minor terraforming and of course, most people probably don’t recycle it anyway. But the best example of late would be the Swiffer commercials which uses a paper cleaning product instead of an old fashioned mop. Sure, they might prevent you from getting your hands in soapy water, but they also contribute to landfill waste.
- Start a Garden and Grow Your Own Vegetables. I’m not saying you have to weed rows and rows of vegetables everyday, but growing a few tomatoes or fresh herbs on your deck can mean big savings over the growing season. Fresh herbs at my grocery store go for $3 to $5 per small container, and tomatoes fluctuate from $2 to $4 per pound. That’s probably a few hundred bucks a year. If you require further convincing, I can make several healthy dishes from my urban garden for less than $1.
- Flip the Off Switch on Phantom Power Drains. Phantom electricity (also called vampire power) usage is basically wasted electricity from appliances or electrical gadgets that sit idle or in standby mode. Using a surge protector/power strip for your non-essential items (computers, TVs, cell phones, etc.) can save a significant amount of energy and reduce your electric bill at the same time. Sounds trivial, but when you consider 50% of the power in the U.S. comes from coal fired power plants, every little bit helps. Some people have even seen electrical bills drop by 67% using this simple cost saving tip.
- Adjust the Thermostat to Burn Less Fuel/Electricity. We all love the proverbial toasty fireplace image on a chilly winter evening, but your thermostat shouldn’t be set at 75 degrees during the winter. Ramit Seti’s 30 Day Challenge to Save $1000 shows that for every 1 degree your thermostat goes down during the winter, you save approximately 3% on your heating bill. To lower costs even further, try flipping the rotation switch on your ceiling fan to blow the hot air down from the ceilings in the winter, and up in the summer.
- Carpooling and Preplanning Trips Saves Money on Gas. Anyone who knows me knows I hate driving. So any excuse I can use to be driven somewhere or reduce my driving time is a plus for me. For those of us without public transportation availability will know that paying $3.50 to $5 per gallon of gas during the peak of the energy crisis killed anyone on a tight budget. Setup a carpool for your work buddies, and plan all your errands within one trip to eliminate repeat trips. Not to mention, you cut down on cardon dioxide emissions and traffic jams.
- Switch Your Entire Home to CFL Bulbs. Sure, you would need a small upfront purchase, but that purchase will pay for itself over time. I switched to CFL bulbs last month for only $42, and Energy Star claims that each bulb will save $30 over the bulbs lifetime, so I’m hoping to see a small financial bonus for being more energy efficient.
- Use Your Window Curtains to Your Advantage. Here’s a shocker – the sun is hot and provides warmth. If it’s cold outside, open the curtains and let the light (i.e. heat) indoors during the day, and close them at night. Curtains are nothing but an easy way to add another layer of insulation to your windows, which are one of the major sources of heat loss for the average home. Plus, you get the benefit of less usage for heating or air conditioning systems, which means lower electrical and heating bills.
- Upgrade Older Appliances to Energy Star Rated Appliances. The upfront cost on most major home appliances is substantial, but as with any good investment, the dividends will be realized over the long term. Having recently purchased a new home, I went all out and bought a front loading washer and dryer set. They use less energy to operate, as well as the washer supposedly cuts water usage by 7000 gallons per year. The savings can be substantial in water usage, the electricity to operate both washer and dryer, as well as in natural gas or heating oil if you have a non-electrical powered water heater.
- Use Only What You Need. Useonlywhatyouneed.org is a brilliant marketing campaign from Denver Water to relay this simplistic message in an attempt to use less water, but I think it’s part of a larger theme to be used for every aspect of our lives. Everything that we humans don’t use, gets discarded, and that means it’s usually going to the local landfill. I tend to think of landfills as a place we throw away billions of dollars each year, whether it’s a plastic case that held your new Best Buy gadget, or the old gadget that just got replaced by your new one, you’re essentially throwing money down a hole never to be seen again.
Got any other ideas how Green Living and Frugal Living parallel one another? These are only a few examples, but like always, I’m sure there are more examples or MoneyHacks/FrugalHacks that have been devised.
Photo by valentins_k