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25 Ways to Help Your Wallet and the Planet

25 Ways to Help Your Wallet and the PlanetAs we’ve been working to reduce our expenses, I am noticing that many things that we are saving money on are also helping the planet. We are producing less waste and being more purposeful with our spending. Whether you are looking to cut expenses or reduce your impact, here are twenty-five things you can do right now that will help you do both.


Install a low flow showerhead – a typical shower can run 5 gallons a minute. If you install a low flow showerhead, you can cut that to 1.5 gallons a minute.

Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or washing dishes – If you aren’t actively using the water flow, turn it off in between uses and save some water.

Install CFL bulbsCFL bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.

Vary your cooking methods a little – Certain kitchen appliances use less energy than others (for a great list of costs for food prep, visit the City of College Station). Instead of using the oven, which costs over 85 cents/hr, can you use a crock pot which costs about a penny per hour?

Unplug unused electronics and appliances – That TV that is turned off may still be drawing power in standby mode. So is that microwave with the clock. Unplug those devices when not in use to save some electricity.

Plant trees – Depending on where it is planted, a single tree can block the wind in the winter, saving on heating costs. It can also provide shade in summer, saving on cooling costs. Trees are great for absorbing carbon dioxide.

Turn your thermostat down in the winter – There’s no golden rule that says a home must be at 70 all the time. In the winter, set your thermostat a little lower during the day and wear a sweatshirt around the house. In the summer, turn the thermostat up a little and wear lighter clothing around the house.

Caulk around doorways and use weather stripping to seal drafts. – A single draft in a room can make you feel a lot colder. Seal up the drafts and feel warmer in your home so you can keep the heat lower overall.

Use cold water for washing laundry – Did you know that 90% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water? Give cold water a try when washing your clothes and also use cold-water detergents. As long as your clothes aren’t too soiled, they can come clean in cold water.

Hang dry your clothes – Dry your clothes on a clothes line outside or find a rack for drying your clothes inside. Save the electricity or gas that would be used by your dryer. Note: Sometimes clothes can get pretty stiff with air drying. What you can do is let them air dry most of the way, then pop into the dryer for a little bit to help them soften up.

Turn off your lights – When you aren’t using a light in a room, turn it off. That holds true even if you might be returning a few minutes later. The power surge of turning on that light only equals a few seconds of having that light on.

Around the House

Use natural cleaners – Avoid the harsh chemicals and save some money at the same time. Being Frugal has some easy cleaner recipes.

Give reusable coffee filters a try – Instead of loading your coffee maker every morning with a new filter, try a reusable one. They aren’t very expensive, but can reduce waste and save you money over the long run.

Use rechargeable batteries – It’s sometimes hard to fork over the money for rechargeable batteries. But they quickly pay for their cost in money saved if you are using electronics that drain batteries quickly (like cameras).

Forgo the plastic baggies in lunches – Instead of using plastic bags, use reusable containers if possible. The same goes for storing all types of food at home. If you need to use a plastic bag, try to reuse it if it held dry goods.

Get a reel mower – Go back in time with a reel mower that is updated for this century. They can do the job, you get some exercise and you don’t need fuel to run it.

Use both sides of paper when printing – If you are printing something for reading later, see if it would work to print on both sides of the paper. Some programs offer the option of printing even or odd pages, so you can try to match the pages up correctly. If the ink is too dark, try printing in draft.

Buy used furniture or find some for free – Instead of buying new, you may be able to find a perfect end table (or another piece of furniture) for low cost or maybe even for free on freecycle.org. A piece of furniture doesn’t end up in a landfill and you have the furniture you need. It’s a win-win!

Reduce junk mail – Save some paper and possibly prevent id theft by visiting the Federal Trade commission site that details how you can reduce unsolicited mail.

Switch to online bill payments – Many banks are offering online bill pay and some have it for free! Save a stamp and save on paper usage.

Mend anything that you can – If an article of clothing needs mending, don’t throw it out. Try to do it yourself by learning some basic sewing techniques.

Out and About

Carpool whenever possible – Not everyone can do this, but if it’s a possibility then jump on the chance to save some money and reduce carbon emission.

Ease up on the gas pedal – Drive moderately (not aggressively) and lower your speed to save some big bucks and help the environment at the same time.

Skip the bottled water and refill your own – Save on plastic waste by filling a reusable water with your tap water. Don’t like the taste of your tap water? Try a filter.

Instead of spending the day inside, go outside – Get everyone out of the house and head outside for a fun day outdoors. Make sure you turn off everything when you leave the house. Go for a walk/bike ride or maybe plant a few flowers. Enjoy some time outdoors.

Photo Credit: 1

Tricia is the blogger behind Blogging Away Debt. In her blog, she documents her family’s journey to pay off over $37,000 in credit card debt. Part of her debt reduction plan included a loan from Prosper.com. It originated in June of 2006 and was paid in full in October of 2007.

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5 Responses

Lynnae | April 30th, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Great tips! Thanks for the mention, too!

Tricia | April 30th, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Thanks, Lynnae!

Karl | May 5th, 2008 at 8:25 am

I like this list, really. As an amateur economist, I would just like to add that water is cheap in most places in the United States, and transporting it does not cause significant pollution.

If you really wanna help out the environment, call your local public utility and ask if they have a renewable energy program.

My utility did, and I signed up:

Tim | May 7th, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Excellent ideas – why is it so hard for people to do such simple things?


posted in Personal Finance Education 5 comments »

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