By ANDREA WOROCH
Earth Day, our annual celebration of the environment and all things green, is Sunday and while many people offer advice on being kind to Mother Earth, too many of these tips don’t always register with frugal lifestyles. No worries—we’ve got you covered. Today, to celebrate Earth Day 2012, we offer 25 budget-friendly ways to go green.
1. Sign up for the “no solicitation” registry.
That way, you can avoid getting credit card offers and other ads which will reduce paper clutter and save trees.
2. Shop online to reduce your carbon footprint and save money.
According to a study by Carnegie Melon’s Green Institute, shopping online reduced carbon emissions by 35 percent. The abundance of online coupons and other discounts from sites like FreeShipping.org make this green practice a no-brainer.
3. Get out of the gym and exercise outdoors.
Freeze your gym membership and save up to 75 percent (or more) per month during the summer. You’ll also rely less on those energy-sucking cardio machines.
4. Close blinds on hot days.
Doing this before you head out for the day keeps the sun from warming your home while you’re gone. Keep your place cool, and you reduce your dependence on air conditioning, saving energy.
5. Send an e-gift certificate for special occasions.
Not only are e-gift cards super convenient, you’re also using less plastic resources and reducing fuel associated with shipping. If an e-card isn’t available from a desired retailer, purchase gift cards at a discount from sites like Gift Card Granny. That way you recycle someone else’s unwanted plastic and score great savings.
6. Eliminate paper invites and digitize your event announcement.
Save on postage and printing while reducing paper by using sites like Evite.com or pingg.com to create electronic announcements and invitations.
7. Use an irrigation controller to manage watering.
Twenty to 50 percent of your water use goes toward the landscape—even more in certain areas of the country. Invest in a controller to schedule irrigation to reduce overwatering.
8. Swap your stuff!
Use Swap.com to trade books, CDs, DVDs, sporting equipment and other goods. Not only are you saving money, but you’re reducing future trash by re-using someone else’s stuff.
9. Walk or bike to work to save on fuel.
With gas prices peaking at nearly $4 a gallon, you’re doing your wallet and your health some good by walking or biking to work. If this isn’t feasible, try public transportation.
10. Wash clothes with cold water.
Though some clothes suggest warm or hot water for washing, you can reduce your monthly heating bills and save energy by turning all cycles to cold. Don’t worry, your clothes will still get clean.
11. Use mobile coupons to cut paper clutter.
Download the Coupon Sherpa mobile app to access discounts without using paper coupons. You can also save coupons to your supermarket loyalty card for paperless grocery savings.
12. Plug electronics into power strips.
Buy a surge protector for pricey electronics to save your valuables in the event of a lightning strike, and power down when not in use to cut five percent from your electricity bill.
13. Power down cable boxes.
Doing so will save you $40 per box, annually. You can also cut down on DVD waste by opting for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon streaming.
14. Go paperless.
This is a no-brainer: when banks and service providers offer you the option to go paperless, take it. Check out Lifehacker’s guide to going paperless for more ideas.
15. Hang-dry your clothes.
Do laundry on the weekends and hang dry your clothes to save energy and reduce your electricity bill.
16. Shop garage and estate sales for clothes and home goods.
Recycling other people’s unwanted items will not only save money but also reduces trash build-up in landfills.
17. Put the electric hair products down.
Consider going “au natural” several times during the week to save on energy spent by forgoing using blow dryers, flat irons and other electronic hair products.
18. Take short showers.
The feeling of hot water on your skin is often hard to resist, but taking short, cooler showers reduces your heating bill and saves water and energy. For every two minutes you shave off your shower-time, two gallons of water are saved. Invest in an inexpensive timer to keep yourself on schedule. And while you’re at it, brush without the water running to save an additional five gallons of water per brushing.
19. Wash dishes in a sink full of water.
Instead of washing dishes with the tap on, fill one side of the sink with soapy water to clean dishes, and only run the dishwasher when it’s full to save energy.
20. Get a water filter and reusable water bottle and coffee cup.
Over 80 percent of plastic water bottles are tossed—not recycled—yielding 1.5 tons of waste per year, according to Mother Nature Network. Invest in a reusable water bottle (or two) and a filter, if your tap water is lacking. And instead of wasting a paper cup at your favorite coffee shop, bring your own coffee mug; using your own cup will keep your coffee hotter longer, drastically cut down on the numbers of paper cups filling the trash and you just might get a discount for your troubles.
21. Plant native shrubs and plants.
Native plants and shrubs subsist on whatever precipitation occurs in your area, making them an eco-friendly alternative to non-native plants that require additional watering and maintenance.
22. Use an eco-friendly shower head.
Basic showerheads disperse quite a bit of water per use, so investing in an eco-friendly one like theOxygenics PowerMassage Handheld Shower Head can save up to 70 percent in water and energy consumption.
23. Reuse or recycle old wire hangers.
Most recycling companies won’t recycle them because they’re made of steel, but your local dry cleaner would be super happy to accept your used hangers—saving them money and saving our landfills from hard-to-decompose wire hangers.
24. Let the car wash get your car clean.
Car washes are generally more conscious about how much water they use because doing so saves the business money—increasing profits. The added benefit? Countless gallons of water are saved with every car that makes its way through a professional car wash.
25. Ditch the plastic bags. Period.
They’re not biodegradable, and they find their way into our oceans and, ultimately, our food supply. Cop a few reusable bags; they’re inexpensive and these days, right there at the check-out. No excuses.
Happy Earth Day 2012!
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.
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