We all want to keep our planet beautiful, but saving money while you do it makes it even better. Luckily, it turns out going green can put more green in your wallet!
“That’s great! I’m sure a lot of people would do more, if they could actually see a financial benefit,” said Mike Embury, an environmentally conscious consumer, who drives a hybrid car.
Buying less bottled water is a good place to start. It saves money and helps the environment. Not only do you often pay more than a dollar a bottle when you buy from a machine or at the store, but you also contribute to more than 35 billion plastic bottles ending up in landfills every year.
Try buying a reusable water bottle and refilling it with filtered water. That’s what consumer Michelle Proulx does.
“I have a (reusable) water bottle, and at work we have a water cooler; and we also have a Brita (filter system) at home,” Proulx said. “You drink more water if you keep refilling it, and it’s much cheaper!”
We all love our lattes, but even paper cups are part of the waste problem. More than 50 billion single-use paper cups (like the ones we get at Starbucks) end up in landfills every year.
“Oh wow, I didn’t know that,” said consumer Mary Jane Farmelo, who was leaving the Starbucks in Carrollwood with her husband. “I always try to recycle plastic, but I didn’t know paper cups were a problem.”
Making coffee at home and pouring it into a reusable mug is a good alternative to help the environment and save money. And if you still get that urge for Starbucks, bring in your own mug. They actually give you a 10 cent discount for your beverage when you do.
Plastic straws are yet another culprit in the battle against waste. They might seem small, but they add up -- Americans use 500 million every day.
“That’s enormous, and then they get into our waterways and the ocean. It’s a real serious problem. The turtles die, because they eat the plastic,” Farmelo said, who tries to avoid using plastic straws.
Home Energy Saving
In your home, beware of energy-sucking appliances that drain electricity even when you’re not using them— like computers, TVs, game consoles, coffee makers, toasters, and phone chargers. Most homes have some 40 electronic devices drawing power when they’re off or in stand-by mode.
That adds up to almost 10-percent of home energy use. The average household spends between $165 and $450 a year on plugged-in gadgets and electronics that are not being used.
One tip to help you save: put major electronics on a power strip and turn it off at night or when you leave the house.
“That’s a good tip. Something I didn’t really think about,” Embury said. “I use power strips to plug in lots of things all at once, but turning them off—that’s a good idea.”
When it comes to laundry, try only to wash when you have a full load and use cold water to save energy.
“I do my laundry on cold all the time,” said Farmelo.
In most cases, cold water washes just as well, so you can save the money and energy it takes to heat up the water.
Installing a programmable thermostat is another way to save, so you can automatically adjust the temperature when you go to bed or leave home. For every degree you increase in the summer or decrease in the winter, you can save one-percent off your bill.
“When we’re at work, it goes up to 78 degrees and it goes down to normal temperature when we get home,” Proulx, who has a programmable thermostat, said. “Since we got it, it’s been a huge difference. Big time savings!”
Vehicle Exhaust Fumes
Exhaust fumes are one of the worst environmental offenders, but even if you don’t drive an electric or a hybrid vehicle, there are still things you can do.
For example, avoid idling your car when possible. If you’re waiting for someone, roll down the windows and turn the engine off -- it actually uses more gas to idle your vehicle for just 30 seconds than it does to turn it off and on again.
Of course, that can get a little warm in the Florida heat, but consumer Andrew Lindgren gets creative to keep cool.
“I usually keep a portable fan,” Lindgren said.” When I’m waiting for someone and my car’s not on, I use that, and it plugs right into my phone.”
Even when it’s cold outside, it’s not a good idea to idle your engine to warm up your car. That’s actually bad for your engine, unless it’s an old combustion engine.
Every little bit adds up when it comes to being environmentally conscious. You help the planet, and you help yourself.
“Our environment has a lot to offer us, like the beautiful trees and the green grass, I just think it’s important,” Farmello said.
Proulx says she likes the benefits of being eco-friendly -- for today and for the future.
“We want this world to be a better place for our children and grandchildren. I have a grandchild on the way, so I want it to be nice for them, too.”