12 Daily Activities to Save Mother Earth… and Money

by Ryan Guina

earth-day.jpgSomewhere along the way I missed the memo about Earth Day, which was yesterday. I thought I would share 12 ways I conserve energy and resources on a daily basis. Not only are these actions good for our environment, they are good for the pocketbook as well.

12 energy and money saving tips

1. Drive a fuel efficient car. My car gets close to 30 mpg, which is well above average. Less gas, less money, fewer emissions. Win, win, win. If buying a new car doesn’t make sense, then consider these tips for saving money on gas.

2. Drive efficiently. Your car’s engine is an important factor in how much fuel you use, but so is the way you drive. You don’t need to be a hypermiler to save money on gas. Accelerate and brake smoothly. Use cruise control. Combine your trips. These small actions will decrease the amount of gas you use as well as your carbon footprint.

3. Use CFL’s. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 25% of the energy of standard incandescent bulbs and they last much longer.

4. Take showers instead of baths. The average 5 minute shower uses 20 gallons of water. The average bath uses 37 gallons. If you want to conserve even more water, turn off the faucet while lathering.

5. Recycle. My wife and I recycle just about everything we can. Every week we fill our recycle bin (sometimes overflowing), and we usually only have one bag of trash. We also recycle all those coupon flyers we receive in the mail…

6. Stop receiving junk mail. You can choose to opt out of credit card offers, and you can also have your name and address removed from advertisers’ mailing lists (junk mail). You save time and clutter on your end, and fewer resources are used.

7. Turn things off. Don’t leave your TV or radio on when you sleep or when you leave the house. If you want to take it a step further, use a power strip for all appliances or electronics other than your clocks.

8. Use a programmable thermostat. My wife and I set our thermostat to function only when we are home so we don’t needlessly heat or cool an empty house.

9. Open windows. When the weather is nice (I love the spring and fall!) my wife and I leave the windows open as long as possible. This not only airs out the house and leaves a clean scent all day, but a nice breeze reduces our need to run the air conditioner – saving us money.

10. Dress appropriately for the season when indoors. If you need to wear long pants and a sweatshirt in the summertime while you are indoors, you are wasting energy. And if you can wear a short sleeve shirt and shorts indoors in the winter time, you are spending too much money on heat.

11. Run your dishwasher on energy saving mode. We run our dishwasher on the “glasses” cycle, which is the shortest cycle. This uses less water and energy. There is also an option to let the dishes dry without heat. It takes energy to create that heat – which uses more resources and money than letting your dishes air dry. I’ll deal with a few spots if I know that I am saving money and helping our earth.

12. Use cold water to wash clothes. Your clothes come out just as clean and you won’t use energy heating water for your water heater.

It all boils down to the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The more we conserve now, the less we spend in terms of dollars, and the more resources we leave for our children. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

photo credit: barunpatro.

Published or updated May 12, 2015.
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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stacey

Great list – I believe we do all of the above except for 2 – our vehicle isn’t all that efficient (I just spent $100 to put 3/4 of a tank of gas in it…) and #5 – our town has a “no recycling” policy… I believe it has to do with the fact that we’re waaayy to rural to make recycling cost effective. That’s one thing I hate about rural America!


2 Frugal Dad

Great list! The advice to pick up a power strip and attach electronics is a good one as these things tend to pull “phantom power” even when turned off. It adds up over time. We recently installed a power strip in our small entertainment center to power down the TV, DVD player and stereo before bed each night. We figure that is at least 8 or 9 hours where the things are not running the meter and using up energy.


3 fathersez

Good to know that I am not an eco terrorist. I can say yes to > 50% of your list…phew.



4 Ron@TheWisdomJournal

We use most of these ideas, but it’s more for the cost savings than anything else. If the environmental movement would push the savings rather than the “all human activity is bad” angle, they would get a lot more traction.


5 stngy1

We are lucky enough to not only have traditional curbside recycling, but also weekly pickup of yard waste/food scraps/soiled organics. That alone has reduced our garbage by half (and thus our bill for P/U) and it has eliminated our use of plastic garbage bags entirely. It has revolutionized our thinking, as we now are challenged and motivated to generate smaller and smaller amounts of trash.
We also have easy access to facilities for recycling all metals, wood, eWaste, toxic household products, etc. This has saved a ton of money as well as helped us to be more “Green”. It is because of the will of the folks living in this city, and of our governance that we are able to do this. AND All city vehicles now run on biodiesel, ethanol, or electricity. It is so cool!
If there isn’t curbside recycling in your area, compost at home and perhaps do monthly recycling runs to a center farther away (combined, of course, with another expedition). You might even get money for your effort. If there’s a will, there’s a way.
*If you can’t conceptualize of the impact of our waste, just visit a dump.*
BTW, a couple of web businesses which kill two birds with one stone:
http://buymytronics.com/ will BUY broken or old electronics. Easy process.
http://greendimes.com/ which we subscribed to about a year ago. Anytime I get an unsolicited catalog I can log on, enter the information, and they stop coming. Coupling that with ebilling, we will requently get one piece or no mail a day. We were joking yesterday how we could easily cut back to semiweekly mail delivery…..


6 PT

I’m going to try the Opt-Out services. Thanks!


7 Sherthebear

great tips!! Thanks for sharing.


8 Rudy

As someone who sells light bulbs for a living, I am less enthusiastic than most about compact fluorescent bulbs. This is due to the fact that the ones currently available contain significant amounts of mercury. If one of these bulbs should break inside of a person’s home, it could cause a challenging disposal situation. It is my belief that the technology should progress to a point at which the mercury levels are low or nonexistent before people changeover their entire homes. Another consideration is that as these bulbs burn out, they will most likely be thrown away as though they are normal rubbish and landfills will have incredibly high levels of mercury in their soil as a result.


9 Ryan

Stacey, the idea of spending $100 on a 3/4 tank of gas… wow! I can understand that for a work truck or special needs vehicle, but not for a daily driver… That’s a budget buster!

I used to live in rural America as well, and there wasn’t any recycling service available. At that point there often isn’t much you can do.


10 Ryan

stngy1, We have the traditional curbside recycling, which I love. But we don’t have the weekly pickup of yard waste. We have fairly easy access to the other recycling facilities as well, which is nice when the need arises.

Thanks for the links, I wasn’t aware of those sites.


11 stngy1

Thanks again for the thoughful list!


12 Alan

Driving efficiently is just as important or more important then the rating your car is supposed to get in mpg. Those figures are based on certain criteria on how you drive. Find a local super miler club and see what you can learn from those people who regularly get 20mpg over there expected mpgs.


13 Dividend Growth Investor


Thanks for reminding me about the http://buymytronics.com/ site. Incidentally I saw something on TV yesterday about this site.


Thanks for the “Green List”. I have heard somewhere that in Germany, drivers are required by law to turn their cars off at traffic lights/intersections.


14 Jenni

I do what I know how to do, and that is most of the stuff on your list. I don’t drive, so I don’t worry about that area, but I limit the rides I take with public transportation, and private, so as not to make so much waste. And save money. I wish there was a way to box up and mail recyclable stuff from some of those rural areas. I read somewhere that you could do it through the post office, and those are everywhere. But I know people who save their aluminum cans, and what they could sell, to compensate for driving them to another place that does recycle. Could you do a list on places that can be done over the mail, for people that don’t have easy access to locations? That would be great to know as much as you can, to do as much as you can.


15 Shanti @ Antishay

This is a great list 🙂 I always love reading suggestions for reducing my footprint because I always feel that I can do more – but reading this list.. I do all these things already. Yay! It’s nice to finally feel like I’m doing some good for the world, lol.


16 Ryan

Jenni, I haven’t heard about taking things to the post office for recycling. It seems like a good idea because there are post office everywhere, but I’m not sure it would make economic sense for the postal service.

Shanti, It’s good to hear you’re doing a lot of these things as well. 🙂


17 Kristina Richardson

Most CFLs today on the market contain less than 5mgs of mercury and there are CFL options out there that contain as little as 1.5mgs of mercury- which can hardly be called a “significant amounts of mercury” considering that many item in your home contain 100s of times more of mercury including your computer. Mercury levels in CFLs can never be “nonexistent” since mercury is a necessary component of a CFL and there is no other known element that is capable of replacing it. But CFLs actually prevent more mercury from entering the environment. According to the Union of Concerned Scientist, “a coal-fired power plant will emit about four times more mercury to keep an incandescent bulb glowing, compared with a CFL of the same light output”.


18 Enigin

Great tips – everyone should be looking to save energy in these tough economic times to save money and help the environment.


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