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5 Easy Things to do This Earth Day and Every Day

by Ryan Guina

earth-day-april-22Today is Earth Day, so in honor of that, I thought I would share a few easy ways to save money every day by consuming less energy and producing less waste. These are very easy and inexpensive changes to make, and once you incorporate them into your daily routine, you will probably ask yourself why you never did them before!

5 easy ways to save money and the environment

1. Reusable shopping bags. My wife and I recently switched to reusable shopping bags for our grocery shopping, and we both love them! They only cost about a buck per bag, but each bag holds more groceries than a plastic bag, they don’t fall over in the trunk, and they will last several years. The best part is that there are no more plastic bags cluttering our house or the landfills. I highly recommend these!

  • Where to purchase reusable shopping bags: Check your local grocery store or discount outlet.
  • Estimated cost: $1 and up

earth-day.jpg2. Rechargeable batteries. Chances are you have a few items around your house that require batteries. If you have children, you probably need more batteries than you thought you would! Unfortunately, batteries are expensive and toxic. They need to be disposed of properly instead of thrown into the regular trash, but that is a hassle that most people won’t be bothered with. Rechargeable batteries are less expensive over the long run and will last several years and hundreds of charges when used properly.

  • Where to purchase rechargeable batteries: All-Battery.com probably has the widest selection of rechargeable batteries on the web, including batteries for home use, cell phones, laptops, radios, and more.
  • Estimated cost: Varies by battery

3. Reusable water bottles. My wife and I purchased stainless steel Klean Kanteen water bottles several months back. Bottled water is a huge drain on our resources and are grossly overpriced. Reusable water bottles use fewer resources, save you money, are a healthier option than reusing plastic water bottles (most leak chemicals) and prevent pollution. Here are some tips on how to choose a safe reusable water bottle.

  • Where to purchase a reusable water bottle: You can find them at many sporting goods stores, Amazon, and other stores
  • Estimated cost: $5 and up

4. CFLs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 25% of the energy of standard incandescent bulbs and usually last 5 years or more. They are a little pricey up front, but generally pay for themselves in less than a year. The savings after that is a bonus!

  • Where to buy CFLs: Grocery store, hardware store, Wal-Mart, etc.
  • Estimated cost: $2 and up

5. 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. My wife and I use a programmable thermostat and it has helped us save a lot of money by reducing our air conditioning costs and cutting our heating costs.

  • Where to buy a programmable thermostat: Hardware store, Wal-Mart, Amazon, and more.
  • Estimated cost: $25 and up

More GREEN ways to save money:

photo credit: (1) Eath Day, (2) barunpatro.


Published or updated February 27, 2011.
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1 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

I’ve got three and one half of the items on the list covered. I say half, because we manually adjust our thermostat in winter to avoid overheating the house while we are gone . . .

Still need to buy some reusable shopping bags.

2 Kristen

I also love the reusable shopping bags. I have the plain bags and the insulated bags for cold foods. Not only do they hold more, but they’re much easier to carry. Plus they are great to have on hand if you’re going somewhere like a picnic and have to transport food. (I still have to get some plastic bags for cleaning out the kitty litter!)

I haven’t switched over to the reusable water bottles yet, though I really should. I have reduced my plastic consumption. I now start out with one bottle from home in the morning (our tap water isn’t great), and then I refill it all day long with the filtered water at work.

3 Miranda

We’re only missing the rechargeable batteries. Although sometimes we forget to bring our reusable bags to the store! These are great suggestions. Imagine if everyone did a little.

4 Ryan

DDFD: We used to do that before we had the programmable thermostat. The programmable thermostat just makes it a little easier!

Miranda: Rechargeable batteries might not make much of difference financially unless you use batteries for more than just one or two remote controls. But they are definitely better for the environment!

5 MoneyEnergy

I have some reusable shopping bags, but whenever I get plastic bags, I also end up using those again, too – as garbage bags so that I’m not buying brand new plastic just for that. I use the plastic bags for lots of other things, too. And plastic cups and jugs that you get from shopping in bulk – these are great for using instead of tupperware.

6 Ryan

MoneyEnergy: I do the same thing with plastic bags from quick trips into stores or when I forget the reusable bags. But overall, I prefer reusable bags.

7 Theresa

Rechargeable batteries can be 100% recycled through http://www.call2recycle.org. Type in your zip code to find convenient drop off locations in your neighborhood. There are thousands of participating retailers in this free, non profit public service program in the U.S. and Canada.

In addition to rechargeable batteries that replace disposable alkaline batteries, consider all the cordless electronics you use daily and can’t live without that are powered only by rechargeable batteries. Electronics such as laptops, cell phones, mp3 players, camcorders, digital cameras, power tools, two-way radios, electric toothbrushes, electric razors, just to name a few…

8 Ryan

Theresa: Thanks for the info on recycling rechargeable batteries. Definitely useful info! Many recycling locations will also accept regular batteries to ensure they are disposed of properly. Now to convince people it is worth their time…

9 Kristy @ Master Your Card

The only thing I don’t do is the reusable bags for groceries and that’s only because I have cats and haven’t figured out a green way to keep their litter box…especially since they’re picky as hell anyway. It’s extremely frustrating!

I just wanted to add one small thing to your list, turn off the lights in the room if you’re not going to be in there. For some reason, this seems to be a difficult thing for people to grasp. I had some friends over recently and they’d meander through the place, leaving lights on as they went. It’s ridiculous that you can’t just flip the switch when you pass it. In doing so, you’re conserving energy AND saving yourself some money on the electric bill. Yay!

10 Curious Cat Investing Blog

Yat for me, I do all of those. They are mainly more convenient and save money. Sometimes I forget the reusable bags (so in that sense it might not be more convenient, but they are more convenient in the sense they are easier to carry). Rechargeable batteries (I mainly use them for my camera) take a bit more planning but save a great deal of money and the environment.

Another green, and money saving, strategy is just don’t buy so much stuff. Many people seem addicted to buying when the purchase doesn’t fill any need (other than maybe psychological).

11 Bargain babe

My sister no longer flushes her toilet! She puts a bucket under her shower faucet and collects the water while it gets hot. Then she dumps the water from the bucket into the toilet bowl (not the tank) to activate the toilet’s siphon, which flushes down the waste.

I’ve started using her technique and feel great about finding a use for water that is otherwise wasted.

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