How To Go Green With A Minimum of Fuss

Recycle Reduce Reuse

Most of us want to do our bit for the planet and while it’s true that the biggest issues need action by large corporations and governments, there are lots of small changes that you can make in your own day to day life. But we all lead busy lives right? Here’s a quick guide to going green without too much effort.

Take time to become more aware

The first place to start is with awareness. You can start becoming aware in two ways. Firstly, you can monitor your waste by looking at the contents of your garbage. Are you buying too many over-packaged goods? Worse still, are you throwing out too much food? Are you using a lot of disposable paper products? And even worse, are they made from non-recycled paper to begin with?

Calculate what action you can take. Sometimes this can be as painless as changing the size of packaging. For example all those one pound packs of rice with extravagant packaging are easily replaced by getting together with friends and sharing a large catering size sack. This can save money too!

Going green can save you money

The other item to monitor is your bank statement. Check and see if all your monthly outgoings are really necessary. For instance, do you really use that movie / TV show downloading service? Maybe you could use a public library instead of buying books and magazines or borrow from friends. Is your spend on takeaway food a bit excessive? Cut down by planning meals in advance and get motivated to cook by trying new recipes and ingredients.

On the other hand, there are some areas worth spending more on from a green perspective. If you own a car, for example, make sure it is regularly maintained to ensure compliance with clean air emission regulations. Regular maintenance should also ensure good fuel efficiency.

Make use of community resources

Don’t become a hoarder but try not to throw anything out till you have tried repairing it, recycling it or offering it to a charity or Freecycle scheme. One of the best things about the internet is that you can find a home for most unwanted objects. Browse the web for opportunities to de-clutter and pass on unwanted clothes, books and so on. Take your obsolete computer – it may not have anything to offer you anymore but it may well be well good enough for a struggling student to write their essay on.

Recycle anything that will recycle

It can be surprising what value there is in little things. Cell phones for instance. Old, broken orunwanted cellphones contain valuable metals that if not recovered may well leach out of landfill with harmful results. And simply trading these devices in can make you money!

Another small item that can sometimes be recycled are e-cigarettes. The lithium batteries in these devices may be advertised as throwaway products but not recycling them can cause serious damage to the environment. One brand, blu, have their own scheme called blu cycle and recycling which allows users to send back their old products after use. Check out if your e-cigarette brand has a similar scheme.

These may all be small steps, but the road to a sustainable future depends on all of us setting off on the journey together.

Image by kevin dooley used under Creative Commons license.

 

Bored This Summer? Do An Annual Savings Check Up

If your summer is anything like mine, then as much of it as possible will be spent on a patio, on a golf course, or in a park. Since Canada’s winter lasts for about nine months (author’s estimate, your experience may vary), we have to take advantage of all the sunshine we can get, even if it’s just so we have something to fondly remember come January.

There’s one disadvantage to those summer days though, which tend to get pretty lazy. Sometimes no actual work gets done, either because too many people are away on vacation or because everyone’s just too busy thinking about going to do something more fun.

Instead of falling into that rut, be productive with your day. A lazy summer day is perfect to do an annual check up of your finances. Here are 14 different things you can do that will ultimately make you richer.

Check your bank plan

If you’re paying anything more than a few dollars per month, spend a little time online to view your options or check with an employee. If all else fails, either make plans to change your bank or start charging everything to your credit card.

Check your mortgage

Make sure you’re maximizing the amount paid on your mortgage. Most mortgages given out by Canadian banks will allow you to up your payment 20% each year without penalty. Or, you can prepay up to 20% of your original balance without penalty. Over the life of your mortgage, taking advantage of these clauses can save thousands in interest.

Call the cable company

Saving money on cable is pretty simple. Every year, spend five minutes checking out the offers a competing provider is giving to new customers. Phone up your existing provider and tell them you’re leaving unless they match the offer. You might have to call their bluff by talking to someone a little higher up, but it’ll work. You’ll save anywhere from $50 to $100 per month.

Cut the landline

Next time you visit your parents, get them hooked up with a nice Skype setup and ditch the landline. You’ll not only save $30 to $50 per month, but you’ll also avoid the 14 different scam calls from the guys saying you’ve won a free cruise.

Cut the cell phone package

As much as we all think we need 1,000 anytime minutes and 3GB of data, it’s usually way too much. If you use your phone mostly at work and at home, step down a couple of packages and save yourself $20 per month.

Do you really watch Netflix?

It constantly amazes me how many people have 200 cable channels and Netflix, yet work 50 hours a week and have hobbies. These same people will spend months in between watching stuff on the service, yet still insist that Netflix is a great deal. Spoiler alert: it’s not, at least for them. Cut it, and save $8 per month.

Read for free

I’m a huge fan of libraries. Replace your Netflix habit with getting a library card and strengthen both your mind and wallet. And if you really miss all your shows, just get ’em through the library.

Plan your meals

It happens all the time. You get home after a long day of work and you don’t feel like cooking. You phone up Dominos, and twenty minutes later you’re wolfing down mediocre pizza.

Instead, spend some time coming up with good recipes you can make in a hurry with food you always have on hand. Total savings of $10 or $20 per week adds up over the course of a year.

Check your bulbs

Still living in the 1980s with incandescent light bulbs? Now’s the time to switch those bad boys out. It doesn’t sound like much, but switching from a house full of incandescent bulbs to a house full of LEDs can save hundreds of dollars per year. And while you’re at it, turn off the lights each time you leave the room.

Scour your credit card

If you spend just a few minutes going over your credit card statements over the last few months, I almost guarantee you’ll find something on there that’s an unnecessary monthly expense.

Check out other credit cards

While you have your credit card statement out, take an honest look at how much you spend. Calculate just how much you’re earning in rewards points and compare it to competing cards. Chances are there’s a better card out there for you, one that could either save you an annual fee or get you more in rewards.

Do preventative car maintenance

Little things like under inflated tires, dirty and sludgy oil, and having too much junk in your trunk can really cut into your gas mileage. Take a few minutes and make sure everything is okay. Doing a little preventative maintenance now will undoubtedly be cheaper than dealing with blowouts and other nasty things in the future.

Conclusion

The nice part about summer is it’ll be so slow at work that you can take a most of the day to do this stuff and nobody will notice. Not only will you find some ways to save, but you’ll also get paid for doing it. Sounds like a win-win to me.