Living a sustainable lifestyle is a choice more and more people are making, and it isn’t just hippies and earth lovers. The need to change a tendency toward unthinking consumption has taken hold in popular consciousness, especially as people are realizing that a more ecologically sound approach to living can also be a wise financial decision. While it’s true some “green” choices aren’t apt to save you much money over the long haul, there are some that make such good money sense it’s amazing everyone isn’t doing them. Here are seven surprising ways “going green” will save you money.
1. Cut Down on Meat
The commercial meat industry creates more harmful greenhouse gases throughout the world than transportation does, so there’s little doubt that eating less of it is an ecologically sound and necessary choice. In terms of spending habits, since both men and women spend over 10 percent of their income on food, lowering a grocery bill is beneficial to everyone, and eating less meat can help with that. While it’s true that some fresh vegetables and fruit can be on the pricey side, cutting down your meat consumption to just once a week and replacing it with a meal like rice and beans can’t help but save you money.
2. Use Rain Barrels
If you use any tap water for house plants, landscaping, or gardening, placing rain barrels beneath gutters to catch water during rainstorms is a great way to save money and water each month. After all, the water that collects in the barrel is free. When it’s time to water plants, gather it from the barrels and water your plants. You’ll cut down on water use and save money.
3. Tend to Your Water Heater
Tending properly to your water heater can save a considerable amount of energy, which always means saving money. Replace an old or ailing water heater with a newer, more energy efficient one. If yours is fine, start by lowering the temperature as much as you can — under 120 degrees Fahrenheit is best. Then, insulate the water heater with a blanket to conserve the heat in it.
4. Cook at Home
Cooking at home is a greener choice than eating out that also stands to save you quite a bit of money. Depending on how much you currently eat out, you can save anywhere from $100 a month to over $1,000. Home cooked meals tend to use less energy than restaurant cooked ones, and because you’re not driving to a restaurant to eat, you save money and cut down pollution, too. If you commit yourself to buying locally produced food to cook and eat at home, the savings in terms of energy and cost can improve even more.
5. Garden — Even a Little Bit
Local food is always a greener choice than food that traveled on a truck to reach you. Gardening, then — even a little — is automatically an ecologically sound choice. The cost savings, however, is where things get really impressive. Consider the fact that a batch of seeds costs just a few dollars, but they can produce hundreds of tomatoes, thousands of beans, or mountains of squash. Growing your own food is almost like taking on a second job — it will take time, but you’ll save a lot of money.
6. Use Farmer’s Market Seconds
“Seconds” is the term applied to produce that isn’t pretty but still tastes as good as what’s put out for sale at your local farmer’s market, and you can often have it really cheap.
If you’re somebody who doesn’t mind putting in a bit of extra work in relation to your food, purchasing bulk “seconds” from farmers and canning or freezing them is a great way to benefit from the environmentally sound choice of eating locally all winter, while saving money. From local peaches and berries to cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash, putting aside a store of food will easily save you hundreds of dollars throughout the year, and, because it was all ripe when you canned or froze it, it will also taste better than what’s available in the grocery store during winter, as well.
7. Do a Home Energy Audit
Perform your own home energy auditor see if your local utility company will perform one for you. From locating air leaks around windows to checking on whether or not your insulation is adequate, you may be surprised at what you find. Once you make the changes, savings can run the average household as much as 30 to 40 percent.
If you want to, “go green” as much as you can because it’s the right thing to do, but if you need some incentive to make the effort, follow these seven money saving tips to a cleaner, more sustainable future that will also keep more of your money in your pocket.