Editor’s Note: This is a guest article from Maria Rainier, a freelance writer
A friend of mine wrote me recently, happily reporting that her husband, Max, “is finally starting to get that being green isn’t as big of a lifestyle change as he thought.” She’s an environmental science major and he’s a rifle-toting, ribs-and-potatoes-loving Marine from rural Mississippi.
Perhaps what Max has enjoyed most of all about green living is the money he and his wife have saved (which, for Max, means more Xbox games). By making these green, money-saving changes in 2011, you can pay off old debts that are burning holes in your pockets.
Besides, if Max—someone who, just one year ago, thought that green living required lots of money, at least one hybrid car, and a smug, upturned nose—can be green, so can you.
Save On Energy Bills
• Keep warm air in and cold air out (or vice versa) by picking up a window insulation kit at your local hardware store. The plastic is clear and acts as a buffer against unwanted temperatures.• According to the US Department of Energy, door and window drafts can waste up to 30% of your energy dollars. Keep out the draft with a rolled up bath towel or make your own draft snake by filling any scrap of fabric or even an unused necktie with kitty litter or sand and placing it by drafty doors.• Change air and furnace filters monthly, vacuum the coils of your refrigerator, and insulate your pipes for your water heater with pre-slit pipe foam from your local hardware store. Your pipes won’t freeze in the winter and you’ll pay less for hot water.
Save on Cleaning Products
In short, don’t buy any—except maybe one green antibacterial all-purpose cleaner from a reliable brand like Seventh Generation (“green” versions of common brands like Windex or Tide are shams; look on the ingredients list and you’ll still find chemicals that can damage yours or your kids’ or pets’ lungs). What you can do is make your own very effective cleaners out of materials in your kitchen, like white or organic apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, borax, and the like. These are sustainable and waterway-friendly alternatives to the harmful chemicals you’ll find in store-bought cleaners. Find recipes for these homemade cleaners here: http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/green-cleaning-spring-cleaning-460303?click=nav.
Now that you know these new cleaners aren’t harmful for your kids, you can recruit them to help you clean the house.And one more thing: stop buying paper towels. You can do without them. You really can. All you need is two old bath towels and cut them up to make your own arsenal of cleaning rags (or get some dish rags from a thrift store for cheap). These savings pile up.
Save on Food
Meat leaves one of the heaviest carbon footprints in the food industry. To save on cash and do your part for the environment, have Meatless Mondays and aim to cook in rather than eating out at a restaurant or fast food joint at least one night a week. Raise the goal from there.If there’s a farmers’ market near your neighborhood, bully for you—most farmers’ markets have sustainably raised meats, eggs, and produce. Lucky for you, seasonal produce is generally cheaper at farmers’ markets than at grocery stores. Look up seasonal recipes online for easy, healthy, and money-saving changes to your diet.
About the Author: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education and performs research surrounding online degrees. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
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