Today is Earth Day, but there are important actions you can take every day of the year to have a positive impact on the environment and your wallet.
Here are some simple eco-friendly strategies to help you save money and achieve a greener lifestyle.
Bring your own bottle or mug: The average American office worker uses 500 disposable cups a year, or 1.4 per day. Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Help reduce this waste by using a reusable mug or bottle. Only one in five plastic water bottles is recycled. Starbucks, Campus Convenience, and other local vendors, offer discounts on coffee if you bring your own mug. You can reduce the plastic waste by bringing your own reusable glass bottle or coffee mug, and save money on drink purchases. A bottle of water usually runs on average from $1 to $6 so the savings from using your own bottle adds up quickley.
Pledge to ditch the disposables: Consider all the ways you can eliminate extra waste beyond water bottles. Do you bring your lunch to work? Opt for a lunch sack and reusable containers, rather than sandwich and paper bags. Drink coffee? Go with a permanent filter rather than paper. Completely forgo plastic shopping bags. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, we use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps yearly, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create. Keep reusable bags in your car where they are accessible. The process of getting water to us can be extremely harmful to the environment, not to mention expensive for us – especially if we are providing safe drinking water for our staff or clients in our work place.
Cut back on water consumption: Cut your water usage and you’ll immediately slash your water bill, savings for you and the planet. Shorten the length of your shower or bath and don’t leave the water running when you brush your teeth. Installing a low-flow shower head and batroom toilet saves prcious water on every trip to the bathroom.
Reduce food waste: The National Resources Defense Council estimates that up to 40 percent of the food in the United States is never eaten. Consumable waste winds up in landfills, increasing methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. There are several simple strategies you can implement to shop smart and realistically. Take inventory of your fridge before you head to the grocery store. Shop with a list, stick to it and buy what you need and eat what you buy. Create a meal plan and consider recipes you can concoct with leftovers. When cooking, don't over-serve food. Freeze, preserve or can extra fruits and veggies. When dining out, order only what you can realistically finish.
Make your own cleaning supplies: Pass on costly chemicals and concoct your own, all natural cleaning products. A natural disinfectant and deodorizer, white vinegar can be used as an all-purpose cleaner to shine countertops, cut grease and remove stains. Dilute vinegar with equal parts water and pour it into a spray bottle for an affordable and environmentally friendly cleanser. Lemon juice can be used on cooking surfaces to remove germs. You can also use the fruit to remove stains from clothing and brighten whites. Split a lemon and rub the fruit on a stain. Let it sit for a bit and rinse with water. Pour a 1/2 cup on whites during the wash cycle to brighten laundry.
Opt for energy-efficient appliances: If you’re in the market for new appliance, consider an Energy Star appliance. They are environmentally friendly and will help you save money on your utility bills, says Chang. Energy Star washers use 50 percent less energy and water compared to standard washers and could save you over $100 over standard appliances. Additionally, the federal government offers Energy Star offers tax credits on appliances. Utility companies, including National Grid, also offer rebates on purchases that improve the efficiency of home heating system.
Even the smallest actions can help improve our environment. It's up to you to make the change and help save the world!