You’re already composting and recycling, and you’re tuned in to the benefits of cotton diapers and reusable grocery bags. Here are a few lesser-known tips to take you to the next level of green living – and the best part is they’ll save you money, too!
1. Go Vegetarian
No, you don’t really need to give up on meat if you’re comfortable being a carnivore. Locally sourced and organic meat can be part of a sustainable diet – but it can also be expensive. Most people’s budgets can only accommodate industrially farmed meat that has catastrophic effects on the environment, and the best choice to reduce waste and expenses is simply to cut down on consumption. A meat-free day a week is a small sacrifice with big benefits.
And even when you’re going full vegetarian, consider the benefits of eating raw. No water wasted on boiling, no energy wasted on cooking appliances. And a crisp carrot is a snack that won’t leave any dirty dishes behind!
2. Use Craigslist to Extend Product Lifecycles
Furniture, electronics, appliances- we all need them, but unless you’re willing to scour garage sales for lucky finds, it can be difficult to find a chance to reuse and recycle these big ticket items that may not show up at Goodwill. But you can get them direct from other folks like you on Craigslist, the free online classified ad service.
Whether you’ve got a desk that doesn’t fit your décor or you need a printer for a project, you can find buyers and sellers for all kinds of unexpected items on Craigslist. A used item has no wasteful packaging to discard, and the local aspect of Craigslist cuts down on the carbon footprint incurred by shipping. You’ll save money when you buy through Craigslist, and you can make some by selling instead of trashing. In fact, “sellers” offering items free to anybody willing to put them to good use are not uncommon – consider becoming one yourself to extend the useful lifecycle of your castoffs.
3. Consider Collaborative Consumption
Craigslist is great for buying and selling objects that you expect to get regular use out of, but when you need an unusual tool for a one-time project or a unique outfit for a special occasion, the best solution is to borrow. “Collaborative consumption” is the term for community-focused organizations that exist to facilitate lending and sharing of goods and services.
NeighborGoods is one of the fastest-growing and most widely used websites to enable this kind of exchange with all kinds of items in your local community. You can also find sites to enable sharing of transportation, accommodation, and all kinds of goods and services. Like all the tips on this page, you can reduce waste and save money, but this kind of sharing also has social benefits!
4. Adjust Your Toilet’s Flow
Since 1994, most toilets installed across America use only 1.6 gallons per flush, and this is enough to take care of the dirty work. However, older toilets use twice that much, wasting water and raising utility bills. Luckily, there’s a very easy fix. The flow of water from tank to bowl is controlled by a float switch that detects water levels. You can fool the switch by displacing some water in the tank.
Bricks were once a favorite for this task, but as they erode they can cause damage to plumbing – and of course, you may not have a brick lying around to do the job. Instead, fill a plastic bottle with water and some rocks to sink it into the tank. You can try bottles of different sizes to get just the right flow without excess water consumption. By recycling the bottle and saving water, you’ve killed two birds with one stone – and no bricks!
5. Before You Leave Home, Flip the Strip
Many electronics and home appliances continue to consume energy even when turned off. This phenomenon is known as “vampire power,” and it’s especially common to devices like TVs and video game consoles that, even when powered down, continue to remain alert for signals from remote controls. Computers and kitchen appliances are also major energy thieves.
The fix is simple: Plug these problem devices into a power strip. You can switch the strip off when you leave home or go to bed. Save money, save energy.