Financial Literacy for Everyone

Living Green without Spending Green

Itís official, the eco-friendly movement is in full swing. As consumers, weíve become more and more inundated with messaging about the environment and how product X is going to save the world. With no disrespect to these groundbreaking efforts, the problem for many of us living on a budget is that installing solar panels, channeling wind energy and shopping at our favorite eco-designerís boutique isnít an option right now.

Fortunately, there are plenty of simple things we can do daily to support a greener lifestyle that do not cost a thing upfront. Better still, these greener habits can save your household money, and the environment, some of its precious resources. Even if you only adopt one or two of these suggestions, itís a great start. At home, at school and out in the world, consider these greener habits in 2010.

Shorten your shower. We all love a nice hot shower, but thereís plenty of time in there when the water doesnít need to be blasting. Consider shutting off the water for a few moments while you lather up. Or better still, install a low flow showerhead. Theyíre not very expensive, and youíll quickly notice a difference on your water bill.

Trick your tank. Drop a plastic bottle filled with water into the tank of your toilet. With every flush, youíll be saving that much water to refill the tank.

Power strip it. Lots of household appliances still use energy, even when they are asleep or in standby mode. Consider using a power strip for these appliances, and switch it off every evening.

Recharge. For wireless computer mice and remote control devices, rechargeable batteries quickly pay for themselves, and translate to fewer chemicals in landfills.

Recycle. If you find yourself in a position to upgrade appliances, consider Energy Star products, or other energy efficient brands. And donít send your old appliances or electronics to the landfill by tossing them out. There are many organizations that now make it easy to pass on your existing machines. One worth exploring is www.mygreenelectronics.com

Reuse. Most people think thrift stores only sell clothes, but many offer furniture, tools, and other household items that are still in working condition. Organizations like www.freecycle.org and www.earth911.org can connect you with local options for both giving and getting.

Check your pressure. There are a lot of great ways to cut down on fuel costs. One simple tip that often gets overlooked is checking the tire pressure on your vehicle. Some states have even passed ordinances that require car repair shops to check tire pressure on every vehicle they serve. Itís a simple step that reduces fuel consumption and saves consumers at the gas pump.

Shop locally. When youíre shopping for your household, itís easy and understandable to go for the best bargains and those are often online, or at big box stores. Still, itís always worth considering local options. A locally grown or produced item does not require the energy to be shipped to your location. And supporting smaller businesses also helps stimulate your local economy. Compare the cost and decide for yourself if the savings outweighs the greater benefit.

Support eco-friendly businesses. One of the best ways to show support of green living is by shopping at eco-friendly businesses. These businesses donít have to manufacturing cutting edge green products. They might even be a corporate chain. But if they have a good track record of recycling, or are clearly making the effort to reduce their carbon emissions and recycle responsibly, why not reward them with your business?

Inspire a green classroom. Educators serve as a role model for students, and are in a perfect position to reinforce greener habits at a young age. By turning off lights not in use, making recycled paper and other products readily available, and weaving in lessons about greener living into curriculum, teachers can provide clarity on this evolving issue that is so crucial to future generations.

These suggestions are just a few of the ways to go green and save. If you have ideas on how to live more efficiently at home, in the classroom, or out in the world, contact us at info@practicalmoneyskill.com. We may use your tips in an upcoming article.

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