Six Eco Living Tips to Help You Save Money and the Planet
Living frugally and eco-friendly go hand in hand—there are so many little things you can do to be kind to the planet and save money while doing it.
This first tip can never be stressed enough: eat local! Buying produce from smaller, local farms is not only healthier for you because those farmers can focus on the quality of the produce rather than packing, shipping and shelf-life issues, but also drastically reduces the carbon dioxide emissions from the fuel used to get it to your table. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking for ways to to bring local farm products to larger established retailers like Walmart and Costco.
Opt for a reusable lunchbox and containers than plastic or paper. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average amount of waste produced by each person in America per day is 4.5 pounds with over half going to a landfill. By bringing a lunch to school or work, you can ensure both a trash-free and minimal-spending day.
Keep hot or cold refreshments in reusable containers. Buying bottled water is not only expensive, but also detrimental to the ecosystem. At least 90 percent of the price of a bottle of water is for things other than the water itself like bottling, packaging, shipping and marketing, the National Resources Defense Council reports. The thousands and possibly millions of gallons of water taken from a single spring decreases the amount of water flowing downstream to communities of trees, plants and animals. There is little evidence that proves that bottled water is healthier than tap water. Further, phalates, which disrupt the human endocrine system, can leach from the plastic into the water and disrupt your body. Drinking tap water and using a reusable takeaway container will be less costly and better for you and the environment.
There are plenty of things you can do at home to save even more money on your energy bill. Even when lights and electronics are shut off, they still use energy by being plugged in. It’s called a ‘phantom load’—appliances that are plugged in, but not on, zap the energy. In the average home, 25 percent of all electricity is used to power electronics that are turned off, a study out of the University of Oregon found. Use a convenient power strip to eliminate the wasted energy.
There are eco-friendly alternatives to air conditioners and heaters. The heat in the summer makes it hard not to keep that air conditioner on. When it’s cold in the winter, all you want to do is curl up next to the heater. However, both can run up big charges on your energy bill. To reduce the cost of heating and cooling, ceiling fans can make a big difference in air circulation. Weather stripping, which is easy to use and requires no tools or skills to install, covers the gaps in your house, making it a more comfortable place to live.
Lastly, to add some environmental character to your home and maintain a healthy living style, buy some plants to place around your kitchen and living room. Research from NASA shows that many plants are useful in absorbing harmful gases and cleaning the air in modern buildings by filtering out toxins, pollutants and carbon dioxide we inhale through the process of photosynthesis. Place an Aloe vera plant, also known as Aloe barbadensis, in your kitchen window to cleanse the air and it doubles as a soothing healing solution for skin irritations.
Story by Erin Peterson, contributing writer.