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7 Small Ways to Save Money and the Planet

Many of us wish we could live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, but the idea of living green often conjures up images of shiny electric cars and expensive solar panels. Being environmentally friendly nowadays is as much a show of wealth and social standing as it is a way of trying to be more environmentally conscious.

But the truth is that while all of us could do with a little more money, there’s a lot of ways to be environmentally friendly without breaking the bank or taking out auto title loans to cover the expense. Here are 7 of the ways to make a difference without going broke in the process.

Carpool

Here’s the dilemma: we all agree that burning gas is bad for the environment, but we all still need to get to work. An electric car is a nice way out of this dilemma, but those aren’t an affordable option for everyone. Something that is affordable and will actively save you money is carpooling. Next time you’re in the office, see if one of your coworkers lives near you and would be willing to give carpooling a try.

Eat Vegetarian

Though we don’t necessarily think of eating meat as being bad for the environment because it seems natural, commercial meat production is actually a severe detriment to the planet. The amount of methane that cattle alone release into the atmosphere is staggering. On top of all that, meat is expensive. If you go vegetarian, or just cut out a little meat from your diet, you’ll be doing both the environment and your wallet a favor.

Program Your Thermostat

Ever heard of a “smart” thermostat? It’s a fairly new technology that replaces your old thermostat with one that can learn the patterns of when you like your house to be warm, when you like it to be cool and can also be manually set. While a bit of an investment, a smart thermostat can drastically decrease your energy consumption and bill each month.

Unplug Your Electronics

Does a tree falling in a forest with no one to hear it still make a sound? No one knows, but one thing that we do know for sure is that even when they’re off, plugged in electronics pull energy from your house in what’s termed “phantom load.” With all the electronics in your house the cumulative small pull of electricity can add up quick.

To avoid having to manually pull out each plug each day, simply invest in a power strip and plug all your electronics into it so you only have to hit a single power switch to stop the slow trickle of wasted electricity.

Switch Your Lightbulbs

Ever noticed how much heat some light bulbs generate? That’s because many of them are old incandescent or halogen bulbs, and all that excess heat they generate is energy going to waste. To live a more green friendly life and save yourself some money at the same time, replace them with modern LED bulbs that produce more light, use significantly less electricity, last 10,000+ hours and generate a fraction of the heat.

Bring A Bag to the Grocery

Remember that old refrain of “paper or plastic” you’d be asked at the grocery store when your items were being bagged? To live cheaper and greener, take the third option of bringing your own bag when you go shopping. It’s reusable and means that all that plastic won’t go straight to the landfill.

Don’t Buy Bottled Water

Speaking of plastic, Americans use an estimated 50 billion plastic bottles annually, with only 23% of them ending up being recycled. And while some of these bottles are made from previously recycled plastic products, it’s still a burden on the environment. You know what isn’t? Reusing your own bottle and refilling it at the sink.