Saving the earth is more rewarding if you're saving some cash, too. Here are some easy green tips to reduce your carbon footprint along with your monthly bills.
- Step 1: Break your dependence on paper products. Use towels for spills, handkerchiefs instead of tissues, washcloths instead of disposable facial wipes, and cloth napkins. Cut old T-shirts into cleaning rags. Use junk mail as scrap paper. Go green with when paying your bills, too -- opt for online billing and save cash on postage.
- TIP: If 20 percent of American households switched to electronic bill paying, an estimated 2 million trees, 151 million pounds of paper, and more than 100 million gallons of gas would be saved every year.
- Step 2: Save the environment and a lot of cash by lowering your thermostat by 2 degrees in the winter. You'll decrease carbon emissions and save around $100. Many water heaters are set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, lower yours to 120 degrees and you can reduce your carbon emissions by about 200 pounds, and save $30. You probably won't even notice the difference.
- FACT: Iceland is the world's most eco-friendly nation, followed by Switzerland and Costa Rica.
- TIP: Always compare the unit price of the bulk item versus a smaller size to make sure you're getting a bargain.
- Step 3: Buy what you can in bulk to reduce packaging waste. Just make sure that whatever you purchase in large quantities is something you really need, and that you'll be able to use it before any expiration dates.
- TIP: Reduce your carbon footprint -- and your grocery bill -- by observing Meatless Monday.
- Step 4: Switch to a fuel-efficient car and drive less. The average American household spends more annually on transportation than on clothing, health care, and entertainment combined. Or consider giving up your car altogether: that saves the average driver nearly $10,000 a year.
- Step 5: Before you buy anything new, investigate purchasing it used. Between thrift shops, consignment stores, and sites like eBay, there is practically nothing you can't find pre-owned -- and in excellent condition - - for a fraction of what you'd pay to get it new.
- Step 6: Plan your food buying carefully so you're not biting off more than you can chew. Americans squander $43 billion a year on wasted food. That's bad for your budget and the environment: 25 percent of U.S. water and 4 percent of U.S. oil consumption go into producing and distributing food that ends up in landfills.