10 Ways to Save Money While Going "Green" - ToughNickel - Money
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10 Ways to Save Money While Going "Green"

Cynthia is a writer, artist, and teacher. She loves studying language, arts, and culture, and sharing that knowledge.

Being green can save you money...and it can be totally fun!

Being green can save you money...and it can be totally fun!

Why Go Green?

Many people are finding out that living a life that is more eco-friendly is not only better for the planet, it's better for your health, your wallet, and humanity in general.

You might think "being green" is a tree-hugging, expensive proposition. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you're the type who likes to save money, chances are you already are quite "green," too. Being green doesn't necessarily involve installing solar panels on an eco-friendly house and buying an electric car - though those are great steps to living a completely eco-friendly life. Smaller, everyday things add up to big bucks while still allowing you to be an environmentally conscious citizen.

Here are 10 things you can do right now to save money and be green at the same time!

1. Live Below Your Means

What does it mean to do this? It means saving a chunk of your paycheck every month. It means that you're eating at home more and less in restaurants. It means using less gas and spending less.

Now before you brand this as a "boring" life, consider a few things. When you save money, it adds to your "security" level. Who doesn't like the peace of mind in knowing that you have a financial cushion? Plus, it affords you less stress.

When you're saving money, you're consuming less resources. By not going out to eat except for special occasions, you're invariably spending more time at home with friends or family. Cooking at home is more healthful than eating out and you're not burning gas looking for a restaurant. You're saving on other costs, too: parking fees, oil changes, insurance and even time.

When you do go out, those experiences somehow seem so much more meaningful and special because they're not happening all the time. I have friends who seem to go out almost every night of the week. On the contrary, I have other friends who rarely go out and it's a big deal when they go for a night on the town.

2. Retrofit Your House with Energy-Saving Items and Practices

What exactly are energy-saving items?

CFL bulbs. This idea is catching on with a lot of people, but it's worth mentioning again. Sure, these bulbs are initially more expensive. But, they last about 10 times as long as a traditional light bulb and use a fraction of the energy. Your electric bill will start to go down after installing these.

Insulating curtains. At night, don't let precious heat escape through the windows. Close the curtains and use these type of curtains that are designed to hold in heat. It's like dressing your windows in long underwear. They trap heat in so you don't have to spend as much heating the house.

Alternative Heaters. If you rely on electric heating, unfortunately, that's one of the most expensive ways to heat. Even using propane or heating oil are getting expensive. Why not install a wood stove? Other alternatives include a pellet stove, or an Eden Pure portable heater that uses a fraction of the electricity other heaters do.

Do you have south-facing windows? Use them to your advantage! In the winter, open the curtains during the day and lay down some dark-colored carpet and/or flooring to absorb heat from the sun. In the summer, keep the curtains on your south-facing windows closed during the day and open them at night to help keep the house cool.

Are there rooms that you seldom use in your home? In the wintertime, close off those rooms and don't heat them. I have a room in the back of my house that we use a lot in the summer because it stays cool, and in the winter we don't heat it and keep the door closed so we don't waste money heating a little-used room.

3. Drive a Smaller Car

Hybrid cars can be expensive to buy. However, you can still invest in a smaller car to see your gas savings go up.

Smaller cars often get over 30 mpg on average, and others creep up towards 40 mpg. These include the Toyota Corolla the Ford Fiesta.

But, whether you have a small car or not, there are other things you can do to improve gas-mileage and keep more of that hard-earned money in your wallet.

  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Under-inflation can really cause your car to use more gas. Over-inflation makes the tires wear-out faster, and those can be expensive to replace.
  • Try hypermiling. This is a little harder to do right in the city, but it's worth it when you're not in a hurry and other cars aren't tailgating you. Instead of accelerating quickly after stopping, accelerate slowly. Never let the car get above 2000 rpm. Slowly accelerate until you reach your desired speed. Drive the speed limit - that actually saves you gas, too, because higher speeds demand more gas. Then, anticipate your stops. When you decelerate, take your foot off the gas pedal and gradually slow down with the idea being that you barely have to touch the brakes before the car rolls to a stop. Your gas mileage can jump leaps and bounds doing this.
  • Take all unnecessary accessories off of the outside of the car. Roof racks create drag, so if you don't use them, it's a good idea to take them off. Likewise, if you're carrying extra weight around in the inside of the car, then get rid of it. Your gas mileage improves little by little with every thing you do.
  • If you can, drive a stick shift. Insurance companies usually have lower rates for manual vehicles. Plus, they generally get better gas mileage than their automatic counterparts.

4. Take Shorter Showers

I love my showers. There's nothing like that all-over warm feeling from the water. But, it's a double-whammy in terms of energy consumption. You're not only having to use the water heater, but you're using electricity to power the lights in the bathroom. In some cases, if you have a water pump, then that's running, too. So, you might have three sources of energy that you're using just to take a shower! So, the shorter the better.

Plus, you save precious water. Many areas are experiencing water shortages.

Another good idea is to turn on the water to lather up a washcloth. Then turn the water off. Wash up and then turn the water on again to rinse.

5. Wear Clothes More Than Once

No, you don't have to wear your plaid shirt two days in a row. However, when you've worn a clean shirt and it's still clean at the end of the day, hang it back up to wear again.

The same goes for towels and dishrags. All these things can be used more than once. Just make sure they completely dry between uses. Use them two or three times before washing.

Cloth napkins - these can be reused until dirty. You save trees from being cut down by not using paper napkins. Plus, you only have to buy cloth napkins once. Once your paper napkins run out, you have to go buy more which uses more petroleum, packaging, and trees.

6. Always Try to Air-Dry Laundry - Even in Winter

You may or may not know, but clothes dryers are big energy hogs and they can really drive up that electric bill - even the ones with the Energy Star ratings.

In the summertime, I just hang my clothes out on a line. In the wintertime, I hang my clothes on a compact clothing rack. I keep them in front of the wood stove and not only do they get dry, but they help to humidify the drier winter air. If you have other types of heating, you can put the rack of clothes in the same room as a heater vent (but not directly over the vent) to dry. Of course, I use my dryer in emergencies, but I can really save a lot of money by using the clothes dryer as little as possible.

Use one part baking soda to five parts water to make shampoo.  Use one part apple cider vinegar to five parts water to make conditioner.

Use one part baking soda to five parts water to make shampoo. Use one part apple cider vinegar to five parts water to make conditioner.

7. Make Your Own Products: Cleaners, Toothpaste, Shampoo

I love making my own non-toxic cleaners. All I need is some distilled white vinegar, baking soda, water, and maybe some essential oil - like tea tree or lavender.

I also like to use baking soda mixed with a little crushed mint for toothpaste. I do still like to buy fluoride-free natural toothpaste, but baking soda and a little mint always work in a pinch.

If I really want to get that fresh, clean, non-greasy feeling in my hair, I make my own shampoo and conditioner. All you need for the shampoo is one part baking soda to five parts of water. Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil if you like. Work into hair and rinse. For best results, don't use this every day.

For conditioner, I use one part apple cider vinegar to five parts of water. Work into hair and rinse. It leaves your hair incredibly smooth and shiny. Don't worry, the vinegar scent evaporates as soon as you rinse.

Baking soda and vinegar help your hair to dry faster.

Update: Baking soda, used over a longer period of time is quite "basic" (opposite of acidic) and will dry out the hair. To avoid this, you can try other products such as Dr. Brommer's Castille Soap.

8. Only Buy What You Need and Try to Reuse

Think about this. Really think about this.

Do you really need that new Mp3 player, or is that old one still plugging along? If you absolutely have to have another one, at least try to get it refurbished.

That way, you're helping to keep another one out of the landfill and they are significantly less expensive than the original.

Do you need another shirt to add to that already overstuffed closet? If you must, try going to a consignment shop or a Goodwill.

Do you really need to replace that computer? Or can you fix your old one? If you do need a new one, you can get them refurbished at a significantly reduced cost. They look and feel new, too!

9. Save the Money You Save

What's that again? Save? Yes, I mentioned above about living below your means. But when you employ "green" practices, you save a lot of money. Take that money you're saving - whether it's from a lower electric bill, not buying clothes at retail prices - and put it in a jar.

Also put all the extra five-dollar and one-dollar bills into the same jar whenever you have any extra. Don't check it for a year. At the end of the year, see what you've stowed away. I'll bet there will be a significant little chunk of money in there!

My growing garden.  I started out with smaller plants before growing a bigger garden.

My growing garden. I started out with smaller plants before growing a bigger garden.

10. Plant a Garden

Maybe you consider yourself to have a brown thumb. If you do, then start out small. Everybody likes to have fresh herbs from the garden. Get some hardy herbs and put them in your kitchen window. Some great ones to start with are cilantro, thyme, sage, and parsley. You can even use these herbs to make different teas, saving you even more money!

Once your confidence with gardening gets better, move on to bigger things that are easy to grow: beans, lettuce, potatoes and snap beans.

Why? Growing your own food saves a lot of oil from being used to transport your food. You connect with an ancient rite. You also have fresh food that you know exactly where it's been. The taste is infinitely better than what you get at the store.

Use these tips and more to save money. You'll be glad you did. Just think of those vacations or extra gifts or even those bills you'll be able to pay off!

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun

Comments

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 13, 2015:

Kristen Howe - thank you for stopping by! I hope you have a great day. Also, we're unpacking boxes now and we're in our house but not quite staying there yet while we get it all unpacked and fixed up. Allllmost there! Yippee!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on July 26, 2015:

Great tips as always Cynthia. Very useful to save money and by saving the planet. Voted up!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 27, 2014:

MarloByDesign - that's awesome! Cleaning solutions...you know I found a website that's really awesome for that. If you Google "make your own cleaning solutions blogs" there are quite a few blogs that give great advice on this. Also, the Corolla is the best for gas mileage, but a Honda Civic is also a great bet. I would personally drive either one with no qualms. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 27, 2014:

Snakesmum - haha, that's great. :) My bedroom has the drying rack (the wood stove is in there) and I could say the same thing! ;)

MarloByDesign from United States on September 27, 2014:

Great ideas on your Hub! I totally employ most of your philosophies, but need to start making my own cleaning solutions. Do you have a recommendation/"recipe" for an all purpose cleaner? Also, do you think the Honda Civic is in line with the Toyota Corolla for gas mileage? Thanks!

Snakesmum on September 26, 2014:

Totally agree with you about clothes dryers - I don't have one, and use the outside line when I can, and clothes racks at other times. Sometimes the living room looks like a laundry! :-)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 20, 2013:

Cutekid - haha...that's great. Though I have one teensy problem with the socks: I have clammy hands and feet. And um, socks get a little, shall we say "scent" to them. In any case, I'm with you. Conservation is good. :)

Nicomp - haha...radioactive...you make me grin. :)

nicomp really from Ohio, USA on September 12, 2013:

cutekid33 , water is not wasted, it is retasked and recycled. Unless your washing machine is radioactive.

cutekid33 on September 12, 2013:

I like the idea of wearing clothes more than once. Obviously, we can't do that with underwear, but I re-wear T-shirts (2-3 times), jeans (3-4 times), hoodies (3-4 times), socks (3-7 times), etc. I also only shower 2-3 times a week. I think most people shower too often, and I really do think that people should wear a pair of socks several times before washing them (not in a row). Otherwise, it's a waste of water.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 15, 2013:

WVUgirl2007 - Yes, part of why I do all the above, too, is that I wanted to save money. But when my husband was laid off at the start of the recession, I was so thankful I already had all these mechanisms in place. And though we're both working again, we just keep on doing all these things because ultimately it's all better for the planet and for our wallets. :) Thanks for stopping by!

wvugirl2007 from Virginia on May 14, 2013:

Great article. We have started being greener. We have changed the following parts of our lives in recent years and for the better I might add:

-We bring our own grocery bags to the store

-We recycle any items that we can using our city recycling program

-We have changed any light bulbs available in energy efficient types

-We never do loads of laundry without having at least a half of a load and we hang dry a great deal of our clothes not just to save energy, but because it is better for the clothes.

-We also use items more than once if it is still clean.

-We stopped buying bottled water and added a water cleaner to our fridge and get it there and use refillable water bottles

-Our biggest change was going from a Trailblazer SUV to a Hybrid Toyota Prius and it was not that big of a change to our lifestyle. We pack a little lighter on trips to save space, but it isn't a big deal.

With these changes we have not only helped the environment, but we have helped our wallets. During a tough time money wise this has been helpful to help us making it though. I hope other people start doing it too. Once you start seeing the positive outcomes you also see they you are improving your life.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 14, 2013:

Jennifer - thank you! Yes, baking soda is the ONLY thing that gets my tub really clean. :) Needs - YES! I couldn't agree more!

Thundermama - I love, love my shampoo and conditioner that I make. These days I add sage tea to the shampoo and a little bit of tea tree essential oil and some castille soap, but my hair loves it. :)

Kathryn - I'm a "saver," too. :) Yes, you know...I should write a post about the more elaborate shampoo I make these days with castille soap, but I don't buy it. :)

Rose the Planner - Thank you for coming by!

Agapsikap - That is all awesome! I appreciate your feedback and every little bit counts as far as saving money. :)

Peachpurple - hehe, thank you. :) Great minds, great minds. Thank you so much for your feedback. :)

peachy from Home Sweet Home on May 14, 2013:

wow! you have a long list of commentors ! I do practice using led lights, use smaller cars, take short showers and wear the same outing clothes for 2 days and the same at home clothes the whole day. Eat more greens and use less electricity. This hub is useful for Earth day and every day too. Voted up

agapsikap from Philippines on May 13, 2013:

I really appreciate this hub. Very informative and useful. Though, I still have to think if I can follow no.5. But I can do the laundry myself, without using automatic washing machine. In that way, I can have the last drop of water for my little garden. We're living on a tropical country and weather is oftentimes very hot. Just to avoid having a body odor, I prefer not to use the same shirt or pants after taking a bath. All in all your hub contains great information. Thank you for such wonderful ideas.

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on May 13, 2013:

Very informative and useful article! Thanks for sharing.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on May 13, 2013:

I love these tips! I'm not great at every one of them, but I am increasingly getting better. I want to start being more aware of how I can be more "green" in many ways.

I like saving money. I like the feeling of security, and seeing my savings slowly grow. I find many ways to have fun and enjoy my life without spending money- or at least not much money.

I love cooking, so eating in often (as well as bringing my own lunch to work) is something I have no problem with!

I have been making some of my own cleaning and other products for a little while. Also, I use the same products for shampoo/conditioner as you do! I was skeptical when I first tried it a couple of months ago, but my hair feels great, and looks fine! This way there are no added chemicals on my skin, I can control the scent by using my favorite essential oils, and it is cheap!

When I live in a place with a yard, I want a garden. Although I was thinking of creating a container garden sometime. I have done it in the past, and it worked okay. It is pretty cheap to do so, too!

Voted up, etc, and sharing! Thanks for giving us these fantastic ideas and tips.

Catherine Taylor from Canada on May 13, 2013:

Loved this hub, especially the easy recipe for shampoo and conditioner. Can't wait to give it a try. Definitely sharing.

Jennifer Essary from Idaho on May 13, 2013:

Very useful tips! Baking soda is an excellent cleaner. I made it into a paste with a bit of water and my tub has never been cleaner, plus my toddler can stand beside me while I do it and I don't work about toxic fumes.

We also have thermal curtains and they really do make a difference.

Many of us need to learn the difference between needs and wants, life is much simpler when you focus on the needs.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 12, 2013:

Nicomp - thank you for your words. Have a wonderful day and thanks for stopping by.

nicomp really from Ohio, USA on January 12, 2013:

Sure, we should just give everything to the government and let them dole it out. "from each according to his ability, to each according to his heed."

That'll work!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 12, 2013:

Nicomp - alas, you have spelled out the huge fallacy of a "consumer economy" :)

nicomp really from Ohio, USA on January 11, 2013:

If you live below your means then you are putting people out of work. Jobs depend on consumer spending.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 11, 2013:

MarloByDesign - that's great! Yeah, for biig things we either try to hang them outside on a nice but brisk day in the winter or we have to resort to the dryer. Yes, I love summer when you can just use the outside line all the time. :)

MarloByDesign from United States on January 11, 2013:

I rated your Hub 'Interesting'. I appreciate your comment on using the clothes dryer less...in fact, you have reminded me to use an indoor rack more in the winter - which I do as much as I can. It is just so hard with bed sheets and larger items. I am looking forward to the warm weather for sure so I can go back to using my clothes line 100% !

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 10, 2013:

Rita - yeah, sometimes if you don't have a lot of your own compost or soil, the start-up can be a little expensive. However, the other benefits are so worth it: relaxation, saving money, growing your own food, knowing where it's been and so many more! Thank you so much for your kind words!

RitaGalloway on January 09, 2013:

I do follow your suggestions and when I started a garden this past spring and summer, it was more expensive because I had to bring soil into my space but the things I learned will help keep costs down this next growing season. I enjoyed your hub.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 09, 2013:

Stepherzwateverz - gardening has so many rewards, doesn't it? Relaxation, food, wholesomeness, fun critters to see...it's all so much fun. :)

Stephanie Casao from San Diego on January 09, 2013:

Great ideas here! Thanks! I recently started gardening, and I am already seeing the benefits - never having to buy cilantro and other herbs is so awesome!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 09, 2013:

Kimberly Vaughn - thank you. I air-dry mine even in winter near the woodstove (though not too close, lol). We have a dryer for emergencies, but otherwise, we try not to use it. :)

Monahamed - I agree with you 100%. I think if everyone changed their habits slightly, we could really change some stuff around this here ol' Earth. :)

monahamed on January 09, 2013:

Very good hub , I wish all the people could do that . I think it would be a better planet. Thank you.

Kimberly Vaughn from Midwest on January 08, 2013:

Great suggestions! I have been thinking about air drying my clothes.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 07, 2013:

Fullerman5000 - awesome! Yeah, they're not too bad. You don't have to sacrifice too much at all with a little forethought and planning. It's pretty fun actually. Thank you for stopping by!

Ryan from Louisiana, USA on January 07, 2013:

These are all wonderful tips that I will take into consideration. I am always looking to save a few dollars here and there. A lot of these ideas seem to be pretty reasonable without having to sacrafice a lot. Thanks for sharing this with us. Voted up, interesting and useful.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on October 27, 2012:

Vicki - oh yes, great minds! I hope you're doing well and the semester is almost over! :)

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on October 25, 2012:

Love this! I've used some of the tips in my own money-saving hubs. Great minds . . . LOL! Living below one's means is a huge way to save! Great hub, sis!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on October 25, 2012:

Heather Says - I love doing that with jeans - they seem to get more comfortable the more you wear them between washes. Could be me, but I still like it. :D

Heather from Arizona on October 25, 2012:

Great ideas. I wear my pants (jeans or corduroys) as many times as I can before I wash them-- unless I spill spaghetti sauce on them or go somewhere extra dirty and full of public germs, then I wash them that night. Voted up.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on July 11, 2012:

Christy - aw, shucks! Thank you so much for the shares. :) Indeed, I try to employ these practices as much as I can in my own life. It's fun but challenging, too. Thanks again!

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on July 11, 2012:

This is a very good hub packed with useful info. I vote up and have shared to my Google+ page as well.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on July 11, 2012:

Docmo - thanks so much! I appreciate you coming by. Home economics, eh? Wow! You sound like you're an awesome dad! Thank you for your awesome feedback. Cheers!

Mohan Kumar from UK on July 10, 2012:

Cyndi- your wisdom is catching. We were only the other day discussing home economics with our kids. simple, easy, ecofriendly ideas are always welcome. brilliant.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 22, 2012:

nicomp - thanks for coming by again. Yes, indeed. I definitely experienced a warmer house with a little bit of higher humidity. It was nice and cozy and the wood stove just adds so much comfort. Cheers!

nicomp really from Ohio, USA on May 21, 2012:

"I keep them in front of the wood stove and not only do they get dry, but they help to humidify the drier winter air."

Adding humidity to the air also makes the house feel warmer. Dry air above about 53 degrees seems colder than humid air at the same temp.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 25, 2012:

lyricwriter - helloooo! Great to see you. :) Yes, yes, it's fun, too. Hehe. I'm so glad you stopped by. I appreciate you! Take care, (HUGS)

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on April 25, 2012:

Great tips and a very well written article. I haven't thought much about it but I am down for anything if I can save a few greenbacks.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 05, 2012:

aviannovice - haha, I love trying to make my own concoctions. I've added different kinds of essential oils to the shampoos and loved it. It's always great to see you. Thanks for stopping by again. :)

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on April 04, 2012:

Great article. I knew about everything else, except the shampoo and conditioner. As soon as I get rid of what I have, those are IN.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 07, 2012:

sgbrown - thanks for the votes and for SHARING. I appreciate your thoughts and I love how I'm seeing how many people like to be green and save money - it's really fun to do! Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on February 07, 2012:

Great hub! I already follow quite a few of your suggestions. I try to be green when I can. People would really be amazed at how much money they can save by following your suggestions here. Voted up, useful and SHARING! Have a great day! :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 06, 2012:

Thanks, Marcy. :) After reading your profile about your "being green" this is a great compliment. Woohoo! :) Here's to being green!

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on February 06, 2012:

Great hub - all your tips are sure-fire winners! I follow moat of these, and you're right, they not only save the environment, they save energy. Voted up and useful!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 03, 2012:

nifwlseirff - I hear you about clothes dryers. I am rather tired of how my clothes "pill" when I dry them. The person that invented clothes dryers was a genius until you realize that Mother Nature is most genius of all. ;)

Kymberly Fergusson from Germany on February 03, 2012:

Useful! Frugal and green seem to go hand-in-hand for the most part. I haven't had a clothes dryer in ages, which also seems to reduce the wear and tear on my clothes - I have to replace them less often!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 25, 2012:

Hey, alocsin - good to see you! I'm glad I could offer up some confirmations for you - I appreciate the vote. While I'm at it, did I tell you that you just won $10 million?? What are you going to do? Hehehe, will you still be green? ;)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 25, 2012:

I've always believed that living a frugal lifestyle automatically equals green. And you've just affirmed that. Voting this Up and Interesting.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 20, 2012:

sen.sush23 - nice to see you! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I love finding ways to be green - I'm always looking. :D

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on January 20, 2012:

Nice and useful. Ours being a hot and humid city, we too plan to cut down on the AC usage, in kind of the same plan as you suggest for reducing the room heating usage. Useful Hub.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 19, 2012:

Wow, asmaiftikhar! What a compliment! Thank you so much for stopping by. I really appreciate your feedback. You're very thoughtful and wonderful! :)

asmaiftikhar from Pakistan on January 18, 2012:

its really a useful and interesting hub and one it wud be hub of the day.thanks for sharing such a useful,awesome,interesting,beautiful hub.

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