Help save the planet -- and your wallet
Just in time for Earth Day, here are some money-saving moves that are also eco-friendly.
You don't have to do those things. Really.
At the risk of sounding like a Ziploc bag washer, let me point out that small changes can add up to big savings. Since they also have an environmental impact, why not tweak a few habits in honor of Earth Day? (It's April 22 this year.)
Laundry is a great example, on several levels. (Post continues below video.)
- Use one-half to as little as one-fourth of the recommended amount of detergent, unless clothes are heavily soiled. Impact: less detergent ending up in environment; fewer bottles to recycle (or throw away); 50% to 75% cash savings. Or try homemade laundry detergent, for up 66% in savings.
- Wash in cold water. Impact: less energy needed to heat water; estimated savings of 64 cents per load.
- Wash less often -- e.g., several uses of bath towels or judicious re-wearing of clothes. Impact: all of the advantages noted above; less wear and tear on your clothes and linens; lower water and wastewater bills.
- Hang laundry. I air-dry on wooden racks or put items on hangers in the bathroom. Impact: fewer quarters at laundromat, or lower utility bills.
Cheaper and greener
Some other frugal/environmental combos:
Use a pea-size dab of toothpaste instead of slopping it over every bristle. You'll throw away fewer tubes and boxes, and save up to 75% a year.
Don't let the water run while you brush. Turn off the shower while you wash your hair. Try a "Navy shower."
Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. The savings are hard to estimate because water costs vary widely but your utility bills will drop.
Take fewer pills. Do you pop an ibuprofen at the first sign of pain? See "8 ways to get rid of a headache" for some simple (and free!) alternatives. The result: fewer boxes and empty bottles in the trash or recycling, and more dollars in your wallet.
Don't fill both detergent cups in the dishwasher. In fact, don't fill even one of them all the way. According to a New York Times article, many people use way too much soap.
Whenever possible, use repurposed cloth instead of paper towels to clean the house, wipe up spills or drain salad greens.
Oh, and go ahead and wash those Ziploc bags. Some of mine are on their fourth tour of duty for freezing wild blackberries. I don't reuse ones that have held raw meat -- we all have our sticking points -- but I'm happy to wash and re-use any others until they develop holes. I can't say how much money I've saved, but I can say that it's been at least six years since I had to buy bags.
Readers: What small savings pay off for you? Do you do these things because eco-friendly or economically savvy?
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
ABOUT DONNA FREEDMAN
Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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