There are many easy ways to save money and the environment in our everyday lives. From the laundry room to the mailbox, the grocery store to the backyard, minor lifestyle adjustments can make a big difference. And there’s no better time than now to start.
Prosper Blog readers know the value of investing, and that carries over into the world around us. We’re here to show you some ways to do well while doing good this year.
Investing in our planet is a collective effort undertaken by individuals, businesses, and governments. We all must work together to save our planet, and while it’s not solely on private individuals to do so, the efforts we make in our personal lives can make a difference! So, in honor of Earth Day, let’s look at 22 tips to invest in our planet and your own financial empowerment!
In This Article
1. Use a Reusable Water Bottle and In-Home Water Filter
If you’re going to make one immediate lifestyle change for Earth Day, commit to ditching single-use water bottles. Consumers buy one million plastic bottles every minute on our planet, and less than a third of them will be recycled. Not only that, but a recent study found that microplastic contamination was over twice as high as in tap water samples, in 93% of tested bottled water brands! Consider using a reusable water bottle and a filter for your kitchen sink, and you’ll be helping your body, your budget, and the environment!
2. Run the Wash Only When It’s Full
Fresh, clean water is necessary to sustain life, but only 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh and most of that is either locked up in glaciers and the ice caps or highly polluted. By 2025, about 1.8 billion people will live in areas with water scarcity challenges.
Hold off on running the dishwasher or washing machine until there’s a full load. By doing so, you’ll not only conserve precious resources, you’ll save money on your monthly water and energy bills. Want to save even more? Most of your clothes, like delicate items made with lace or silk and dark, colorful fabrics will come out just as clean if you wash them with cold water. Additionally, according to GE, many detergents have enzymes that start to work in temperatures as low as 60 degrees, and cold-water detergent also enhances results.
3. Use DIY Environmentally Friendly Cleaners
Speaking of dishes and laundry, many detergents are made from synthetic ingredients that are bad for the environment and aquatic life in particular. Thankfully, it’s easy to make your own household cleaners using products such as baking soda, vinegar, herbs and lemon juice. By utilizing things you may already have in your pantry to quickly produce effective cleaners, you will save money and the environment.
4. Install a Programmable Thermostat
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that most consumers will save around 10% on their heating and cooling costs with a smart, programmable thermostat. That’s because a programmable thermostat can be set to vary the temperature in your home depending on the time of day, whether you’re home, and so on. Many programmable thermostats can even be operated with an app, meaning you can pre-heat or cool your house before you get home instead of running the HVAC unit all day. Not only will this save you money, but since much of our energy comes from non-renewable sources, it helps save the Earth!
5. Go Meatless on Mondays and More
Did you know that the average hamburger takes 630 gallons of water to produce? Or that the meat industry produces 57% of greenhouse gases attributable to food production? Skipping meat for the occasional meal is one way we can help our planet by reducing greenhouse gas production. Meatless meals can also be healthier for our budgets and our bodies!
6. Turn Off the Water
Do you leave the water running when brushing your teeth? Conserving water can save money while protecting the planet, so wet those bristles, apply toothpaste and turn off the faucet while you brush for two minutes, twice a day!
7. Stop Using Paper Towels
Instead of buying disposable paper products that hurt the environment, make use of ‘utility towels’ for spills and general cleanup duties. Then toss them in with your laundry! You’ll be responsible for less garbage going into landfills, and fewer trees cut down to make paper products. You’ll also save money on buying paper
8. Eliminate Food Waste
According to the National Resources Defense Council, 40% of food produced in the United States ends up in landfills. Meanwhile, 1 in 8 Americans goes hungry. With agriculture causing 35% of greenhouse gas emissions, wasted food is a big opportunity to do a solid for Mother Earth.
Wasted food can also be a massive waste of your monthly budget. To avoid wasting food, make weekly menu plans and shopping lists. This will help you shop smarter at the grocery store, buying only what you need and will consume. Another great idea is to use vegetable scraps to make your own vegetable stock! Not all veggies lend themselves to this technique, but it’s a great way to get the most out of your grocery budget.
9. Shop Second-Hand
Manufacturing can have many adverse effects on the environment, including:
- Air pollution and greenhouse gases
- Toxic waste
- Water pollution
- High water use
In addition, raw materials must be mined to provide materials for manufacturing. It’s no surprise that manufacturing is responsible for up to two-thirds of emissions responsible for climate change!
Fortunately, you can help reduce the impact of manufacturing on Mother Earth! Instead of exclusively shopping for new items, look for second-hand goods at local thrift stores. You can also use sites like Freecycle.org, Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, and/or the NextDoor app to discover who in your neighborhood is giving away or selling items that you might otherwise have to buy new!
10. Unplug Your Electronics
Did you know that electricity is still flowing to your devices and appliances even when they’re turned off and not in use? By unplugging them when not in use, you can save roughly $165 per year and help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
It may take a while to get used to unplugging and plugging in your electronics (a power strip can make this an easier, one-plug process,) but it’s a simple way to reduce your power usage.
11. Reuse and Repurpose Everyday Items
In addition to shopping second-hand, you can find ways to reuse and repurpose items already in the house. For example, glass jars can easily become cute storage containers for your child’s marble collection, a handsome tea bag holder displayed on the kitchen counter or decorative jars adorning a shelf. Here are 50 more ways to get organized by repurposing and upcycling things you may already have in your home.
12. Buy Products That Last
Where possible, buy more durable products even when they cost a little more. You’ll end up saving money in the long run! If you have to buy a $50 pair of shoes every year, but a $200 pair of shoes lasts ten years, you’re saving $300 over a decade by not having to replace them as often. And that’s less trash being generated, and fewer products needing to be manufactured!
According to the most recent EPA data available, landfills received 29.2 million tons of durable goods trash in 2018. That means that clothes, bedsheets, diapers, and paper plates and cups accounted for nearly 20% of everything added to landfills! You can make a difference by using reusable products and choosing higher-quality clothes, sneakers and linens.
13. Collect Rainwater
According to Popular Science, “When an inch of rain falls, over 1,000 gallons of water runs off the average American roof. That’s enough free H2O to supply the family inside for a few days and maybe knock a few dollars off the monthly utility bill.”
Even if you don’t choose to collect rainwater for inside use, rainwater is great for your garden, watering your lawn, or washing your car. Conserving water in this way can save money while protecting the planet and is a great habit to start on Earth Day 2021.
14. Stop Junk Mail
According to the Center for Development of Recycling at San Jose State University, each American receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year. Producing the paper for all that junk results in the chopping down of between 80 million and 100 million trees every year. Opt out of junk mail to reduce deforestation and maybe prevent some impulse buys!
15. Use Cloth Napkins
Using cloth napkins is also one of the simplest ways to save money and the environment and even adds a touch of elegance to everyday meals! Cloth napkins can also help fill up your washing machine, making sure you have a full load of laundry every time.
16. Insulate Your Doors and Windows
Poor insulation wastes energy and costs you money. One of the ways you can help the environment and save money on utility bills is by insulating doors and windows with weatherstripping. This can also make you more comfortable by regulating your home’s temperature more effectively. Sealing up an older home may help reduce your heating and cooling bills by more than 20% according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
17. Plant Herbs
An ambitious backyard garden project that produces tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers could save you hundreds every year in food costs. But you can also start small. Plant herbs in a window box to give yourself easy access to just the right amount of basil needed for mozzarella and tomato salads, the perfect pinch of rosemary for the perfect roast potatoes or ample cilantro for homemade guacamole.
Not only is growing your own herbs environmentally friendly, but it’s also kind to your wallet, and fresh herbs taste better than buying them at the grocery store!
18. Switch to LED Bulbs
As your light bulbs go dark, replace them with LED bulbs. These bulbs last significantly longer, use up to 80% less electricity, and often produce more attractive light than traditional bulbs. You’ll use less energy, produce less waste, and potentially save as much as $20 per bulb. Use this energy savings calculator to see what you could save by switching to LED light bulbs.
19. Shop for ENERGY STAR Appliances
As your old appliances come to the end of their life, shop for ENERGY STAR replacements, as greener purchasing decisions will help save money and the environment. For example, a water-efficient ENERGY STAR washing machine uses 25% less energy and 33% less water than regular washers. Over its lifetime, an ENERGY STAR washing machine will potentially save as much as $370 in energy costs!
Whether you’re in the market for a dishwasher, washing machine or water heater, buying an ENERGY STAR-certified appliance could be a smart choice because conserving water can save money while protecting the planet. You may even be eligible for a rebate when you buy ENERGY STAR products like air-conditioners, microwaves and washing machines.
20. Switch to a Bidet Toilet
Bidets are widely used nearly everywhere except in America, although that’s changing thanks to affordable new bidet attachments that are easy to install on most existing toilets. They’re far better for the environment than toilet paper alone, they get you cleaner, and can even save you money!
- It takes 37 gallons of water to make a single roll of toilet paper.
- 384 trees will be cut down to make a one person’s lifetime toilet-paper supply.
- Americans spend an average of between $40 to $70 a year on toilet paper.
Bidets only use an eighth of a gallon of water and reduce your toilet paper use by 75% or more. That’s a win-win for the planet and your wallet!
21. Quit Smoking
Smoking is not only expensive and unhealthy, it’s terrible for the environment. Many tobacco products contain chemicals that contaminate waterways and ground soil, and are harmful to wildlife. Additionally, discarded cigarette butts are often not biodegradable and, when discarded while still lit, can cause fires, damaging homes and land. The impact on the Earth is severe, but the real cost of smoking can be expressed through economics.
The financial cost to each smoker is estimated to be between $1.6 and $3.1 million over the course of a lifetime, both due to the expensive nature of tobacco products and the healthcare costs associated with their use. Everyone knows that smoking is detrimental to your health, but the financial cost and environmental impact are equally profound.
22: Reduce Your Commute
Transportation accounts for more than 30% of American greenhouse gas emissions. You can see the effects over many major cities; the smog that causes hotter summers and asthma attacks is largely caused by automobile traffic. And Americans waste over $100 billion per year on gasoline sitting in traffic jams, and hours of their lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to shift to remote work, but if you’re still going to work in person, doing what you can to reduce your commute can make a difference for the planet, your wallet, and your well-being. Consider working from home part or full-time if possible, moving closer to your job (especially if you’re within walking or biking distance!) carpooling, or using public transportation. This can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce wear-and-tear on your car, give you more of your day to do the things you care about, and save you a lot of money.
Start Saving Money and the Environment Today
These are just 22 of the many simple ways to go green while saving some green in honor of Earth Day. By using these and other ways to be good to the environment, you’re investing not just in your future, but in our world.