Millennial Corner: Saving The Planet…And Some Money, Too

financial-edWhat’s up, budgeters! Who wants to spread the zero-waste lifestyle? And never throw anything out ever again for the rest of your life! Well, okay…not really, though—but how’s about paying more attention to the things we waste every day, and helping Mother Earth just a little?

Do you have a passion to protect and preserve the environment? You’re not alone. I see evidence of green living everywhere—from sustainable buildings, to organic foods, to eco-friendly cars. There’s even a global digital TV channel dedicated to making the world a more sustainable place.

Problem is, it can be downright expensive to buy things like eco-friendly cleaning products or organic foods. And even a lower-priced electric car will cost you around $30,000.

But going green doesn’t have to be expensive. Turns out, saving the environment can mean preserving your bank account, as well. Here are some of the cash-saving, green-keeping things I like to do.

1) Unplug Electronics
A TV, computer and other appliances still use power when they’re not being used if you keep them plugged in all the time. So I am constantly unplugging them to reduce my power load and monthly electric bill. I’ve also used a power strip with on/off switches. Now, there are some products that I want to keep plugged, such as my alarm clock and fridge.

2) Use Home-Made Cleaning Products
I’ve switched to using non-chemical and natural cleaning products. It’s real easy to whip up my own concoction and get a good clean with a few cheap ingredients that are readily available.  And, it’s a lot safer to use a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar and a rag instead of those pre-made “eco-friendly” products.

3) Buy Local
Food grown locally is fresh and seasonal. If it has less distance to travel and there is an abundance of it, you’ll pay less for it. As a bonus: many local farmers use minimal to no pesticides for produce sold close to home. Although they often can’t advertise as organic, (because of the time commitment certification requires), buying from a farmer’s market gives you a chance to ask the farmer about their practices directly.

4) Turn up the Temperature in the Refrigerator
If you keep your refrigerator or freezer temperature set unnecessarily low, you can use up more energy and end up with a much higher bill. That’s why I follow the FDA’s recommendation to keep my fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit to work at peak efficiency and minimize energy costs. Likewise, my freezer’s set at 0° F.

5) Crack Down on Waste
All it takes is a few small tweaks in daily living to cut down the amount of household waste. For example: I bring my own mug to the coffee shop, I carry reusable water bottles to avoid buying plastic ones, I compost my food scraps, and I repair or upgrade equipment like computers instead of buying new.

6) Stop Junk Mail
I was being bombarded with loads of different unwanted catalogs in the mail. These mailers can be a huge waste of natural resources as well as time. I use a free service called Catalog Choice to cancel specific catalogs and other types of paper mail I no longer wish to receive.

Resources: Goodnet.org, Centsibly Rich, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.