Save Some Green for the Planet – and Your Wallet!
It’s springtime! Flowers and trees are in bloom, so everyone’s thinking green. You’ve likely heard endless exhortations from your kids, ad campaigns and various earth-conscious celebrities to reduce your environmental impact. But stores often charge a premium for so-called “green” products, and the choices on the shelves can be confusing or even downright deceptive.
What’s a family to do when protecting their pocketbook is just as important as protecting the planet?
For the most part, you don’t need any special, pricier products to green your lifestyle, and there are easy, earth-friendly changes you can make that will actually save you money:
- Wash your clothes in cold water. Eighty-five percent of the energy used to do a load of laundry goes to heating the water, so you can save big on the gas or electricity you use—and on your utility bill—just by twisting the dial on your washing machine. On a sunny day, give your dryer a rest and hang clothes to dry outdoors.
- Make your own cleaning products. Baking soda, borax and vinegar are all you need to clean nearly everything in your home. You can get all three, on the cheap, at any grocery store. And, because they contain no toxic chemicals, you can feel good about asking the kids to help you prepare and clean with these mixtures. (Click here for recipes.)
- Buy in bulk. Instead of individually wrapped snacks, buy the cost-efficient big bag and send kids to school with snack-sized portions in re-usable plastic containers. (What’s cheaper than a re-purposed butter tub or yogurt cup, after all?) Watch out for bulk items that are really just large quantities of individually packed products wrapped together, though, or you’ll end up with more packaging waste rather than less.
- Buy used. Shop consignment stores, thrift stores, yard sales and Web sites like www.craigslist.org for clothes, toys and furniture. Craigslist even has a listing of free items under its “for sale” heading. (As with all Web-based transactions, use caution and common sense. If a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is. Always meet in a public place or take a companion with you when you meet a seller.) Used products mean no new resources are consumed. Sell your own used items – especially clothes and toys your kids have outgrown — online or at a consignment store for cash or credit toward inventory. Or organize a swap meet with your neighbors or other Club parents to trade the clothes, toys and household goods you no longer use for items you need.
For more resources and tips on making the most of your family dollar, see our section on Money Management.