Why It’s Frugal Being Green

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Today’s guest post comes to us from Maria Rainier. Maria is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online degree programs and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
Her post today is about a topic that is very interesting to me – whether or not green living makes economical sense (or cents, you want to be cute!). To see the past posts that I have written about this intriguing field, visit the following link – Previous posts about the economics of green living.

Why It’s Frugal Being Green

A Toyota Prius isn’t frugal (see previous post about whether purchasing a hybrid vehicle makes economic sense), at least not in the short-term (and what with manufacturing costs, transportation, and entailed CO2 emissions, it’s arguably not as green as most people think).  There are, however, small and remarkably easy steps to be friendlier to the planet that cost less than common non-green practices. Read below to find out more!
1.       Contact the companies sending you junk mail and catalogs and tell them to stop.  This saves trees and excess CO2 emissions for the planet and it also saves you the frustration of looking through a catalog of products you don’t need but can’t help but want when looking at them on glossy paper.
2.       Make your own household cleaners.  You get to choose what goes into your home (bleach is bad for both the environment and your health, even the health of your furry friends and children), and making your own cleaners isn’t as hard as you might think.  Distilled white vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda are the basics, and you’ll need little else to clean basic stains and grime.
3.       Don’t buy paper towels.  They’re a huge waste of money and the earth’s resources.  Every paper towel you throw out ends up in a landfill for future generations to deal with—and suffer from.  Use, instead, cloth napkins and cut up old towels to make cleaning rags that you can throw in the washer after use.  If every six rolls of paper towels costs about $10 and the average family goes through that in one month, that’s $120 you’ll save a year.
4.       Print on both sides of paper when printing directions, online recipes, or other home references.
5.       Use your dishwasher, and don’t pre-rinse dishes.  It all depends on individual practice, but the average American will use more water hand-washing dishes than will modern dishwashers.  Just catch the dishwasher in time before it goes into the drying cycle and let the dishes air-dry.  If certain dishes are too dirty for the dishwasher alone to get, invest in a plastic bin that will fit in your sink and put extra-dirty dishes in there.  When you wash your hands at the sink, wash them over the dirty dishes so the bin catches the water and you don’t have to waste more water on active pre-rinsing.
6.       Buy secondhand.  It’s more planet-friendly and cost-effective alternative to fair trade purchases.  Keeping clothes in circulation keeps them out of landfills, where the thousands of toxic pesticides and chemicals used in producing and treating the average cotton t-shirt (a single drop of which, in the human blood stream, causes death) can leach into our soil, water source, and eventually our food.
7.       Utilize fresh air by opening windows in the spring, fall, and even in summer if it’s not too hot outside.  In winter, turn down your thermostat and wear a sweater.  There’s no sense in dressing in shorts during the holidays while going broke over the energy bill.  The holidays are expensive enough!

How about you all? What frugal, green living techniques do you use? Have you tried any of the ones listed above?

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**Photo courtesy of http://www.shoestringmag.com/files/images/main/green_vs_frugal.jpg

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