No one can “save the planet” by themselves, but many people care about the world’s environmental health and want to do their part.  At times, we may be able to step up and help shape laws and policies of government, invent an environmentally friendly product or help with projects that clean up pollution or to reduce greenhouse gases.  But unless we have a career that involves being an environmental warrior, our main duty, as individuals, should be to tread lightly upon the earth. In other words, we should do as much as we can to reduce our environmental impact.  Here are a few ways that you can help reduce your impact on the environment and save money at the same time.

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  • Use your feet more. If you have to pick up just a couple things from the store and there is one near by, walk instead of driving. You will get some healthy exercise along the way.
  • Save trips to the store by stocking up. Buy in bulk when possible.  You will save money per item or per pound and end up spending less money over time on things you commonly need.  Canned and frozen foods retain their nutrients quite well and reduce waste due to spoilage.  For example, keeping a bulk size bag of frozen mixed veggies in the freezer can let you make quick and healthy stir fry meals in under 5 minutes.
  • Outfit your home with passive and active solar. Solar panels involve a bit of an initial investment, but will pay for themselves over time with net energy savings. You could actually make money, during times that you are producing more electricity than you are consuming.  Learn how to use your windows to save energy. During the day, instead of turning on a light, open the window shades.  In the winter, let southern facing windows help heat your home. (If you are North of the Equator) If your area is subject to hot summers, plant deciduous trees that shade those same south facing windows from the intense rays of the summer sun.  In the summer, use shades that are light colored on the side that faces the window. This will reflect heat, rather than absorbing, like a dark color. Open windows to cool the house at night in the summer, then close the windows, to keep out the heat of the day.
  • Keep your closets less full. As with everything you buy, if you bought it, it took resources and energy to produce the raw materials, make it and transport it. Every item that you sell or give to charity is one less item that needs to be made. Remake your wardrobe to include quality, casual multipurpose items that can be mixed and matched to form a wider variety of outfits. You can save lots of money by using comparative pricing tools on Google.  Before you buy, check for Groupon Coupons. They have exclusive sales and percentage off discounts from thousands of retailers, including clothing stores like NY & Company. Wearing durable and stain resistant materials, such as denim or new high tech antibacterial fibers, will save energy and water. They will repel dirt and stop bacteria caused odor, so will stay fresh with fewer washings.
  • Take the time to recycle. Most US town now have recycling programs. They are only as useful as the effort you put in to sort your trash. Reusing things like grocery bags for several different purposes before you dispose of them will save resources.
  • Grow some of your own food. You don’t need a large garden to save money on food. Even in a small apartment, you can grow things like fresh herbs, tomatoes or hot peppers in pots. You can have fresh, organic foods while saving all the energy and environmental impact it took to grow and ship that food to you from some commercial farm to your grocery store.

 

There is not just a single change that makes us environmentally responsible, it is a bunch of small differences that we make with our choices, every day. They all add up to reduce our own environmental impact and let us tread lighting upon the earth.

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