More green for the earth doesn't mean less green for your wallet
"Going green" is a choice that many have made recently in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint on our planet. Unfortunately, there's a misconception out there that in order to reduce your carbon footprint you have to accept a deep footprint in your bank account.
The Web site www.earth911.com has an advice series called Green Eight in which it provides eight ways to green your life. The article "8 Ways to Go Green and Save Hundreds" has some great advice that can help save our planet and your wallet.
Here are some ideas of how to reduce, reuse and recycle while being budget conscious:
• Buy in bulk. For items that have a long shelf life, it means less packaging material, which is sometimes not recyclable, as well as fewer trips to the store, which can save on gas.
Small family? Consider splitting up bulk items and sharing the cost with friends or family. This option reduces your need for extra storage space too.
• Reduce your paper use. Did you know that paper plates, paper towels and napkins become non-recyclable when covered with oil-based food stains?
The average American family uses 1.5 rolls of paper towels a week, so if you switch to reusable cloth towels for cleaning and spills, and even cloth napkins at dinner, you could average only one roll a month. This could save you $45 per year, and the cost to wash the towels is not noticeable if done with the rest of your laundry.
• Become unplugged. When cell phone chargers, battery chargers and any other household appliances are left plugged in they are still consuming "phantom" energy. To save energy and energy costs, try to plug all your chargers into a power strip and keep it off until you need to charge an appliance.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates "appliances and home electronics are responsible for about 20 percent of a typical home's energy bill." A simple and easy way to save hundreds a year: Unplug appliances, electronics and chargers when they're not in use.
• Consider a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats don't use mercury and have settings to control temperature according to time of day and the season, which can significantly lower your energy bill.
Energy Star estimates a yearly savings of $180; the unit itself will initially cost more than $100, which results in a first year savings of around $70. Another reason programmable thermostats can be worth the initial expense is the possibility that the purchase may count as an energy-efficient home improvement that can be claimed on your taxes.
• Recycle, reuse, recycle. Many areas across the country are hosting Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) events. Household items such as paint, cleaning supplies and pesticides have specific regulations for disposal, and these events provide a local outlet to dispose of them responsibly. Some locations also resell the like-new products for a nominal fee.
For locations of HHW events in the Tampa Bay area, visit www.earth911.com.