Eco Savers
By Patty Bates-Ballard
April 29, 2008

Looking for ways to cut spending while reducing your environmental footprint? Go beyond turning off the lights and cutting back on heating and cooling. There are many more money saving measures that are also good for the environment. Here are 10 green cost cutting strategies I’ve implemented lately that you can too. Many of them have the extra bonus of saving time as well.

10 earth friendly ways to recoup some of those soaring gas prices:
1. Use it up! Use up what you have before buying more. When I had more expendable income, I often bought something without knowing if I already had some at home. Now I am pretty obsessive about checking my shelves first before I leave to go out. If I don’t know for sure that I need something, I pass. I figure I can get by a week without it if necessary. This includes not only food but toiletries and makeup. And lately I’ve been using up the half used containers of shampoo, deodorant and such that had been cluttering up my shelves.

2. Shop online. Before making a trip to buy something, check to see if you can buy it online. I now buy eco-friendly makeup, my kids’ clothes, CDs and DVDs, and much more on Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon and other online stores. If I do decide to make a trip, I first try second hand stores like Half Price Books.

3. Off the car. Turn off the car if you will be stopped more than one minute. As climate change looms larger and larger, I now turn off my car when I pull up to the bank window, the fast food window (who me?), and while waiting to pick up my son at school.

4. Shop once a week. Make a special trip to the grocery store only once a week. If I need to go more than once, I plan it for the day that I have another appointment nearby and stop on the way back.

5. Intentional leftovers. Buy double the amount you need to prepare a favorite family meal and cook it all at one time. That way you’ll have a full meal of leftovers that only needs to be warmed up. Turn on the stereo and you won't even hear the grumbling!

6. Be breezy. Keep the car air conditioner off. I’ve been surprised many times already this spring that even though it’s warm outside, I can get by without the car air conditioner. It uses a lot of gas and it’s the biggest producer of CFCs.

7. Take it back. Return things to the store you don’t need (wrong size, etc.) on the next regular trip. I have to be diligent about saving receipts, but I really save a lot of money returning things that I might just let sit around if I had more expendable income. Someone else can then use them, reducing the need for production.

8. Forget the mall. Go to the park instead of the mall. I used to go to the mall as a leisure activity and let the kids play on the inside playground. Now, if it's not pouring, I always choose a walk to the park instead. The kids have just as much fun and I don’t spend any gas or money. And I get more exercise too!

9. Off the water. Turn off the water whenever you can. I don’t let it run down the drain while brushing my teeth, washing or rinsing dishes, or running a bath. If I plug the tub first, then turn the bath faucet all the way to hot and capture the cold water until it warms up to hot, the bath temperature is usually just right by the time it fills up.

10. Pay bills online. Yes, I finally took the plunge and set up my account to pay bills online. Have you done it? It saves the price of a stamp, and by requesting not to receive paper bills, I’m saving trees too.

Bonus (not for everyone): Don't do the do. Adopt a hair style that doesn’t require drying. Now that it’s warm, I put some eco-friendly goop in my hair and let it dry naturally. Saves electricity, both the cost and the carbon emissions. A big time saver too.

There you have it -- 10 money saving tips that help the environment. I'd love to hear your feedback on them, and add your tips to the list. So please email me here.

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