Not living under a rock?
If you are all of the above with access to at least the tiniest fragment of media, then you will be well aware that at least some of the current chatter is on the topic of the environment. Pollution, waste, our impending doom and all of that good stuff that generally leaves you feeling more defeated and cynical than motivated.
If these regular interactions with the world around you are making you feel hopeless, then you may find yourself asking whether or not there is any point in trying to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. After all, what can one person do against all of the world’s problems? And anyway, what’s in it for you? Well as it turns out, there are plenty of reasons to go green, and each action you take counts. As for what you get out of it, how about more money, better health and a connection with the world around you.
Today’s post is about why eco-living can help thicken your wallet. If you concentrate on one of the areas below, it will add up to a much larger impact over time, and more money for you. If you have never tried to go green in any of the areas listed, why not take a look and consider what is realistic for you? You may hear the cash register cha-chinging yet.
Area 1: Home
This area may include anything from home repairs to general maintenance and housekeeping. Ah, the exciting world of housekeeping. For those of you who don’t love the smell of methoxydiglycol in the morning, there are alternatives. Did you know that you can make your own cleaning supplies? This will not only save you money off the cost of commercial cleaning supplies, but it also keeps harmful chemicals out of your house. Don’t be fooled into thinking that only chemical-ridden products will clean your house properly.
Personally, I have been using my own cleaners since we moved to our new home, and they are just as effective as the toxic crap I used to buy. My homemade laundry detergent costs me roughly $0.15 per load versus $0.46 per load from a commercial product. If I do 3 loads of laundry per week, then using my own detergent saves me approximately $48 per year over using a commercial brand. And that is just one type of home cleaner. Imagine the savings in all of the other cleaning areas. Adding to that simple repair and maintenance actions (think, fixing those drafts, for example), and there is no limit to what you can do to save money around your home.
Area 2: Personal Goods
By this, I mean all of the “stuff” that you buy in endless quantities. Most of these goods can be purchased used for incredible savings. Take clothing for example. You have likely been to a used clothing and furniture store at some point in your life. With mounds of clothing in every shape, size and colour, it can be a little overwhelming. And that smell? Well, it may have turned you off, but to the true die hards it is the distinct malodour of savings. Regardless of which club you fit in to, it is worth it to stick it out and keep hunting at your local Salvation Army. You can often find practically brand new items at an incredibly low-cost.
I almost hate to bring up this topic because I am still getting over the trauma of my mother proudly handing me a pair of used fuchsia pink cords that she then insisted I wear to school (oh the humanity). You can probably guess what that did for me socially. Even so, I am a firm believer in buying used items. From visiting actual stores to scanning through Kijiji to Facebook “Buy and Swap” groups online, buying used will not only keep money in your local economy but will also keep money in your wallet.
Area 3: Transportation
While I am appreciative of the fact that you are likely reading this blog entry at home, you will have to emerge from your lair at some point in the near future for some reason or another. How will you get where you need to go? While some amazing people bike in all kinds of crazy northern snow, wind and rain to get around, most others rely on some kind of motorized vehicle for transportation. If you have access to public transportation, and don’t suffer from the need to get where you want to go the second you want to go there, then you have the potential to save a lot of money. In comparison to the cost of maintaining a car, paying for public transportation is quite economical. For those of you that do not have this option, you can still find savings via actions such as carpooling or living close to work.
When we were choosing a home, we took the cost of transportation into consideration. By choosing the property fifteen minutes away (by car) from the Dreamboat’s work, and a quick ten minute walk to a bank, library, post office, grocery store and (the all important) Beer store, we have been able to reduce the amount of driving we do. In fact, our last place in the city required more driving to access similar stores and amenities than living in a community near the city does, if you can believe that. And public transportation? Though infrequent, there is a stop close by. All in all, a good choice.
Area 4: Food
Yum. On to the most delicious area of this post. Food is tricky because while it is possible to save money, it is also possible to overspend. Anything labelled organic” seems to come at a premium these days. When you add to the fact that there is very little regulation on food terms such as “organic” or “natural,” it may not always be worth the extra cost when you do splurge. Still, there are many other food choices that you can make. Something as small as eating one vegetarian meal per week can add up to big savings. Beans, as well as providing a classic rhyme to cook, eat and toot to, are incredibly cheap, and can be added to almost anything.
The Dreamboat is a certified bean hater, so I have had to think of different ways to get him to eat vegetarian once in a while. While this usually means focusing on fresh veggies, I have worked hard to find cheap produce in our area. We have signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share which provides healthy, organic food at a fraction of the cost of buying similar produce in the supermarket. Also, this spring I will be planting a garden in our backyard so that we can have access to cheap, healthy salad fixings all summer long…
Sorry, I was lost in a fresh veggie fantasy. No garden for several more months after all.[Sigh]
In the end there are thousands of actions you could take to reduce your impact on the environment while saving money. Not every action that benefits the environment benefits you. I’m sure you’ve seen articles that tell you that you can save thousands of dollars by purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle, but what if you walk or bike to get around? It is important to remember that it is up to you to figure out what works best for you.