Simplicity in Challenging Times – Top Ten Simple Ways to Save & Be Green

3 Mar

In these challenging times it’s sometimes tough to ask people to focus on issues related to sustainability.  This is especially true considering the many short term conveniences and savings the world presents us with that are not very sustainable.  For example, at your local grocery store you’ll find that a dollar buys you over 1200 calories in the processed food aisle, but only 250 calories in the produce department.  It generally costs less and is quicker to feed a family at a fast food restaurant than to make a fresh nutritious meal at home.  A case of plastic bottled water can be purchased for less than five dollars.  Products shipped across the world from grossly polluting nations are a fraction of the cost of items made locally.  It can wound your current budget to retrofit, add solar panels, etc to green your home.  And, unfortunately, most of us need to stretch our funds as long as they can possibly go.

As “green” professionals we sometimes become myopic and forget that getting back to basics and helping people with the simple things leads to bigger and better payoffs for us all.  The fact is that the average person can save money here and now, as well as add to the bottom line in the future by being just a little creative, knowledgeable and inquisitive.  Here is my list of the top ten simple things one can do to save money now and in the future, as well as be a source for information on how to be green and save green.

  1. Keep current on Federal Tax Credits, State Incentives and Rebates, and Green Bank Lenders that give incentives to help finance retrofits, energy saving products, and alternative energy for homes and businesses.  These upgrades often cost less than continuing to make current utility bill payments over the short-term, plus save a ton of money in the long term.  Local cities such as San Bernardino are currently spearheading programs to bring financing for energy efficiency and sustainability to local residents and businesses.
  2. Support and get to know your local farmers and merchants by visiting Certified Farmers Markets where you can learn more about where to buy local food and produce, find some great deals and support the local economy.
  3. Carpool with just one person and save on average more than $1000 per year, if you can bike or walk to work your savings will double that number.
  4. Skip the bottled water – buy a water filter and reuse bottles or buy a stainless steel bottle and save hundreds of dollars per family member over the course of a year.
  5. Pay bills online and save on stamps, time and save trees.
  6. Install occupancy sensors in rooms in your house where lights are usually left on.  The California Energy Commission estimates this can achieve a 35 to 45 percent savings.
  7. Reduce paper use for cleaning. The average American family uses 11/2 rolls of paper towels each week. Use old t-shirts or rags for cleaning the house. Cutting your use to one roll a month would save over $45 per year.
  8. Plan ahead and buy in bulk.  This will mean less trips to the store, saving gas money and reducing carbon emissions.  The more of a product you buy, the less it will cost per unit ie. the cost per ounce goes down as the container gets larger.
  9. Use rechargeable batteries.  This will save you money, reduce toxic waste and preserve precious resources. This is especially true if you have children with toys who are undoubtedly blazing through batteries. Rechargeable batteries can be used hundreds of times and are easily recycled.
  10. Investing in smart strips or manually unplugging electronic devices that are not in use saves both energy and money lost from stand-by power.  Savings can be extremely significant, possibly five to twenty percent on your electricity bill.

Becoming an expert as well as keeping an eye on the big picture on all matters “green” will help you grow both professionally and personally.  I am always looking for simple, innovative and realistic strategies to help the triple bottom line for everyone.  Please let me know your thoughts and ideas.

4 Responses to “Simplicity in Challenging Times – Top Ten Simple Ways to Save & Be Green”

  1. Tracy Lopp March 5, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    During those times your kids are bored, but love to draw; turn them into greeting cards for friends & family on recycled paper. Saves time and money for gas and finding the right card, plus there is nothing better than a homemade card to reflect the time and effort put into thinking about that person.
    Same for holiday cards; if your child loves art – turn that picture or painting into a nice holiday card. It’s an original masterpiece!
    Lastly – long tradition in our home for wrapping gifts for all occasions – my husband wraps with old plans from work. My son loves to turn cut brown bags open, wrap gifts with them and than draw art especially geared for that person. No need to get holiday wrap!
    More recycling tips and fun projects from “Plan T” Organizing Homes & Families. Search on Facebook.

    • Kevin March 16, 2010 at 9:16 am #

      Thanks Tracy! Great tips. Keep us posted on any other ideas you come across.

  2. Kevin March 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    Here is a pretty cool little cost effective gadget for saving water we found and is mentioned in the new Sunset Magazine: http://www.water-saver-faucet.com/

  3. Emily June 2, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    Here is a pretty cool little cost effective gadget for saving water we found and is mentioned in the new Sunset Magazine: http://www.water-saver-faucet.com/