5 Practical & Low Cost Ways To Go Green

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This is a guest post from Heather Levin at TheGreenestDollar.com  TheGreenestdollar.com’s goal is simple: to give people easy, common-sense ways to save money and go green.
These days, “going green” is on everyone’s lips, and with good reason.  One quick glance at the headlines and it’s obvious our planet needs some help, and quickly.  But it’s not just that; with the economy in shambles, many people are discovering that going green can actually save money as well.  And the best news? It doesn’t cost a fortune to implement some money-saving, eco-friendly strategies.  It’s easier than you think to save green by going green.
Want some easy tips on how to get started?  Let’s go…
1. Switch to CFL Bulbs
One of the easiest things you can do is switch over to CFL bulbs.  I know you’ve probably heard this tip before, but there’s a reason why so many people bring it up!  
EnergyStar.gov (source: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls) estimates that if every American home replaced just one light bulb with a CFL bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for one year.  That’s significant.  And, that’s just one bulb.  Imagine if more of us replaced all our bulbs…
CFL bulbs use 75% less energy, and last up to 10 times longer than a regular bulb.  It’s a small investment to get started, but you’ll quickly earn the money back on your lower electric bill. If you do make the switch to CFL bulbs, keep in mind that you can’t just toss them in the trash once their life is over.  They contain a small bit of mercury, and must be safely disposed of. Fortunately, Home Depot makes this easy.  You can recycle your CFL bulbs for free at any Home Depot store.

2. Make Your Own Rain Barrel
Another great way to help the planet and save money is to buy or make your own rain barrel.  
How does this help?  Well, if you live in the city then you probably pay for water.  Every time you turn on the water hose, just visualize shiny silver dimes pouring out in place of your H2O.  In my town, water costs so much that it almost amounts to that. If you had a rain barrel, however, there’d be no need to turn on the water faucet and use “bought water” on your lawn or garden.  You’d immediately be saving money. 
Harvesting rainwater also helps the planet because you’re using resources that are falling from the sky.  Water that comes out of your tap takes lots of energy to treat, so the less you use the more energy you save.  
Visit the TheGreenestDollar.com for more tips on how to go green!
3. Figure Out Your Carbon Footprint
Knowledge is power.  So, take a few minutes to figure out what your carbon footprint is.  
Do you know how many tons of Co2 your household emits each year?  Most people don’t.  Once you factor in transportation, heating and cooling, groceries, and house size, the average American household puts out over 42 tons of Co2 per year. That’s 500% of what the rest of the world puts out, at least according to the Berkeley Institute of the Environment (source: http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/ ) .  
Learning how much Co2 your family puts out can be an eye-opening experience.  And as the old business adage goes, “What gets measured, gets managed”.
The Berkeley Institute created this incredibly easy Carbon Footprint Calculator (link: http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/) that allows you to see just how much Co2 you’re really putting out, and how your emissions compare with the rest of the country.  It’s definitely worth the time to find out how you’re doing. And don’t forget: with this knowledge comes the power to change!
4. Invest In A Push Mower
According to Joanna Yarrow’s book, “1001 Ways To Save The Earth”, an average, gasoline-powered mower can produce as much pollution per hour as 40 cars.
Yikes. If you want to help the planet, then ditch your gas mower for a traditional, human-powered push mower. Push mowers cost around $100-$150.  But, you’ll quickly make up this investment because you’ll no longer have to buy gas or oil to mow your lawn.  And because there’s no motor or electrical parts, your push mower will last longer.
You’ll also reduce air pollution, noise pollution, and get more exercise.  What’s not to love here?  I have a push mower myself, and can honestly say I’ll never go back to using a gas mower.  It’s heaven.
5. Start Using Reusable Shopping Bags
According to the Boston Globe (source: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/11/10/sack_the_plastic_shopping_bag/ ), there are over 365 billion plastic bags used each year just in the United States.  And, less than 1% of those are ever recycled. The rest get dumped into landfills, where they’ll sit for the next 1,000 years.  Decomposing. Plus, plastic bags are made with oil.  Not good. Want to make a big difference in the world with a small thing? Then carry reusable shopping bags with you to the store.  I know it doesn’t seem like much, but the fewer plastic bags you take home means the fewer that end up in a landfill, on the side of the road, or in our oceans.  Plus, you might even save money doing this; many stores are rewarding customers with coupons or money back for every reusable bag they bring in to use.  My grocery store up the street gives me 5 cents for every canvas bag I bring in to reuse.  Sure it’s not much, but it adds up over time. In fact, the Boston Globe estimates that one canvas bag will replace over 1,000 plastic bags during its lifetime, if it’s used consistently. That’s a lot of bags, a lot of energy, and a lot of oil you’re saving.
Last Word…
Many people think that saving the environment involves doing something big.  You know, attending a protest, chaining yourself to a tree…that sort of thing.   The reality is that it’s the little things that make the most difference.  Shopping less, buying used, being aware of excess packaging on products.
..all these little decisions can add up to major changes.  Especially if we all start doing them together.
Visit the TheGreenestDollar.com for more tips on how to go green!
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  1. Hey Vin….I have a push mower at the shore! And…it’s EXERCISE!!!! LOL Love it!

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