Friday, April 6, 2007

Tree huggers & penny pinchers unite!

Whether you're a bona fide "tree hugger" like me or not, you probably like saving money (who doesn't?!) Well, penny pinchers and tree huggers have much more in common than we realize. That's because it turns out that many of the things that tree huggers promote to save the earth also save money.

The May issue of Body + Soul Magazine (my favorite read) included an article entitled, "Do Just One Thing". The author contends that if everyone does "just one thing" to save the planet, the impact would be enormous.

Maybe you already do many more than just one thing - kudos if you do. I searched this article for one more thing I could do. This year I'm going to start composting in my back yard - a new adventure! It'll save me money because I won't need to buy city lawn bags anymore.

The article listed 101 things you can do to save the planet, and many of them save money too! Here are five of the 101 things you can do to save the earth and pinch pennies too:

1) Turn off the lights - There's a myth that says that turning the light on and off uses more electricity than just leaving them on. Well, that myth was dispelled on one of my favorite shows, Discovery Channel's MythBusters. It really does save electricity to turn off lights when you leave the room, even if you're coming right back. Body + Soul Mag says two-thirds of all the electricity used in the residential sector of the US powers lights and appliances, which adds up to 1.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

2) Don't idle the car engine - Do you leave the car running when stopped by a train, picking up the kids at school, waiting outside the grocery store, etc? We all do it. But we could save gas and reduce the amount of CO2 we release into the atmosphere by turning off the car while we wait. David Laurie, a producer with Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, says 10% of the fuel we use is wasted on idling the car.

3) Pass on the paper towels - Once you use 'em, you throw 'em away. That's it! This tip has a bit of a cost at first, but will reduce your costs overall. Try reusable microfiber towels, which grip the dirt and dust even when wet. Then, just toss them in the washer and reuse them. (They're available at Target and Office Depot.)

4) Start gardening - Maybe this will save you money, maybe it won't. But even if it doesn't save you money, it's a really fun hobby and a great way to burn stress off and enjoy the outdoors. Body + Soul says "from the production of petroleum based fertilizers to the cross-country distribution of seasonal fruits and vegetables, the modern food system accounts for 10% of US energy consumption." There are 30 million acres of lawn in our country that isn't being used. A 6x6 square foot is all you need to plant some veggies. From my experience, tomatoes are the easiest and yield the greatest amount of harvest. Plus, you'll never want another grocery store tomato after you taste one that has been grown in your backyard!

5) Forgo the bottled water - Apparently, we've all had the wool pulled over our eyes. All bottled water is not as pristine as we think, in fact much of it is just plain old tap water - Aquafina is one brand mentioned in the article. They say that Aquafina comes from 16 different municipal water supplies including Detroit (ewe!) and Fresno. Last year, my husband installed a water filter on our kitchen sink, so now I usually just tote my own water in a travel bottle.

Find these and 96 other tips in Body + Soul Magazine's May issue.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! I hope we will see more sharing by Hawthorne on how to improve our financial lives.