Many consumers will say they haven't jumped on the green movement because it costs too much. And though some organic food and products cost more than their traditional counterparts, it is possible to go green on a budget. By making these green lifestyle changes in your life, you can actually save money and be eco-friendly.
Start with the thermostat
The Department of Energy says that most households shell out 50 to 70 percent of their energy costs on heating and cooling. In the winter, turn down your thermostat five degrees lower than you normally keep it to save a considerable amount of energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Layer on a lightweight sweater to add two degrees of added warmth or a heavy one for about five degrees. In the summertime, set your thermostat no lower than 78 degrees to save 10 to 20 percent on your average cooling costs. Also lower the temperature on your water heater or any other appliance with a thermostat to save a little more money.
By handwashing and air drying your dishes, you'll save money on your water bill, electric bill and dishwashing detergent costs. You have to be smart when you are washing your dishes, however. For example, you can't just leave your water running to rinse your dishes. Instead, fill up your sink with warm sudsy water (use a biodegradable detergent) and use the other side of the basin for rinse water.
Taking shorter showers not only reduces water use, but also lowers your heating and water bills as well. Install a low-flow showerhead for both water and energy savings. Don't leave the sink running while you brush your teeth and don't wash clothes until you have a full load. To reduce water costs of watering plants, use drought-tolerant plants that are native to your area -- they require very little watering.
Reuse basic household items
Don't throw out your coffee grounds. Use them to fertilize rose bushes and indoor plants. Milk jugs and other containers can be reused to hold water or make iced tea. Before you throw anything out at all, stop and think how you might be able to use it. Most food jars can be reused to organize your bathroom, jewelry and other small items.
Shop for secondhand products
Instead of buying new, shop for gently used products. From furniture and appliances to clothes, you can find secondhand products at a fraction of the cost of new ones. Look on Craigslist and Freecycle, as well as local garage sales and thrift stores. Don't wear clothes that require dry cleaning. This will eliminate your dry cleaning bill and cut down on the use of toxic chemicals. Don't buy books; borrow them from the library.
Nix bottled water
Bottled water is very expensive and it generates a crazy amount of waste in the form of plastic bottles. Instead, purchase a water filter to purify your tap water. And if you need a reusable water bottle for the gym, work or travel, buy aluminum instead of plastic.
Cut down on meat
If your family eats meat, start eating two meatless dinners per week. Organic meat can be pricey, so this will reduce your grocery costs. Try to purchase meat, eggs, dairy, fruits and vegetables from local farmers whenever possible. This will keep the money in your local economy.
Turn off your computer while you aren't using it
Some people don't turn their computer off for weeks. That's a ridiculous waste of energy. If you aren't going to be using the computer for a few hours or longer, turn it off instead of leaving it on with your screensaver.
Make your cleaning supplies
You can make almost every cleaning product you'd ever need just by using goods from your pantry -- baking soda, vinegar and lemon. These non-toxic cleaning supplies save money and packaging and are much better for the air quality. Follow these tips to learn how to make your own eco-friendly cleaning products.
Tell us: How do you go green? Share your tips in the comments below!
DIY Green products
Easy homemade cleaning supplies
Learn how to make homemade cleaning products in 3 minutes for SUPER CHEAP with Hilary Fleming!