04.29.2010 / Spend Smarter, Save More - and Help the Planet, too.
You know that to save money, you have to spend less of it. But doing that often means changing long-held habits and routines, which is not always easy. The good news? Making even relatively small shifts can add up to respectable savings. Plus, while you are saving dollars yourself, you may be saving the planet, by minimizing the resources you consume and shrinking your carbon footprint.
"Approximately 25 percent of the food Americans buy goes to waste; or about one pound of food per person, per day."
Here are a few simple substitutions and adjustments you can make day-to-day to help trim your spending while giving your personal finances and the environment a boost.
- Instead of purchasing bottled water, try adding a water filter to your kitchen tap and carrying a reusable bottle. Doing this will not only save you money because bottled water may cost $1.50 or more for 16 ounces, while the average price of tap water is $1.50 for 1,000 gallons.1 You will also save the planet by reducing the estimated 2.7 million tons of plastic used worldwide to bottle water every year.1
- Instead of making large meals only to end up throwing out the leftovers, try scaling back recipes to cook only what you need. Approximately 25 percent of the food Americans buy goes to waste; or about one pound of food per person, per day.2 By some estimates that’s $48 billion worth of food.3 On a personal scale, if you pay $6.50 for three chicken breasts and throw away just one, you’ve wasted more than $2. Imagine that multiplied by a month’s worth of meals!
Food waste makes up roughly 12 percent of landfill materials – and as that organic material decomposes, it releases methane (a greenhouse gas) into the environment.4 In addition, simply producing, packaging and transporting food consumes large amounts of resources that are wasted if you don’t finish up.
- Instead of buying new try reusing. There are multiple ways to get what you want, while spending less than if you bought new. Consider buying used (like fashionable apparel from a local consignment shop or funky finds at yard sales), repurposing items (like turning that butter tub into a leftovers container) or reusing (think rechargeable batteries and refilled, rather than replaced, ink cartridges for your printer. Not only can you save yourself a few bucks but you can also reduce the world’s overall resource usage, and the amount of “stuff” going into landfills.
- Instead of following traditional lawn-care practices that involve intensive watering, chemical applications and super-short grass try implementing environmentally friendly lawn-care tactics. Did you know American’s spend approximately $25 billion per year on lawn care?5 By cutting back on chemical pesticides, fertilizers and even gas for lawn mowers, you could significantly reduce your slice of that mega-pie. Americans also use about 80 million pounds of chemical pesticides and 70 million tons of fertilizers annually on their lawns and gardens.5 Worse, most of it is applied in vain: The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 2 percent of pesticides and 35 percent of lawn fertilizers ever reach their targets; the rest volatizes in the air or seeps into groundwater.6 What’s more, watering lawns can account for 40 to 60 percent of residential water consumption.7
- Instead of buying on impulse, plan ahead and buy only what you need – or truly want. Research shows that most people regret nearly 80 percent of their nonessential purchases within a year.8 Review your discretionary expenses for the past year, see which one you wish you had not made and then calculate how much you would have saved if you said no. If you find that you repeatedly purchased specific items that you later regret, make a reminder list to carry with you so you don’t keep making the same mistake. All of that buyer’s remorse equates to a huge amount of wasted resources and a giant-sized carbon footprint. Planning ahead will save you guilt and the planet’s resources.
Do you have any ideas on how to save money while saving the planet at the same time? We want to hear from you.
6 "Natural Lawn Care: The Facts" http://www.safelawns.org/
7 "Lawns and the Environment" http://www.safelawns.org/