13 {Relatively Small} Ways To Save Money & Help the Environment

Last year, after quitting my job and returning to school, Danny and I had to find creative ways to save money for the things that really mattered to us.  We've been able to save money and simplify our lives, while still spending on the important stuff, like great food

Small does add up. And saving money is huge. So is helping the environment. So many wins.

1. Reuse what you can--
- bottles and jars as food containers and organizers
- junk mail as scrap paper
- plastic bags (when we get them) for dog waste
- paper bags for recycling receptacles
- plastic pill containers for daily vitamin/ mineral doses
- KIND granola bags for travel of homemade granola
- save plastic ziplock baggies from smoothie superfood packets
- wash and reuse ziplock baggies (only if they didn't contain meat)
- foil that is clean or easy to rinse

Saves money by:
- eliminating the need to buy these or other items to replace these

Helps the environment by:
- reducing waste in landfills
- eliminating demand for purchased replacements (such as doggie poop bags, pill organizers...)

2. Eat less meat--
I've cut meat out of my diet entirely and Danny has significantly scaled his meat intake down, too.  And by not replacing this menu item with prepackaged meat substitutes, we've saved money and helped the environment.

If you're interested in this option, check out this guy's smart "weekday vegetarian" solution.

Saves money by:
- not buying meat (or fake meat replacements)

Helps the environment by:
- helps climate change by reducing the demand and emissions of meat production
- producing meat uses more water than producing most vegetables, according to the US Geological Survey

3. Use cloth napkins and kitchen towels, instead of paper options
these don't need to be washed after each use

Saves money by:
- eliminating the cost of paper products from our grocery bill
- unlike paper products, these don't have to be disposed of (or even washed) after each use

Helps the environment by:
- not contributing to landfills with unneeded paper and packaging waste
(- we were going to do the laundry anyway)

4. Boil water with a lid on the pot
this one made the list simply because of how much tea we drink...

Saves money by:
- reducing electricity or gas use of stove
- more efficient, overall

Helps the environment by:
- reducing electricity or gas use of stove
- more efficient, overall

Added bonus: helps to reduce the time it takes to boil

5. Don't (always) flush on number one--

According to Indiana University's Shahzeen Attari, featured last week on Science Friday, toilets use about 20% of your household water.  If you can reduce the number of flushes in your home each day, you can reduce toilet flushes by 25%.  Attari recognizes (as do I) what she calls an "ick factor," but we've been doing it for a while and by using the toilet seat and bathroom door, it isn't noticeable.  This is something we had in practice at our family cottage growing up (due to a well) and once you got used to it, it wasn't a big deal.

Saves money by:
- reducing our household water use

Helps the environment by:
- reducing overall waste water use

6. Utilize a cloth shower curtain--

Saves money & helps the environment by:
- eliminating the need for plastic shower curtain replacements

Added bonus at my house: with my cute, black and white SAT Vocab cloth shower curtain as my liner, I can read and freshen up on words in the shower

7. Work out at home--
eliminating a gym membership has saved me hundreds of dollars within the last few years; check out this post about my favorite Jillian Michaels' workouts

Saves money & helps the environment by:
- using no gasoline
- reducing car emissions
- eliminating travel time
- no attire requirements (can even work out in bare feet!)

8. We sold our gas-guzzling truck--
In combination with #9, this has been the biggest contributor to our savings this year.  Not only have the gas costs dropped dramatically, but the insurance and maintenance costs have decreased tremendously, as well.

Saves money & helps the environment by:
- dramatically reducing gasoline use and cost
- reducing emissions

9. And purchased and drive a motorcycle--
I know for some of you, the possible risk of injury or fatality outweighs the potential savings (of both money and the environment), but if you ride safely (with proper training, safety equipment, maintain appropriate speeds, and follow all applicable driving laws), the risk is minimal.  Most accidents involving motorcycles involve: 1. alcohol 2. unlicensed drivers 3. cars and trucks causing accidents.

Saves money & helps the environment by:
- dramatically reducing gasoline use and cost--check out just how much we've saved here
- reducing emissions

Added bonus: super mindful!

10. Walk or ride a bike to nearby places--

Saves money & helps the environment by:
- using no gasoline
- reducing car emissions

Added bonus: great for your health!

11. Use reusable water bottles--

Saves money by:
- eliminating extra cost to use household water (you already pay for)
- eliminating cost of bottled water--according to this article, "On average, Americans spends about $5 a week on bottled water, this means you can save $260 per year by switching to a reusable water bottle."

Helps the environment by:
- reducing waste

Added bonus: a healthier you, due to the health risks associated with the BPA in conventional water bottles

12. Unplug electronics not in use--
- phone chargers
- lamps
- computer cords
- toaster
- blender
- juicer
- printer

Saves money by:
- reducing the amount of power and money spent on electronics not in use
(According to energy.gov, this can be about 10% of your bill)
- helping to make your family be more mindful of what they're using and when

Helps the environment by:
- reducing your household energy use
- reducing your carbon footprint

13. Thrift shop for home essentials, clothing, and gifts--
We have been happy and successful in purchasing home items, clothing, and many gifts from local thrift shops.  If you plan ahead (or keep a list of what you need), you can keep an eye out for what you need whenever you are in the shop.

Saves money by:
- reducing the amount we spend on items we were going to buy anyway
- items are less expensive, because of their pre-loved status

Helps the environment by:
- reducing waste--all of the items donated to and sold by places like Goodwill, Amvets, and Salvation Army are kept out of landfills
- eliminating the demand for new items
- reusing/ recycling--many items purchased from thrift shops are reused or recycled/ repurposed
- keeping items (and money) in your local economy

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