41 Eco-Friendly Tips to Save Cash

Environment Friendly Living

There are a lot of misconceptions about living an eco-friendly lifestyle, particularly the idea that it’s expensive, inconvenient, and requires a full head of dreadlocks. But in reality,



easy being green—giving the planet a helping hand is just a matter of making one simple change at a time

. And there’s a big bonus: These small lifestyle changes can often save you money, too.

Sure, organic foods and hybrid cars

cost more

than their conventional counterparts, but there are many cheaper ways to lower your waste output and reduce your

carbon footprint

(or the amount of greenhouse gas emissions—which are largely responsible for climate change—that occur as a result of your activities and purchases). In many ways, the environmental movement isn’t about adding things to one’s life;

it’s about simplifying our actions, cutting out middlemen, thinking economically, and being more hands-on—and that usually means extra change in your pocket!

Put some (or all!) of these easy tips into practice to be friendlier to the planet


your wallet.


1. Use cloth napkins

Not only are they more durable (one cloth napkin will make it through a lot more BBQ sauce than a paper one!) but ditching disposable napkins will also

save plenty of money

over the years. It’ll also

reduce your trash output


which means

less energy is used transporting and processing your waste. Using recyclable paper napkins is


for the planet, but it’s even


to not have anything to recycle in the first place. Plus, cloth napkins make dinner feel oh-so-fancy.

2. Cook from scratch

We all know that cooking at home saves

a hell of a lot of cash

, but it also uses

fewer resources

than dining out or by buying pre-made food. Although what you eat is usually

more important

than how it’s cooked, eating food that’s been processed in distant industrial kitchens, wrapped up in plastic and cardboard packaging, and trucked to your local supermarket eats up



of energy. Besides, no meal gets appreciated as much as one you’ve made yourself, so get cooking! Need some help getting started? Check out this

roundup of healthy recipes


3. Use a pressure cooker

This is a terrific way to save time, money, and energy all at the same time. Pressure cookers can take up to

70 percent less time

(and less energy) to cook a meal, and they’re

more versatile

than one might think: They can make chili,

pot roast

, soup,

whole chickens


corn bread

—and even



4. Cook with residual heat

Turning off the oven five minutes before the meal is ready will allow the food to

continue cooking

while also saving some energy. It’s even easier

with pasta

: Once the pot’s been boiling for five minutes, cover the pot, switch off the stove, and let it sit for five more minutes. This will free up the stovetop and the pasta will be cooked perfectly

al dente

in less than 10 minutes.

5. Eat less meat

Meat isn’t cheap, and it’s

not great

for the environment, either. Seventy percent of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed to raise cows, and meat production results in more

carbon emissions

than any other protein. We’re not telling you to go completely vegan (unless that’s your bag), but learning to cook a few choice

vegetarian meals

will save money, add variety to your palate, and give the planet a helping hand.

6. Grow your own food

It’s nowhere near as complicated or time-consuming as it sounds, and it’ll eliminate the Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint of all those refrigerated trucks and planes importing berries from South America. Cherry tomatoes, salad greens, and green beans are

the best foods to grow


saving money

is the goal. For those of us who don’t have a garden, simply growing herbs on a windowsill can

save hundreds

in the long run.

7. Start a compost pile

A compost heap

will save money on fertilizers, maintain soil health, and keep all those food scraps from rotting in a dump and

belching methane


greenhouse gas

) into the atmosphere. It takes up to

18 years

for a corn cob to decompose in a landfill, but only a couple of months in a compost pile. Plus, compost can be used to grow new food, making it the ultimate recycler—now that’s eco-friendly!

8. Ditch disposable bowls..

… and plates, and knives, and forks. While the temptation of having nothing to wash up after a meal is hard to resist, increasing the pile of garbage left after dinner is no way to help the planet. Following this advice is important for all the reasons it’s important to use cloth napkins over paper ones, and besides: the

less you throw away

, the less you spend.

9. End food waste

Forty percent

of food in America gets thrown away—that means 40 percent of all the greenhouse gases released by agriculture, food transport, and food decomposing in landfills simply doesn’t have to exist. A lot of the waste takes place in supermarkets and restaurants, but you can help out


save money by only buying what you need (think two carrots instead of a bag), saving or freezing leftovers, and repurposing scraps. Check out

this article

for more easy tips!

10. Become friends with your toaster oven

Toaster ovens are a lot cheaper and

less wasteful

than conventional ones. They’re also faster, requiring none of the “pre heating” nonsense of those clunky, power-mad ovens. In fact, using smaller versions of traditional appliances is practically always cheaper, faster, and more environmentally friendly: A toaster beats a toaster oven (for toasting, at least) and using an electric kettle beats boiling water on a stovetop.

11. Microwave when possible

They use even

less energy than toaster ovens



less than conventional ovens), plus you might be surprised by the range of


(and desserts!) that can be

made in a microwave



CamelBak Water Bottle

12. Opt for reusable water bottles

Here’s a secret a lot of people don’t seem to know:

Tap water is drinkable

. Keeping a nice,


water bottle in your bag is an

insanely simple way

to save the cost of a three-dollar bottle of water—the same cost of



of water out of the tap at home. Bottled water is incredibly wasteful on so many levels: An estimated

80 percent

of them don’t get recycled and, because of the plastic production process, it takes

three times the amount

of water in a water bottle to produce just one!

13. Install a low flow showerhead

Jerry and Kramer

aren’t big fans

, but we’ve come a long way since


Going with the (low) flow is an easy way to use

25 to 60 percent

less water in the shower, which means big savings on the water bill. Most


are adjustable, so it’s easy to use the low flow setting when lathering up and a high flow when it’s time to rinse. Most of them

cost about five dollars

—talk about a no brainer!

14. Turn off the tap

It’s an all-too-common habit to leave the tap running while washing your face, brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, and so on. Sure, the tap might get a little soapy if you

turn it off

while lathering your hands, but think of it like turning off a light when it’s not being used—it’s simple, brings no inconvenience, and saves a lot of resources in the long run.

15. Repair that leaky faucet

Drip, drip, drip… it’s not just agonizing to listen to. A leaky tap can waste

140 gallons of water

a week—that’s a pretty big dent in the utilities bill. People are often unaware of leaks, so make a note to check all fixtures (including pipes under sinks) regularly.

16. Cover your pool when it’s not in use

Not only will it keep the water from evaporating and prevent the need for refills, but the pool will stay cleaner,

require fewer chemicals

, and reduce the need to run pumps and filters—all of which can save water and energy.

17. Take shorter showers

We all love the feeling of a nice, hot shower, but five minutes is really all we need. Shaving even one minute off of the daily shower will save nearly

a thousand gallons

of water every year, which translates into big savings on the water bill—and it’s better for the planet.

18. Wash produce and save the water

There’s no reason we can’t wash fruits and vegetables

in a large bowl

and save the runoff for watering the garden or lawn (or those little potted plants). The same thing can be done after boiling pasta or potatoes—just make sure the water’s not salted!

Be energy Wise

19. Change that light bulb

How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb? We’re not sure either, but we know they’d be replacing it with a CFL, or “compact fluorescent light.” Like most eco-friendly gadgets, they’re more expensive up front (about five dollars

a bulb

), but they use a quarter of the energy and last

10 times


—so the steeper cost will more than pay for itself


With lighting comprising

13 percent

of the standard energy bill, it’s worth the change.

20. Turn down the water heater

When was the last time you used the “hot” tap without also turning on the “cold” one? Whether showering or washing up, we rarely need tap water as hot as it can get, so why not

turn down the hot water heater

? The standard setting is around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but adjusting it to 120 degrees could save up to 10 percent in water heating costs. Try it out!

21. Get insulated

President Obama

said it

himself: Insulation is sexy stuff. Uninsulated homes don’t just lose heat and cool air, they’re also wasting energy and money—two things we should keep an eye on! Up front, the cost can seem hefty, but like most things, the benefits come over time. It might even take

a few years

to make back the installation cost, but the reduced energy expenditure means your carbon footprint (and energy bill) will start reducing immediately. Pay special attention to

insulating the attic

and basement (but don’t worry so much about

the garage


22. Carpool

It saves gas and means

fewer cars on the road

—which means less carbon emissions. Plus, it’ll keep you punctual and save the passengers from all the road rage that comes with fighting rush-hour traffic.

23. Think about solar

People are so serious about solar energy these days that the US government now

offers tax credits

to homeowners who install some panels to supplement their energy expenditure. It’s not a bad deal, but for those unwilling to take the risk that the initial cost will pay off, some companies, like




, and

Roof Diagnostics

, are willing to take that risk for you. If you’re in a state that they work in (and your roof gets enough sun), they’ll set everything up themselves free of charge, and shave at least 10 percent off the electricity bill by doing so.

24. Watch those windows

When running heat or air conditioning, keep all

windows and doors

closed as tight as possible so air doesn’t escape the room. It’s easy to forget that a window might be open a crack, but when air is seeping out of a room, the heater or air conditioner is working harder than it needs to, which means unnecessary cash (and energy) is being spent.

25. Unplug everything

A lot of appliances, (un)affectionately called “

vampire appliances

,” use up electricity even when they’re switched off. Set top boxes (like Google TV and Apple TV) are the worst


, but DVD players, modems, and computers also act like little Draculas, sucking up power even when they’re meant to be “dead”. Taking a wooden stake to your appliances is one solution, but the cheapest might be to invest in a

power strip

and turn it off every time appliances aren’t in use—or just go the manual route and pull the plug.

26. Buy energy-efficient appliances

Look for

Energy Star Appliances

, which cost a bit more money to buy initially, but are more durable, more environmentally friendly, and will save cash on utility bills. An Energy Star clothes washer, for instance, uses 50 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than standard washers, which means big savings… over time. You’re patient, right?

27. Fix stuff when it breaks

Sites like





fixing the unfixable

way easier and cheaper than it used to be. If the washing machine burns out, don’t throw it out with the bathwater (or laundry water). Getting help is now a simple matter of online crowdsourcing, and it’s a great way to reduce waste and add years to an appliance’s lifetime. You wouldn’t kill an appliance that didn’t have to die, would you?

28. Line dry

If you have a clothes dryer, there’s a good chance it uses

more energy

than anything else in your home. Grab a clothes rack, set up a clothes line outside, or just hang wet laundry on clothes hangers around the house. Hang ‘em high and they’ll be dry in a day or two—


spiking the electricity bill.

29. Turn off the lights

There’s a reason light switches are located by the door! Make a habit

of turning them off

when leaving a room, and especially whenever you leave the house—you’ll save energy (and save on the energy bill) in the process.

30. Know your dishwasher

Switching on a half-full dishwasher wastes water, energy, and money like nobody’s business. Always fill it to the brim, and learn to

use the “delay” feature.

A dishwasher that doesn’t run until after midnight will rack up some of those sweet

off-peak energy hours

, saving some cash and

helping the planet

by reducing peak hour electricity demands.

31. Know your washing machine

Front-loader washing machines use

less water and energy

than their top-loading brethren, which is something to keep in mind if you’re in the market for a new one. Choose an Energy Star washing machine with a low (

six or lower

) “

water factor

,” which is the number of gallons per cycle, per cubic foot that the washer uses. It’s also best to wash with

cold water

as often as possible—about

90 percent

of the energy used by a top-loader is for heating the water—and


run half a load!


32. Host a yard sale

Cha-ching! While buying secondhand is a great way to


money, selling your old stuff will actually


money. Yard sales epitomize “

reduce, reuse, and recycle

” — meaning there’s no energy wasted on producing new stuff—and they can only result in more space at home and more money in your wallet.

Include your neighbors

—a bigger garage sale will attract more customers.

33. Buy pre-loved everything

Thrift shops, Goodwill stores, Craigslist, and eBay—there’s simply no end to the places one can find secondhand stuff. Since

reducing our consumerism

might be the number one way to improve our eco footprint, and since secondhand stuff is cheap, there’s every reason in the world to buy what’s been used. We’ll forgive you for buying new underwear, though!

34. Make bank on recycling

If there’s a bottle return center near you, it might not be a bad idea to save your bottles and cans for a monthly trip. Meanwhile,


straight up pays people to recycle. Okay, it’s not “straight up” so much as it is “via coupons,” but the average user saves

$130 every year

through discounts and deals in their rewards program.

Check them out

to see if they’re active in your town and if there are other ways to “do well by doing good.”

35. Take junk out of your trunk

A lighter car uses less fuel and saves more money, so

remove the roof rack

and empty out that trunk! (But maybe keep the spare tire.)

36. Reduce your book-print

It’s way cheaper and a lot less tree-murder-y to buy e-books or secondhand ones. If you don’t have a Kindle and the used bookstore is lacking in your choice titles, pay a visit to your friendly neighborhood library—remember those?

37. Make your own cleaning supplies

Household cleaning supplies are jam-packed with the most powerful bacteria killers in existence, expertly engineered to completely annihilate just about every organism they come into contact with. Unsurprisingly, these manmade poisons

aren’t great for the environment

, and many have toxic effects on animal and plant life once they enter our waterways via sewer systems. Check out

our article

on DIY green cleaning products that are super easy to make—the secret is lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda. Cheap and easy!

38. Borrow, don’t buy

Before any big purchase, think: How often will I really use this ladder/leaf blower/wheelbarrow? If the answer is “not a lot,” it’s


easy to

borrow stuff

(especially if you like making “thank you” cookies). If your social network is lacking in the products you require, there are

plenty of websites

, like Freecycle, that help people borrow, rent, or just take whatever they might need. This is some next-level human generosity, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

39. Go paperless

Switching to paperless billing lowers the odds of losing bills in the mail and getting the electricity cut off right before your movie marathon. Plus, many billers offer a discount for doing so because it saves them money on stamps and printing—it also cuts down on paper, which cuts down on tree deaths (and don’t you know that trees are hugely

helpful in combatting climate change

?). If your biller doesn’t offer a paperless option, petition them to do so!

40. Swap your wardrobe for someone else’s

It’s not hard to find someone who’s willing to swap his or her clothes for yours. There are

a lot of websites

dedicated to hooking up likeminded people (who want free clothes), but if you’d rather be in charge of selecting what clothing comes your way, check out


to find out if there’s an upcoming swap meet near you. This’ll save you the cost of new clothes, reduce two people’s waste, and lower carbon footprints all around—the production and transportation of even a single cotton t-shirt generates

several kilograms

of greenhouse gases that could be avoided with second-hand shopping.

41. Opt for DIY beauty products

Beauty products are often expensive as all hell, and they can have some

seriously sketchy



. Many contain



other toxins

that can wind up

polluting waterways

, and let’s not forget the carbon footprint of

an imported product

The ugly side of beauty products

. Barrett JR. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2005 Jan;113(1):A24.

. Take a look at our article on

DIY skin and hair products

for some surprisingly cheap, healthy, and incredibly effective beauty enhancers—guys are invited, too!

This article is presented in partnership with


, an innovative company creating smart hydration solutions to help people perform at their best. Known as the creator of the hydration backpack, CamelBak offers a variety of hydration products from water bottles and filtration devices to a custom hydration calculator. However You Hydrate, We’ve Got Your Bak.

DISCLAIMER: We take our partnerships seriously, which is why we’ll never collaborate with a brand unless we profoundly believe in their mission. We trust this partner to make a difference, and they trust us to write great articles that (like everything on our site) are science-backed, informative, and original.

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at greatist.com


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