By Andrea Woroch
Attention Earthlings: It’s time once again for that annual celebration of all things green. Earth Day is nearly upon us and, while many people offer advice on being kind to Mother Earth, too many of these tips don’t quite coincide with frugal lifestyles. In an effort to dovetail these two purposes, we offer 22 budget-friendly ways to go green in honor of April 22.
1. Sign up for the “no solicitation” registry.
That way, you can avoid getting credit card offers and other ads which will reduce paper clutter and save trees.
2. Shop online to reduce your carbon footprint and save money.
According to a study by Carnegie Melon’s Green Institute, shopping online reduced carbon emissions by 35 percent. The abundance of online coupons from such sites as FreeShipping.org makes this green practice a no-brainer.
3. Get out of the gym and exercise outdoors.
Freeze your gym membership and save up to 75 percent (or more) per month during the summer. You’ll also rely less on those energy-sucking cardio machines.
4. Close blinds on hot days.
Before you head out for the day, close your blinds to keep the sun from warming your home while you’re gone. Doing so will reduce your dependence on air conditioning and save energy.
5. Send an e-gift certificate for special occasions.
Not only are e-gift cards super convenient, you’re also using less plastic resources and reducing fuel associated with shipping. If an e-card isn’t available from a desired retailer, purchase gift cards at a discount from sites like Gift Card Granny. That way you recycle someone else’s unwanted plastic and score great savings.
6. Eliminate paper invites and digitize your event announcement.
Save on postage and printing while reducing paper by using sites like pingg.com to create electronic announcements and invitations.
7. Use an irrigation controller to manage watering.
20 to 50 percent of your water use goes toward the landscape, even more in certain areas of the country. Invest in a controller to schedule irrigation to reduce overwatering.
8. Swap your stuff!
Use Swap.com to trade books, CDs, DVDs, sporting equipment and other goods. Not only are you saving money, but you’re reducing future trash by re-using someone else’s stuff.
9. Walk or bike to work to save on fuel.
With gas prices peaking at nearly $4 a gallon, you’re doing your wallet and your health some good by walking or biking to work. If this isn’t feasible, try public transportation.
10. Wash clothes with cold water.
Though some clothes suggest warm or hot water for washing, you can reduce your monthly heating bills and save energy by turning all cycles to cold. Don’t worry, your clothes will still get clean.
11. Use mobile coupons to cut paper clutter.
Download the Coupon Sherpa mobile app to access discounts without using paper coupons. You can also save coupons to your supermarket loyalty card for paperless grocery savings.
12. Plug electronics into power strips.
Buy a surge protector for pricey electronics to save your valuables in the event of a lightning strike, and power down when not in use to cut five percent from your electricity bill.
13. Power down cable boxes.
Doing so will save you $40 per box, annually. You can also cut down on DVD waste by opting for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon streaming.
14. Go paperless.
This is a no-brainer — when banks and service providers offer you the option to go paperless, take it. Check out Lifehacker’s guide to going paperless for more ideas.
15. Hang dry your clothes.
Do laundry on the weekends and hang dry your clothes to save energy and reduce your electricity bill.
16. Shop garage and estate sales for clothes and home goods.
Recycling other people’s unwanted items will not only save money but also reduces trash build-up in landfills.
17. Put the blow dryer down.
Consider going “au natural” several times during the week to save on energy spent by blow dryers, flat irons and other electronic hair products.
18. Take short showers.
The feeling of hot water on your skin is often hard to resist, but taking short, cooler showers reduces your heating bill and saves water and energy.
19. Wash dishes in a sink full of water.
Instead of washing dishes with the tap on, fill one side of the sink with soapy water to clean dishes, and only run the dishwasher when it’s full to save energy.
20. Get a water filter and reusable water bottle.
Over 80 percent of plastic water bottles are tossed — not recycled — yielding 1.5 tons of waste per year, according to Mother Nature Network. Invest in a reusable water bottle (or two) and a filter, if your tap water is lacking.
21. Plant native shrubs and plants.
Native plants and shrubs subsist on whatever precipitation occurs in your area, making them an eco-friendly alternative to non-native plants that require additional watering and maintenance.
22. Use an eco-friendly shower head.
Basic showerheads disperse quite a bit of water per use, so investing in an eco-friendly one like the Oxygenics PowerMassage Handheld Shower Head can save up to 70 percent in water and energy consumption.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.