The Broke Person’s Guide to Earth Day: How to Go Green and Save Green

Living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn’t have to make your bank account miserable—just follow these expert tips!

Hello reader. Perhaps you’ve heard about a very special planet. It’s floating around the Milky Way Galaxy and, as far as current science is aware, it’s home to more gerbils than anywhere else in the universe. It’s a planet we like to refer to as “The Blue Ball That Sustains Us All” or, occasionally, “Earth.”

But not everything is well on this Earth of ours. Between climate change, non-degradable garbage filling the ocean, and climate change again, it’s clear that we humans (and some of the more intelligent gerbils) need to make some big changes in our consumption habits. And while the most important changes are going to have to come on a large scale, it’s certainly not a bad thing for individuals to help in any way they can.

Sure, being environmentally friendly can get expensive if you aren’t careful. But if you plan ahead and consider the advice we’ve gathered from the following experts, then you’ll be able to save money and the environment at the same time!

Lost in space (heater).

Earlier this year we offered some ways that you can save on heating costs. Many of those methods involve lowering your energy use, which is good for the planet.

“Use a space heater,” recommended Holly Peterson, owner of Elite Retirement Strategies. “To save on utilities throughout the year, consider using a space heater to keep your area warm instead of spending money to heat your whole house or apartment. A space heater can be an economical way to make it through the cold winter months.”

Reduce and reuse.

Humans make a lot of trash. It would be good if we could make less trash. And if you’re throwing fewer things away, that likely means you’re also purchasing fewer things in the first place.

“You may have seen painful videos of sea turtles found with plastic straws or forks up their noses,” said Eric Otjen of the Seaworld Rescue Team (@SeaWorld). “Using reusable materials is a small but effective way to reduce the plastic pollution that harms marine life.

“Choose to drink strawless or buy reusable metal ones. Drink from water bottles instead of disposable cups. If you go out to eat, bring your own containers to take home leftovers. And instead of balloons at your birthday, use biodegradable confetti or rice paper lanterns.”

Meatless or meat, less.

If you like eating meat, giving it up can seem impossible. But even just replacing meat for a few meals each week can be good for your wallet, your health, and your planet.

That being said, if you want to go totally meatless, it’s easier than it has ever been.

“One of the ways you can save the planet on a budget is to adopt a plant-based diet,” explained Siavash Ghazvinian, Co-Founder of EthicalTree (@ethicaltree). “Not only is the meat farming industry one of the largest contributors to climate change, but meat is one of those grocery items that can really break the bank as well.

“There are many plant-based products that can offer you the same nutritional benefits as meat for a portion of the cost. For instance, consider using tofu or beans instead of beef or chicken as a protein source in your next meal.”

Switch up your appliances.

Replacing your appliances with more efficient ones will require some upfront spending, but it could help save you money in the long run. Also, Mother Nature will appreciate it.

“To save on your utilities, make sure you’re using ‘green’ or efficient appliances,
recommended Peterson. “Installing faucet aerators will help to conserve water by limiting the flow through your faucet (and also reduce the energy used to heat the water).

“You can also install a low-flow showerhead and LED light bulb. A programmable thermostat will save you money on your utilities by turning down the heat automatically at night.”

Water you waiting for?

Are you drinking enough water each day? We hope so! Your body needs it to function properly. But don’t leave the faucet running between refills.

“Running water from a central facility into your bathroom requires a high amount of energy that releases greenhouse gasses into the environment,” warned Otjen. “Over time, this carbon emission negatively affects marine animals’ food supply and ecosystems.

“Putting a brick in the back of your toilet is a simple way to reduce your water usage every day—it displaces water in the tank, allowing you to use up to half a gallon less per flush.”

Slow food.

Aside from what you eat, changing how you eat can be an important step.

“Sitting in the drive-thru at your favorite restaurant or coffee shop may be convenient, but it burns gas that turns into harmful air pollution,” advised Otjen. “That air pollution ultimately ends up in the ocean, exposing sea otters, dolphins, and other animals to deadly toxins. Instead, go inside to place your order—you can burn more calories that way, too.”

And of course the more you can eat at home, the better.

“Learning to cook can be hard, but if you take advantage of meal prepping, you’ll be able to stretch your money even further and cut down on food waste,” suggested Peterson. “Leftovers make great lunches for work!

“Gardening and growing your own food is a great hobby that will save you money over time. This one obviously takes some time for the payoff, but you can grow your own plants in your backyard or in pots, they don’t require too much time and homegrown food always seems to taste better.”

Let’s all work together to save the planet! And if you can save some money while you’re doing it, all the better! To learn more about ways you can save money, check out these other posts and articles from OppLoans:

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Siavash Ghazvinian studied International Development and Globalization with a specialization in Behavioural Economics at the University of Ottawa. During his studies, he started a non-profit, which inspired him to start his own business. He cofounded EthicalTree (@ethicaltree), an online directory with thousands of restaurants, cafés, shops, and other businesses that sell products or services based on the ethical preferences that matter to their patrons; including Veg-Friendly, Fair Trade, Organic, or Woman-Owned businesses.
Eric Otjen is part of the Seaworld San Diego Rescue Team (@SeaWorld). For 26 years, he’s helped serve as a line of defense for local wildlife facing man-made and environmental threats. Today, Eric’s job is focused on transporting rescued animals, moving them safely across countries and oceans. He takes on the role as planner, health monitor, and delivery supervisor, figuring out the logistics of the transport and accompanying the animals on the flight.
Holly Peterson is the owner of Elite Retirement Strategies in Twin Falls, Idaho.

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