I want to be more eco-aware, but I’ve got two problems. First, it’s sort of overwhelming – I don’t know where to start. Second, I don’t want to spend more just to go green. Any ideas for me?
A lot of people want to go green, but like you, just don’t know where to start. As with anything, the trick to getting your green life Buttoned Up is simply a little advanced planning. Three cardinal rules to getting anything Buttoned Up absolutely apply to this area as well: (1) Don’t expect to be perfect. (2) Focus on making a few changes that will have a significant impact. (3) Ask others for help when you’re stuck. The really good news is that not only you can make a big difference when it comes the environment, but you can actually end up saving quite a bit of money doing so! To get you started, we’ve put together a list of a few green things you can do that have the potential to save you over $1000 in 2009.
#1 Ditch the Dry Cleaning
According to the Occidental College’s Pollution Prevention Center, 85 percent of the more than 35,000 dry cleaners in the United States use perchloroethylene (or perc, for short) as a solvent in the dry cleaning process. Perc is a synthetic, volatile organic compound (VOC) that poses a health risk to humans and a threat to the environment. Minimal contact with perc can cause dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and skin and respiratory irritation. Prolonged perc exposure has been linked to liver and kidney damage, and cancer. Rather than reflexively dropping your clothes at the cleaner, try to use them only for professional pressing only. Steam delicate items as much as possible while you’re in the shower. For those dry clean only items that you truly need to get professionally cleaned, find a green cleaner in your neighborhood that uses wet wash or CO2 cleaning methods. Potential savings: $30 per month, $360 per year.
#2 Drink Water from Glasses and Coffee from Travel Mugs
Americans use 3.3 Million plastic bottles every hour but recycle only 1 in 5. In fact water bottles are dangerous to reuse. So ditch the plastic bottles and get safe, drinkable water from your tap (use a water filter or purifier if you must). Drink out of glass or reusable cup when traveling and you’ll do a lot of good for the environment. When it comes to coffee, do the same! Buy coffee in bulk, make it at home, and use a travel mug because $3 per day, 5 days a week adds up to a WHOPPING $780 per year! And if you must have that specially brewed latte, bring your own mug - coffee shops like Starbucks encourage you to bring your own cup, they will take 10 cents off your beverage if you do. Potential savings: $780 on coffee alone per year
#3 Eliminate the Paper Trail
In this day and age, there is no need to deal with paper bills. Sign up for electronic bills for your credit cards, bank statements, electric bills, phone bills, etc and pay online. You’ll save on postage and envelopes. If you want printed confirmation, print only the confirmation of payment page. If you need the individual transaction documentation, print it off on the recycled paper yourself. That way, instead of the credit card company sending you 20 pages of bill on regular paper with envelopes, you’ll only have printed what you need. Even more of an incentive, sometimes you can actually get money off by having bills automatically paid from your account every month. For example, student loans will lower your interest rate if you use the automatic payment option online. Money and environment saved! Potential savings: $25+ per year on postage plus an additional fee reduction.