These days, “green” is the new black. TV commercials, media, and even our favorite celebs have joined the movement to protect earth’s natural resources. If you’ve been looking for a way to get involved, look no further! We’ve got a few suggestions with an incentive that’s hard to pass up. With just a few lifestyle changes, you could be on your way to helping save the environment and a few dollars! What are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to go green!
Get more for your gadgets
Our generation’s most treasured electronic devices include cell phones, MP3 players, laptops and game systems. Following the coolest trends means constantly upgrading to the market’s newest models. This year, when you finally get the gadget you’ve always wanted, think twice before throwing out your old electronic devices with the trash.
Why? Many electronics are made with toxic chemicals like mercury and lead that can leak into soil at landfills and pollute groundwater. Fortunately, a number of electronic manufacturers and retailers including Apple, Best Buy, Dell, Gateway and Sony have recycling programs that allow you to earn discounted merchandise or gift cards for returning outdated electronics. Here are some that we found:
• Sam’s Club members can trade in old digital cameras, laptops, MP3 players and printers in exchange for gift cards to use in their stores or Wal-Mart. Gift card amounts can range in value from $1 to more than $1,000 depending on the condition and model of the item.
• At Best Buy’s Online trading center, a working video iPod can earn you $60-$100 in store credit.
• Bringing in your iPod into any Apple retail store can save you 10 percent on any new electronic device.
• You can also donate some working electronics like old cell phones to charity for a tax write off. Learn more about electronic recycling by visiting http://www.mygreenelectronics.org/. Your savings could give you a headstart on next year’s hottest trends!
Put the brakes on high gas
Gas prices are soaring. Economic downturn, the oil crisis overseas, and lack of alternative energy sources mean conservation is more important now than ever. Increasing your car’s fuel efficiency can spare you pain at the pump and conserve earth’s oil reservoirs.
Driving smart can save you a ton of money. Do your part by properly maintaining your vehicle and changing your driving habits to get the most out of a tank. Here are a few tips:
• Check your tires regularly. Driving with under-inflated tires is like riding with your parking brake on. Statistics suggest that under-inflated tires can increase fuel use by three percent costing you an extra gallon of gas per mile.
• Reduce vehicle emissions and save gas by maintaining a modest and constant speed while driving. Driving at speeds above 60 miles per hour can reduce gas efficiency.
• Combine errands when possible to reduce the number of short trips taken on a cold engine.
• For short trips, try walking or invest in a bike. You can save money on gas and parking and reduce your carbon footprint. For longer trips, try hopping on the subway or your local bus.
Kill your energy bill
Okay, so maybe “kill” is a harsh word. What we really mean is that you can save tons of money by using energy wisely. Statistics show that the typical American family spends more than $1,600 a year on home utility bills, and much of that energy is wasted. Improving your home’s energy efficiency can increase your level of comfort and help the environment.
Try these tips to save energy in your apartment or house:
• Make the switch to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. CFLs can last up to 10 times longer than standard bulbs, use 75 percent less energy and provide a quick return on investment–saving about $30 in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime.
• Despite common belief, your screen saver can actually use more energy than turning off your monitor or putting your computer in sleep mode while idle.
• “Vampire” electronics continue using energy even when they are not in use. It is estimated that 75 percent of home energy is used while products are turned off. Be sure to unplug appliances or use a power strip and cut all power to the appliance when not in use. Playstation 3 is a good example of an electronic appliance that consumes energy even if it’s not switched on.
Bring your own bag
Paper and plastic bags used to carry groceries and most retail purchases are produced at a high cost to the environment. Government data shows that between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed globally each year. Even more unfortunate, statistics reveal less than 1 percent of these bags are recycled. The impact on forests could be lessened if we carried our purchases in reusable bags.
As an incentive, some grocery stores pay customers for bringing your own bag to the store. Although these sums may not be large, every little penny adds up! Here’s what we found:
Whole Foods pays customers five cents for bringing in their own bag.
Bringing in a reusable bag to participating Trader Joe’s stores could win you a cart of free groceries.
Shopping in your neighborhood can also save you the time and gas money it takes to commute to stores far away. If you have to venture outside of your local stores, try carpooling to run errands with a friend and splitting the cost.
Making Sense of Your Savings
Hopefully you’ve read our tips and now you’re inspired to live green! The bottom line is this: you work hard for your money and saving can be tough! A few small changes can keep more dollars in your pocket and help the earth out. Try our ways to go green or investigate some of your own, but remember that helping the planet is our responsibility, and the perks aren’t bad either. After all, who doesn’t want to save a few dollars?