When going green it only takes a few simple changes to create big results. Many of these changes can be at low or no cost to you, and most will even help save you some money. With so many the options on living more sustainably, it’s always about taking small steps and adjusting your lifestyle to what is easiest to handle.

Here are some of the simple ways going green can save you some serious green.

Paper or Plastic?

The correct answer is neither. Plastic bags are made from petroleum and a lot of it. Last year alone the production of plastic bags required twelve million barrels of oil . That doesn’t consider the fact that these bags sit in landfills for hundreds of years after their use. Paper isn’t a safe option either as the production requires countless trees and is four times more energy consuming to produce than plastic. Your best bet is to bring a reusable bag to the grocery. Leave these bags in your car or purse so there’s always one handy. And because most grocery stores are offering cash back incentives equal to a nickel or a dime per bag, you’ll be saving money each time you shop.

Reduce or eliminate junk-mail!

Another great way to reduce your environmental impact is to clean out your mailbox! There are 19 billion catalogs mailed to Americans every year (it probably feels like half are coming to you), requiring over 53 million trees to produce! To rid yourself of costly catalogs log on to CatalogChoice.org and in a couple of months the catalog clutter will be gone.
How does it save you money? Less catalogs means less incentive to buy. Come on, do you really need all of that new stuff?

Cool it down!

One of the luxuries of living in an industrial world is the magic of the washing machine. After a week of camping, a semester in a college dorm, or even just an afternoon of playing in the yard, there is no greater appliance than one that cleans dirty clothes. But did you know that 90% of the energy your washing machine requires is used to heat the water. You can save the environment and your wallet by switching to a cold-water wash setting! Your machine will use less energy and still be able to effectively clean clothes.

Air Dry

After getting fresh clean clothes from the washer think wisely before tossing them into the dryer. This appliance is the second most energy consuming appliance in the house, behind the refrigerator. Cut your drying time by 15 minutes per load and you’ll save about $35 a year. If you don’t have access to a clothes line; follow these simple steps for more energy efficient drying. Dry only full loads, clean the lint filter between every use, and dry heavy and light fabrics separately. Remember that the most efficient way is to let clothes air dry! Investing in an indoor rack is an easy, cheap alternative to drying.

Lose the Paper

Whether you’re in the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room paper waste is not eco-friendly or wallet-wise. The easiest answer for the paper towel problem is to come up with a few reusable towels, shammies or rags. Instead of tossing a paper towel into the trash where it will never be used again, you can toss a dirty reusable towel into that cold-water wash cycle to use again and again once clean. And it doesn’t cost you a dime.
If you must use paper, opt for napkins, paper towels and toilet paper made from recycled content. Unbleached, recycled content paper products, like Seventh Generation, can help eliminate over 60,000 pounds of chlorine pollution and save nearly 1 million trees every year!

Skip the Pre-rinse

Just like the washer and dryer, a dishwasher can make life a whole lot easier. By actually using this appliance, and skipping the temptation to pre-rinse your dishes before you plop them in, you can save 10 to 20 gallons of water every day! Just scrape off large food waste and use the air-dry setting instead of the heat dry. These small changes will use half of the electricity you did before and in turn, decrease the price tag of your energy bill.

Stop the Drips

In the bathroom it is important to check for a leaky toilet. One little leak can waste up to 500 gallons of precious water every day, wasting you precious money every time your water bill comes! Even more shocking is that 1 out of every 5 toilets leak. To test your toilet put a couple drops of food coloring in the tank, wait 15 minutes, and see if the color shows up in the bowl. If the water is clear, you’re safe. If not, fix it! Chances are it’s an easy fix as most leaks are due to an old or poorly fitting flapper valve.

Two Degrees of Difference

Everyone knows the thermostat can make a big impact on your utility bills during the extreme weather months. To help save money and increase efficiency, set your thermostat at 68 degrees in the winter, and 78 degrees in the summer. For those weary of such a temperature change, try giving up two degrees each day to acclimate yourself to the new temperature. At night lose a few more as you’re cuddled up under the covers or basking in the breeze from your bedroom’s ceiling fan.

Help Your Fridge to Chill

The most electrically greedy appliance in your house is the refrigerator. In fact, even small changes to your fridge can alleviate at least 10% of your total energy bill. Set the thermostat to a temperature between 38 and 42 degrees. This range will protect your food and make your fridge more energy efficient. And make sure it isn’t too full, which obstructs air flow, or too empty, requiring extra energy to cool the empty space. If you’re looking at an empty fridge, fill a few pitchers and bowls with water to help take up space and allow your fridge to operate at its optimal efficiency. Also, pick a time when you can clean the condenser coils located in the back of the fridge. Any built up dirt or dust can make it less efficient.

Green Your Ride.

Even if you can’t afford a new hybrid or more fuel-efficient vehicle, there are small steps you can take to make sure you’re driving around in the most fuel efficient manner possible. To get the most out of your gas mileage make sure your tires are properly inflated. Research shows if every American were to properly inflate their tires, we could save 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline every year! Also, change your spark plugs and air filter frequently, reduce drag by removing the roof rack when not in use, and make sure you aren’t carrying around extra weight in the form of golf clubs, strollers, or other stuff. With just these few simple changes you can make your car or truck as much as 20% more fuel efficient, saving you money every time you hit the pump!

Do SOMETHING!

Recycling is a simple step that, thankfully, most people today are taking. And that’s a very good thing. By recycling one soup can you can save enough energy to operate a television for three hours! That’s just one soup can! Not only does recycling save the environment, it creates jobs for thousands of people. In fact, just in the state of Ohio, the recycling industry has created 169,000 jobs and $6 billion in annual wages! By supporting the recycling efforts you are creating jobs, supporting the economy, and saving the environment!

At the end of the day everyone can only do as much as they can handle. That’s why these easy steps are so important. By starting with two or three or more you will be creating new habits and a new sense of confidence in your own life. Plus you’ll be showing others that living sustainably can easy and that it doesn’t have to be expensive. Every little bit helps!,NULL,promotional,1,http://www.sarasnow.com/images/faqs/goinggreensavesgreen.jpg
2011-12-19 09:57:00,Strive for the Perfect Gift”