Living green doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, in many cases it can save you money. One of the sharpest ways to go green on a budget is to practice responsible consumerism. Don’t go overboard buying every green gadget out there and buy used any time you can. Follow these simple steps and you can be living green without spending a fortune.

Living green doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, in many cases it can save you money. One of the sharpest ways to go green on a budget is to practice responsible consumerism. Don’t go overboard buying every green gadget out there and buy used any time you can. Follow these simple steps and you can be living green without spending a fortune.

Recycling at Its Finest Opening the closet to find “nothing to wear” can be a big problem for someone who likes to shop. It can be tempting to go buy something new for every event during the year. To save money and save resources (cotton production accounts for 25% of pesticide use in the country), try your luck at thrift stores, garage sales, or even host a swap party. All of these options are perfect for finding something unique to your style; it just takes a little searching!

Water-Saving Tips Let’s face it, we all have to spend a fair amount of time in the bathroom. And added together, showering, brushing teeth, and going to the bathroom use a considerable amount of water. To save money and water try these simple tips:
1. Take a shorter shower
2. Put a brick in your toilet tank (to displace water and reduce the amount that flushes through)
3. Replace your shower head (for as low as $5!) Place a 1 gallon bucket under your current shower head and see how quickly it fills. If the bucket is full in under twenty seconds, replace it with a low-flow version. This new version should spray about 1 ½ gallons per minute and save at least $20 on your water bill every year, not to mention $150 on your heating bill!

Start Your Own Garden This tip may seem daunting to those without garden experience, but it truly takes only a little patience and planning to make it work, and you can seek comfort in the number of people trying it with you. With the economy trying to recover, more and more people are looking to save money at the grocery store by growing their own fruits and vegetables. Not only will your wallet thank you, but your backyard will enjoy the new use! The first step to starting your own garden is to plan where you will grow your produce, in a backyard garden bed, patio pots or on a windowsill. Even if you don’t have a large backyard there are a number of veggies you can grow in pots (lettuce, tomatoes, and basil are just a few). And plant only what you’ll enjoy eating. This, too, is what you’ll most enjoy growing. For more help on gardening visit your local nursery for help.

Join a CSA with a Neighbor Joining a CSA is great for both farmers and consumers. For consumers you get fresh food, with all of the phytochemicals because there is no lag time in shipping. You will also be exposed to new vegetables, and thus new ways of cooking. The relationship that you make with the farm who supplies the food is one of a kind because you learn more about how food is grown! To cut down on the cost of having fresh food delivered straight to your door, join with a neighbor. Both families will reap all the benefits from joining, but neither will be overwhelmed by all the new veggies or the cost.

Change Your Light Bulbs Most people know about compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), but in case you don’t it’s important to hear what they can offer. While CFLs generally cost three to five times more than conventional incandescent bulbs, they use 75% less energy and last 10 times as long, saving our environment from the 450lbs of greenhouse gas generated from power plants standard incandescent light bulbs are create. Consumers who use CFLs save $30 over the life of each bulb in energy costs! Because CFLs carry 5mg of mercury however, they can’t be tossed in the trash so look for special recycling stations set up at most home goods stores. And watch for the next phase of energy efficient light. Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs last longer than both incandescent and CFLs.

Insulate To make sure your home is properly insulated, place a fan outside of common entry ways and see if the air passes through. Also, make sure your attic is properly insulated to avoid energy loss. A simple step like weather stripping drafty areas can cut heating and cooling bills by as much as 30%.

Use Cloth Napkins If every household in America were to replace one roll of paper towels with cloth napkins, we would save over 1.4 million trees! The best part is that this doesn’t have to be expensive. The best cloth napkins come from old use items, like an old bed sheet. Before you donate old bed linens or old t-shirts consider how they could work as second use items like napkins. If money is your main concern, here’s some good news. A family of four can save $70 simply by replacing their paper napkins with reusable ones and they’ll reduce their waste by up to 40 pounds per year! If we can get every household involved in the paper to reusable shift, we could prevent 1.5 million tons of paper napkin waste from entering the already crowded landfills!

Make Your Own Cleaner The fresh scent of a clean bathroom might seem good momentarily, but that lingering chemical smell sure isn’t natural. There is a tremendous amount of toxic fumes and chemicals in one bottle of cleaner, which is not green or safe. To save money you can make your own cleaner at home! Keep these ingredients on hand in your cleaning supplies and you’ll be ready for any mess.
1. Baking soda- a scouring agent and deodorizer
2. Lemon juice- a brightening agent and disinfectant effective against most household bacteria
3. Borax- cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water
4. White vinegar- cuts grease, removes mildew, great for stainless steel and windows
5. Isopropyl Alcohol- excellent disinfectant
6. Cornstarch- clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs

Green Your Lawn (care) The average American lawn will generate up to 2 tons of grass clippings every year. To make better use of this “waste” save your clippings and use them in your compost or mulch. When cutting your grass use an electric or manual push mower; as the amount of VOCs your 3.5 horsepower gas mower emits is the same as driving a new car 340 miles! While you’re saving gas there, try to use hand-powered tools instead of gas powered edgers and blowers. Finally, make more use of your lawn… having it all grass is very wasteful and requires a lot of watering. Plant more trees and shrubs or other plants native to your area. You’ll save time and energy by doing so.

Buy Less Packaged, More Whole Foods Not only are processed foods high in sodium, sugar, and bad fats; they take a toll on the environment as well. Packaged foods require a lot more energy to produce than foods, like whole grains, coming from a bulk bin or, better yet, the garden. Think of all those pretty wrappers incasing your pretzels and cereal. Most of these are made from petroleum (a non-renewable resource). When you grocery shop, try to bring your own bags and containers and buy in bulk whenever possible. If you can’t get away from buying pre-packaged foods, look for foods packaged in bio-based plastic packaging.