Green Living Can be Fun AND Practical

By John Rose, March 25, 2015, Careers/Jobs, Energy Efficiency, Green, Save Money

shutterstock_70339216Over the past 15 months, I’ve had a lot of fun blogging on a wide variety of green topics, including green living and green upgrades to your home. But one thing holds true for nearly every topic that I’ve brought forward: they cost money. As first time homeowners on a single income (I’m a stay-at-home dad), putting into action many of the ideas that I’ve shared has been more of a pipe dream and less of a functional reality (I would love to install geo-thermal heat exchangers, but I’m presently short about $20,000). While the big things are great goals for down the road, most of us want to make a positive impact on a limited budget, and that’s just what we are going to discuss!

Let’s start with the basics, I mean really basic, like a change of attitude. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you already have a green heart of gold, but how many of us in Middle America still have a few habits that we can tweak? It use to be that I carried the world in the trunk of my car (one friend called it the black hole as no matter what she needed, I seemed to have it back there). As useful as that could be during a zombie apocalypse, every extra unnecessary pound in the car translated to less fuel economy. I learned to slim down what I carried, and I made a positive impact on the planet without spending a dime. Simple changes in habit or attitude can have large and lasting positive outcomes for Mother Nature.

We are all familiar with the idea of switching to energy efficient bulbs and programming our thermostat, but you can take things one-step further by investing in some simple home automation. It’s true that you can spend a small fortune on gadgetizing your home, but if you’re handy with DIY, it can be surprisingly affordable. Wink offers a smart hub for $50, and compatible light switches and plugs are only $45 each. These make simple home automation a no brainer for remotely providing security for your home, while minimizing your consumption (you know you’ve left lights on all afternoon in order to make it look like someone is home when you’re not there).

Now let’s talk about food. I’m a fan of locally sourced, ethically raised, organic, free range, grass fed, etc. But one pound of “happy cow” ground beef can cost $8. If we are going to make it work in our household, we have to economize. Instead of thinking meal by meal, make batches of food for 2+ meals while using only 1 meal worth of the high quality protein. You’ll cut costs while living the green foodie dream. If you’re eating out, try only eating half of your meal (yay fitness), and saving the other half for later. Making more out of less is an easy and cost effective way to stay green.

Lastly, let’s talk about consumer goods. While every eco-head (myself included) publicly extols the idea of living off grid and shunning capitalist consumption, secretly we all want new cool stuff and a cozy place to rest our heads. There’s nothing wrong with going after some creature comforts, so long as you do it in a good way. When looking for that must have something or other, try second hand sources like Craigslist, Facebook buy-sell-trade groups, Freecycle, and pawnshops. Just about anything you could want can be found second hand, which reduces both industrial production as well as landfill usage, which is a double whammy for the good guys. You can also try dumpster diving. We’ve found well over $1500 in perfectly good returned consumer merchandise just thrown away in boxes. And if you need to buy something new, do your research and make an educated decision.

Living green doesn’t have to involve large capital investments. It can be done while saving money in the process. By making small changes incrementally over time, you can live a rewarding green life on a budget.

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Comments (1)

 

  1. Vivian Eisenecher says:

    Another way to live #green: KnoMe virtual business cards are here! Go paperless & save a tree. I’ve got mine and it’s really slick!