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Economical Ways to Help Save the Planet

Updated on March 13, 2008

There are a lot of easy, environmentally friendly things you can do everyday that will end up having a positive effect on the planet. When people think of environmentalism and sustainability, they often look at the big picture.

This can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If each of us does small things on a daily basis that are good for the environment, we will all have a part in a big positive change. There are a lot of things that you can do, but here are a few easy tips to get you started.

Drive Less – People often blame big factories and corporations for polluting the environment. They do contribute a lot of pollution, but we are also polluting by frequent driving. With gas stations charging around $3.75 for a gallon of gas (Seattle Area) you will save a lot of money by driving less. For some people, driving is the only way they can commute to work, which is understandable. However, you can drive a smaller vehicle. Leave the big rigs at home and drive a commuter car, not only will it help the environment, but it will save you money on gas.

Paper/Plastic - When you go to the grocery store they always ask if you would like paper or plastic bags. Instead of either of those options, buy some of the reusable bags. Many grocery stores offer incentives for people who bring their own bags. Usually, the incentive is something like $0.15 off your purchase. Some stores offer bigger incentives to its customers. At Trader Joe’s, you can enter a weekly drawing for $100 worth of groceries if you bring your own bags. The cost of a good, reusable bag is couple of bucks; however, it will pay off in the long run. You might find the hub Paper or Plastic? interesting.

Recycle – This may sound weird, but some people actually don’t recycle. Recycling not only saves a lot of resources, but it can also bring you some money back. In some states, you pay a deposit on cans or bottles. You can sell those back, and get some extra cash for your next purchase. If you live in an area without a recycling program, start sending letters to the local government to do something about it. You can learn about how to write a letter to your representative by reading Writing Letters to Elected Politicians.

Compost – Composting is great if you have a house and a yard. It can help reduce your carbon footprint and save you money. First, if you have a garden, you can distribute the compost in your garden instead of buying fertilizer at the store. Secondly, more compost = less waste that you have to pay to be hauled away. This way, you can reduce the size of your trash can and pay less for hauling away the garbage. Some cities and organizations will even buy compost from you (I had an Environmental Science teacher once offer to buy our chicken poop to use as fertilizer). Other cities, like Seattle, have city-wide composting programs.

Energy Saver Light Bulbs – Believe or not but light bulbs use a lot of energy. This increases your energy bill, while also increasing your carbon footprint. You can switch your light bulbs to the fluorescent, energy saving kinds. They provide the same quality of light while using less energy. Energy saving light bulbs may be a bit more expensive than regular ones. However, they last much longer and use much less energy, which means savings for you.

Sometimes people expect big changes in their daily routines in order to start reducing pollution. That’s why it seems impossible. But small steps not only help with reducing your carbon footprint, but they can save you money as well.


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    • HikeGuy profile image

      Bryce 6 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Good pointers. Everything we do to save energy and reduce waste counts.

    • profile image

      Thomas 7 years ago

      Thanks for reminding me. Our town has a recycling program but I have NOT been taking full advantage of it. Will work on this.

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 9 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      nice, well written hub. good and easy tips to be economical while at the same time help in the conservation on our planet.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 10 years ago from Seattle

      Indexer- Seattle is actually very progressive when it comes to recycling, but that does not reflect the rest of the country. I always have a hard time when I go to another part of the country because recycling is just so natural for me. We also just have it as part of our pick-up routine.

      I also love that we are forced to think about driving less. I stopped complaining about the cost of gas when I lived in Switzerland - makes America's rising prices bearable. I don't think alternatives will really be pursued here until the price of gas is beyond our comfort leves.

    • The Indexer profile image

      John Welford 10 years ago from UK

      I am horrified by just how slowly the US is getting the recycling bug. In the UK, most local authorities now only collect general waste once a fortnight, in the alternate weeks it is recylcables that are collected. Where I live, we have a box for cans and glass bottles, and a bag for newspapers. All this is paid for out of local taxation. For a small fee you can have your garden waste collected, but my family does its own composting, partly through use of a wormery (which is great fun!)

      I'm not disappointed to learn that Americans are driving less because of fuel price rises, but their horror at the price always amuses me. If you doubled the price you would still not be paying what we pay over here in the UK!

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 10 years ago from Seattle

      We bought a package of the energy saving bulbs two years ago, and we are still using them. We only use lights when we are home and in the rooms that need them. I think we use more lights living in Seattle because the natural light isn't always enough (like today).

      Overhead flurorescents can give me a headache too. The one in our kitchen has a great shade, and it doesn't bother me. It actually alters the way the light looks.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Good Hub (thumbs up). I found by composting and reclying, I no longer use city trash pickup. And, the university is working on recycling more types of plastic.Meanwhile, I purachse less pastic as well.

      I've reduced driving to < 4 miles/day average; use ony 3 light bulbs for 2-3 hours a day each, total; there is plenty of natural light when I need it. Laundry once a week, planned, and heat is turned down on the hot water tank (also water saving shower head). All lights/appliances off when I am not there and not in the room - solar lights help. Computer takes up the most energy, but TV is only 90 minutes 3 times a week,

      Because of a special writing project, all of my groceries are free and I use paper, crocheted, and my new reusable bags.

      What's your experience with energy save bulbs - how long do they actually last? Overhead flourescents cause me headaches, so how about these? - not likley because they would be under a shade?