It’s no secret there is growing concern over the state and health of our environment. We merely need to click on the news or read our favorite media blog to witness the damage of global warming, and pollution. We know we should do our part to curb this growing crisis, but it often feels like we don’t have enough money to make a difference. Our wallets and income often make it difficult for us to think green when all we see are hefty price tags on sustainable and eco-friendly products. Thankfully, all is not lost. With a few mindful choices and planning, we can still balance economy with ecology in our homes.
For most of us, the largest portion of our expenses usually go towards energy, vehicles, and utilities. In fact, 60 percent of our energy usage goes towards cooling and heating our homes, 15 percent of our energy goes to heating water, 13 percent is applied to running our refrigerators, and finally, a measly 12 percent of our energy consumption goes toward things like running our televisions, radios, washing machines, microwaves, computers, and more! Thankfully, we don’t have to purchase new vehicles and appliances to be more environmentally conscious.
Going Green while Balancing the Budget
There are some very practical ways to balance economy and ecology in our homes by reducing, recycling, and reusing items we already own or by using items that can be purchased at budget friendly prices. All of these little changes and efforts in the long run can really add up to save valuable money and resources. Scroll through the following suggestions to save money while saving the planet at home:
Buy used when possible. Consider purchasing gently used items to reduce waste and plastic wrappings. Very often, we can find practically new objects and clothing that still have a lot of wear and use in them. Search local secondhand stores, vintage shops, estate sales, and yard sales for some great finds to save money and keep items out of landfills. If you can’t find a suitable used item, then give yourself permission to buy new.
Remember, sometimes cheaper isn’t always better. Unfortunately, going with the cheapest item might not be the smartest option. While the price is right, in the long run it may cost us more money, time, and resources. For instance, when purchasing big ticket items like a refrigerator or vehicle, examine all the costs, maintenance, and product life. When we are looking at this from an ecological standpoint, sometimes it is better to spend a little more upfront IF it will save us from pricey repair bills, replacement costs, and outrageously high utility bills down the road. Do a little research and comparison shop before purchasing items.
Get physical. Instead of driving everywhere, invest in a bicycle for your commute and running errands. Currently, there are over 22,000 cycle paths which makes it relatively easy to pedal around the Netherlands. If biking isn’t for you, look for public transportation or arrange a carpool. This little change to our daily routines will not only be healthier for us and the planet, but it will be good for our pocket books, too!
Hunt down energy vampires. Many of our electronics, appliances, and even lights continue to draw power while they are turned off. Every day, these vampire devices are consuming power, wasting resources, and our money. It’s estimated that worldwide energy vampires are responsible for one percent of the total CO2 emissions. While that number doesn’t appear large, we need to remember that all of these devices weren’t actually running or being used. We can stop vampires by unplugging appliances and devices when they aren’t in use and by installing timers, smart plugs, and power strips to make it easier to control the flow of power.
Make your own cleaners and household products. Instead of spending money on expensive cleaning products, we can make our own for a fraction of the cost and in the process, protect ourselves and the environment from toxic chemicals. Not surprisingly, many of today’s products are loaded with dangerous toxins ranging anywhere from phthalates in dish soap to chlorine found in toilet bowl cleaners. Surprisingly, we could draw up a list a mile long of dangerous ingredients hidden in our favorite air fresheners, laundry detergents, sprays, and even hand soaps. We can reduce the risk for negative side effects by simply using vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils to make our own cleaning products. Look online for a variety of resources for easy to make eco-friendly cleaners.
What tips can you share for balancing economy and ecology at your home?