Go Green, Live Rich Success Stories
Go Green Success Stories
I just want to share my little story with you. I was never a green person, like you I hated to bother to even recycle. However about two years ago I started to watch the price of gas go up and made a comment to a friend of mine about making my own fuels so I didn?t have to worry about the cost of rising fuel prices. I was really only joking at the time, but my friend mentioned the fact that you could make diesel fuel from things like Soya beans and waste oils from restaurants in your own garage.
I laughed when he mentioned but then I started seeing ads in newspapers, and articles in the news about being more environmentally conscience of our world. It really started me down the path of researching this bio-diesel thing. I began to learn new things, and watch more environmental programs. Then I came across an ad for a fairly low cost bio-diesel plant and began the process of learning what bio-diesel was really all about. The things that I had found out simply amazed me. Things like the fact that diesel engines on average get twice the mileage per gallon compared to a similar vehicle that runs a gasoline engine? Something that I did not know. I also did not know that North America is the only place in the world where gasoline vehicles out number diesel vehicles? My first question was why? The answer to me was quite simple, oil companies and auto manufacturers here never adopted diesel fuel as a viable fuel.
I just read in the paper that they are saying that it will take until 2015 for cars and light trucks to have a 35 MPG rating. Well what about the diesel vehicles that are currently not allowed to be sold here in Canada and the US, they say that they put out too much pollution, and yet we have 18 wheelers that have diesel engines that put out a ton more pollution than a Volkswagen Jeta TDI, What about the AMC Hummer with a diesel engine that puts out three times the pollution that the Jeta did. The average MPG for a diesel light truck is already 35 MPG, and the Jeta gets 65 MPG!! Well enough of my soap box, and back to my story.
So after doing a lot of research I came to the conclusion that bio-diesel production is not only the best thing to produce for a number of reasons, like B100 bio-diesel produces 75 percent less emissions than regular gasoline or diesel fuel. That is can be made from waste oils that would be normally dumped into our ?landkills?. Yes I said ?land-kills? not landfills! Bio-diesel could significantly reduce the need of foreign oil from countries that would then take that money and use it to fund disreputable groups. As a business it makes incredible sense, since the need for renewable fuels will most likely never go down. As the price of oil goes up, the price of bio-diesel becomes more and more attractive. So I began putting together a business plan, and gathering funding. It is most likely that our first plant will be constructed this year and will be producing bio-diesel by the end of the year. Going Green is simply the best thing that you can do for yourself, your family, your fellow man, and this planet. All of the economic down turn that we as a continent are trying to save by going green gradually will not matter one bit, if the planet is not here to sustain us. The time is now, for tomorrow will be far too late!
I had a tip for your readers on expanding your donation options. Although donating to your local charities is a great way to reuse items and benefit from tax deductions, there are also non-traditional candidates for donations when you've maxed out your tax benefit (which I did last year).
My daughter (who is in middle school) and I have started donating books she's read to her school library for other students to borrow. It helps us keep books out of the landfill and provides financially-strapped schools much needed resources.
A little "stretching of the box" (I don't like the term thinking outside the box) can stretch everyone's wallets. Just thought I'd share.
Mimi Rosado San Diego, CA
Ways We Have Gone Green...
1) We turned our water heater thermostat down to 110 degrees. We live in Florida and have found that this is hot enough for our needs. When the water heater goes we'll look at one of the tank-less set ups, but for now this was the most efficient solution for us. Some houses have scolding hot water, which requires great power to heat up.
2) We stopped using the dryer altogether and hung a clothes line in the backyard--in between trees! Our clothes smell better, last longer AND you don't even want to know how much energy it takes to run a dryer. In our research we found that an electric dryer (gas is much more efficient) was the most energy consuming appliance in our house.
3) We turned our refrigerator and freezer to the warmest possible setting that will still keep the food from going bad. We have a three year old GE fridge and the settings are digital. I initially (two years ago) was using the five setting (one being warmest and nine coldest) on both the fridge and freezer. We now have it down to two...even in summertime! Food has been fine and the fridge is not working nearly as hard to stay cold...the trick is closing the doors as fast as possible. We learned that for every 30 seconds your fridge door is open it takes 30 minutes for it to return to the previous temperature.
4) If your refrigerator has a built in ice maker, turn it off and use trays. We did. The icemaker is always on BUT also uses a heating mechanism to release freshly made ice into the tray. Anything that produces heat uses a lot of power.
5) Replace all the light bulbs in your light fixtures to energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs. LED light bulbs are on the horizon but they are very expensive right now. Compact fluorescents are available at Wal-Mart and they have come a long way in recent years. We bought the Philips brand ones which actually are shaped like a normal light bulb (as opposed to the typical spiral design). They produce far less heat (I?ve actually taken them out while they were on for over 30 minutes and didn?t burn my hand ? they were warm, but could be touched). Though they cost about 2-3 times the price of a normal incandescent light bulb, they last seven years and use far less power. They even have CFL bulbs for track lighting so it is possible to replace every bulb in your house. If you don?t want to spend that kind of money initially, start with the most used fixtures in your house and then gradually replace the rest. We?ve found that on average, a CFL bulb consumes 1/6 the wattage of a comparable incandescent bulb and produces much less heat, meaning you?re not working your air conditioning as much to compensate. This is a huge way to cut on your power bill on your trash since a CFL bulb will last about seven years as opposed to an incandescent which lasts 1-2 years depending on use. I replaced every single light bulb in our house, even the ones inside the refrigerator. Actually the only non CFL bulb we have in our house is one halogen track light in our kitchen. There are three lights on the track, two are CFL's and one is a halogen. The combination works great and our kitchen is actually cool now! The previous set up - all halogens made it like an oven in our kitchen!
6) If you are in the market for a new TV, you will be buying an HDTV which will be the standard for broadcast television in just a short time, you most likely will purchase a flat panel TV. There are two types of flat panels, plasma and LCD. Plasma TV's draw TONS of power...as much as three times what an old tube television of the same size would draw. LCD is far more efficient and the picture on an LCD TV looks great. We only own one TV (a 32 inch flat tube - not high def). I will replace it when we have to go high def - it's only three years old and has plenty of life in it.
7) When we cook we keep the oven door shut. Instead we use the window/light to check on food. When you open the door it takes a lot of energy to get the stove back up to heat setting. Also, when using the oven's self clean feature, use it when you finish cooking something since it's already hot. If you can use a microwave to replace some of your cooking, that is a much more efficient way to go.
8) Phantom power refers to anything that is drawing power even when it's off, such as a TV (which has to draw power for the remote control system to work), a microwave or stove (which both have clocks) or a computer. When not in use, we unplug these items or have them on surge protectors that you can switch on and off. We discovered that 20% of the average power bill is made up of phantom power.
9) We turn our air conditioner?s thermostat up a few degrees and use ceiling fans or box fans to circulate more of the cool air. We are fortunate in that our house is very well insulated, so our thermostat NEVER goes below 78 degrees. We try and take cold showers which lowers your body temperature (also the bathroom will not be steamy and humid when you get out) so we won?t need the air conditioner to cool off. A cold shower will also help you curb your water usage since you won?t want to stay in as long.
10) Some other ways to reduce your water consumption: you can get empty jugs or plastic containers, fill them with water and stick them in your toilet reservoir. This will cause the toilet to not fill up with so much water each time. You probably won?t even notice a difference, but the water saved adds up. We mentioned cold showers before but you can also turn the water off once you?ve lathered up and are actually washing. You wouldn?t leave the water running when you?re washing your car with soap so get into the habit of cutting it off in your shower time. We have rainy times in Florida; check your sprinkler system so it?s not watering right after it?s rained. One of the things I?ve started doing is actually parking the car on the grass when I wash it. That way all the runoff goes right onto the grass instead of down the driveway into the sewer. Soapy water will not hurt your grass. In fact, soapy water actually keeps ants away! Some gardeners recommend applying a small amount of soapy water to your grass as often as once a week.
11) We turn off lights when we don't need them. To add to point 5): it is possible that your light fixture is bright enough without all the light bulbs screwed in (for example, if the light fixture on your fans have four light bulbs and you can do fine with only 2 lit), only use what you need. Our bathroom uses five globe light bulbs. Though I did buy enough CFL bulbs, only three of the five are plugged in and it's VERY bright. The guest bathroom has three globes; two are plugged in. If it seems tacky, screw them all in when you have company!
12) We began cloth diapering our 15 month old roughly nine months ago. The average baby will need over 6,000 disposable diapers in a 2 1/2 year diapering period. To acquire the wood pulp for disposable diapers, over one billion trees are cut down every year. To get disposable diapers to be their white color, manufactures use chlorine gas which produces toxic chemicals very dangerous to humans. These chemicals have been linked to birth defects, miscarriages, cancer and genetic damage. Cloth diapers have come a long way. The diapers we decided on are made by a company called ?Fuzzi Bunz? and we purchased about 20 of them at a price of $15 each. Yes that is a good chunk of money, but those 20 will last our baby all 2 1/2 years. Many families will even use these newer disposables for multiple children. There are no safety pins, but rather plastic snaps that are adjustable based on the baby?s size. We get comments all the time from older moms: ?I can?t believe how far cloth diapers have come!?
13) Shannon and I began gardening about two years ago. Our original planting was going so well that we were picking 3-4 tomatoes right off the vine every 2-3 days. Our garden sits right behind our house and is 15? x 5?. Although there is much to be said about technique, we have found that a good mix of topsoil, peat moss and composted cow manure (equal use of each) allows for some great gardening. Currently we are growing romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, egg plant, green beans and several herbs. There are many books out that will teach you when to plant and what grows best in Florida soil. We want to start partnering with other friends and assigning different gardens different fruits and vegetables to grow. That way we can share with each other (and grow a greater variety of crops).
14) Transportation is a huge subject of our day given the price of oil. Just a few years ago I remember driving through South Georgia and paying $.92 for a gallon of gas. Long gone are those days and so for many of us, beyond the environmental impact, we?ve had to make changes simply to afford our transportation. It certainly is the era of the SUV and we?re not going to unload on SUV owners. The very first change we can all make to reduce our consumption of oil is to simply slow down. Drive the speed limit and your miles per gallon will increase by 10%-15%. We happen to own two mid-size SUVs (a Toyota Highlander and a Nissan Pathfinder) but we purposely bought the four cylinder version in the Highlander, not the six. It?s not quite as quick, but you?d be surprised what this little thing can do, and our miles per gallon are much better. Little cars are great if you?re just going too and from work. I think many people buy certain cars because they say they?re great for trips, or great for hauling stuff. We think that one of the ways we can make this work is simply sharing vehicles. If you need to haul something, borrow somebody?s truck! Don?t go buy one when 98% of the time it?s just going to be you driving to and from work with an empty truck bed! For fuel economy stats, visit www.fueleconomy.gov. We also need to really think about the trips that we make. Our grocery store is four miles exactly from our house. I no longer take a car but rather a big backpack and my bike. Sometimes we have to buy things that would require a car for transport, but most of the time we come out with two or three shopping bags. Not only do you get the nice air and the exercise, but you save on gas and your carbon emissions. I wish more people rode their bikes to school and work and I love hearing stories of when people actually do. If your commute is a long one, why not consider using the city bus, which runs regardless of if you?re on it or not. In Orlando we have Lynx. Every Lynx bus has a bike rack and on the Lynx website (www.golynx.com) you can actually map out your bus route by plugging in your starting and finishing address. Carpool, ride your bike, walk, take the bus...be creative! If you have a big SUV you don?t have to sell it, just be a good steward of how you use it!
15) Recycle and reuse. It's probably more convenient to use disposable shopping bags and water bottles but if you simply get into a habit of using reusable ones, before long you won?t even notice the difference. Our youth group would go to camp each year and use well over 600 disposable plastic water bottles. I am a youth pastor and we recently had our own reusable bottles made for our youth group and I can't wait to see how much less trash we throw away on youth events. We've also done shopping bags ? if you need more Publix sells a bag just like ours (called a ?Green Bag?) for $1. Most families don't need more than four or five bags for a shopping trip, so for $5 you can end your use of disposable plastic bags forever. Take advantage of local recycling programs?they have come a long way; there are so many things that can be recycled these days!
So why do all this? Is it more than reducing your power bill or your spending? Shannon and I have reduced our power bill significantly over the past few months (our February power bill was $78 for a house built in 1995 measuring 1410 square feet) and honestly, we don?t really even notice some of the ?sacrifices? we?ve made to get there. Of course it?s nice to send less money to the power company each month and to have more in our pockets, but the environmental impact of over- consumption is huge. The majority of our electricity is produced from coal-fired power plants. We need to be advocating for greater research and use of solar, water (hydro) and even nuclear energy. In the meantime it?s important to understand that these plants are dumping tons of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere (have you ever seen pictures of a city covered in smog?). This has a direct correlation to cancer and breathing-related illness that is easily prevented, should we all simply change some of our habits of consumption.
We are very blessed to have an abundance of amenities and comforts in our every day lives. It is our understanding that we are called to live simply so that others can simply live. Our over-consumption has consequences that affect people around the world living in abject poverty. When we consider others, it no longer becomes a burden to simplify, it becomes a passion. Conservation equals healthier living for you and for future generations, and it puts more money in your hands to sow into this great big world around us. Something happens when we disconnect from our stuff and some of the un-necessary comforts?we reconnect with living. One of the funniest examples of this: exposure to soil actually triggers a release of serotonin (which makes us feel happy) in our brains. Ever seen a kid playing in dirt who WASN'T happy? :)
Jeff & Shannon McLaughlin Apopka, FL
This year I have reduced my power bill by between $10 and $20 per month by doing three simple things:
1) I replaced the washer in a leaky hot water faucet, (my water his heated with electricity). 2) I replaced the lights in my office, which are on between 8-12 hours a day, with compact fluorescent bulbs, (although I'd like to see LED bulbs ASAP). 3) I made sure I always use the "Energy Saver" cycle on my dishwasher.
That's it! It hasn't really changed my lifestyle, but it has saved me a lot of money, and energy. The most I saved was $100 over a two month period, and the least I saved was about $5 over a two month period. Considering my power cost is only between five and seven cents per kilowatt-hour, that's a lot of power and greenhouse gas!
Use Freecycle.org to get rid of your functioning (and even non-functioning) things. Lots of people have hobbies that just might require your broken things. Some cannot afford a used sofa, lamp, or mixed silverware. Use a re-usable cloth bag for groceries. I use two, and I still get more plastic grocery bags than I know what to do with. Don't buy trash bags. Use a smaller can lined with plastic grocery bags. Yes you'll have to take them to the garage more frequently, but your house will smell better, you'll become more aware of how much waste you generate, and you'll save a couple bucks. I've made money by picking up power tools (mowers, weed whips, shop tools) from the curb on trash day (they will fit in a little car!). Clean the air filter and carburetors (easier than you think) and put them on craigslist.com for a reasonable price? $10-$30. They sell VERY fast. Don't know how to fix them? Sell them for $5!
Outside: Use fallen leaves to mulch flower beds & vegetable gardens. Three to four inches of leaves is what nature intended. It's appalling how many of my neighbors use paper "leaf" bags in the fall. At five for $2, some of my neighbors must spend $30 just for the bags (yes they are piled high at the curb!). Then there's the fuel used by the trucks to pick them up? composting in general is an easy way to go green and save. Isn't it ironic to drive to the store to buy, of all things, a plastic bag full of compost? My kitchen scraps (no meat!) go in a pile in the yard, not in the back of a garbage truck. Veggies are mostly water anyway? water is heavy and uses fuel to move? let them decay locally then fertilize next year's flower or veggie garden. Lay down newspaper as a weed barrier in flower beds instead of buying plastic sheets or weed fabric. I built my 1500 gallon fish pond with an old pool liner and carpet scraps. Carpet went under the liner to keep stones/sticks from piercing the liner. It's close enough to my house that I routed a downspout right into the pond -- no city water required, and I'm reducing storm runoff. Mosquitoes are never a problem; their larvae are a delicacy for fish. Bonus: Goldfish outgrow fish tanks quickly and are given away free on craigslist.org.
Vehicles: Go by the manufacturer guidelines for oil changes. Most now recommend 6000-8000 miles between changes. We all know why independent shops recommend 3000 miles! Keeping a spare car around because it's a gas-saver? or a spare truck to use for moving things occasionally? It's not worth it. Even if it's old and no longer depreciating, you can save $400 or more a year if you eliminate the insurance, maintenance, registration fees, etc. that go with it. Pocket that money and rent a truck when you need one? or pay the $20 delivery fee for that new fridge or sofa.
My top 10 tips for going green and saving money:
1. Live Simple. I do not buy in excess and only buy what I truly need. If I really want a CD or a DVD, I'll buy it, but pass it on. For instance, most consumers want a certain song on their mp3 player, so we all usually just rip it to our computer (but then have no need for the CD anymore). I go to Amazon.com and re-list it as ?Like New?. I end up getting some of my money back for the CD when I re-sell it. Total cost for all the songs on the CD costs me about $2-$3, instead of the $10-$20 for the full length CD. Downloading an album online does not have the same benefit. It still costs you about $10 for the whole CD.
I do the same with DVDs. I usually only watch it once and then never again. I have restricted my consumption of DVDs to movies I know I will watch again and again and again. If the DVD does not fit the use again and again test, it is put on Amazon.com.
There are also the benefits of using ON Demand to rent movies at home, rather than wasting postage, paper, etc., renting movies from Netflix, Blockbuster, etc. Learning to have patience by a couple of weeks after the movie is released on DVD HELPS! Also, ordering the movie channel packages for cable will help reduce costs in the long run for membership fees, waste, etc. Because ON Demand packages allow you to view a whole list of movies for free whenever you want, when you subscribe to various movie packages.
2. Recycling Books. I use Amazon.com, as well, to re-list books after I've finished reading. Books are a lot harder to sell on Amazon.com, so I try to limit the listing to current bestsellers.
I also have a network of friends that I exchange books with. If we really enjoyed the book, we will recommend it and pass it along to another friend. Also, most workplaces have a little library in common areas where you can donate books to the reading circle after you are done and find new books.
If you must get rid of the books, donating them to the local library is also a bonus. You don't necessarily get a receipt for tax purposes, but you'll help build up the library's resources, which in essence will help cut down their costs and contribute to your community.
3. Recycling clothes. I tend to buy designer clothes ONLY, because when I am tired of the clothes, I can easily resell them. You can resell them easily on Ebay (most times I can net more than what I paid for them). I only buy designer clothing on sale at Loehmann's (www.smartbargains.com) and Filene's Basement. Designer shoes and clothes are big ticket items on EBay. Technically, what I pay at Filene's and Loehmann's for my designer clothing - people are paying the same price at Wal-Mart and Old Navy.
When I clean out my closets each season, I group all career wear together with the sizing and put up a posting on Craigslist.org and sell all the bags combined for a fraction of the cost (just to get it out of the house). I only place non-designer clothing in those bags that cannot be resold individually. If all else fails, and there is no re-sale of the clothing possible...I call up the Salvation Army and have them pick up the rest of the stuff.
4. Groceries. With the escalating prices in food, I have come to rely on clipping coupons and recycling the paper. I compare various food market shoppers and try to go in on double coupon days. I'm a big believer in FREE groceries, so I get a few items for free based on their sales and doubling coupons. I only buy grocery items that fit into my vegan lifestyle. Usually if I cannot use the item, I go ahead and get it and pass it along to a food bank or a friend.
I also like to get the most bang for my buck in what I call "The Circle of Spending" and connect all of my grocery and credit cards to where I can get my money back somehow. Whether if it's tying it in with UPromise or Continental Airlines (because I'm saving up points for a trip), I am sure to reap the benefits sooner or later.
5. Saving for Vacations. Like mentioned before, I tie everything to my Continental Airlines Mileage perks. Because it can be expensive to fly to Europe now, I've been using my credit cards, shopping online at select retailers, using my grocery cards, etc. to get more miles. Each retailer/restaurant rewards miles per dollar spent. They can add up very quickly. So I'm being rewarded while I'm using my money going through an average day in life. I also take surveys from e-miles.com each week which only takes up a few minutes of my time a week. I rake up miles by taking a few short surveys. It really adds up!
6. NIX THE WATER BOTTLE. The cost of bottled water is amazing. Americans alone consume too much bottled water. I read in Oprah's magazine that it costs $8 billion in oil to manufacture those plastic bottles and ship them all over the world. There's also no truth based fact that bottled water is as clean as it's supposed to be. Most times, it's just tap water in a bottle. The FDA restrictions on bottled water are much less than the water that comes from our tap.
A simple filter system (like a Brita or PUR) will cut back on the costs of using bottled water. Carry around a mug (like I do) and fill it up with your beverage, instead of wasting cups and bottles for your beverage. Starbucks offers discounts if you bring in your own mug!
Also, in Manhattan, the cost of a beverage is almost the full cost of a meal. Bring your own drink, and the cost goes down! When all else fails, order water. It's better for you than the sugary drinks.
7. BUY LOCAL. In order to support a more organic lifestyle, try buying from the farmers directly. There are farmers markets EVERYWHERE! In Manhattan, Union Square has a lot of farmers bringing in fresh produce, meats, honey, etc. Buying direct from the farmer is cheaper, and you feel better because you know where your food is coming from...you're embracing your community!
8. Re-think how you commute. As Americans, we consume too much oil. We drive EVERYWHERE. If you live in a major metropolitan area, go green by taking mass transit. If it is an option where you live...TAKE IT! Leave the driving to the weekends when you have to run errands. Living in the suburbs of Manhattan, I don't own a car. It's not cost efficient to own a vehicle. It harms the environment, it costs too much to park and to use, and I can have everything I need delivered or I can carry it home with me.
If you're living in an area where you have to put up a lot of miles to go to work, go to the grocery store, shop, etc. Consider moving closer to work (if that's not possible, consider carpooling with co-workers and sharing the expenses). Try cutting back the number of trips you make to the grocery store, etc. and going once a month. Plan out your trip to get everything you need to get done in one outing. LISTS are essential! You'll also find that you save more money in the long run, because you are planning ahead.
9. Grow a garden. It's good for the earth. It's good for you. It's good for your body. It's easier on your pocket. Being more in control of what produce you put into your body is essential, because when you buy your produce, you have no idea what chemicals have been put on the produce or injected into the produce. When you grow, you know. For those who live in apartments in big cities, besides communal gardens, you can grow vegetables and herbs in your own home. There are various products on the market that allows you to do so (Chia Pets and AeroGardens have become popular as of late).
10. The Three R's. When all else fails, just look at everything you consume keeping the Three R's in mind. REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE.
Reduce what you consume (really, you don't need 25 pairs of shoes, 1000 DVDs and CDs). Try to live a simple and frugal life. You don't become rich by spending money. You become rich by saving money. If you need it, then buy it. If you want it, consider asking yourself why and whether you really (I do mean "REALLY") need it.
Try to reuse everything you have. If you can't reuse it, find someone else who can.
Recycle EVERYTHING you possibly can. Being a smart consumer also means making smart choices. If you buy something that cannot be recycled, you are responsible for placing more harm into this realm. Be smart about how you consume. Recycle everything you can.
Michelle Kenneth Rutherford, NJ
For the past 2-3 years, I've been bringing my own water bottles to work. 1. So I don't waste any paper or plastic cups at work - saving 1-2 cups per day. 2. Almost completely stopped using/buying bottled water - saving two bottles per day just on my commute.
In addition, I use my water bottles for exercises and carry them with me everywhere so I don't need to buy bottled water.
I used to go through a 35-pack of bottled water in less than 2 weeks. Now, I don't buy bottled water unless I'm out and have no other option.
This may not save cash, but did you know that you can recycle CDs and DVDs instead of throwing them away?
Just collect them in your home or office, and then ship them to this company. They don't have to be sorted, and they can be in any condition:
MRC Polymers, Inc.3535 W 31st St. Chicago IL 60623
Steve Brown Olympia, Washington
I hope these small suggestions truly help others to be more conscious, and consequently greener. This is what we have done in our household not only to be green, but I consider more economically intelligent about what used to be our waste... I love the idea of saving money... It's kind of going green x 2.
1. We have two recycling containers in our kitchen near the trash... It takes no extra effort between throwing things away and recycling.
2. We called our trash service company - who supplied us with a free 120 gallon recycling container we can easily wheel to the street.
3. This in turn means we don't have as much trash to put stickers on (stickers that you have to pay for, per trash can or bag). That's $2.00 per bag or about $4.00 per week that we save by recycling.
4. We have become free-cycle users. It takes literally seconds to post a freebie, and people come and take it away for you because they want to use what would have gone into a landfill! Besides the environmental factors, how much would all those things cost to put stickers on to be taken away by the garbage men?
5. We look for products that support being green. Companies such as Pepsi Co., or Sun Chips support being green. Pepsi purchases REC (renewable emission credits) to offset the energy they use in their facilities. Sun Chips has 8 plants - one of them entirely run off of solar energy in Modesto, CA! No money savings here, but you can feel better about the products you're consuming.
6. We buy organic! Not only are those products better because they are naturally grown, but since there are no chemicals used to grow them... there is no harm to the soil or CFCs / CO2 being output either from the chemicals or the actual manufacturing of those chemicals. No money savings here, but it's an easy decision to help the environment.
7. We have started to replace our light bulbs in our home as they burn out with compact florescent bulbs. There's a triple benefit here... 1) they last way longer than a regular bulb which saves on energy. 2) They use less electricity which means I pay less on my energy bill. 3) They burn much cooler than standard bulbs, which in turn mean I don't have to use as much air conditioning in the summer to offset the 28 can lights in my finished basement! 4) My wife doesn't have to ask me weekly to change the most recent bulb that's burned out!
8. In some states (like here in Illinois), you can select green energy for your home by choosing a specific energy supplier. For electricity, your power can come from renewable sources like solar or wind power. For natural gas, you can pay for emission credits to offset the amount of CO2 your home generates annually by burning natural gas. This doesn't save money necessarily, but just another way to be green!
9. We put a wrap around our hot water heater... It costs only $30 and insulates your tank so that it keeps water hotter longer without having to burn gas to reheat it. The less gas you use, the less CO2 goes into the atmosphere... AND you save on your natural gas bill.
10. We unplug electronics that we don't use. Got an alarm clock in a guest bedroom that nobody usually stays in (unless you have guests) --- We'll unplug it! Many people turn off their television, but leave the cable box on. A simple fix is to use the macro function on your remote to turn both off at once! Don't have a macro function? Get a universal remote... they are as little as $10 and usually have the "turn your system on and off with one button feature". Sometimes all you have to do is ask your cable company for a universal remote - and they'll include it with your cable box free.
11. We set the energy star settings on our computers to power down after several minutes of non-use. It takes only seconds to do, and it's surprisingly convenient!
12. We use humidifiers in the winter. Moist air feels warmer than dry air, which allows you to set your thermostat a few degrees cooler while remaining comfortable. Every therm we saved was about 95 cents this year... and we've saved hundreds of therms of gas over the past years!
13. Take shorter showers / use lower emission shower heads. By using less hot water, it takes less energy to reheat the new cold water coming into the hot water heater... saving energy... saving on the gas bill.
So... Let's add it all up...
$4.00 per week savings on trash stickers = $208.00 Free cycled items = approx $100.00 in waste disposal fees saved last year. CFC light bulb replacements = save $$ in electricity each year Hot water heater wrap = $4.00 / mo saved = $48.00 Annually unplugging electronics / sleep for our 6 PC's = $50.00 annually minimum Using humidifiers to use less natural gas = $100 per winter season Taking shorter showers / using less hot water = $5.00 per month / $60.00 annually
As energy prices continue to rise... the savings above will continue to also grow...
In the end, we feel it's very little effort to improve our bottom line by over $566.00 a year. After 20 years? that's over $10,000 in savings! Who ever thought it - paid so well to be green!
William Nicholson Geneva, IL
What a fantastic article Mr. Bach, "Go Green, Live Rich" as posted on Yahoo. I am a very firm believer of being able to create wealth in an environmentally friendly way and this is why I support the FairTax.
The FairTax legislation HR 25 and S1025, has tremendous "green" benefits. The FairTax proposes to replace our current income tax system (personal and corporate income taxes, estate taxes, gift taxes, capital gains taxes, payroll taxes, alternative minimum tax) with a national retail sales tax on new goods and services for personal use at the retail level.
Think about how much paper is generated due to our current income tax system? IRS publications and communications, Accounting Reports, Tax Returns, The Tax Law, Financial correspondence.
As you know, Congress can't leave well alone, makes changes to the income tax code and all of the paperwork must be updated to reflect these new changes.
How many trees are breathing a sigh of relief knowing they won't be "cut" down to be the next 1040?
I bought this remanufactured computer online from the manufacturer. I hope to be able to recycle it, if or when I need a new one. In general, I try not to buy things I don't need - either new or used. It makes my life simpler and cheaper, too.
We are in the process of changing-out all of our lighting (mainly fluorescent tubes ? known as T12) in city hall, police station and fire house and replacing with T8 fluorescent units. The high performance ?Super T8? units have an energy saving of 30 percent, while the special low wattage and ballast units can save up to 60 percent of energy use.
We are hoping this retro-fit will have a pay-back period of about two years.
Andy Lewis Galena, IL
Every spring my husband and I make our own seedling pots instead of buying the peat or plastic versions. Take two square 8x8 layers of newspaper, wet them, and wrap them around a round glass that has been turned upside down. When the paper dries, remove it from the glass and voila, you have a seedling pot that can later be planted in the ground just like a peat pot.
Cheryl Cummings Johnsonburg, Pa
This is GREAT! I purchased a Sun Cloud, infra red heat lamp furnace for my retail store. My gas bill averaged $230 per month with natural gas, prior to this purchase. The new Sun Cloud, electric w/heat lamps and heat exchanger, heated my whole 1200 sq ft retail store, all winter! I did not even turn on my gas furnace! Best part is that the monthly electric bill increase was only $37 more! I saved over $190 in heating expense every month AND reduced air pollution and natural resources significantly!
Read books online, on a PDA, or on gadgets such as Amazon's Kindle. I think the up-front costs of the Kindle are still very limiting ($400), which is the reason I don't own one, but it can be worth it for people who read a lot. Amazon offers a discounted price for books that are loaded electronically into the Kindle.
There are also free e-books and audio books that can be "rented" from the New York Public Library (www.nypl.org/digital) by anyone who has a library card. The library itself is also a good resource for those who prefer something they can flip through, and so is the website www.paperbackswap.com. There you can share the books you own and "order" books that belong to other people. You print the mailing label at home via MediaMail without stepping into the post office, and the site tells you how many stamps you need (most books are about $1 to $2). The postage is paid by the sender, but for every book you share you get a credit towards books to order.
PS: While you're at it, make your book available on Kindle and in downloadable audio version on Amazon/ iTunes!!!
I save water by watering plants with night time glasses of water that has not been drunk by family members.
We moved from the city to a horse farm two years ago. Last year, I put in a garden and spent a small fortune on vegetables, flowers, mulch, compost, etc., preparing the garden. Over this past winter, we have saved several dozen cardboard egg cartons and yogurt cups. Last week, we began our process of starting all our vegetables and flowers from seeds (a lot cheaper than nursery pre-started plants!). Many of the flower seeds were taken from last years flowers and stored in our refrigerator over the winter. Now we can easily transplant the egg cartons directly to the garden, and the yogurt cups will be treated just like the plastic containers you get from the nursery. We will save and reuse again for our seedlings next year.
In addition, we spent last fall and this winter making large compost piles of our horse manure mixed with the leaves from last year. We also chipped a majority of fallen or damaged tree limbs and have a large pile of wood chips for mulch.
So this year, we will likely pay little to zero for our garden. Not paying the inflationary rate for our vegetables provided a nice flower garden for bees and insects. By using a natural compost and use mulch created on our own property!
Ken Erickson Evansville, WI
This is how I'm living green:
1.Throw all fruit and vegetable waste as well as egg shells directly into my garden or grass. Keeps this type of waste product out of the landfill and fertilizes my garden or lawn and saves me money on fertilizer and saves our waterways from chemical fertilizer run-off.
2.Mulch my lawn clippings right back into my lawn. Keeps grass clippings out of the landfill and fertilizes my grass and saves me money on fertilizer and saves our waterways from chemical fertilizer run-off.
3.Recycle all plastic, glass, metal, cardboard and paper both at home and at work. My company doesn't recycle plastic, glass, metal or cardboard, so every day I bring my used items home and put them in my recycle bin.
4.Turn old computer or electronic items into the local retailer (best buy, circuit city, office depot etc.). Some charge a fee which I will gladly pay.
5.Preach daily the responsibilities we all have to recycle (until most people get tired of hearing it...OCD a little).
6.Slowed down on the highways from an average of 75 or 80 mph to 65-70 mph which has saved me two miles per gallon or more (10 percent increase in MPG).
7.Replaced all my household light bulbs with florescent bulbs. Big box hardware stores often put these on sale in an effort to get customers to go green. Therefore I save money on my light bulbs, save money on my electric bill and reduce greenhouse gasses.
8.Donate all of my replaced household items/clothing to Goodwill.
9.Return all of my metal hangers to the dry cleaners for reuse. From time to time my drycleaner will give me a 10 percent discount on my order just for doing this.
10.Eat organic foods when the price isn't prohibitive. Better for me. Better for Earth.
11.Walk to the grocery store which is less than 1/2 mile from my house. Better for me. Better for Earth.
12.Prepare only as much food as will be eaten at meal time to reduce waste and throw away.
13.Landscape my yard with trees and grasses to improve air quality.
14.Grow a variety of vine fruits and vegetables during the growing months in my garden. Better for me. Better for my wallet. Better for Earth.
Christian Scheifele Mt. Laurel, NJ
In 2006 my wife and I remodeled our kitchen. With the new design of our kitchen layout we were unable to reuse our cabinets. I recently read about "deconstruction" and looked into local places in the Minneapolis - St. Paul area that I could work with. I found The ReUse Center in Minneapolis, MN.
Rather than taking a sledgehammer to the kitchen that is usually seen on any kitchen makeover show, we took out each cabinet screw by screw, carefully pulled the cabinets from the wall, and then moved the cabinets to the garage. The ReUse Center sent 2 employees over with a truck to pick up our cabinets -- free of charge. They also took some carpet and carpet pads, a portion of the counter-top that was not damaged or in too small of a section, and our sink and disposal.
I also talked to our contractor about re-using some of the 2x4's that were removed from the site to build our new island base.
By doing this I was able to reduce the garbage from the demolition from a construction waste dumpster to a few bags of garbage that could be hauled away in a mid-size SUV. Also, since the ReUse Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit enterprises I was able to itemize these donations on my tax return.
Kevin O'Toole Shoreview, MN
Tips on how you can go green:
1. Take an empty gallon jug to the shower and catch the cold water before the hot. 2. Put a bucket in the shower with you, and use water collected to water your plants. 3. Make it a family project to save electricity, water, gas or home heating by having brainstorming meetings. 4. Compost all non-meat waste. 5. Buy window treatments that insulate. 6. Walk to the store if possible instead of driving. 7. Make sure cars have proper inflated tires; tubeless tires lose air in normal usage. 8. Drive with windows down when possible instead of using air conditioning. 9. Watch less TV - go for walks - or try to read one book a month possibly on conservation.
The best part of recycling, reusing, and reselling is that you can see that your garbage doesn't fill up instantly every week. You actually see your efforts working. Unfortunately the worst part is trying to get your friends and family to join and take part in changing your community. I think this book might be the solution in getting more people to become aware of all the simple things in everyday life that will make change. Thank you David Bach!
I have been using a set of six canvas bags that I take to the grocery store for about 20 years now (I know this, because I have a daughter who is 15 and I was doing this well before she was born). I also used cloth diapers when she was a baby, and breast fed (the greenest way to feed a baby). We have been using our library systems for even longer. Most of the books/magazines we read are checked out from the library, as are most of the DVD's/videos that we watch. I also am a fiber artist and most of the work I produce is made out of scraps of fabric that have been given to me (which otherwise might have been tossed away), and decorated with recycled jewelry purchased at Goodwill. I also donate items to Goodwill. I recycle all of my glass, plastic 1 & 2 (which are the only ones allowed in my area), aluminum/steel cans and papers. I also open and recycle all of the junk mail/catalogs that I receive. I have a compost bin in my back yard. When my family leaves water sitting in their glasses, I use it to water my plants. I have not used fertilizer/ weed killer on my lawn (I'm not sure my neighborhood association is liking this). I pull a lot of weeds by hand (I get exercise and save money on weed killers). I have not purchased a hybrid car yet, but would love to do so. We do own two older model GM cars that get pretty good gas mileage and never have had a mini van or SUV. I also try to do most of my work during the day by natural sunlight and we set our thermostats low in the winter and high in the summer. I believed in global warming about 30 years ago, and have been trying to do what I can ever since. I can't believe people are just now getting it.
Sincerely, Nina Tatlock Apollo Beach, FL
I moved into an apartment a couple years ago and noticed the electric meter was right outside the door. So I decided to check out how much electricity household items used. I?d have my wife turn on, turn off, unplug etc. different items and found that having the microwave plugged in uses allot of electricity. So we unplug our appliances (especially the microwave) and have a power plug that has our television, stereo, etc. plugged in, we just flip the kill switch so none of those appliances are wasting electricity while not being used. I read that things such as a television use approximately 40 percent of the electricity waiting to be turned on as they do while they are on; the bigger the appliance the more wasteful this can be. I try to conserve as much water as I can; the wife gets a little upset with me at times?
A friend linked me to your article and I enjoyed it and also found the opt-out links very useful. I have tried them out and will see what happens.
I didn't post the on the yahoo site for fear of getting flamed for shameless plugging. However, here is what I am doing...
I founded PodSwap.com in 2004 specifically to address the abundant waste involved in the constant need among consumers to replace their iPods. Simultaneously, our company hopes to reduce the potential negative environmental impact of iPods being thrown away when they're broken.
Podswap provides customers with affordable, functional, and guaranteed used iPods. Because we guarantee everything we sell and have an established track record, there is no scamming or uncertainty involved in owning a used iPod.
Our buyback program makes an important contribution to the marketplace as we offer cash OR trade credit for broken or old iPods. Our mission includes re-using all parts which still have a satisfactory function level, and ensuring that those that don't are properly recycled and NEVER sent to a land-fill.
Our goal is to present an alternative to purchasing a brand new product at the retail price while simultaneously reclaiming broken parts. To that end, we are beginning our fourth year in business and can count thousands of iPods that have found new homes or been reused in some manner.
That's what I'm doing to "go green" with my business interests and I believe, in time, the "get rich" part will follow.
Best regards and thanks again for that useful article.
Here's how I'm going green?
1. I shop for most of my household items from garage sales (sometimes thrift stores) 2. I decorated my whole house with items from garages and thrift stores as well. 3. I buy my clothes, shoes (most of them are new with tags and some of them are lightly used) from garage sales/thrift 4. I buy toys/books/clothes/shoes for my son (3-year-old now) from garage sales
In our household, we have everything. Whenever my mother-in-law comes over to cook, she always is so pleased that she can find whatever cooking ware, table ware, etc. she wants. All my friends think our house is so beautiful and elegantly decorated and ask me how I can afford to buy all the paintings, clocks, mirrors, etc. My son enjoys his toys as they are new.
1. I don't buy/user plastic/paper plates, cups, etc. Now matter how man guests I have. I use china. (Save money, save earth) 2. I reuse the grocery plastic bags for shopping or as garbage bags. (Every re-use makes me feel that I have sent one less bag to the landfill) 3. When I found that my son?s school always throws away the little zipper bag I used for his snake. I replaced it with a container. 4. I have paper towels. But I use a little hand cloth for most of the cleaning.
By now, you must think I must be poor and stingy. No. I am neither poor nor stingy (I call myself frugal. I never give out any gift from garage sales. And I never give cheap gifts. Because most of the cheap gifts are junks, they will end up in the landfill maybe not too long after they are opened. And we donate too.
I am not poor. I have been earning a 6-digit annual income for almost a decade. My husband earns more than me. We live very comfortably and happily. We have all of the reasons to be happy. Because we did not waste our money on the things that we don?t have to, we have more money to put away and invest. Several years ago, when my husband just turned 40 and I was in my late 30s, we already could retire and kept our life style for another 50 years.
One thing I really need to do is to de-cluster the closets and donate/sale the items. I have not had time to do it due to work. But soon I will have the time I need because I am retiring next month (a couple of months before I turn 40).
Stop wasting, start saving! Save the earth, save yourself! Live RICH!
I think it is wonderful that you have taken the time to make people aware of the enormous difference they can make to help the environment and at the same time, save money.
Since moving out and starting a family of my own I have always taken the extra steps to do my share in reducing the amount of wasted energy and garbage in my home. I have even been mocked by my peers and even my husband for the measures I have taken and it is nice to know that, hopefully, more people will be conscious of their actions to preserve our beautiful planet.
Some of the practices I have followed are very typical; using cloth shopping bags or boxes when grocery shopping, buying in bulk in order to reduce packaging, washing and reusing ziploc bags, using reusable containers for lunches rather than single use bags, buying used (its amazing how many things don't have to be new) and selling items (or giving them away) when I am done with them, the list goes on and on. However there are two steps that I do that make my husband frustrated on how I don't just use the energy. The first is hanging the laundry to dry on the clothes line year round, in the summer outside and the rest of the year, on five lines strung across the basement (in the less traveled area). It takes a little more work, wash and hang one day, remove and fold the following day. My husband usually complains that he doesn't like the way it looks but that amounts to 4-5 loads per week not dried using a clothes dryer. It is more work but makes a big difference. The other step that frustrates my husband is my inability to use the air conditioner at a cool temperature. I never had an air conditioner growing up and I consider it to be a very big luxury that I am fortunate enough to have in my home. I get very frustrated in the summer when I walk into so many stores and homes where you feel cold in your summer clothes. So many places have the thermostat set so cold that you wish you were wearing a sweater or pants. Because of this I have a method for verifying the temperature in our house is set to a level not too cool or too warm. After setting the thermostat at a level I believe to be comfortable (26C or 79F), I go outside for about 15 minutes on a typical summer day, when I come in I should feel comfortable and refreshed while still wearing my summer clothes. There should be no reason to have to put on extra clothes when coming into a place with air conditioning. If it feels too cold than there is definitely wasted energy. It is easier to decrease the temperature a degree if it needs to be (such as when your husband comes home from a long day working outside) rather than having it too cool all day long. We do have to compromise after all.
Our current generations are so caught up with convenience and getting what we want right away that we don't appreciate all that we already have. We need to slow down and learn to take that extra step or two that can have a huge impact on the negative effects we are subjecting on our planet. There is so much to lose if we don't slow down and start to appreciate it.
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