Simple Ways to Save Money By Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

At a time when climate change is at the forefront of almost everyone’s minds, more of us are wondering what we can do to minimize harmful effects to the Earth. But, of course, many people struggle with the idea of giving up convenience for the sake of sustainability. If you’re worried that opting for more eco-friendly practices will represent a burden with little-to-no payoff, you might want to consider the fact that going green can put more green in your pocket.

You may not realize it, but even small changes can have a big impact. The following ideas can help you reduce your carbon footprint — all while saving you money.

Switch Up Your Transportation

Lots of people are favoring greener forms of transportation. Electric vehicles are more popular than ever, which is easy to understand when you know how affordable they’ve become. Fueling a car with electricity costs about the same as fueling a car with gas (at about $1 per gallon). But trading in your gas-powered vehicle for a battery-powered one isn’t the only way you might protect the planet and save a bit of money. A 2017 study found that living without a car and taker fewer flights are two of the four major actions individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint. Choosing to take public transit or carpool with a friend to an event can help save money in the long run and minimize emissions, too. If you live in a walkable city or are able to use a bike instead of a car to get around, you’ll reduce your impact and your expenses even more. Even if you still drive your car on occasion, cutting down on the amount of time you spend on the road will alleviate your environmental impact and save you money on gas, repairs, and more.

Say No to Fast Fashion

It’s never been easier to buy what you need online and receive it within a matter of hours. Women’s apparel was the number one selling item on the internet in 2017. As customers have demanded faster shipping speeds, companies have been quick to accommodate. Ultimately, that’s taken a toll on the environment. Large commercial trucks now deliver roughly 70% of all goods in the U.S. each year — and since large trucks are responsible for delivering online orders and for a significant portion of carbon emissions, it’s not surprising that the e-commerce industry represents a growing problem. Even the excessive packaging many e-retailers use can be highly problematic, as much of these materials aren’t recyclable or simply represent a huge waste.

More than likely, internet consumers are also buying items they don’t really need. According to ThredUp, an online consignment brand, your fashion-related carbon footprint might be a lot higher than you’d think. The company has developed a new tool that allows you to see just how devastating your shopping habits are and offers suggestions for improvement. But even if you’re too afraid to find out your direct impact, you can still eliminate substantial waste by investing in ethically made, high-quality clothes instead of succumbing to fast fashion trends. While fast fashion is cheap and appealing, its low quality makes it fall apart quickly — forcing you to replace those items more frequently. Even if the clothing sticks around, the trends won’t last. These garments end up in landfills and often require the use of fossil fuels just to be shipped here in the first place. If you’re on a strict budget, look for clothing items in thrift stores, consignment shops, or vintage shops. This will allow you to obtain unique pieces and give second-hand items a new life. Of course, you’ll want to refrain from buying unnecessary clothing altogether, as making do with what you have is the most affordable and sustainable way to live.

Make Changes to Your Home

Certain home renovations or additions can reduce your environmental impact and help you to save money in the long term. For instance, choosing the right roofing material can decrease your home’s energy needs by as much as 30%. That can make your house more energy efficient and keep your monthly bills low. But if you’re not inclined to spend money on a roof replacement right now, you can still do quite a bit around the house to save both energy and money.

Being conscious of your heating and cooling use, as well as the amount of electricity you use, takes minimal effort and can allow you to reduce your expenditures every month. Installing a programmable thermostat will be worthwhile in the end, as the energy and cost savings this can offer will definitely pay off. Even just unplugging your electronics or turning the lights off when you leave a room can work wonders. Switching to LED lights, rather than sticking with incandescent bulbs, can also make a big difference. LEDs can be six to seven times more energy efficient than traditional lightbulbs and cut energy use by more than 80%. They also last longer, meaning that you won’t have to spend money on replacements as frequently. Shutting off the faucet when brushing your teeth or running the washing machine and dishwasher only when loads are full can reduce your water bill, while conducting an energy audit can show you areas you could stand to improve. Just because you’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t mean you need to continue wasting those precious resources.

Think Before You Eat or Drink

Food waste is a huge issue — not only because it makes up a substantial portion of our landfills, but also because it represents a major expense for many families. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, around 30% to 40% of the U.S. food supply goes to waste. In addition, Americans throw out roughly $1,600 worth of food each year. Before you buy something at the store, make sure this item will actually be used by your family. Steer clear of impulse purchases by making detailed lists and engaging in meal prep each week. You can also look for recipes that incorporate similar ingredients so that leftovers won’t be thrown away.

Keep in mind that embracing fruits and veggies over meat will save money and reduce emissions. Meat consumption represents 48% of greenhouse gas emissions from food, so eating a veggie-oriented meal once per week can really make a difference. Not only are vegetarian diets associated with improved health (meaning you might save money on medical care!), but they’re often less expensive to maintain. Don’t forget to buy locally grown produce whenever possible. Not only will prices be lower, but you’ll also be eliminating a lot of the environmental impact associated with transportation.

When you look at the data, it’s clear to see that green initiatives are often a win-win. Not only will these tips help you to protect the planet, but they’ll also help you stay on-budget.