12 ways to go green on a budget

A recent Earth Day survey from consumer website RetailMeNot revealed that 94 percent of Americans would purchase green products. When asked the top reasons we have for not living a completely “green” lifestyle, 42 percent of respondents said because it is too expensive. Seven in ten consumers (70 percent) will only consider buying “green” products if they cost the same as or less than non-green products.

Most people said they would be more willing to buy energy-efficient appliances and electronics or environmentally friendly water bottles than items such as solar panels and hybrid vehicles.

Those are pretty major purchases (except water bottles), but it is possible to start small and still make changes. In recognition of Earth Day, here are 12 things you can do (one per month) to live a greener life by the end of a year … without spending more money.

  1. Take advantage of online resources that offer tips on greening your life. One of my favorites is www.theGreenGuide.comIt is a consumer-focused site that provides information on products and practices that help you live a healthier, greener lifestyle.
  2. Many health and environmentally conscious individuals buy organic foods, but another option is to buy local. Local farmers may use pesticides, but probably not the massive amounts that large companies do. And when you buy at farmers markets, you can always ask the farmers about their practices. Buying local also means you can get fresher produce while supporting local businesses.
  3. Get digital subscriptions to magazines. Request e-bills. Purchase e-tickets. Read e-books and e-file your taxes. Reducing the paper in your life is a big step in living green.
  4. Walk — or at least plan the most efficient driving route — for your weekend errands. Try carpooling or taking public transportation to work, even if it is just once or twice a week to start.
  5. Vow to make one day per week a meat-free day in your diet. You may enjoy it enough to try it more often.
  6. Reuse items instead of buying ones made from recycled materials. For example, don’t buy disposable cups made of recycled materials; use a water bottle or coffee mug.
  7. Remember to take your reusable bags into the grocery store (or any other store) when you are shopping instead of letting them pile up in your trunk.
  8. Support businesses that are committed to green practices.
  9. Research and invest in green beauty products that will give you the results you desire. You can reduce your exposure to chemicals and support environmentally sound practices while still being glamorous.
  10. Don’t just fill your home with CFL and LED bulbs. Remember to turn off the lights when they are not in use. Employ other strategies to keep energy costs low such as opening the blinds or drapes in the winter to let the sun heat your home and wearing layers of clothing indoors so you can turn down the heat.
  11. If you’ve never shopped thrift or consignment stores, give it a try. Make thrifting a fun adventure by joining special events.
  12. Before you buy anything, ask yourself if you really need it. Wasting money means more waste overall when you accumulate items you don’t need or use.

Be sure to check these freebies/discounts and events for Earth Day.