One of the biggest obstacles to "going green" is the perception that eco-living is expensive. The following choices not only don’t break the bank, but actually help consumers save money.
* Improve fuel economy – Gasoline is at an all-time high of $3.50 a gallon. Improved fuel efficiency means you travel farther on every gallon of gasoline. The cost savings? Consider this: Say you drive 15,000 miles per year. If your car gets an average of 20 miles per gallon, over the course of the year, at an average fuel price of $3.50/gallon, you will spend $2625 on gasoline. However, if your vehicle achieves 35 mpg, driving the same 15,000 miles will only cost you $1701 – a savings of $924. Say you drive that car for ten years. In all likelihood, gasoline will only get more expensive. In ten years, you could save more than $10,000. And if you invested that money over time, your savings increase considerably more.
* Bring your lunch to work – Lunchtime food packaging wastes enormous energy and other natural resources – think of all the plastic and paper you throw away after you’re finished with a take-out salad, sandwich or burger. David Bach, author of Go Green, Live Rich, calculates that, if you spend $9 a day on lunch from the local Subway or sandwich shop, you’re spending $45 a week, or $2, 250 a year to eat out. Much of what you’re paying for — the wrapping — you throw away. The greener, money-saving option: take food from home in reusable containers, including a durable lunch bag. If you save and invest the $2,250 every year, says Back, in 20 years it will amount to $111,000. (Need a lunchbox? Check out these.)
* Sell your stuff – Someone is willing to pay for what you might be throwing away. By some calculations, 75-90% of what people trash would willingly be used by someone else. Before you toss, try to sell. It’s easy to get started on Craig’s List or EBay, though holding a yard sale also works to generate income while unloading your "riches" on those who want them.
* Pay bills online – You’ll save money, time, paper and late fees — as much as $400 a year or more — by automating your accounts and paying with a click of your mouse rather than having to write a check, seal an envelope, and lick a stamp.
* Buy less – Ah, abstinence! Like some of the other behaviors this action is associated with, keeping your money in your purse or pocketbook is among the most sure-fire ways to hold onto it – while not contributing to the excessive consumer demand that fuels climate change and pollution. Just do it.
Want more ideas? Check out the Top Ten Ways to Afford Going Green.