Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Saving and Going Green

The Topic: Simple ways to save money in the long run while saving the planet with VegNews Editorial Assistant Alexandra Chang.

The Dish: Living in the city as an independent lady has definitely put a dent in my savings account. Rent, electricity, gas, water, and garbage bills are just the beginning of the financial responsibilities. From keeping the home filled with necessities like toilet paper to staying hydrated without buying endless bottles of water, I’ve become increasingly more aware of both the financial and environmental benefits of making simple lifestyle changes. In honor of Earth Day this week, here are some of my easy eco-friendly tips for keeping more money in your bank account.

1. Reuse Water Bottles. I used to buy water whenever I went out and even though it’s only a dollar or two a pop, it added up quickly. I started reusing my old plastic water bottles, which was nice, but even nicer was getting my own Camelbak Groove canteen. For $18, it comes with an internal water filter that lasts up to 300 uses, after which you can just buy another filter for around $4. Another great filtering bottle is the Hydros Bottle ($30); a dollar from every purchase goes toward a water infrastructure project. Both options are easy to fill up in any old sink without having to worry about tap water contaminants.

2. Join a CSA. While it may seem a bit costly at first, in the long run, you'll be saving time and money on food. Plus, it's a great way to support local farmers and benefit from tasty organic produce. Living in the Bay Area means plenty of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) options, including Farm Fresh to You and Eating with the Seasons. I currently have a small box of produce delivered to my home each week for $100 a month. There's so much per box that I hardly buy any other produce, and seeing it come to my door helps me be inspired to cook new dishes and eat out less. To find a CSA near you, go to the Local Harvest site and type in your zip code.

3. Take Shorter Showers. While my housemate (ahem, boyfriend), has yet to cut down much on his shower time, it is important to remember that water isn’t an endless and free resource. Each minute in a shower requires 2.5 gallons, so cutting back a few minutes each day can save a lot! Another way to reduce water usage is to let the yellow mellow. After living in a Berkeley cooperative for a year in college, I started to adopt the motto (though it’s far more pleasant to do when living with just one roommate than in a house of 17).

4. Embrace the Cup. The DivaCup that is. Or the Mooncup. Both are small, reusable silicone cups used as alternatives to tampons and pads during menstruation. At $20 to $35 each, the DivaCup lasts up to a few years, while the MoonCup has a lifetime of up to 10 years. I’ve tried both and love them equally as much, because what’s not to love about never having to spend another dollar on boxes of tampons and pads and contributing less to landfill waste?

5. Turn off the Lights. My parents always reminded me to turn off the lights before leaving a room, but it never quite stuck until I had to start paying my own PG&E bill. Not only is it pointless to have the bathroom lights on when nobody’s in there, it’s wasteful in terms of energy and money. Using Energy Star florescent bulbs also reduces costs, and they last much longer than standard bulbs.

The Final Word: Nothing feels better than saving money while knowing you are using fewer environmental resources and contributing less waste to the world. It’s a win-win situation for everybody! For more energy-saving tips, visit the US Department of Energy’s website, and for more ideas on going green, check out VN’s 10 Tips for Going Green.

1 comment:

  1. RE: Bottled water versus tap. What contaminants? Your tap water is fine, and in many ways more regulated than the bottled water you were drinking before. Filtering is your choice, but you are still creating waste with the filter. And the bottles/canteens are still made with non-recyclable plastic. Stainless Steel water 'bottles' (onya, one green bottle, kleen kanteen, etc) are the best option environmentally, health and taste wise - If you do manage to break one it can be recycled, it can be cleaned easily, and it won't pick up the flavour of whatever you put in there so you can use it for a garlicky chilli soup one day, fruit juice the next, then water, with no taste 'transfer'!
    Other than that little point, kudos for the article and going green. Together we *can* save the planet!!