Going green doesn't just save the outside world. It also can preserve the hard-earned money in your bank account. Here's advice about one of the more self-interested aspects of being planet-friendly: keeping your cash.
1. Flip the Switch. We've heard the admonishment many times: "Turn off the light when you leave the room," but it bears repeating. Sometimes we forget just how money- and energy-saving that little green action can be. Leaving six 100-watt bulbs burning for 10 hours per day wastes about $200 annually. Put that sum into a CD with a 5% return, and you'll have more than $2,600 in 10 years. Plus, leaving the light on funds coal-burning companies.
Earth Hour, a global effort to turn lights off for an hour, resulted in a 10% energy-usage drop worldwide last year; in Chicago alone, that prevented 420 tons of carbon emissions. (While you're at it, remember to turn off your computer at night.)
2. Save Leftovers. Dining out can become an expensive proposition. To get your money's worth, and since portions come so large nowadays, eat only half of what you're served, then take the leftovers home in a reusable container that you had the foresight to bring along. Voila! A "free," restaurant-made meal for later.
Wasted food comprises 12 percent of the U.S. waste stream (30 million tons per year!), 98 percent of which lands in landfills where it stinks up the atmosphere with methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases.
3. Give Green. It's only August, but many of us know we have a big bill to pay come April. To shave down that sum, and to ensure that your money goes to a cause you care about - the environment - consider making a tax-deductible donation to one of the worthy nonprofits, such as the Sierra Club Foundation, working hard to save the planet.
4. Step Away From the Car. Gas prices are one of America's most publicly bemoaned expenses. But consumers can take matters - and costs - into their own hands. By driving less, not only will you lower demand for oil, and thereby the average price for it, you'll also keep your wallet fat. To find out how much you can save by reducing your motoring miles, give this nifty driving-cost calculator a whirl.
The environmental cost of fossil-fuel dependency needs no introduction, but here are a few links in case you need reminding. If you must drive, read my tips for minimizing your vehicle's impact and cost.
Please comment: How do you save money by going green?