You Can Save $100 or More Every Month Going Green

Special thanks to Diane MacEachern, Author of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World for providing this guest post.  Don't forget:  April 22, 2011 is Earth Day!

Want to go green but think it’s too expensive? Think again. You can actually SAVE $100 or more every month by making simple lifestyle shifts that have a big impact on your pocketbook as well as the planet. Consider these suggestions from Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World.

Improve fuel economy - Improved fuel efficiency means you travel farther on every gallon of gasoline for a lot less money. For example, 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 $4.00/gallon, you will spend $3000 on gasoline. However, if your vehicle achieves 35 mpg, driving the same 15,000 miles will only cost you $1680 - a savings of $1320 in one year alone. In all likelihood, gasoline will only get more expensive. In ten years, you could save more than $13,000. Invest that money over time and your savings increase considerably more. Get more fuel-saving tips here.

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. 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. (Need a lunchbox? Check out these.)

Buy reusables. Compare a sponge to a roll of paper towels. One sponge may cost as little as $.99. A roll of paper towels runs around $1.99. But one sponge lasts as long as SEVENTEEN ROLLS of paper towels. You could save as much as $33 in paper towels before you have to throw the sponge away. (Meanwhile, keep sponges fresh by washing in the dishwasher with the dishes; microwave on high heat for 30 seconds to kill germs.) 

Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. The CFLs may cost $2-4 more than the incandescent bulb you're used to. But the CFL uses 66% less energy and lasts ten times as long. So over the course of the lifetime of each bulb, you can save as much as $30-$50 on electricity. (NOTE: Choose Energy Star-rated bulbs and don't turn them on and off frequently to make them last longest.)

Forget bottled water. Water is very cheap when it flows out of your tap, but it can cost as much as 10,000 times more when it’s served in a throwaway bottle. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it up at your own tap. If you’re worried about water quality, use the money you save on bottled water to buy a filter for your faucet.

Buy in bulk. You pay nearly twice the price for the same weight when you buy small, individually wrapped servings of a product rather than the bulk size. Laundry detergent, fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, shampoo, soap, conditioner, snacks, soft drinks and many other items offer a bulk or ‘economy’ size. Even buying a half-gallon container of juice is cheaper than buying individual juice boxes.

For more money-saving ways to go green, visit Big Green Purse

You might also enjoy reading Guide to energy efficient savings for your home and Go green on any budget: Ideas for the extreme to ones that save you green.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.