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When to Spend Green, and When to Save

When to Spend Green, and When to Save

Don’t you just love it when doing the right thing also happens to save you money? And when it comes to being green, this is so often the case. Unfortunately, it isn’t always–and that’s where a penny-pinching (or fiscally responsible, if you prefer) greenie can run into some trouble.

The plain truth is that sometimes the green choice is also the one that is going to cost you the most green. But I think it all balances out, and you’ll see what I mean when you read these tips for where to save green and when to spend.

WHERE YOU’LL SAVE MONEY

The second two R’s. Reduce and Reuse. Shop less, find things at thrift stores when you can, borrow instead of buy your own, and you’ll put a much smaller dent on the planet and in your pocketbook.

Forget disposables. Paper napkins and plastic water bottles be gone. Invest in a steel water bottle and some cloth napkins (or make your own) and you’ll recoup the costs many times over. Also, bring your own cloth bags to the grocery store and a lot of stores will give you a 5 cent rebate for each bag.

Clean green. Make your own non-toxic cleaning kit with baking soda, vinegar and liquid soap. It’s green, it’s totally safe and it is totally cheap.

DIY beauty. If you’ve got eye strain from reading the teeny, tiny type on those labels and sticker-shock from the price of truly organic, chemical-free products, then make your own. Try these organic sugar scrubs or this easy-to-make moisturizer. And there are literally hundreds of other formulas on Care2 for hair care and more!

Conserve resources. Save water, set your thermostat, make sure your car is getting the best gas mileage possible (or for that matter, leave your car at home and walk or bike instead)–these are all things that’ll help the Earth and save you money.

So now the hard part, biting the bullet and knowing when to spend a little extra for the green choice.

WHEN TO SPEND

Animal products (if you eat them). There are times, and I’m just being honest here, when I’m standing in the dairy aisle and looking at the organic milk and looking at the regular stuff and thinking, is it really worth the extra dollar? I always decide that it is, but it stops me just about every time. And don’t get me started about the price difference between regular and organic meats! It’s enough to turn a person vegetarian, which thankfully I am two or three days a week.

Produce. Would you feed your child food that’d been sprayed with chemicals? I hope not, and I hope you wouldn’t eat it yourself either. If you absolutely can’t buy everything organic, because it’s not available or not in your budget, check out top 10 foods to eat organically, which tells you which foods are produced with the most pesticides and helps you prioritize.

Recycled paper products. If you’re like me, you will only use a roll of paper towels every few months since you primarily use cloth napkins–so spend a little extra on the post-consumer recycled kind. And when it comes to toilet paper, can you really justify cutting down new trees for something you’re just going to … well you get the idea. So buy recycled toilet paper too. It’s worth the extra coin.

Fair trade. While you’re enjoying your morning (or afternoon, or evening) cup of coffee, or that mid-day chocolate boost, wouldn’t it be nice to know that the workers who produced these items were paid a fair wage for fair work under fair working conditions? I know it’s more expensive, but as Sustainable Dave says so wisely, ask yourself: “Am I paying too much for this, or in the past, have I not been paying enough?”

I really think you’ll find, as I did, that the money you’ll save going green will more than make up for the extra money you spend on other things. All that, and the added bonus of knowing you’re doing the right thing for yourself and for the planet. Now that’s the kind of balance I can live with.

Read more: Blogs, Basics, Non-Toxic Cleaning, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, Shades of Green, , , , , , , , ,

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Jana Ballinger

Jana Ballinger has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and copy editor for daily newspapers. She lives in a vintage house in Northern California with her husband and an orange cat.

32 comments

+ add your own
6:26PM PDT on May 27, 2013

Thanks for the tips!

1:45AM PDT on Mar 20, 2013

ty

7:53AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

thanks

5:08AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:04AM PDT on May 24, 2010

I agree with everything that you talked about. I made the switch to green living a couple of months ago when I sat down with my bank statement and realized how much money I was wasting on absolute junk, for myself and for my environment. I started with small changes and as I began to be more conscious of my lifestyle, I became more and more aware of not only how wasteful I had been but also how wasteful most commercial products are. Great post and great tips! =) Two thumbs up

1:06PM PDT on Apr 16, 2010

thank you

3:27AM PST on Jan 11, 2010

great info

5:50PM PST on Dec 23, 2009

Pinching pennies to do the wrong green thing just isnt worth it in the long run. Forget about landfills, our garbage is winding up in the ocean! (a mass the size of Texas)..now the cost to clean that up? If its even possible anymore, we are literally killing the wildlife and ocean life.

They should really make alot of the things you have talked about mandatory, insead of people squibbling over a few extra dollars here and there.

The ultimate price? We will loose the planet!

2:33AM PST on Dec 22, 2009

Excellent Tips!

4:59PM PDT on Mar 9, 2009

I became more aware of landfill waste when I was pregnant and learned about the major drawbacks of using disposable diapers. I didn't think twice, of course, and only use cloth diapers. But then I also realized that I was significantly contributing to landfill waste every month by using disposable tampons and pads. Now I have a menstrual cup (the Diva Cup) and would never return to disposables! It is wonderfully comfortable, completely reliable, and a timesaver because I can keep it in for up to 12 hours. And because it's reusable, I am saving about $175 a year. I feel better about my eco-footprint and the fact that I'm helping to leave a healthier planet for my baby!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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