When we celebrated Earth Day in primary school, we learned about the Three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Now that we’re adults, I’ll add one more R to the list: reconfigure your budget.
Living an environmentally conscious life isn’t just about remembering to put your plastic bottle in the blue bin (and you’ve probably read those news stories that suggest not all of our recycling is actually getting recycled).
It’s also about changing our consumption habits in ways that benefit the planet. Often, these changes have the side effect of benefitting our budgets, as well.
When it comes to recycling, we all make mistakes.
If you want to know how to get started, EarthDay.org has a list of 45 ways to “go green, protect the earth, save money and make every day Earth Day.” Here are some of the highlights:
Replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with efficient CFLs or LEDs. Reduce your carbon footprint by 204kg a year.
Keep your tires properly inflated and get better gas mileage. Reduce your carbon footprint 9kg for each gallon of gas saved.
Change your paper bills to online billing. You’ll be saving trees and the fuel it takes to deliver your bills by truck.
It's 2018, you have reams of paper in your home office, a file cabinet with documents at work, and your kid just handed you a new excursion form you have to, for some reason, fax to their teacher. If this doesn't sound like the paperless future you were promised, you're right.
Luckily, you don't need much to get a handle on all those PDFs you have (or are about to create). A scanner, a smartphone and some cloud storage services are all you need to convert the stack of papers on your desk into a paperless wonderland.
If you want to go even further, here are a few lifestyle changes that could have a huge impact on both your budget and the environment:
Buy less stuff. The less you buy, the less waste you create (not only in terms of the product itself, but also the packaging, shipping, etc.) and, more often than not, the more money you save. Want some help? Begin with our guide to cutting back on impulsive spending, then read our guide to developing a frugal lifestyle that works for you.
Travel less often. Easier said than done, I know. However, EarthDay.org reminds us that “If you fly five times per year, those trips are likely to account for 75% of your personal carbon footprint.” If you want to learn whether it’s possible to travel more frequently while minimising your impact on the environment, start here.
Green your investments. Many investment companies offer “socially responsible investments,” or SRIs. These are mutual funds, index funds, and ETFs that allow you to invest in companies that are working towards a sustainable future. If you want to learn more about how to green up your investment portfolio, here’s our beginner’s guide to SRIs.
What have you done to reduce your consumption of our planet’s resources — and how did that end up affecting your bottom line? If you have tips for people looking to green up their lives and their budgets, please share them. When it comes to the Earth, after all, we’re all in this together.