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Earth Day: 5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Save Money

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Today—April 22— is Earth Day, an annual celebration of environmental action around the world. Here’s a look at five eco-friendly ways to save money while helping to save the planet.

1. Avoid disposables.

Plastic water bottles and soap bottles, paper napkins, and other disposable goods may seem cheaper initially than their reusable counterparts. But buying and tossing these items repeatedly isn’t good for your wallet or the environment. Instead, consider investing in a sturdy refillable water bottle and soap dispenser, cloth napkins and towels, and other items you can reuse. The upfront cost may be slightly higher but a lower cost per use makes reusable items cheaper over time.

2. Repurpose, borrow, or buy used.

Instead of buying things new, think about ways to repurpose what you already have (maybe that side table could become a nightstand or that old trunk could find new life as a coffee table), borrow something you only need to use on a limited basis (for instance, a formal dress or tools for a remodeling project), or buy it used. Producing brand-new goods requires energy and raw materials, but used goods are cheaper to buy and have less of an environmental impact because they’re already in existence.

3. Drive less.

AAA estimates that, factoring in gas, insurance, maintenance, deprecation, and other costs, drivers pay around 50 cents per mile to operate a car. Reducing your reliance on an automobile could certainly help lower your transportation costs while reducing harmful emissions. Consider car-pooling, telecommuting to work, riding a bike, walking, or using public transportation instead of driving.

4. Unplug electronics.

Computer monitors, TVs, phone chargers, and other items draw energy from your electrical outlets even when they’re not turned on or in use, a phenomenon called “phantom power.” Instead of leaving these electronic devices plugged in, unplug them or use a power strip that can be turned on and off with a switch.

5. Maximize natural light.

Instead of flipping the lights on, open the drapes and let in the sunshine in! Also consider decorating with mirrors to amplify the light around your home instead of using additional light fixtures. Dusty light bulbs don’t shine as brightly as clean ones, so unscrew and dust your light bulbs to maximize artificial light when you do need it. Place table or floor lamps in a corner so the light will bounce off the corners and emit a brighter glow.

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