In the current economic climate, it seems as if everyone is looking for ways to save a little more money. While many people think that "Going Green" means spending more, it really doesn't have to be that way. In fact, if you think about it, some of the "Greenest" activities that you can undertake are free or lower cost than their alternatives. So, consider some of the many ways that you can cut back on your budget while simultaneously improving the positive impact you make on the world. We're going to focus today on the first two sentiments of the classic environmentalist call to action: Reduce; Reuse; Recycle. It's an oldie-but-goodie when it comes to being green and saving green. REDUCE One of the biggest impacts you can make on the Earth is to reduce the number of items you consume on a daily basis. First, drive less. It is quite fashionable today to drive less, given the $3+ cost-per-gallon of gas. To support this economical and Earth-friendly practice, look for easy ways to cut back on your gas bills by taking public transportation if it's available. Carpooling is a great idea, but even if it doesn't work every day, try to share a ride with friends or family once per week when you're out and about. Also try to minimize your shopping trips. For example, if you currently visit the grocery store four times per week, commit to creating a shopping list, and you can cut that down to just two times per week quite easily. Second, buy less. With the holidays right around the corner, it might be hard to imagine buying less, but a truly Green consumer weighs each purchase based on how it impacts the Earth. For example, you must consider the environmental costs involved in growing, harvesting, producing, packaging and transporting all items. From a green perspective, you need to take all of these issues into account when making a purchase, but from a budgeting perspective, you should also consider the very first question a true environmentalist should ask: do I really need to buy this item? Many things that we buy for ourselves and others end up cluttering our personal space, and then ultimately are discarded to clutter a landfill Instead of adding to this problem, double- and triple- think every purchase before making it. REUSE Once you have made the decision to purchase an item, before discarding it, consider the ways in which you might be able to re-use it. Here are five easy ways to reuse items: 1. Instead of purchasing containers for storing your leftovers, wash out glass jars from pasta sauce and plastic yogurt container and reuse them. 2. Save Ziploc bags used for storing bread, keeping crackers fresh, and other dry items and use them again and again for the same purpose. Most of the time you just need to shake out the crumbs and you're ready to go again! 3. Dry out your produce bags after each trip to the grocery store and then put them in your shopping bags (you do reuse your shopping bags, right?!?) so that they are ready to go next time you visit the store. 4. If you use a paper towel to wipe up a small water spill or for any other light job, simple put it off to the side and use it again later in the day for a more serious (or another light) job. 5. If you forget to bring a shopping bag, or simply can't avoid getting a plastic bag at the check-out, be sure to re-use the bag a few more times. Then recycle it - most grocery stores have a receptacle in front that is specifically for plastic shopping bags.
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