By Kayla Albert
Doing your part to help the environment doesn’t have to come at the expense of your wallet.
If you’ve ever been approached by someone on the street corner asking for a donation to an environmental cause, chances are, your first thought might have been, “How much will this cost me?”
The truth is, no matter how much we want to do our part in preserving the environment for future generations, budgetary constraints often have a louder, more urgent voice.
Luckily, the two concerns aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, there are plenty of small ways we can make both our wallets and the environment around us just a little bit greener.
1. Conduct a home energy audit
Before you balk at the thought of paying for a professional home energy audit, consider this: according to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can conduct your own DIY audit to tell you where your home could use energy-efficiency upgrades.
The audit includes checking for air leaks, inspecting insulation, taking note of inefficient light bulbs, and examining the energy usage of your appliances.
While the total savings will vary for each residence, they can be substantial. Even sealing air leaks is said to save anywhere from 5% to 30% on your energy bill.
2. Opt for homemade cleaning products
There are a few things that aren’t so great about store-bought cleaning products — they are chock-full of unhealthy chemicals, they are expensive, and, worst of all, sometimes they just don’t deliver on their promises.
Enter homemade cleaning products.
Not only are they much cheaper, but they also are better for the environment, you, and your wallet. And no, they won’t take you all day to make. Most of them can be made in a few minutes with ingredients you already have (vinegar, baking soda, water) and are multipurpose.
Check out this great list from Good Housekeeping, which covers everything from grease cleaner to glass cleaner.
3. Plant more trees
If you’re sick of paying sky-high prices to cool your home in the summer, planting more trees may be the greener, more long-term solution.
The Department of Energy estimates that strategically planting trees in certain areas of your yard can reduce cooling costs by 15% to 50%.
In addition, eco-conscious landscaping can reduce water usage, lower maintenance, and increase the resale value of your home.
If you’re not prepared to shell out money for new trees, a $10 membership with the Arbor Day Foundation grants you 10 free trees to plant in your yard. Now that’s a donation that’s good for you and the environment.
4. Get rid of those old electronics
Many Americans have outdated electronics gathering dust in their closets. Or worse, they opt to clear them out by tossing them in the trash.
Not only is this type of waste toxic, but it also adds to the 2 to 3 million tons that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates end up in landfills every year.
Help the environment and rake in some extra cash by selling your old electronics to websites that actually want them. Gazelle will take your cellphones, tablets, and computers and will send you an Amazon gift card or PayPal deposit in return. All you have to do is find your item on their website, answer a few questions, and ship the item to them. BuyBackWorld works much the same way.
Doing your part to help the environment doesn’t have to come at the expense of your budget — with a few simple eco-minded changes, you could be giving your budget the extra padding it needs.