The concept of sustainable living often comes with common misconceptions of being expensive or unattainable. But, the truth is, you don’t have to be an environmental expert to make simple lifestyle changes that will benefit both the world around you and your wallet. Reducing your carbon footprint can actually save you money, thanks to enticing rebates by environmentally-conscious companies and reduced spending on things like single-use products or high energy bills. Plus, there’s no expectation to be perfect — even making small changes to your day-to-day can make a big difference. Below are some tips to get you started!
Reduce energy costs (and earn incentives) with Mass Save
This is a big one if you live in Massachusetts; Mass Save is a collaborative of energy efficiency providers that helps customers save both energy and money. Not only does Mass Save provide customers with rebates and incentives for everything from appliances to heating systems, they also offer no-cost energy assessments to show home and business owners the best ways to cut down on energy expenses…and stress!
Mass Save also works closely with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to provide a range of services (often at a discounted rate for qualifying home and business owners) and learning opportunities. In 2017, the United Nations reported that, “Over the next 40 years, the world is expected to build 230 billion square metres in new construction—adding the equivalent of Paris to the planet every single week.” That means improving the energy efficiency of residences and businesses is an important step toward reducing global carbon emissions.
Be a conscientious shopper
Going green doesn’t have to mean spending lots of money on organic products or eco-friendly appliances. Those things serve a purpose, sure; but it’s more important to think about simply buying (and wasting) less. Try cutting down on single-use products that get thrown away immediately after use. Or, consider visiting your local thrift shop next time you need a wardrobe update. Remember, it’s ok to start small! The savings you’ll accumulate when you cut back on shopping for things like paper towels (instead try sponges or reusable rags) and plastic water bottles will be motivation enough to keep making positive changes.
Switch up your commute
Driving to and from work can be pretty costly when you consider expenses like gas, auto insurance, and car payments. Biking to work is great for both the planet and your health, but there are other less strenuous ways to save on your commute as well, like public transportation or carpooling. Plus, many states offer incentives for riding to work with others — like access to the HOV lane during rush hour in Boston!
Everyone’s “green lifestyle” looks a little different. It’s important to commit to changes that work for you. If you’re someone who loves gardening, maybe try growing a vegetable garden to cut down on trips to the store, pesticide use, and grocery expenses. If you love reading, find your next page-turner at the library to help cut down on paper production associated with printing new books. There are lots of unexpected habits that you can start that you might not have even realized were “green.”
One fun way to cut back on household expenses (as well as plastic containers) is to make your own cleaning products. Check out Treehugger online for some mother nature-friendly recipes that you can make with household products that are probably already in your cabinets! And, remember to keep some quick tricks in mind, like using baking soda to take the place of anti-odor powders.
At the end of the day, that motto we’ve all heard time and again rings true: reduce, reuse, recycle! Working toward a healthier environment doesn’t have to be tedious, confusing, or expensive; in fact, it can be fun — think of all the exciting thrift store finds — while saving you money. To learn more about sustainability this Earth Day, check out https://green.harvard.edu/.
In honor of Earth Day, HUECU is doing our part to offset carbon emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects through terrapass. With this step, we hope to help neutralize the carbon footprint associated with fuel purchases made by our membership in the month of March. We invite you to join us in making positive, sustainable lifestyle changes and supporting organizations and programs aimed at balancing the world’s carbon footprint. Happy Earth Day!