Two benefits of living a simpler, more minimalist lifestyle are that you tend to naturally live more lightly on the planet and you save money. Let’s take a look at 10 ways you can tweak your habits to be a little greener and save some cash.
1. Use a slow cooker to make meals. They use very little energy, make mealtimes a snap, and can keep you out of the drive-thru after a long day at the office. Don’t mistake slow cookers for “winter” tools — they are hugely handy for making tasty meals all year long while keeping your kitchen cool.
2. Cut the number of cleaners under the sink. Not only will you save money, you won’t inhale as many toxic chemicals. Use baking soda to scrub your sink instead of commercial scouring powder. White vinegar works in the laundry instead of fabric softener, plus it cleans windows and hard surfaces.
3. Skip air freshener. Spraying toxic chemicals in the air isn’t such a good idea, regardless of how pretty they smell. Decorate with plants to improve air quality, and make sure to open windows regularly to air out noxious fumes from furniture and rug off-gassing and cleaning chemicals.
4. Check your water usage. A faucet that leaks one drip per minute can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water a year, not to mention run up your water bill. Test all your faucets and make sure everything is drip-free. While you’re in the bathroom, add a low-flow shower head. It can save you up to a gallon of water a minute. And take short showers instead of baths to save even more water. If you do take a bath (who doesn’t love a good soak?), stopper the drain before adjusting water temperature. Wrap your water heater and pipes with insulation to avoid wasting energy and keep your water hotter.
5. Combat vampire power leaks with a power strip for all your electronic devices, and turn it off when you’re not using it. I have one next to my bed to power my lamp, iPhone charger and baby monitor, and I simply click it off in the morning to save power all day. A “smart strip” in my home office only gives power up when I turn my laptop on, then I have power for my lamp, monitor, and printer as well. When my laptop isn’t plugged in or is powered down, the strip kills power to everything, no effort required on my part.
6. The greenest paper is no paper at all, so keep things digital whenever possible. The more you do online, the less you need paper. Keep your files on your computer instead of in file cabinets – just make sure to back up your files often! Read and review documents on-screen instead of printing them, and use both sides of the paper when possible.
7. Wash your laundry in cold water and empty the lint filter in the dryer after every load. Try using half as much laundry soap. Your clothes will be just as clean, and you won’t even notice a difference (but you will notice the savings!) Get a clothesline or drying rack, and use it as much as possible.
8. Clean your home with microfiber cloths, old washcloths or rags instead of paper towels. They require no extra waste since you can toss them in with your regular laundry.
9. If you have automatic sprinklers, install a sensor that shuts the sprinklers off if it’s raining. There are few things more wasteful (and annoying) than driving past running sprinklers in the rain. Many cities and counties offer these sensors for free to residents, and they’re inexpensively found at your local home improvement store.
10. Install motion sensors for outside lights so lights are only on when you need them. Look for LED versions, which use the least amount of energy.