Money-saving Green Habits Let You Work Less, Play More

BlogHer Original Post

Thanks to the high price of organic arugula at Whole Foods, green living still makes people think of an expensive lifestyle. In reality though, living green -- which mostly means living smartly and efficiency -- usually costs less than trying to keep up with the Joneses.

After all, reducing and reusing saves money, while buying unnecessary disposable crap wastes hard-earned dollars. And many of us have already learned to save green by going green, whether it's by packing homemade lunches in reusable containers and saving money on disposable baggies (or a LOT of money on takeout fare), by vanquishing vampire power to trim utility bills, or by shopping pre-loved to find designer fashions at a fraction of the original cost.

In fact, read through any section of BlogHer -- not just the Green section, but even Fashion or Food & Drink -- and you'll get a whole lot of "go green to save green" tips, from Susan Wagner's ideas for shopping your own closet to wellheeledblog's advice on resisting unnecessary shopping!

But for those who missed those posts -- or simply want all the money-saving green tips in a neatly bound format -- there's a new book called Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet. Written by Elizabeth Rogers, who also co-authored The Green Book, Shift Your Habit's basically a book chock-full of money saving eco-friendly tips, organized into neat sections for the green frugalista.

With sections on the home and garden, work, kids, pets, and even fashion and beauty products, Shift Your Habit tries to cover all bases -- and to show you the money. Pack waste-free lunches, for example, and you could save up to $400 a year. Grow herbs on your windowsill, and you can shave $50 off your annual grocery bill. Shut off your computer after you finish reading BlogHer -- and you'll see the difference on your electricity bill.

The biggest money-savings tips will be most useful for people who own their own homes. After all, while planting a shade-providing tree can cool off your home sans energy-sucking AC units, most apartment dwellers don't exactly have the freedom or room to give a fruit tree a place to set down roots. And for renters like me whose utility bills are included in the rent, the money savings from energy-efficient living won't show up in your wallet -- though you'll still be doing the planet a lot of good.

Longer-time environmentalists will likely be familiar with most of the tips, but a few creative new ideas still shine through -- like picking lip colors that can double as blush and organizing collective walk breaks at work for a fun socializing-meets-exercise habit (plus savings on a gym membership). All those tips are interspersed with helpful charts like one that explains different green certification logos, quick tips on everything from picking out green luggage to getting clothing stains out, and recipes for DIY products like homemade green cleaners and organic facial scrubs.

What struck me while reading Shift Your Habit is the fact that green living, in many ways, has to do with shifting away from working so much to living more. Right now, many of us work long hours and skip vacations to earn money -- a habit that leaves us so tired that we use the hard-earned money to buy short-term conveniences. Shift Your Habit hints at a different kind of lifestyle where you might work a little less -- while doing things you can enjoy that require less cash. Wish you had more time to try new recipes? Then forgo the styrofoam-encased, unhealthy takeout dinners -- and the overtime worked to pay for it -- and learn to cook a whole chicken -- down to boiling the remains for broth -- that can feed you for days!

Shift Your Habit lands on bookshelves mid-March. In the meantime, share your best green frugalista tip in the comments! Some green money-saving tips from the blogosphere:

>> Simple Mom Maya recommends a paper-free kitchen -- and says making the switch was simple, once she got over her initial objections. "All I had needed was a flexible enough solution, a huge change in perspective and a lot of pride in my efforts."

>> At Organic Authority, Barbara Feiner suggests using less shampoo: "I have a hair-healthy, water-saving routine that gets the job done quickly and effectively: I simply use less shampoo, and I focus on cleansing my scalp."

>> Jenn at Tiny Choices urges you to ditch disposable water bottles, if for no other reason than to save money. "It doesn’t matter which angle it’s approached from– saving money is a good thing, and if it turns out to also be a good eco-choice at the same time, well then bully all around."
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BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs at greenLAgirl.com.

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