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Category:  Home Improvement

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5 Easy Tips

 Living Green On A Budget

If you are like me, you want to be as green as possible but your bank account just won't allow it. I have found 5 simple ways you can contribute to the environmental effort without breaking the bank...

1. USE COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT BULBS - This is an item that is a little pricey but if you attempt it bit by bit or room by room its not as hard on the wallet. Focus on rooms that get the most use : living room, kitchen, family room or office.

To start, take note for a few days to figure what one room you seem to use the most and change out those bulbs. Then try to find the second most used room and when you can afford it change out those bulbs.

Its all about small steps that in time can be very effective. Here are some statistics I gathered from the Energy Star website:

If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars. ENERGY STAR qualified bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Save about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb's lifetime. CFL's Produce about 75 percent less heat, so they're safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.

2. UNPLUG APPLIANCES WHEN NOT IN USE - Here is a way to save energy that costs you nothing and can save in the long run.

I'm sure we all have some appliances that are plugged in and are drawing electricity even though we are not using them.

Do you shut your computer down every night? Do you have a clock in every room? Do you have a VCR or DVD player with a clock and memory to maintain?

Did you know that even if your TV is off it is still drawing electricity to power a memory device? Coffee makers are another culprit.

A good rule or thumb is to ask yourself what appliances need to be re-set after a power outage. These are items you need to address. If you are unsure of any particular appliance, unplug it. If its not plugged in, it can't draw electricity.

3.USE CANVAS BAGS FOR SHOPPING - This is may sound easy enough but you would be amazed at the number of people who won't/don't do it.

My suggestion is to buy a few and keep them in the car (I have a knack for forgetting them). Most supermarkets have displays of them for $1.99 with a lower price if you buy more than 3 or 5.

Not a big investment and I have to say it makes unloading the groceries much easier. It is so nice to have 2 nice strong bags instead of a dozen flimsy plastic ones and you can get everything into the house that much faster.

Here are some great facts I found about plastic shopping bags:

* Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food. * Plastic bags don't biodegrade, they photo-degrade - breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways.

* As a part of Clean up Australia Day, in one day nearly 500,000 plastic bags were collected.

* Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has developed using the harvested bags to weave hats and bags. According to the BBC, one group harvests 30,000 per month.

* Plastic bags are among the top 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation

4. USE NATURAL CLEANING PRODUCTS - Now don't go and throw out all of your cleaning products, that would defeat what we are trying to do. Use up what you have and before you run out, go through this list, stock up and prepare your solutions so you'll be ready to go.

I would advise to purchase some new plastic spray bottles rather than try to reuse the old ones from the other cleaners, there will be some residue left behind that would require a lot of rinsing to remove.

I don't use everything on this list but I do use a lot of white vinegar and baking soda as well as some commercial enviro-friendly products that I purchase from a reputable company.

Baking Soda - Baking soda is a great all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner. It cleans, deodorizes, scours, polishes and removes stains. (Note - There's a great article on this site about baking soda, "The Manifold Magic of Baking Soda")

Borax - It deodorizes, removes stains and boosts the cleaning power of soap. It also prevents mold and odors. Great alternative for those who do not want to use bleach.

Cornstarch - cleans and deodorizes carpets and rugs, and can be used in place of baby powder.

Ketchup -cleans copper.

Lemon juice - great for whitening items and removing grease and stains on aluminum and porcelain.

Pure Soap - cleans almost anything and is mild.

Salt - regular table salt makes an abrasive, but gentle, scouring powder.

Washing Soda - Cuts grease and disinfects.

White Vinegar -great for whitening, cleaning hard surfaces and windows, and shining metal surfaces. Also removes mildew, stains, grease and wax build up

For even more helpful and natural cleaning products go to

5.STOP USING PAPER TOWELS - This is a tough one when you have little ones, I know, but I found some great alternatives.

Cloth napkins are one way to at least cut back on paper towel use and if you bargain shop you can usually find some decent ones for less than .50 a piece.

Another great product is those chamois style towels that suck up so much liquid. I have a bunch and love them, they wash up easily and hold up well too.

Think about the power behind small efforts such as these. If every person made a conscious effort to contribute to the green cause the future would look much brighter. For more tips on living green head over to


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