The Money-Saving Guide to Going Green at Home

Is being eco-friendly at home a goal of yours, especially now that we are spending more time there due to COVID-19? It can be overwhelming to figure out how to be more environmentally friendly at home, especially with a tight budget. Fortunately, there are many ways that being sustainable and saving money can go hand in hand. In fact, going green is usually the ideal option for saving “green”!

By reducing waste, choosing energy-saving options, cutting out single-use plastics, and taking other simple steps, we can strive for a more planet-oriented and frugal lifestyle as individuals and as a family. The key is to make small, manageable changes that will add up over time. That way, the whole family can adjust seamlessly and feel like they are making a positive difference. Consider this simple but powerful quote when embarking on your journey to be more environmentally friendly:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — Lao Tzu

There are plenty of little habits we can implement in our homes that can help reduce landfill waste, create cleaner air, reduce deforestation, and conserve natural resources, all while being kind to your budget. We have compiled tips for being eco-friendly and have split them into easily digestible categories such as water conservation; reduce, reuse, and recycle strategies; sustainable landscaping and gardening; green parenting; and encouraging your children and teens to get engaged with saving the planet, so if your children ask how to save the environment, you will be prepared!

To get started, here is a collection of excellent resources on the frugal basics of going green and the reduce, reuse, recycle lifestyle:

How to Reduce Water Usage at Home

Agriculture and business account for much of America’s water consumption, but residential water usage is also significant. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average American family of four uses approximately 400 gallons of water daily. With drought affecting significant areas of the United States (you can view an alarming, up-to-date U.S. drought map here), it’s important that we work toward reducing water consumption. Another shocking statistic is that the average U.S. per capita water use is 170 gallons per day, while in Australia, it is only 36 gallons per day. Despite this massive difference, Australians still enjoy a high quality of life. This proves that there is plenty we can do to reduce water consumption while saving money. Here are some thrifty tips to get you started on saving water in your household:

  1. Turn off faucets. According to the EPA, a bathroom faucet pours out about 2 gallons of water per minute. Small steps such as turning off the tap while you brush your teeth and shave can save hundreds of gallons monthly.
  2. Find and fix leaks. A slow trip from a leaky faucet can waste as much as 20 gallons daily. A leaky toilet can waste 10 times that amount, 200 gallons a day. By making an effort to find and fix leaks, you can save water and money.
  3. Use every last drop. Find ways to reuse water. For example, put a large bucket in the shower to collect the water while you’re waiting for it to get hot. You can use this to water your houseplants or your garden.
  4. Rinse more efficiently. If you have a dual sink, fill one side with hot, soapy water for washing and the other with cool, clean water for rinsing. The EPA estimates that this can cut water use in half. Single sinks can use large bowls or tubs for washing and rinsing.
  5. Use a WaterSense-certified showerhead. Showering accounts for nearly 17% of home water usage, up to 40 gallons a day. By using a WaterSense-certified showerhead, you can significantly reduce water use while still enjoying similar shower performance.
  6. Only wash full loads. Try to only run the dishwasher and washing machine when you have full loads. Also, scrape your plate instead of rinsing it before putting it in the dishwasher.

Here are some additional water-saving resources:

Tips for Sustainable Landscaping and Gardening

Growing your own fruits and vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and trees can be such a rewarding and healthy part of homeownership. If you are striving toward green homeownership, being sustainable while landscaping and gardening is an excellent place to start. Of the 29 billion gallons of water used daily by households, 9 billion is used outside, mainly for landscape irrigation. Some sustainable landscape solutions include watering by hand, since automatic irrigation systems can use 50% more water. Faulty, leaky automatic irrigation systems can waste even more water. Here are some quick tips for saving water outside:

  • Water early in the morning. Experts estimate that 50% of water that is used outside is wasted through evaporation, wind, and runoff.
  • Step on your lawn. Grass does not always need water just because it’s hot out. Step on it — if the grass springs back, it doesn’t need water.
  • Leave grass longer. Longer grass helps grow deeper roots, resulting in a more drought-resistant lawn, reduced evaporation, and less weeds. Plus, longer grass tends to look more green naturally.
  • Sweep instead of hose. Sweep sidewalks, steps, and driveways instead of hosing them off.
  • Choose native plants. Native plants are wildlife- and pollinator-friendly, are more adaptable to the climate (therefore saving water), can help reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, are low-maintenance, and can cut lawn care costs.

Composting is another wonderful way to help your garden thrive while following a reduce, reuse, and recycle lifestyle. By using organic items such as twigs, grass, and certain food scraps for compost, you can create rich, nutritious, and naturally pest-resistant soil. Here are some additional resources to help you save water outside, begin composting, and make your lawn and garden more eco-friendly:

Conservation Tips for Kids and Teens

For a household to be successful at being more environmentally friendly, the whole family should be on board. Fortunately, many methods for becoming a green family also save money, such as reducing red meat consumption, choosing secondhand clothing as children grow, and playing outside instead of watching television. By cultivating green values in our children starting from an early age, we can work toward a healthier planet. Children learn by example, so these green parenting resources are a great place to start:

There are many ways to empower children to take small, sustainable steps toward being more conscious and responsible environmental citizens. Here is a collection of resources that are focused on helping children and teens make choices that can reduce environmental impact and promote a brighter future:

Tips for Saving Money on Environmentally-Friendly Products

While using less energy and water are easy steps to take that allow you to help the environment and save money at the same time, other steps might be a little more cost prohibitive. That is unless you know where to look! Some eco-friendly products such as all-purpose cleaners, hair care products, soaps, and more can be more expensive than other products on the shelves. In order to make these products more affordable, you can find coupons for major retailers such as Target and Walmart. The same can be said about energy efficient appliances and electronics. When you're buying appliances from stores like Sears, Costco, Best Buy, Lowes, and Home Depot you can typically find coupons to help bring those costs down. On top of the discounts you can get with coupons, the appliances themselves will continue to offer savings on energy costs for years to come. Who knows, they might eventually even pay for themselves!

Start Going Green Today!

It does not have to be an expensive endeavor to create a more environmentally friendly household and to live in a more Earth-conscious way. With the right knowledge, determination, and teamwork, you and your family can take small steps towards a more budget-friendly, sustainable lifestyle. If going green is a priority for you, this guide is an excellent start. The important thing is to make small, manageable changes that will add up over time.