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15 Ways to Go Green on a Budget

While getting an environmental science degree is a move towards advancing your career, there are things you can do daily to be more environmentally conscious. There are many things you can do to cut down on landfill waste and to do your part to help save the environment. Sure, you turn your room light off at night, and yes, you always recycle your pizza boxes, but you know there’s more you could be doing. But what?

That’s what we’re here for. We’ve got you covered! Here are 15 simple ways you can go greener on a lower budget.

  1. Use power strips around your home. You can cut off power to chargers and small appliances when you’re done with them with power strips. Even if there’s no device at the other end, chargers keep sucking energy from outlets.
  2. Keeping your freezer fully stocked is key to saving time, money, and stress when putting together meals, but did you know it’s also the most eco-friendly use of the space? That’s because it takes a lot more energy to cool an empty space. Stock up!
  3. Not rinsing dishes before using your dishwasher can save you up to 20 gallons of water each load. Plus, you’re saving time and the energy used to heat the additional water.
  4. Recycle your old cell phones. By putting them into landfills, the phones and their batteries introduce toxic substances into our environment. There are plenty of reputable programs where you can recycle your phone, many which benefit noble causes.
  5. Share your magazines. Read them and then pass them on. Goodwill, the Kidney Foundation and other used goods collection agencies will usually accept them. You can also pass them along to a doctor’s office for the waiting room.
  6. Put your video game console to sleep after use. These devices consume nearly full levels of power even when turned off. Look for the auto power down feature (Xbox 360 and PS3 have them) where the device automatically goes into a low-power sleep mode after a period of inactivity.
  7. Research shows antimicrobial ingredients (aka triclosan and triclocarban) are no better at washing away germs than those without it; they may actually contribute to allergies, impaired reproduction, hormone disruption and weakened muscles. Stock up on soaps without these ingredients, and when you’re in a pinch, rub your hands with hand sanitizer.
  8. Follow the speed limit. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking) can lower your gas mileage by up to 33%.
  9. Or better yet, be your own engine. If more people biked or walked instead of drove trips that are only a few miles long, it could slash tons of ozone-layer depleting carbon dioxide emissions that come from fuel each year.
  10. Take your own mug to the coffee shop! Some shops will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup.


  11. Eat locally! The food is fresher, which means it contains more nutrients than food that’s taken a trip from half a globe away. Buying locally can also reduce the pollution and energy used from transporting, storing and refrigerating.
  12. Open blinds or drapes to let in natural solar heat on cold days, then close them once the sun sets, and you can reduce your heating bills by 10%. You can also cut your cooling costs by up to 33% in the summer by blocking out sunlight with exterior blinds, shutters, or awnings.
  13. Select the “normal” or “standard” picture setting on your TV. Many flat screens are shipped from the manufacturer with a picture setting that makes it stand out in retail displays, but are brighter than you need at home and consume 10 to 20% more energy (and cash) at this setting.
  14. Doing all your laundry in cold water saves energy. In fact, almost 90% of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating the water, according to Energy Star. Newer detergents, plus the washing machine’s agitating action, are enough to remove stains sans heat.
  15. Then once you’re finished washing, get a clothesline or rack to dry your clothes by the air. Your wardrobe will maintain color and fit, and you’ll save money. Your favorite t-shirt will last longer too. However, if you do want to dry your clothes in a machine, pull out items that are dryer sooner rather than leaving them in the whole cycle. Your clothes will dry faster with more room in the dryer and thinner fabrics will be less wrinkled.
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