How to save money while helping the environment

Save both kinds of green with these everyday cost-cutting measures.

Tags: Budgeting, Goals, Lifestyle, Planning
Published: October 16, 2019

Simple, everyday cost-saving measures can make a significant impact on your budget, but did you know padding your pocketbook can also benefit the environment? Whether your vice is daily trips to the coffee shop or fast-fashion retail therapy, get ready to kick those habits to the curb. These strategies will help you save both kinds of green. 

 

Sip on a reusable bottle

Purchasing bottled water may not seem like a big expense. But over time, it will certainly add up to more than the cost of a $10 reusable bottle. Additionally, by switching from disposable to reusable, you’ll help slow down the amount of plastic waste created, which reached 310 million metric tons in 2016. That’s over 2,200 plastic bottles per person on earth.1

 

Cook at home

We get it: Meal prepping can be time-consuming. And sometimes it’s just easier to pick up lunch or dinner from your favorite fast-food joint or restaurant, rather than schlepping to the grocery store and cooking at home. Taking this shortcut, however, not only costs more money – those takeout containers also contribute to the 8 million metric tons of plastic that is swept into oceans every year.2

 

Brew your own coffee

Do you rely on a caramel latte to get your day started or a shot of espresso for an afternoon pick-me-up? Then, giving up your coffee-shop habit might be a challenge. But consider the cost: if you spend $5 on coffee five days a week, that’s roughly $1,300 per year. Plus, it’s then 260 paper-and-plastic disposable cups out of the 316 billion produced around the globe in 2018.3      

 

Shop with your own reusable bags

To curb plastic use, some cities have started charging for disposable bags, and for good reason. It’s estimated that 2.89 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps were sent to landfills in 2015.4 So the next time you go shopping, bring your own reusable tote.

 

Purchase quality clothing

When you’re trying to save money, it may seem counterintuitive to spend more on higher-priced clothing pieces. But if you only purchase fast-fashion – inexpensive, mass-produced items – the poor quality of the garments means they likely won’t last as long. In fact, it’s estimated that more than half of fast-fashion pieces produced are thrown away in under a year.5 So, they end up among the nearly 6,000 pounds of textiles that are burned or placed in landfills every second.6 If giving up fast fashion isn’t realistic now, consider buying used items and re-donating them when you clean your closet.

 

Use resources wisely

High utility bills are one surprise that no one likes to receive, but by consciously working to preserve resources in your home, you could cut your expenses and help the environment. For example, turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth and shaving can save 5,700 gallons of water per year.7 Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED can reduce lighting energy use by 50 to 75 percent.8 And, programming the thermostat for a lower temperature while you’re away from the house could save you up to 10 percent on your energy bill.9

 

Clean green

You pay a premium for brand-name household cleaners when you could save money and make equally effective cleaning agents at home – many from ingredients you already have in your pantry (hello, vinegar and baking soda). If the cost savings of ditching store-bought cleaners isn’t convincing enough, do it for the health of your family and the environment: The volatile organic compounds found in products like laundry detergents, air fresheners and disinfectant wipes add as much pollution to the environment as vehicles.10    

 

Take public transportation

Transportation makes up 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.11 Fewer vehicles on the road translates to less pollution, so do your part to help by taking public transportation (or, better yet, bike or walk where you can). Not only will this make an impact on the environment – it will also cut your gas expenses. 

 

Recycle

While most of these tips focus on saving money, recycling can actually make you money. You’ve likely heard about converting your bottles and cans into cold, hard cash. Did you know you can also turn in items like ink cartridges, scrap metal and old car batteries? The next time you’re wondering how much of an impact recycling can actually make, consider this: just 10 recycled plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a laptop for more than 25 hours.12

 

U.S. Bank is committed to helping the environment right alongside its customers. Learn more about our  environmental sustainability practices.

 

Make the most of your cost-cutting measures by investing your savings in a U.S. Bank account today.

 
Sources:
1. http://d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/solving_plastic_pollution_through_accountability_eng_singles.pdf (page 14)
2. https://www.worldwildlife.org/initiatives/plastics
3. https://www.imarcgroup.com/paper-cups-manufacturing-plant
4. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/frequent-questions-regarding-epas-facts-and#PlasticBags
5. https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/A-New-Textiles-Economy_Full-Report_Updated_1-12-17.pdf (page 19)
6. https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/01/numbers-economic-social-and-environmental-impacts-fast-fashion
7. https://www.epa.gov/watersense/statistics-and-facts
8. https://www.nachi.org/increasing-home-energy-efficiency-client.htm
9. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats
10. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6377/760
11. https://www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/environmental-programs/transit-environmental-sustainability/transit-role
12. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/frequent-questions-recycling#bagswrapandsacks