When Saving Green is Green – Guest Post by Cathy Derus

February 13, 2015

As an accountant and personal finance blogger, I’m a bit of a saver by nature. Little did I know that my intentional saving and spending would lead me to become a bit more green. When my husband and I became homeowners, we knew we would be on the hook for everything. Naturally, we’re now responsible for repairs. Additionally, utilities such as water and trash are no longer included in our monthly rent payment. Therefore, we strive to minimize energy waste so as not to waste money. Being green and saving environmental resources has been an excellent consequence of this decision.

And policymakers understand this. They offer incentives to entice the public and reward good behavior. For example, the US tax code includes a tax deduction for charitable contributions. I know some people donate to their favorite charity regardless of this incentive, but how many individuals or businesses wouldn't donate if they didn't receive this perk? In the energy efficiency realm, there are currently US tax credits available for residential energy property, such as solar power and geothermal heat pumps. Let’s not forget about the Energy Star program that lets you know how much you’re saving/spending on energy for an appliance.

I’m confronted with a similar, yet much smaller, cost/benefit analysis on a daily basis. Our weekly trash pick-up requires a $2.90 sticker on each 35-gallon trash can or bag of yard waste. (Clearly that’s not a budget buster, but we have to be sure to have stickers on hand.) How much do you think it costs me to recycle? Nada! Recycling pick-up is free. So you better believe that we?re more aware of what gets thrown out versus recycled.

As a result, we made the conscious decision to begin composting. We love cooking and can have a fair amount of food scraps. There?s also yard waste that we?d rather compost: fallen leaves, sticks, and trimmings from our bushes. My husband built the compost bin by taking a trash can and drilling holes into the bottom and side. You can learn more at the EPA website.

Here are a few other things we do to save/be green:

  • First, we put our compost to good use with our herb and vegetable garden! Some years the garden is really inexpensive when volunteer plants return from the prior year. I’m looking at you, cherry tomatoes and dill!
  • Speaking of free plants, my parents have split and shared plants that are overgrown or the wrong fit for their garden. We’ve also paid it forward by sharing some of our plants with our neighbors.
  • We bought our daughter’s dresser at an estate sale. For $50, we purchased a high-quality piece of furniture that may otherwise have been destined for a landfill.
  • As a mom, I cloth diaper (on a part-time basis) and breastfeed our daughter. Yes, I know both of those options aren’t feasible for every family, but they’re working for us.
  • Bring reusable bags to the grocery store. Some stores like Target and Whole Foods will give you a small refund when you bring a bag. You can also donate that refund to their current charity.
  • Turn off lights when we're not in the room.
  • Turn off the air conditioning when we?re not home in the summer. And turn down the heat when we?re not around in the winter. There are some great programmable thermostats that do this automatically for you.
  • Turn off the water when brushing my teeth or washing my face.
  • Shop locally. My personal favorite is at farmer?s markets and a local eco-friendly gift boutique.
  • Down the line, we might get or try to make a rain barrel. Some family members have one and really seem to enjoy it.

What are ways that you save money by being green?

Cathy Derus is a Chicago CPA and lover of cupcakes, craft beer, running, nesting, and her family. She can be found writing about all of these things and saving money with style at Fiscally Chic.

Kaitlin Gardner

About the Author

Kaitlin Gardner

Kaitlin Gardner currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking , hand with her family and friend and enjoy nature.

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