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Published on August 8th, 2008 | by Stephanie Evans


Does It Pay to Go Green?

For many Americans, the idea of going green involves over-priced veggies, unaffordable hybrid cars, and expensive organic remedies.

So given the price of oil, the falling value of the dollar, and the price of most organic food (and food in general), how practical is it to go green on a budget?

Going Green on a Budget

For those of us currently lacking cash, a few simple lifestyle modifications can leave us healthier wealthier, and wiser.  You might be surprised to find that many of your daily activities are already eco-friendly, and the cheaper alternative.  However, if you just can’t reconcile your green desire with an empty wallet, here are a few tips to help you save and go green at the same time.


The average U.S. commute is 12 miles, and in an average 27-mile-per-gallon vehicle, with gas at $4.00 a gallon, it tallies up at nearly $900.00 dollars a year.  This represents a conservative estimate, as many commutes extend far beyond 12 miles.  Although public transportation isn’t free, it’s much cheaper than driving, especially when you figure in car maintenance, insurance, and a small allowance for parking tickets.

Riding your bicycle is the best (and healthiest) green option, and will help shed any unwanted pounds you may have.  Replacing your car with a bike ride just once a week could shave off $184.00 from annual commuting costs.

Carpooling often saves time, money, and wear and tear on your vehicle. If driving a vehicle is a must, check out 5 Fuel Saving Strategies for some tips on how to save money (and reduce fuel intake) at the pump.


Buying produce in season is a green and budget-friendly technique to cut food costs.  Berries out of season usually cost around $3.00 more than when they are in season.

Your local farmers’ market is truly the best place for those on a budget to shop with a clean conscience.  Not only do farmers’ markets support sustainable farming practices, organic produce, and local farmers, but they enable an experience that is greener than meets the eye.

By eliminating the chain of jet fuel, pesticides, and unfair labor practices linked to some supermarket produce, farmers’ markets provide a budget-kind, community-cultivating, eco-friendly option for gathering an healthy harvest.

Organic Coffee Grounds

Coffee and Water

The elixir of life to some, coffee is a great example of how going green can economically, psychologically, and physically impact the lives of others.  Fair trade coffee practices dramatically improves returns to small producers and positively affects their daily lives while maintaining the precious forest canopy for tropical birds and their future generations.

Fair trade, ecosystem-supporting coffee does cost more, but at $2.00+ a cup at the café, you will save big if you brew at home.  You will also spare the environment from a surplus of non-recyclable coffee cups that meet their end in the trash.

After your workout, at the job, or during your weekend, opt for a reusable water bottle instead of spending money on bottled water.  An average plastic bottle of water costs $1.79.  Many reusable bottles sell for around $18.00, such as Klean Kateen and Sigg, which are made from recycled aluminum, are completely leach-free, and come in several styles.

Home and Cleaning

Creating your own home cleaning solutions is the most healthy and economical way to go—you know what’s in them and you’ve often invested mere pennies per product.  Visit Eco Cleaning Solutions for a Healthy Home for tips and recipes.

Companies like Seventh Generation and Biokleen offer lines of eco-friendly products that are of equal cost or cheaper than most leading bands.  Some eco paper products like paper towels may cost a bit more than the leading brands, but with 80% post consumer waste and 28 more towels, it might just be a green steal.  Many companies with green cleaning lines also sell baby and feminine care products, as well as household paper and supplies.

By switching from traditional petroleum-based liquid laundry detergent to a vegetable-based detergent, you’ll be cutting down on oil consumption and saving money.  Visit Soap Up Safely with Natural Detergents for tips and product finds.

Always scan cleaning product labels or company websites for confirmation of the following:

  • Non-toxic & biodegradable
  • No chlorine or petroleum-based solvents
  • Free of dyes, fragrances, and masking agents
  • No glycol ethers
  • Not tested on animals

Some companies like Seventh Generation offer coupons on their website—the ultimate thrifty, eco-friendly practice!

Going green on a budget isn’t always easy, but by creating our own solutions and realizing that the “greenness” of a product doesn’t always boost its price, we can make make the eco-friendly lifestyle fun and creative instead of daunting.

As awareness about the full impact of our lifestyle grows, soon only commitment to green living and a sharp eye for deals is all that’s necessary for your budget to work.

Get the Green Living Ideas book in softcover or PDF for as low as $2.99!

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