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Seven Simple ways to Help The Environment and Your Wallet

The world is a big place with big problems. Some environmental activists demand we stop living our lives and look at everything we do as an Earth-changing event, but not everyone can focus their entire lives around saving the planet. The truth is that it isn't necessary to make drastic changes in one's life to make a difference. It isn't even necessary to spend more money to be environmentally conscious. Below are seven simple ways to make a difference in the environment, and save money doing it.

1. Buying compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent ones. Advances in technology have led to a light bulb that's designed to last up to 15 times the life of a standard bulb. They cost more up front, but they are replaced much less often, which makes them cheaper in the long run. Plus, these bulbs will use less than a third of the power of incandescents, which will reduce electricity costs. They also generate less heat, so less air-conditioning is needed in the summer.

2. Reusing shopping bags. Every bag reused is one less bag that needs to be manufactured. Also, several supermarket chains have started giving small credits towards their customers' bills when they bring in old bags to reuse. Some people like to keep old shopping bags in their trunk, just in case. Even more of an improvement would be using non-disposable canvas bags 'they still count towards the credit at the check-out, but are made from eco-friendly materials.

3. Carpooling. Most people associate carpooling with going to work, but there are many other opportunities to share a ride. A great deal of money could be saved on gasoline by one car going to the mall rather than two. Also, with a little planning, shopping trips could be taken less frequently.

4. Turning off the water when not in use. Simple things like using half a sink full of water to wash dishes instead of running the water can prevent waste. Turning the water off while brushing your teeth is also a good idea. Finally, making sure faucets aren't left dripping will make a significant difference in water bills.

5. Completely turning off electronics. A great many of today's appliances and electronics have a standby mode. Televisions and stereos in particular tend to use a great deal of electricity while on standby. Plugging devices into a power strip that has an on/off switch can give consumers more control over their electricity use. Particular attention should be paid to anything with a big transformer plug, as these devices tend to use the most power and waste the most money.

6. Turning off the air-conditioning and/or heat when leaving the house. A great deal of electricity is wasted cooling or heating an empty home, which leads to bigger bills. Even setting the temperature one or two degrees different, keeping the system from activating as often, can save significant amounts of money each year.

7. Turning off the lights. A good rule of thumb is, "light is useless if there's nobody there." Turning off any ceiling fans, floor fans and lights when leaving the room saves just a little bit of electricity, and money, every time it's done.

Of course, there are many more ways to help the environment while saving money. These seven are simply among the most often overlooked easy solutions. Public libraries and environmental websites are great sources of further information.
About the Author
Juan Anselmo Borla is a freelance writer and poet. He lives at Dancing Rabbit, a sustainable ecovillage in northeast Missouri. There, he hopes to make the world a better place by using his Chemical Engineering degree to develop an alternative fuels program. His fiancee and two cats hope he doesn't blow himself up in the process.

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