Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags every year, according to CawRecycles.org. Only 8 percent of plastic waste in America is recycled. Non-recycled plastic bags end up in landfills and marine environments, where they are ingested by marine life, causing internal toxic buildup or death by asphyxiation, as BreastCancer.org notes. The plastic Baggies and grocery bags that are so ubiquitous in kitchens and stores throughout the globe are a primary source of pollution.
It does not have to be this way—there are creative ways to go green and save money at the same time.
Invest in Glass Storage Containers
One good reason why you should stop storing food in plastic is because many plastic storage containers are made of BPA, which is an endocrine disrupter, according to BreastCancer.org. BPA mimics estrogen in the body and has been found to be a contributing factor for many disorders, including breast cancer. Instead, invest in glass storage containers made by companies such as Anchor Hocking and Pyrex. The containers along with their lids are reusable, affordable and dishwasher safe. Bonus: Both Pyrex and Anchor Hocking are made in the United States.
Go Back to Cloth
Paper products make up an estimated 28 percent of municipal solid waste, as the EPA explains. Before paper towels came along, homemakers used fabric kitchen cloths to clean up spills and wipe counter tops. When the cloths got soiled, they were laundered along with other household towels and linens. Make the switch from paper napkins to cloth napkins. They don’t have to be fancy. Buy a batch of inexpensive white bar towels to use in the kitchen in place of paper towels. It’s an easy way to save money by going green.
Choose Your Energy Wisely
Depending on the energy regulations in your area, you may be able to choose your own energy supplier. Take the time to research green energy suppliers and how they price their services. Many green energy companies offer discounts and affordable options while sticking to earth-conscious resources. You might even get discounts for using less energy or switching to green light bulbs and appliances.
Go Back to Scratch
Mix up a batch of eco-friendly laundry detergent in your own kitchen using washing soda, borax and Fels Naptha bar soap (from GreenVirginiaProducts.com). If you don’t want to or don’t have the time make your own detergent, invest in a large bag of natural soap nuts, also called "soap berries". According to Mercola, soap berries grow on trees in temperate climates such as India. One 2.2 pound bag that currently retails for less than $30 online will last for about 330 loads.
There are more ways to save money by making things from scratch. The chemicals in commercial weed killers enter the water supply and can harm us. Use natural solutions such as undiluted white vinegar. Put it in a spray bottle and apply it to small areas or attach it to your garden hose just like the commercial brands. Skip the expensive chemical-laden furniture polishes that come in metal cans. Place a dollop of coconut oil on a dusting cloth and buff your furniture to a high sheen, as Mercola suggests.
Shave Your Cosmetics Budget
From wrinkle creams to hair masks, cosmetics cost women hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year. Cosmetic companies wield their power through women’s yearning to enhance their appearance. There are natural, eco-friendly and inexpensive ways to achieve similar or better results. Pull out that coconut oil from the pantry and keep some in the bathroom. Coconut oil is an effective skin moisturizer, makeup remover and hair mask.
Take the Easy Way Out
If you do nothing else on this list, at least take the easy way out. Go to your refrigerator right now and turn the temperature in the fridge, and the freezer up by one or two degrees. It won't make a difference to your food, but your electric bill will drop noticeably.