Science, Now + Beyond

4 things you can do to save money while saving the environment

It's your planet too.

Lets face it, our planet’s climate isn’t going to get any better by itself. And it’s pretty obvious from the way things are shaping up with our government that the people in office won’t do anything to help either. Climate change is a problem that affects us all, and now, it’s up to us to prevent it.

I’m tired of watching apocalypse movie trailers about the end of the earth, but that may very well be our future (minus the dramatized special effects). Even if it’s small, little changes in your life could eventually add up to make a big difference for the environment. Here are four simple ways you can take action, while saving money at the same time!

1. Use your feet

We have them for a reason, but we choose to use them more often for pressing the gas pedal of a car instead of walking. Cars and trucks emit about 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses for every gallon of gas we burn. If walking doesn’t take you places fast enough, try using a bike or skateboard. A lot of people on my college campus use bikes to get around which encourages the city to make infrastructure more pedestrian-friendly.

I live in California so I understand that long commutes can sometimes be unavoidable. Easier solutions would be to carpool to work or switch your gas-guzzler to a more fuel efficient hybrid. You’d be saving money on gas while running on electricity.

2. Air dry your clothes

Not only does this prevent clothes from shrinking, it will also save all the fossil fuel you’re burning by using a clothes dryer. The average cycle for drying-machines use over 4kWh of energy and produces around 1.8kg of carbon dioxide. Considering how many cycles it takes to get one load of laundry completely dry, these machines are inefficient and unnecessarily hurting our environment.

After switching to air drying, I ended up saving money (which is important as a broke college student), and all the freshly washed clothes made my room smell amazing. There are options to purchase cheap clotheslines online to dry clothes inside or outside. Another perk: your clothes will last longer so you won’t be putting more money into having new clothes shipped by freighters burning fuel oil to cross the ocean.

3. Don’t touch the thermostat

Climate control doesn’t need to be a year round thing when temperatures are still moderate, yet for some reason we are obsessed with carrying out our own climate change in every building we work and live in. The chemical compounds used in air conditioners known as HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, emit greenhouse gasses. Ironically, they are the culprits contributing to global warming while keeping you cool. Without it, we could be saving millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

During my first year in college, I discovered what a heater was for the first time after growing up in California where they don’t exist. What I wasn’t accustomed to was that my room was missing air conditioning even though the summer hadn’t ended yet. To keep cool, I kept the windows open almost 24/7, and when that didn’t work, I went outside. Sometimes it’s just nice to enjoy the actual climate how we were meant to live in it.

4. Unplug your devices

Just because an appliance is off, does not mean that it stops consuming energy. When you leave devices like your television, stereo, computers, and chargers, they’re still using electricity, thus creating more greenhouse emissions. By unplugging them, you could cut down drastically on your electricity bill as well.

However, unplugging is easier said than done if you have a lot of devices. Using a power surge is a convenient way of creating more plugs, with only one plug to unplug! Energy-efficient gadgets are also effective replacements which would save money and energy by replacing something you use on a daily basis.

Saving an entire planet can seem daunting; however, think of all the people that inhabit it. Just by doing your part, you’re already making a difference. Climate change can not be erased, but we can help to prevent it. And there is no better time to start than now.

  • Meghan Lannoo

    Meghan Lannoo is currently majoring in Creative Writing at Oberlin College. She gets inspiration from books, friends, and the outdoors.