Without a doubt, pursuing a healthier, eco-friendly lifestyle can stress the household budget. Organic and green-certified products often cost more than the conventional versions. However, common sense and creativity can help reduce these costs.
Cut Food Costs
Organic produce can cost as much as 40 percent more than traditionally grown crops. Pesticide and hormone-free farm produce are more affordable when purchased directly from the farm or through a local food cooperative. Cooperatives allow families to pre-purchase a fixed amount regularly. Selection will vary depending on the time of year. To cut costs further, buy in bulk and buy in season. Also, focus on buying organic produce only for the most pesticide-laden produce as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These products include apples, celery, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, bell peppers, potatoes, spinach and lettuce. For those who have the time and the space, a backyard vegetable garden is always an option.
Eliminate Toxic Household Chemicals
Ready-to-use household cleaners and deodorizers can cost quite a bit of money. These cleaning concentrates contain alarming levels of toxic compounds when there is really no need for industrial-strength cleansers for household use. These toxic cleansers can be replaced with mixtures using vinegar, lemon, baking soda or cornstarch diluted in water.
Cut Down on Energy Use
Old appliances that are not energy-star compliant are energy vampires. Replacing these appliances with newer ones will cut down on energy consumption. Replacing refrigerators, freezers and air conditioning units will require a bit of cash outlay but should pay off in the end. Plan the purchase to take advantage of discounted sales. Big-ticket purchases can be charged to low apr credit cards being a critical consideration if the purchased must be financed over a longer period. Use a card that earns reward points for purchases to mitigate some of the financing costs. Other ways to cut costs include the use of compact fluorescent bulbs, air drying laundry and dishes and using solar lights for outdoor lighting.
Reduce Fuel Consumption
Biking and walking burns calories and conserve fuel. Whenever possible, leave the car at home and take public transportation or initiate a carpool arrangement with colleagues. This will reduce gasoline consumption and vehicle maintenance expenses. Limiting the use of gas-guzzling vehicles will also reduce carbon emissions, a plus for environmental protection.
Retrofit to Meet Federal Green Guidelines
Federal and state programs enacted recently give homeowners tax incentives to pursue renovation projects that will conserve energy. These changes can include installation of insulation, code-compliant windows and exterior doors and metal roofs. Local utility companies provided financial incentives to homeowners who incorporate solar or wind energy systems. Savings can be deposited in a free checking account to maximize rewards from opting for a greener lifestyle.
Choosing to live healthier need not burden the budget. Mindful consumption means opting for healthier and greener choices that eventually pay dividends in terms of better health overall.