Going Green on a Budget

With all of the concerns about today’s economy, some people may assume that actions we can take to reduce our global warming pollution will be too expensive. Yet, some of the most significant actions can also help you save money. Here are a few examples:

  • Travel options. A couple traveling by motor coach (or bus) can cut their carbon emissions in half compared with driving, and as much as 75 percent compared with flying, depending on the distance traveled. It’s also one of the least expensive transportation options—some bus companies offer fares on new motor coaches for as low as one dollar each way.

  • Your car/truck. If you are shopping for a car or truck—whether new or used—choose the model with the highest fuel economy and the lowest emissions that fits your needs and budget. The federal government maintains a database (see the Related Resources) recording the environmental performance of every car and truck model sold in the United States since the mid-1980s.

  • Home appliances. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average single-family household spends $2,000 a year for electricity and heating fuel. Replacing one or more of your appliances that consume the most energy—air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters, and refrigerators—with more-efficient, Energy Star-certified models will reduce your costs over time, and many utilities and state governments offer rebates when you purchase such appliances. See the Related Resources for a list of financial incentives in your state.

  • Food choices. You can stretch your budget and significantly reduce your contribution to global warming by eating less meat and dairy. Meat generally costs more per pound than other protein sources such as beans and tofu, and livestock production is more resource-intensive: it takes three pounds of grain (as livestock feed) to produce one pound of chicken, and 7 to 10 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. As a result, it generates more heat-trapping emissions (including nitrous oxide from grain production and methane released by cows and other ruminants) than plant-based foods grown specifically for human consumption. When you do buy meat or dairy products, choose those that have been pasture-raised, since grasses require less fertilizer and pesticide than grains.

[Enroll in the Green Party.  It costs you nothing, and it send a clear signal to the politicians where your budget priorities are. -ISW]

Related Resources

Union of Concerned Scientists—Getting There Greener

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency—Fuel Economy Guide

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

Union of Concerned Scientists—Greener Pastures

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