When it comes to green living, many people are overwhelmed with all of the advice and expenses. But, in truth, many of the best ways to be gentler to our planet are simple and also save money. With a few basic first steps in green living, you’ll discover how easy and fun it really is.

Ditch the Disposables

Choosing reusable products whenever possible is a great way to save money and reduce waste and is often the first step to green living. There are countless products that are designed to be used again and again and again: reusable napkins, lunch bags, sandwich bags, snack bags, water bottles, and coffee commuter mugs are some of the ways to ditch the daily disposables.

Clean With Vinegar and Baking Soda

A clean house is something that most of us strive for, but many of the commercial cleaners are actually harmful to our health and the environment. Babies and children are particularly vulnerable due to their small size and spending so much time on the floor. Homemade cleaners using ingredients you already have in your kitchen are easy, safe, and save money.

Try these homemade cleaner recipes to get you started. Before you know it, you will discover all kinds of ways to clean with vinegar!

  • Simple All-Purpose Cleaner: combine 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar, 3/4 cup warm water into a recycled spray bottle, and 1/2 tsp liquid castile soap (optional). Shake to blend.
  • Simple Soft Scrub: mix 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap. Add a little white distilled vinegar to give it a thick and creamy texture.

Turn Down (or Up) the Thermostat

Turning down the thermostat in the winter and up in the summer is an easy way to save money and energy on your path to green living. On average, you can save 10% on heating and cooling bills by adjusting the thermostat 10° for only eight hours. As warmer weather nears, keeping windows open and the air conditioning off, even for just a short time, is another easy way to save energy while reducing indoor air pollution.

Conserve Water

We all know that we should turn off the water when we aren’t using it, but there are lots of small ways to conserve water in our homes that might be overlooked.

  • Shortening a shower by a minute or two can save up to 150 gallons of water a week.
  • Running dishwashers and washing machines only when full can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  • Check your home for leaks, toilets and sinks are the usual culprits. Repairing any leaks can save 13% on your water bill on average.
  • Lawns only need one inch of water per week. Measure the amount of water used with a recycled can or rain gauge to ensure your lawn gets the proper amount without waste. Water in the morning or evening to reduce evaporation.

Walk, Bike, Use Mass Transit

Green living doesn’t mean just inside your house. Save money on gas, wear and tear on the car, and the planet by choosing a healthier mode of transportation. Driving your car less means walking, biking, and using mass transit more. Currently 40% of all urban travel in America is two miles or less, and 90% of that is by car. For those short trips in particular, try walking or biking even once or twice a week. Then try to tackle the daily commute. See if you can commit to commuting by bike, carpool, or mass transit once a month or even once a week! You may not be able to do without your car all the time, but there may also be opportunities for fewer trips in the car by planning ahead and combining multiple stops into one trip. The goal is to pay attention to your car use and make the decision if it is really necessary or if a better alternative is available.