There are plenty of reasons to go green, ranging from the idealistic – like helping the Earth – to the pragmatic – like saving money. According to the US Department of Energy, the US would save $20 billion dollars on energy costs if all the homes in the country were modified to be more energy-efficient. Similarly, using plumbing systems designed to save water will lower your water bill. Recycled building materials last five times as long as conventional materials, so a home made from recycled products will be a lot more durable than one made from standard materials.

Going green is also better for your health. Energy-efficient vehicles produce fewer pollutants than do cars that burn more gas or diesel fuel per mile traveled. Green household cleaners and paints emit fewer volatile organic compounds, so people in environmentally friendly homes enjoy better air quality and better health. Green products in general are made with fewer harmful chemicals than conventional products.

Going green doesn’t have to be expensive. Even if you can’t afford to build a new home made from recycled materials or buy a new electric car, there are plenty of practical, inexpensive ways to go green.

Visit the Library

Borrow books or movies from the library, as opposed to buying them. People generally read a book or watch a movie only once. By borrowing such items, you reduce not only the number that end up in landfills, but also the number manufactured in the first place. Making a new item from scratch requires energy and raw materials, while using existing items does not.

Recycle Everything Possible

“Single-stream” recycling has made recycling a lot simpler in many communities. Back in the bad old days, people had to sort their trash into different containers for paper, plastic, aluminum, etc. These days in most places, people can just put it all into one blue bin. There are still a few things like plastic bags that can’t be recycled in some communities, but your local recycling center will provide information about what they can and can’t take.

Recycling includes more than just disposables. It also means making stuff you no longer use available to others. Organizations like GoodWill accept old clothes, toys, some furniture, and some electronics. Many churches, libraries and social organizations accept donations and hold large-scale rummage sales one or more times each year. You may find a bookstore willing to buy some of your old books. Craigslist has a section to give and get free items, and there are local upcycling organizations and Facebook pages to redistribute items that their owners no longer need. If an item isn’t broken or defective, somebody else may be able to use it.

Don’t Buy Bottled Water

Bottled water is often tap water in ridiculously expensive packaging. Even worse, the plastic bottles require energy to produce and recycle, and if they’re not recycled they create huge amounts of solid waste. It’s much better to buy a reusable water bottle, preferably one made of aluminum, and fill that with water when it’s time to hit the gym. Tap water with a funny or unpleasant taste isn’t unsafe; it owes its flavor to chlorination or minerals in the water. Faucet-mounted water filters like Pur or Brita are available for less than $40.00, and they can improve the taste of tap water.

Buy Energy Star Products

Energy Star is a program developed by the EPA in the early 1990s to establish energy-consumption standards for a wide range of products. Independent scientists test and rate products from LED bulbs to refrigerators to entire buildings on their energy efficiency. Products that make the grade get a blue and white logo proclaiming their energy efficiency. Some building materials like doors, windows, and insulation materials can also get Energy Star certification. When it’s time to buy a new appliance, new computer or new door, look for one with the Energy Star label.

Use Less Power from the Grid

One of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to install a photovoltaic (solar energy) system at your home of business. By using less electricity from the grid, you cut back on the burning of fossil fuels and the air pollution it generates.

Contact TerraSol Energies to learn about solar energy installation in southern New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.