Sadly, it is still more expensive to make many environmentally conscious purchases. A can of zero VOC paint still carries a premium. The Diesel engine VW I was coveting for the last month would have burned cleaner than a gas car and gotten far better MPG. But alas, I couldn't afford the upfront cost increase, so I defaulted to a good old gas model.
I'm a girl on a budget, raising my son as a single mother in hard economic times. So I scanned my lifestyle for ways that I do in fact save money through the environmentally responsible choices I made and I came up with the following list, proving that it is possible for economic = eco-friendly.
1) I swear by the reusable cloth snack bags by Itzy Ritzy as a way to simultaneously save money and resources. Here's the math: a 50 count box of slightly smaller Ziploc sandwich bags from Kmart.com were advertised at $2.19 (and I believe prices at my local Waldbaums are much higher). I sent along two reusable bags in my son's lunch and snack every school day this year of which there were approximately 180 and then there were snacks for car rides, beach outings and park trips....so let's call it around 400 bags per year. This totals $17.52 before S&H, but for just $9.99 each before S&H I have zippered reusable bags that will last years.
2) Turning off lights and appliances when not in use is a no-brainer for saving money and saving resources. It may only equal 20 bucks a year or so in savings, but conserving electricity is simply the right thing to do. I take it a step further by not having AC in my house so my summer electric bill is a few dollars a month compared to the $100 or so I used to shell out July through September in the city.
3) The reusable water bottle trend has certainly caught on and we all know filtered water is usually a safer bet than tap. But it's a surefire way to save pennies too! I've probably purchased about half a dozen pretty steel canisters over the past few years but if I had bought individually bottled water or had a 5 gallon filling station at my home, I'd have easily spent hundreds every year. The cost of filters for the average water filter pitcher system is around $60/year. (The Tree of Life Bottle pictured above is $9.98 from Gaiam and of course I use the Shaklee Get Clean Water pitcher that filters out more contaminants than PUR or Brita models.)
4) I recently discovered 7-11 coffee refills for .99 cents (any size!). I think my medium coffee was around $1.65 so I save about .60 cents a day if it's a one-cup day and even more if I'm refilling multiple times. This only works in the burbs where 7-11's line the streets. Going out of one's way for a refill would clearly cancel out the savings in fuel costs. I believe Starbuck's also offers a BYOC discount, but the budget-minded like myself try to stay out of Starbuck's.
5) My 32 oz bottle of Shaklee's Get Clean Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate is still about 2/3 full and I purchased it for the member price of $10.35 in January. And if you know me, you know I clean my house A LOT. So, for around $10 I get a year of 750 squeaky clean square feet. Not to mention the space I save under the kitchen sink by not having to have a half dozen targeted cleaning sprays and bottles. (Send me an email at email@example.com, I'd be happy to help you save money and space too!!)