How to Enjoy a Green Black Friday

Go shopping, save money, and help the Earth at the same time.

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Black Friday—the spending binge immediately following Thanksgiving—traditionally ranks as one of the top shopping days of the year. In 2009, Black Friday was the busiest single shopping day of the year.

The term “Black Friday,” is based on finance. Historically, on the day after Thanksgiving, the retail industry moved from being in debt (“in the red”) to a profit (“in the black”), according to the National Retail Federation. But on Black Friday shoppers can go green with eco-friendly activities that can save money and the environment. Here’s how to preserve resources on Black Friday:

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Download a wallet buddy

Protect your credit card and create a spending barrier by downloading a free wallet buddy from the Center for a New American Dream, a nonprofit organization that promotes eco-friendly policies, conscious spending and quality-of-life issues. New Dream has crafted anti-spending pledges, which can be downloaded onto recycled or discarded paper.

One side of the wallet cover card reads: “Every dollar I spend is a statement about the kind of world I want and the quality of life I value.” And the other side features a series of questions designed to encourage a careful review of each purchase. With scissors and tape, the pocket buddy can be shaped into a cover that slips over credit or debit cards.

“Read [the pledges] when planning to use your card,” New Dream recommends, adding that the wallet buddy is designed to encourage shoppers “to save money, buy wisely, and reach your financial goals more quickly.” (See also 5 Things You Shouldn’t Buy This Black Friday.)

Schedule an energy audit

With winter coming, this is the ideal time to assess the energy-efficiency of your home. My local electrical company provides an on-site residential audit, which is a service that is available to all consumers. Whether you live in a small apartment or a mansion, an on-site home audit is a valuable service. Here’s what happened during an energy audit at my home.

With a laptop, a printer and a full circuit of knowledge, energy management specialists arrived at my home to find energy drains. Watching the meter and measuring the output, the specialists measured the energy usage of the major appliances, including the central air conditioning unit, stove and refrigerator. After extensive testing, the team offered recommendations designed to save energy and money.

Target giveaways

Closets, cabinets and bookshelves are often stuffed with clutter. Clear space and find new uses for old items by donating castoff merchandise to a nonprofit organization. Your donation may qualify for a tax credit. Bring unwanted books to a used bookstore that provides store credits for book trades. Likewise, some video game stores offer trade-in values for used video games. Store credits can be used to purchase holiday presents on Black Friday.

[Visit the U.S. News My Money blog for the best money advice from around the web.]

Plan dinner menus

Thanksgiving usually yields several side dishes of turkey leftovers. Black Friday is an ideal time to plan future menus based on leftovers and other pantry ingredients. Menu-planning heats up frugality by creating a disciplined strategy for shopping and meal-preparation.

Nap

Skip over early-bird Black Friday sales, which can start before dawn. American consumers are becoming more sleep-deprived, according to the National Sleep Foundation. One in five Americans sleeps less than six hours nightly, and the lack of sleep can cost money and diminish safety. “People sleeping too few hours report being too tired to work efficiently, to exercise or to eat healthy,” according to the Sleep Foundation. By sleeping in or napping during Black Friday, you’ll save money and preserve your health.

Sharon Harvey-Rosenberg is a special financial news contributor for Wise Bread. She is the author of "Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money” and a contributing author to ”10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.”