10 Ways to Save by Going Green

Recession-era frugality has been good for our wallets, and the planet, too.


Slide Show: 10 Ways to Save Money by Going Green

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7. Get paid to recycle. Sometimes, going green doesn't just save you money—it earns you money. Old phones, printers, monitors, iPods, and personal digital assistants—stashed in drawers and closets when they kick the bucket—are valuable to companies that refurbish, resell, and recycle them, and they'll reimburse you in cash. "From the lazy environmentalist's point of view, [recycling] is a pain in the neck," says Dorfman, who recommends E-cycler Gazelle. Second Rotation, EcoNew, and BuyMyTronics will also buy your broken gadgets. "You're getting paid to sit on your couch," says Dorfman. 

[Don't Be Duped By E-Cycling Scams.] 

8. Don't be trashy. Reducing your share of trash provides instant green gratification and can help you save on your grocery bill. Whether it's tissues, plastic sandwich bags, or cotton balls, most of our disposable goods have a durable alternative—like handkerchiefs or sponges—that will get the job done just as well and will pay for itself in savings. A surprisingly stylish influence has been the AMC television show Mad Men, which has brought 1960s-era accouterments like long-lasting straight razors and handkerchiefs back in vogue. But even if you find it hard to do without your paper napkins, the easiest change is to replace bottled water with a reusable water bottle. 

9. Conserve water. Your water bill is inextricably tied to your energy bill through your water heater, so reducing your use of hot water can mean extra savings. Dorfman endorses a low-flow showerhead, enabling him to take long showers guilt free. 

10. Don't buy it—rent it. Savvy entrepreneurs have launched sites to rent out anything from cars to handbags for short-term use and big-time savings, both carbon and financial. Car-sharing company Zipcar is the best-known example, but sites like couture-lending Rent the Runway are growing fast. "Sites like these enable you to get what you want without actually owning it and allow other people to use it as well, collectively reducing the environmental impact," says Dorfman. "It allows you to save money and still enjoy your lifestyle."