If you aren’t ready to throw some solar panels on the roof and ditch your power company, but would like to save some money by living a greener life in Greenbelt, here are 20 tips to help you get started.
Around the house:
1. Buy food, including spices and flour, in bulk. You’ll save money and reduce the amount of packaging that goes in the trash. MOMs Organic Market offers bulk food options.
2. Make sure your thermostat is set properly. Lowering the default settings during the summer and at night could save you almost $200 a year, according to Energy Star. More tips at energystar.gov.
3. Insulate your hot water heater. To see if you need to insulate, touch your heater. If it is warm to the touch, it needs additional insulation. You will lower your water heating costs with this single step.
4. Cut down on car trips and run your errands on your bike or on foot. Rusty on two wheels? Take a workshop from REI.
5. Rip up some lawn and plant a vegetable and flower garden. You will save a ton of money on food, and delight your children as they watch things grow over the summer. Need help getting started? Check out the Maryland Master Gardeners for tips.
6. If your zoning permits, get some chickens and have fresh, free eggs every day. Get support and ideas at urbanchickens.net and the Prince George's County 4-H Youth Development Program.
7. Expand your hand-me-down circle. Organize a clothing swap for your co-op, preschool or a group of friends. Have everyone bring gently used and clean kids’ clothes to your garage; parents can take as many items as they donate. The rest goes to charity.
8. Have your kids make their friends’ birthday cards and wrapping paper. Paper bags are easily transformed with pastel crayons or markers, and kids love getting a handmade card—as do adults.
9. Organize a Halloween costume swap in September. This can be a great service project for a Girl Scout troop. Reserve a room at the Greenbelt Library and publicize to your parenting listserv. Green Halloween is a great resource for ideas on how to get started.
10. Check out Swap.com, a “valet service” that collects your unwanted clothes, gear, media, toys and décor and sells them on its site. You set the prices and you can take your windfall in cash or stuff.
12. When stuck in line at the bank drive-through or school pickup line, turn off your engine. Get other driving tips for tree huggers on the Car Talk website.
13. Ditch those dreaded sandwich bags and get some washable containers or bags. I love ReUsies, washable cloth sandwich and snack bags made in Seattle.
14. Save up to 30 percent on your monthly heating bills by having a home energy audit done by a professional. Ask if your local utility will cover some of the cost.
15. Give and accept hand-me-downs.
16. Replace your old light bulbs with LED bulbs. They last 15 times longer and use 75 percent less energy. Find stores with bulbs at energystar.gov.
17. Got an older house? Install double pane windows and you’ll see immediate savings on your heating bill.
19. Dump your bottled water costs. Buy snazzy metal water bottles for everyone in the family at REI and a personal filter for your kitchen faucet, and you could save hundreds of dollars a year.
20. Replace your shower heads with low-flow models. Low-flow shower heads can save you up to 15 percent of water heating costs.
TELL US: How did you go green?