Earth Day tips that save the planet (and your money)

Mature couple washes and dries the dishes in their kitchen together. One man dries plates as he smiles, while the other man talks as he hand washes a cup over the sink.
April 18, 2024 | Alliant Credit Union

April 22 is Earth Day, a yearly celebration of the beauty that Mother Earth gifts her residents every year and to raise awareness and support for the environment. The holiday reminds us that we must do more to preserve our land, water and precious resources. Americans create 4.9 pounds of waste daily—1,800 pounds a year—three times more than the average global citizen. If you're easily overwhelmed by the climate crisis but feel the pressure on your pockets when choosing sustainable, earth-friendly alternatives, we have a few tips to help offset the costs of saving the planet.

Green tips that will save you some green

We all understand the need to phase out bottled water and take public transportation when possible to reduce carbon emissions. Here are some out-of-the-box ways to help preserve Earth's natural resources while saving some serious cash!

Save the planet when you skip pre-rinsing the dishes

Contrary to mom's popular opinion, you can skip the scrubbing after dinner and load those dishes straight into the dishwasher.

On average, you'll save about 20 gallons of water per load, as the average energy-efficient dishwasher only uses about 4 gallons of water per use. Energy Star says this equates to an average savings of $111 per year! Who said being a little lazy doesn't pay off?

Go green by washing clothes on cold

Did you know that 90% of your washing machine's energy goes toward heating the water in warm or hot cycles? If every person in the United States switched to washing clothes on cold, we'd save an average of 100,000 barrels of oil daily!

Washing your laundry in the cold-water cycle benefits the planet, your pocket and the longevity of your favorite garments. Cold cycles often preserve the color and sizing of your clothing and costs less! On average, it costs 4 cents per load if you keep the wash setting on cold versus 68 cents on the hot/warm cycle. If you were to do one load per day, that could save you $250 simply by opting out of warm water washing!

Save money and the environment by purchasing a travel mug

This one is for all our coffee (or tea!) lovers. Want to decrease waste while still enjoying your designer coffee runs? Purchase an eco-friendly travel mug!

According to Clean Water Action, 1.6 million trees are cut down every year for Starbucks's single-use cups. The designer coffee brand uses more than 8,000 paper cups per minute, which adds up to more than four billion a year!

Luckily for coffee connoisseurs, many java joints offer a sweet discount for those who bring in their reusable cups for their morning pick-me-up. While you're out grabbing your new drinking vessel, why not also pick up some reusable straws? More than 500 million plastic straws are used daily in the United States! (And unfortunately, those aren't recyclable either.)

Reduce your carbon footprint by turning off your camera during Zoom calls

Go ahead and tell your boss you're leaving the camera off today… you're simply saving the world by doing so. In a mid-pandemic study by Yale and Purdue, we've learned that one hour of video conferencing emits 150-1,000 grams of carbon dioxide into the environment and uses up to 12 liters of water. But turning your camera off during a meeting can reduce the negative impacts by 96%!

While turning off your video during meetings doesn't impact your utility bills, it does eliminate the need for extra prep to make you presentable, when you'd rather be tackling the day in sweats.

Eliminate paper waste by signing up for eStatements

If your financial institution is taking steps toward reducing its environmental impact, it may offer a monetary perk for those who enroll in eStatements. Electronic statements offer a convenient, secure and quick way for you to reference your finances—no filing cabinet required. At Alliant, high-rate savings and high-rate checking accountholders who sign up for eStatements avoid a $1 paper statement fee.

Aside from keeping more money in your wallet, you're also saving the beloved trees and all the animals that inhabit them. One ton of paper requires the deforestation of 24 trees. A popular big bank recently reported that they use 114,000 tons of paper on paper statements per year. Ditching paper statements is one of the easiest ways to save a little money every month and keep the planet healthy.

Save water by being mindful in the bathroom

Bathroom use accounts for up to 75% of water consumption in the average American home. Next time you review your water bill, look at how your usage compares to those around you in the neighborhood—making it a friendly competition to beat the Joneses and use less H2O.

Start by shortening your showers. A ten-minute shower uses about 25 gallons of water. Can you shorten it to 7 minutes per person? Much like washing your clothes on cold, turning the water a tad bit colder can also save you money. Here's a bonus: slightly colder showers can also benefit your skin, as hot showers tend to dry.

Pro tip: Air dry your hair after your shower, rather than using a hair dryer. National Geographic estimates that hair dryers emit 75 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air yearly, the same amount that a microwave or electric radiant heater creates.

Donate your used electronics

As a country, the United States generates around 6.9 million tons of e-waste each year. Like other types of waste, e-waste takes up room in landfills but can be extremely toxic. It is not biodegradable and can affect the soil, water and other living things.

If you have used electronics, such as computers, TVs, monitors, phones or tablets lying around, consider donating them instead of throwing them away. While donating your used electronics won't save you money, it could help those in your community. Technology is a major part of our society, and even with so many advances, a "digital divide” continues to exist throughout the United States.

Twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, Alliant Credit Union teams up with PCs for People for an electronics donation drive to collect used electronics from those in the community. This year's spring event will take place on Wednesday, May 8, from 9 AM to 1 PM CT at Alliant headquarters. Donated devices are wiped clean of all data and delivered to digitally-challenged or under-served populations or recycled. If you wish to wipe your old devices before donating, the FTC has advice on wiping a personal computer before disposing or recycling it.


Read more Alliant saving tips on the Money Mentor blog: 

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