Think Green

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Go green and save money at the same time

Since the economic downturn that began in 2008, many men and women have placed a greater emphasis on saving money. Downsizing a home or trading in that gas guzzler in the driveway for a more fuel efficient vehicle are two major ways to save money, but there are many less drastic choices men and women can make that not only save money but also might just save the planet along the way.

The desire to be more eco-conscious is strong in many people, who recognize the responsibility they have to protect the planet for future generations. But while incentives may not be necessary to entice people to be more eco-friendly, there are many ways men and women can go green and save money at the same time.

* Eat in. Dining out on the town can make for a wonderful evening. But when dining out, diners are often at the mercy of restaurant owners and chefs with respect to the ingredients in their foods. Restaurants can cut corners by ordering less expensive ingredients that might be processed or produced far away, which means they must be packaged and transported before they inevitably find their way onto your plate. Packaging and transporting products from afar is not very friendly to the environment. When eating in, men and women have a greater amount of control as to what goes into their meals, allowing them to choose locally produced foods and ingredients that did not leave as big a carbon footprint as foods produced in distant locales. And dining is nearly always less expensive than dining out at restaurants, where the costs of buying and shipping ingredients are passed on to diners.

* Borrow and let borrow. The days of yore when neighbors used to drop by and borrow a power tool or a cooking dish are largely a thing of the past. But borrowing has its benefits, both for your bottom line and for the planet you call home. If you're friendly with your neighbors, don't be afraid to let them borrow your tools, letting them know that borrowing is both eco-friendly and cost-effective. Many power tools spend the vast majority of time sitting on a shelf in the garage or a backyard shed, so lending such items out to friends or family members is a good way to get the most of your investment. If you share your tools with neighbors, friends or family members, don't be afraid to borrow items from them. You'll save money on items you only need once in a blue moon, and by doing so, you will be reducing reliance on the resources needed to create such products by lessening consumer demand.

* Get your hands dirty. The produce aisle at the local grocery store may not be busting your budget, but that does not mean you should just fork over your money for your favorite fruits and vegetables when it's so easy and rewarding to plant and grow your own garden. Organic vegetables tend to be more expensive at many grocery stores, but you can grow your own organic produce at home, saving money and reducing reliance on harmful pesticides at the same time.

* Turn in your tech products. As technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, more and more products we no longer use are piling up in closets, storage bins and desk drawers. But such items can be recycled, and you can even get paid to recycle them. For example, the Web site Gazelle.com buys used smartphones, cell phones, tablets, mp3 players, and other gadgets, allowing techies with older products they no longer use to turn their clutter into cash, all the while benefitting the environment.

Many people resolve to adopt more eco-friendly lifestyles without expecting much in return. But there are financial benefits to protecting the planet.

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