Go Green, Save Your Family Money

Filed under: Going Green

atm cash machine picture

Next time you're at the ATM, skip the receipts. Credit: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Small Choices, Big Difference: How can you save the planet and save money at the same time? AOL Kids & Family Coaches, Thomas Kostigen and Elizabeth Rogers, authors of 'The Green Book,' share some of their ideas on how everyone can go green -- and save a little green to boot.

Fire Up The Microwave: Keep your microwave clean and you'll be able to maximize its energy. Microwaves are more than four times more energy efficient than traditional ovens. If everyone in North America cooked exclusively with a microwave for a year, we'd save as much energy as the continent of Africa consumes during that time.

Get Rid of Junk Mail: The average U.S. household receives 1.5 trees' worth of junk mail each year. To reduce the amount of junk mail sent to you, register with Mail Preference Service. It costs a buck, but you'll save a lot of trees from being thrown right into the trash!

Switch Hair Products: Consider using a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner instead of buying each separately. You'll not only save on money and packaging, but you'll likely save time and water. If one in seven households followed this advice, the amount of plastic saved in one year could fill a 27-story high football field.

Bank without paper: ATM receipts are one of the top sources of litter on the planet, so don't print the receipt. Ask your bank for paperless statements. Some will even pay you a dollar or donate the money on your behalf. If every household took advantage, more than 17,000 high school graduates could attend public university for a year.

Work it at the car wash: Washing your car in a commercial car wash is better than doing it yourself. Commercial washes use up to 100 gallons less water, and they often recycle and reuse rinse water. If we all made the switch some 12 billion gallons of soapy water could be diverted from entering the country's waterways.

Unplug the tube: Between 10 and 15 percent of a TV's energy is still used when it's powered "off." If every home unplugged all their televisions when they weren't being used, we'd save more than $1 billion in energy bills. To make it easier, connect your TV to an outlet connected to a wall switch.

Send a message: If you can, send a text message or e-mail from a handheld device or cell phone, instead of a computer, especially quick, one-line notes. You'll save yourself time and conserve energy. Compared to sending a text message, e-mailing and IMing from a computer uses more than 30 times the electricity per message.

Use and refill water bottles: The average person in the U.S. drinks eight ounces of bottled water per day. Considering that plastic is made from petroleum, it takes 1.5 million barrels of oil annually to satisfy our thirst. Use and refill a single water bottle anytime you leave the house.

Takeout with less: When you order your meals to go, request less packaging. Whether the takeout is just for you or for your whole family, tell the restaurant the precise number of utensils and napkins you'll need rather than letting them guess. You'll save millions of plastic forks, knives and chopsticks from the trash.

Stop wasting food: On average, every American throws away about 12 pounds of uneaten poultry annually. If over the course of a year each household purchased just one less pound of chicken, the total water saved by not having to produce and package it would be 66 billion gallons -- more than all of California uses in a week.

Buy a used car: When buying a new car, think hybrid. But if you decide to buy used, you'll help save even more energy -- as well as over 2,150 pounds of steel. If one in a 100 potential new car buyers chose used instead, the amount of steel saved annually could reconstruct the Golden Gate Bridge, twice a year.

Excerpted from "The Green Book" by Thomas Kostigen and Elizabeth Rogers, Copyright © 2007 by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen. Excerpted with permission from Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.