Save Trees and Make Green With These 4 Tips

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Did you know saving the planet can also save you money? Check out these four tips to help you keep more green in your wallet.

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Pop quiz: What are the "four Rs" you learned about on Earth Day as a kid? Many of us heard about them every April 22nd -- but many of us have nonetheless forgotten them.

This year, though, it's time to revisit those four Rs, because they can not only help save the planet, but also keep more cash in your wallet. Read on to learn (or relearn) how.

Reduce your consumption

Reducing, the first of the four Rs, has some pretty obvious benefits for your wallet. The less stuff you use -- like energy or consumer products -- the less damage you do to the earth, and the less money you spend.

So how can you consume less?

  • Turn your thermostat up a few degrees in summer and down a few degrees in winter. If you make this change gradually, you won't notice much of a difference. Also consider a programmable thermostat that adjusts the temperature while you're sleeping or at work.
  • Buy less stuff. Do you really need to break out the credit cards to buy the absolute latest phone or the most trendy clothes, or is last year's line good enough?
  • Skip the single-serve and prepared foods. It's way more expensive to buy prepared food, which creates tons of plastic and cardboard waste, than it is to cut up your own fruits and veggies, cook for yourself, or make a pot of coffee the old-fashioned way.
  • Unplug the electrical that use "phantom energy," meaning they use electricity even when they're turned off. All of the items in your home with clocks and batteries suck up energy, raising your bills and draining the planet of valuable resources. Your laptop doesn't need to be plugged in at all times, nor does the DVD player that you haven't turned on in two years.

Re-use instead of buying new

Most people opt for the convenience of buying something new when it would only take a little bit of effort to re-use what they already have.

Instead of opting for disposable paper towels, buy dish rags and cloths that you can use over and over. Or perhaps look into getting your shoes and appliances repaired instead of replacing them with something brand-new.

You can also look for used products when you do need to make purchases. There are some things you shouldn't buy used -- such as mattresses and children's safety gear -- but most of the time, used items are just as good or even better. And by buying used, you can get a lower price, keep an item out of a landfill, and conserve all the resources that went into making that new product you left on the shelves.

Repurpose

Whenever you have a need, stores are ready and willing to provide a solution -- so long as you're willing to pay the price. But perhaps you could instead repurpose something you already have.

Thinking of buying your child a play kitchen? See if that old entertainment center in the basement could be made into an awesome one instead. Likewise, an old dresser could be made into a changing table since your child will only need one for a few years anyway.

There are almost endless options for repurposing old items into new ones, from turning broken windows into picture frames to turning old salvage doors into desks or dining tables. Pinterest is a great place to find a way to give salvaged items new life, so before you buy, see if something you already own could serve the same purpose with a few tweaks.

Recycle

Recycling can actually earn you small amounts of cash if you turn in cans and bottles for the deposit. And scrap metal can sometimes fetch a pretty good price, too. If you don't want to deal with it yourself, posting your scrap metal on Craigslist could help you find a buyer willing to pay a small amount to cart your metal away.

In some cities you also save money by recycling through avoiding fines imposed if you don't separate out your plastic and glass. And you can make sure items such as old clothes are recycled by donating them. Even if they aren't wearable, many charities sell these items to textile recyclers so they can be repurposed -- and you can potentially score a tax deduction for your donation.

Remember the four Rs to save

Now that you've revisited the four Rs, you should have lots of new ideas for how you can do your part to save the planet while also spending less and growing your savings accounts. Earth Day is a great time to start making some of these new habits. Mother Earth -- and your net worth -- will be better for it.