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Go Green to Get More Green

Cutting down on your travel time, starting a compost pile, or volunteering to clean up your community — sometimes helping to protect the environment can be hard to fit into your schedule. But going green doesn’t have to be difficult! Here are five ways you can save the planet — and your money — in your everyday life.

1. Swap out your single-use products

Even though it can be overwhelming to start going green, switching out your single-use products can be a quick and easy way to save you money. Pick up a reusable grocery bag while doing your usual shopping or grab some cloth napkins or towels while you’re running errands. You could cut down on single-use tissues by purchasing cloth handkerchiefs and carrying those. If you have old shirts or towels laying around the house, you could even use cuts of those instead of purchasing new products to save even more money.

Remember that not everything has to be reusable — find the mix of single-use and reusable products that works best and makes sense for your lifestyle.

2. Go paperless

Declutter your desk by opting for paperless documents. You can upload your files onto a number of free online file-saving and sharing platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox, keeping them in a safe and organized location that you can access at any time. By skipping the printer on documents and photos, you can save in both paper costs and ink cartridge costs. And, if you do need to print a document later on, you can have it at your fingertips in just a few clicks.

In order to clean up and prevent paper clutter, follow the guidelines outlined in CalPERS’ guide to simplify your life and find out how you can go paperless with CalPERS.

3. Change up your eating habits

It’s easy to do all your food shopping in one run to the grocery store, but for just a little extra time, you can get your produce for cheap by stopping in on your local farmer’s market. Smaller vendors often sell higher quality, fresher produce for less than grocery stores do, meaning you can get more bang for your buck if you support them.

Or, if you have more time, you can start your own garden at home. For those with space limitations, grow your own herbs on windowsills, patios, or balconies.

Finally, when you do shop at your grocery store, look for products that have the Fairtrade label — the outline of a person waving — which indicates the product was produced in a way that ensured sustainability for the planet and compensated workers fairly for their labor.

4. Find your community resources

The community you live in has a variety of public resources — see which ones you can use! For example, check out what programs your local library runs. Often, you can donate your gently used books, children’s toys, and puzzles to the library, which may either put your donation into circulation or sell it at a low price to other community members. By purchasing from these sales, you can directly support your library monetarily and get yourself a fun new book for a fraction of the price, while also reducing your environmental impact by reusing a book that has already been printed.

Your community resources may also include clothing swaps at your local park, community clean-up projects, a communal vegetable garden, and more.

5. Check with your energy company

According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, about 21% of energy consumed in the U.S. is spent on residential use each year. That’s a lot! To reduce your impact, take a look at your gas and electricity company’s website for the energy saver and incentive programs they offer. Some California energy companies offer a variety of programs, including those that are part of statewide energy-saving initiatives and those uniquely designed to fit your region’s needs. As an added plus, these programs can save your pocketbook on energy expenses over time.

By finding the right mix of green living to add into your everyday life, benefitting the planet can be a piece of cake! Just remember that reducing and reusing your old products is the simplest — and more economical — way to lower your impact. And, as you get more acquainted with green living, it will become easier, less time consuming, and more cost effective to do.

Keep in mind that you aren’t the only one reducing your environmental impact! We can work together toward a more sustainable future. To find out what CalPERS is doing to protect the environment, learn about our Green Accomplishments and Initiatives.