• Jerremy Alexander Newsome

5 ways to save money and the environment

Hey, Everyone! I'm Ashley, Jerremy's girlfriend (you've probably heard of me)? It's June and this month is conservation month at Real Life Trading. I went to school for Environmental Science and love getting to share my passion with everyone that I meet! There are so many ways you can take care of the environment without even changing your lifestyle. It's easy and best of all it saves you money. You're probably like, 'Ashley, tell me more!” You don't have to be Captain Planet, anything helps. Here are five easy tips to get you started!

1. Use reusable bags.

I picked this tip as the first one because in my opinion this is one of the easiest to do. How many times do you go to the grocery store each week? And how many bags do you bring home each time you go? For me, it's about 10. Ten bags every week that I use for about 30 seconds when I bring them from my car to my house.

Plastic is one of our most used materials in the world and it is one of the most environmentally destructive. We use about 500 billion plastic bags per year. Per year! The problem with plastic is that it doesn't break down easily and can take about 500 to 1,000 years to do so. What's even crazier is that virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form, with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated. Any 'broken down' plastic still exists as tiny microscopic particles, so it's almost impossible to get rid of.

So what can we do to help? Reusable bags are a wonderful way to start cutting down on the amount of plastic you are using. They are cheap, more durable, and often times hold more than plastic bags. Plus, as the world becomes environmentally conscious a lot of companies are starting to offer incentives for bringing them!

Here is a list of retailers that reward you for using your own bags. Oh, and did I mention that the first three are publically traded too?

Target

Whole Foods

CVS

Trader Joe's

2. Use a reusable water bottle.

This tip is three fold.

I. Bottled water and tap water (in most cases) taste exactly the same.

II. It saves you money.

III. It cuts down on plastic.

You may have seen our recent video,'Bottle Water Taste Test Challenge: Dasani vs Aquafina vs Tap” where we tested whether or not we could tell the difference between bottled water vs tap water. Basically we found that we really couldn't tell the difference between any of the waters. And apparently neither can the rest of the world. In 2006 a blind taste test in Wandsworth, England was conducted between tap water and the leading bottled water brands. It was found that over 80% of the 650 participants couldn't tell a difference between the bottled and tap water. Even more so, 2/3 of them actually preferred the tap water to the bottled brands.

Why does this matter!? Because why would you want to spend money on something that doesn't taste any different than what comes out of your tap! According to Business Insider the average gallon of bottled water costs about $1.22 (that's 300x's the cost of a gallon of tap.) Now if we take into account the fact that 2/3 of the bottled water sold comes in single 16 oz bottles, a gallon of bottled water now becomes MUCH higher, at $7.50 a gallon. With that being said, that makes your bottled gallon 2000x's more expensive than tap water!

Now for the conservation piece of this, it cuts down on plastic. American's used over 50 BILLION water bottles last year… and only 23 percent were recycled. This means that 38 billion water bottles were wasted last year. That's 167 bottles per person, which is why I say this. Get yourself a nice glass water bottle – they cost about as much as four plastic water bottles – and just add water. Glass bottles are better for you because they don't have any of those plastic chemicals floating around and they taste better, especially for people like me who don't like that plastic taste! Boom, saving money left and right!

If you haven't seen the video yet, click here to watch the video.

3. Turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth.

This seems like a no brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people just let their water run while they brush their teeth. All right, time for a quiz! The following question comes from the EPA.

___________________________________________________________________________________

How much water can you save per day by turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime?

A. Up to 2 gallons

B. Up to 4 gallons

C. Up to 8 gallons

D. Up to 6 gallons

The correct answer is C! According to the EPA, 'The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute; by simply turning the tap off, you can save more than 100 gallons of water per person each month.” For a family of four that is 400 gallons of water per month. That's 4,800 gallons per year. Water prices differ depending where you are in the country, but here is Nashville, TN that would save you about $24.00 a year for doing absolutely nothing. Now in a place like California, where the water is much more expensive, you would be saving almost double or triple that! Now that's refreshing.

If you did awesome on this question and want to put your brain to the test on even more water related questions, check out this link and let us know how you do!

4. Close the refrigerator door.

For this one I'm going to paint you a picture. It's after dinner. You're hungry. It's not quite time for bed. You walk to the kitchen and open the refrigerator door. And then…. you just stand there and stare. How many of you are guilty of this? I know I am. When I get hungry I just stand there in front of the refrigerator door for way longer than I actually need to, as if some new food is magically going to appear for me to eat. We spend way too much time with the refrigerator door open. So this one is simple! Close the door! Just close it. Get what you need and get out. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida did a study that found that being careless with opening and closing your fridge door wastes 50 to 120 kWh a year. To put that into perspective, 100 kWh can run your washing machine about 11 times. Don't waste the cold air! Your electricity bill will thank you later.

5. Turn off the AC when you leave on vacation.

Jerremy and I recently put this tip into effect. Now I will go ahead and preface this by saying this doesn't and won't apply to everyone, but let's say that you are going on a two-week long vacation. No one will be in the house. There really isn't any reason that the air needs to be on. It won't benefit anyone. Turn that sucker off! According to Energy.gov, heating and cooling your house is 48% of your electricity bill. Save that money! Spend it on a cool souvenir in Italy, or that extra meal out!

Use your best judgment here, though. This works best for smaller and medium sized homes, or apartments. If you have a castle of a house, or live in a place that is VERY cold or VERY hot, the amount of energy it would take to re-cool or re-heat the house back to where it was before you left may outweigh the cost of turning it off for two weeks. So… just think about it first! You know your house better than me.

In the end, these simple steps are great ways to become more environmentally minded and yes, they save you money. So with all those savings, now you have some funds to start that trading account you've always wanted! Happy trading and thanks for listening!

- Ashley R. Allen

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