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Savvy Ways to Save Money By Going Green

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Earth Day

This Saturday, April 22, 2023, is Earth Day. The annual event is celebrated worldwide to raise awareness about protecting the world’s resources and to inspire sustainability-focused living. The first-ever Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, when 20 million Americans at 2,000 colleges and universities and 10,000 grade schools participated in demonstrations, protests, sit-ins, and teach-ins. The goal of the original event was to bring attention to growing concerns over the environmental impact of industry, power, and expansion—and they were more successful than expected. The popularity of the event led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act later that same year. These changes lay the groundwork for government agencies to assess the environmental impact of their actions and set cleaner health and safety standards.

This Earth Day, we are celebrating by holding our annual Shred Day event. If you would like to sustainably dispose of your accumulated documents, mail, and paper, you can bring 2 mid-sized boxes to the Maps High Street Branch and Professional Center (465 Division St NE in Salem) between 9 am and 1 pm, to be shredded and securely disposed of.

In the meantime, we’ve got some tips on how to live more sustainably (and save a little money while you are doing it).

  • Go Paperless. Did you know that you can do almost all of your banking on your mobile device or desktop computer? Sign up for our free online banking service (or download the app) and you can check your balance, transfer funds, pay bills, access online statements, and keep tabs on your budget wherever you are—no paper required.
  • Skip Single-Use Products. Finding reusable options for disposable things like paper towels, napkins, plastic bags, and water bottles can save you a lot of money in the long run. Let’s look at paper towels as an example. The average household uses one to two paper towel rolls per week. At an average cost of $16 for an 8-pack, that works out to about $100 to $200 per year—just for paper towels. Reusable towels or dishcloths may cost more initially, but they will last a lot longer—and save trees!
  • Save Water. To save water, the EPA recommends that you never let the water run when you are not actively using it. They also suggest that you take short showers instead of baths, operate the dishwasher only when full, and only water your yard in the coolest part of the day (among other suggestions). The good news is, the smaller your water bill is the more you are helping to conserve a valuable resource.
  • Cut Your Energy Bill. There are lots of simple ways to lower your energy costs. One of the easiest ways to do it is to swap out all your lightbulbs for energy-efficient bulbs. According to the Department of Energy, residential LEDs use at least 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs (and they last up to 25 times longer). Another good way to decrease unnecessary energy costs is by installing a programmable thermostat. Energy Star estimates that homeowners who install (and properly use) one can save about $180 per year.
  • Consider an Energy Audit. If your utility bills are high and you are making efforts to conserve energy, hidden air leaks and “phantom power suckers” may be the reason why. Conduct a DIY energy audit to see where your home is losing energy and where you can save money.
  • Grow Your Own. If you have a bit of a green thumb, you can save a lot of money by adding a garden plot to your yard (or growing some vegetables in pots on your porch or patio). If you have the space and the time, try growing everything you would need to make a hearty salad—like lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and radishes. Swap produce with a neighbor or friend regularly to maintain variety. If you have never gardened before, start small. Plant only one or two of your favorites and then add more as you get more comfortable with the process.
  • Reuse. Whether you call it reusing, repurposing, or upcycling, turning trash into treasures can be a cost-saving (and fun) practice. Old T-shirts can become cleaning rags. An egg carton can become a seed starting tray. Wine bottles can become tiki torches. A discarded wood pallet can become anything from a dining table to an outdoor swing. Before you throw something away or buy something, think about how you might be able to DIY it using materials you already have.
  • Buy Second Hand. The most obvious benefit of buying second-hand (whether you are purchasing furniture or fashion) is the cost savings. But when you buy things from vintage boutiques, charity shops, and thrift stores, you are also helping to preserve the world’s resources by decreasing the demand for production—not to mention keeping those discarded items from going to a landfill. Of course, the most fun part of shopping second-hand is that you are more likely to find unique and hard-to-find items that no one else will have.
  • Invest Sustainably. When evaluating your portfolio, there is a popular new factor to consider—its sustainability. The sustainable investing trend relies on evaluating potential investments based on their behavior when it comes to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. Those with high ESG ratings tend to adhere to more sustainable practices, produce less waste, and have lower carbon emissions—which is an attractive trait to some investors. In fact, a 2019 study by Morgan Stanley found that sustainable funds showed a lower downside risk than traditional funds and had a greater potential for high returns. It’s hard to know what the future will bring, but current trends seem to indicate that in the not-too-distant future, businesses that rely less on fossil fuels may have a competitive edge.

So, celebrate Earth Day by shredding your piles of mail. Give the earth some love by going paperless. Whether you switch to reusable paper towels or slice your energy bill in half, savvy sustainable practices can lead to more money in your pocket.

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