Saving Green

Many of the fundamentals of the green movement take us back to a more frugal mindset and reduced consumption. We can save money and help the environment by reducing the consumption of the following:


save money while saving resources
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Disposable Materials
  • Packaging
We went through our DwellSmart store the other day and selected products that support reduced consumption, emphasizing “reusable” over “disposable”. For each product, we analyzed the potential savings one could achieve using the product. For the first year, we calculated the net savings after including the cost of the products. Using an estimated lifespan for each product, we determined the total, net savings one could likely achieve over the life of the products. Here’s a summary of our findings:

Net Savings

Item

Reduces Consumption of

Year 1

Lifetime

20w Spiral CFL Light Bulb (75w equiv)

Power and Materials (uses less power and lasts longer than incandescent bulb)

$ 3

$ 40

Oxygenics TriSpa Showerhead

Water (saves .75 gallons per minute)

$ (11)

$ 593

Mabu 3-pack

Materials (Paper Towels)

$ 87

$ 274

The Ultimate Cloth

Materials and Packaging (glass cleaner, Ultimate Cloth cleans windows with just water)

$ 10

$ 26

String Bag

Packaging (plastic bags - some grocery stores offer a 10 cent rebate per bag)

$ (1)

$ 46

Dryer Balls

Power (reduces drying time by up to 25%) and Materials (disposable dryer sheets)

$ 20

$ 260

SwissGold Coffee Filter

Materials (disposable filters)

$ (8)

$ 53

Cloth Napkins (2 sets of 5)

Materials (paper napkins)

$ 29

$ 198

Stainless Steel Bottle

Materials and Packaging (bottled water)

$ 348

$ 2,538

Biokleen All-Purpose Spray + Concentrated Refill

Materials and Packaging (concentrated refill used to refill spray bottle 128 times)

$ 57

$ 332

Laptop Lunch System

Materials (plastic baggies) and Packaging (purchasing in bulk versus individual servings)

$ 73

$ 505

Rechargeable Battery Pack

Materials (disposable batteries)

$ (3)

$ 157

Total

$ 604

$ 5,021


Two things jumped out from our analysis. First, we were pleasantly surprised by the size of the potential savings. We weren’t sure there would be net savings in the first year, but this product bundle could easily save a typical person over $600 in the first year and more than $5,000 over the life of the products

Secondly, we were surprised by the magnitude of savings possible by switching from bottled water to refilling your own reusable bottle. Our assumption was based on a person consuming an average of one bottle of water per day at $1 per bottle

Using these products also yields substantial environmental benefits and the potential for reduction in solid wastes, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and other air pollutants. A quick calculation yielded a potential reduction in solid waste of 550 cubic feet over the life of these products. That’s enough to fill 90 trashcans!

We’d like to calculate the potential CO2 reduction, but that process is more complex. With all products, there is a carbon footprint that is often hard to quantify. With some products like the compact fluorescent bulb, there’s a direct reduction in CO2 by reduced energy consumption thereby reducing the amount of coal burned at our local energy plant (and reducing the amount of CO2 emitted as a byproduct)

There are further reductions in CO2 by avoiding the often energy-intensive manufacture of products and packaging as well as the CO2 emitted during transport of raw materials and finished products. The particular carbon footprint reductions are hard to quantify

Achieving financial and environmental benefits from products such as those listed above does require some commitment and adjustment. Some changes such as the switch to reusable cloth napkins versus paper might require getting used to. But, other changes such as switching to a reusable coffee filter are welcome adjustments, as you’ll find you no longer have to run to the store for more filters during a morning coffee crisis!