It’s Earth Day, so we’re all looking for easy ways to be a bit gentler on the environment. Whether it’s buying local produce or planting a tree, going green is trendy. And it makes sense.
We want to preserve our world for generations to come. And to do that, we need to make responsible environmental choices in every area of life, even with our finances.
If you want to take your green-ness to the next level, check out these five ways to go green with your money.
1. Opt for Paperless
These days, most companies promote paperless statements and billing. Sure, paperless billing, for most companies, is really about the bottom line — it’s expensive to send a multi-page statement every month. Email is cheaper to send than snail mail. But, also, paperless bills are easier on the environment.
So the next time you get a paper bill, make it a point to figure out how to switch that bill to an e-statement. Nearly every major lender and utility company out there offers this option, and it’s usually very easy to sign up.
2. Just Say “No” to Receipts
Unless you have a good reason to keep actual paper receipts, skip them. You can refuse receipts at many stores and ATMs. You don’t really need those bits of paper cluttering your car, purse or home. And by refusing them, you can conserve just a few more resources.
3. Write Fewer Checks
Don’t just think about paper coming in for your bills. Think about paper going out, too. Each check you write took resources to make, and it takes more resources to mail those checks.
So instead of writing checks for your bills, see how many you can get onto an auto-pay or an electronic billing system. The good news is that you can probably do this as you’re setting up paperless billing. It only makes sense that you can pay without paper when you get a paperless bill, right?
4. Swipe Your Plastic
One type of consumption we don’t think about is what it takes to make paper money and coins. Paper money is made from a cotton blend, which requires environmentally-unfriendly pesticides and herbicides to grow. And any time you process cotton, you use lots and lots of water. And the average bill has to be replaced every few years. While coins need replaced far less often, the process of mining and processing the metals used to make them is incredibly hard on the environment.
So instead of relying on paper currency, use your credit or debit card. Just be sure you’re getting the most out of its lifespan by using your card until it expires or starts literally falling apart. Also, be careful what you charge on your credit card — you don’t want your attempts to go green to make you overspend or hurt your credit by maxing out your cards.
[Editor's Note: If you want to see how your credit card spending is affecting your credit, you can check two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.]
5. Invest in the Environment
Finally, when you’re considering your financial future, consider the future of the environment, as well. One way to do this is through investing in mutual funds focused on green initiatives, or even to directly invest in stocks from green companies.
Another way to invest in the environment is to choose credit cards with green-focused rewards. For instance, some cards will let you donate your earned rewards to a charity of your choice. Choose a charity with an environmental focus, and you can help make the world a bit greener every time you swipe that card.
Going green in little ways is surprisingly easy and effective. These five options can help you green up your finances, making the world a better place.
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