Live greener and save dollars In the new year

Features column

Well, the holidays are over and the New Year begins. We made it over the “fiscal” cliff supposedly, but I know at the Williams’ residence, we are still feeling the economic pinch these days. We have all heard “every little bit helps” and I believe that small steps can yield big results when combined together. So I have gone in search of those small steps mentioned above to find ways to be more planet and pocketbook friendly in 2013.

Let’s go over some of the tips I found:

“A good way to save money, and the planet, is to buy less. People can re-address the idea of “more is better”. Do you really need that newer model smart phone, or is your current phone doing just fine? Do we really need the newest thing on the market? “Keeping up with the Jones” can play havoc on your bank account.

“Another item to explore is product packaging. Many products come with very detailed and over the top packaging. Look for items packaged more economically and simply and you can bet you will save money of the product itself. A good portion of what you pay for an item is packaging and advertising.

“Let’s talk de-cluttering too. Most of my friends can be occasionally heard lamenting how crowded their houses are and they need to clear out some “stuff”. So how about donating unneeded items to charity, hold a yard sale to raise some extra funds, or host a swap meet with friends and neighbors. Also, by de-cluttering our vehicles we can save money, and up our gas mileage, by not hauling around unnecessary weight in the trunks or backs of vehicles.

“While we are talking about our vehicles, planning trips and making multiple stops on a trip can save gas, and wear and tear, on your car. I recently went grocery shopping with my sister and it was actually a pretty pleasant experience. We both had to go shopping and the car-pooling worked fabulously. I even got to spend some rare alone time with my sister.

“Utilities are another big budget buster these days, so turn down that thermostat and put on a sweater, have everyone in the family learn to turn off lights when they leave a room, unplug appliances like computers, VCR’s, game systems, etc. that are a constant slow drain of electricity. Surge protector, multiple plugs are a good investment and make it quick to turn on and off these energy hogs.

“With our on-going drought and high water bills, quick, money-saving tips include not washing individual dishes under running water (fill the sink with soapy water to wash), repair dripping faucets and replace inefficient toilets. Try using a bucket to catch water in the tub/shower while waiting for the water to get hot. The gathered water is perfect for watering house plants or even use it to gravity flush your toilet.

These are just some of the many ways you can make small strides in being planet friendly and save money. For more information, please contact me at 229-436-7216. Go save!

Suzanne Williams is the FACS agent at Dougherty County Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at (229) 436-7216 or suzanwms@uga.edu.