A lot of green purchases cost more upfront than their non-green counterparts. Organic food, compact fluorescent bulbs, cloth diapers… it can be hard to see why you would bother paying extra. All these steps seem like such small things.
However, each of these has the potential to save you some significant money.
The hardest to track is probably the organic food. How do you know if a health issue is caused by the buildup from the food you’ve been eating or if you would have had it no matter your diet? You can’t.
But other differences may be noted. You might find that you are more satisfied when you eat healthier foods. Some people find that their urge to snack goes down when they cut the junk food. Combine that with going organic and you might not be spending as much extra as you think.
Compact fluorescent bulb savings are also hard to track. You don’t know what fixture adds a particular amount to your electricity bill. Their estimated average savings per bulb for the life of the bulb is about $30… not a bad deal.
The need to recycle them can be a bit of a challenge, but you can learn how to handle that in your area at http://www.epa.gov/bulbrecycling
Cloth diapering is something I’ve recently gotten into, as readers of this blog already know. The upfront cost is significant, a few hundred dollars, but through the time my daughter is in diapers I will have saved a lot of money. I would have saved a lot more if I had used cloth diapers starting with my oldest child.
Depending on the brand of diapers you buy, payback can be a few months under a year to a few months over a year. That’s not a bad deal. It’s some extra work, but with modern cloth diapers it really is not all that complex. No pins required.
Not every green purchase has such obvious financial advantages. Organic and fair trade clothing for example, cost more, but you aren’t going to get that money back. They’re about making a choice based on your conscience.
The big changes such as solar power have extremely long payback times and can be unattainable for people who rent. It’s a great choice for those who can afford to wait to earn their money back and have a living situation that allows it, but it’s not a green choice that everyone can do right now.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that not every green choice comes with a price tag.
Choosing to buy less, for example. Making do with less is a green choice and doesn’t cost you anything. It is perhaps one of the most neglected green options out there, as people love to shop. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, just that it’s one of the least glamorous choices you can make.
But it can feel really good. It’s an adjustment, but not so uncomfortable as some might think. And the impact on your pocketbook is a positive one.