It would be easier to go green if things weren’t so expensive.

There’s always this tug of war for me between taking care of the environment, making the best use of my time, and staying on the budget.  It won’t always be that way.  In two years I’ll be debt free, and part of being able to “live and give like no one else” will be having the financial standing to make some bigger sustainability changes in my life.  The fact is that sometimes the “green” option costs more.

That won’t always be the case, because more and more people are starting to vote with their wallets.  But it’s where we are today.  I’m a “people over things” person, and in this season in my life, if I have to choose between cost and sustainability, I’ll choose cost.  But the good news is that there are many sustainable options that are the same cost or cheaper than the traditional versions.  The best way to change the world is one small choice at a time.  To be crazy effective, start with things that require little or no behavior change, and cost the same or less than doing things the old way.  Here are 7 easy ways to be a little bit greener on a budget.

This page contains affiliate links – they don’t cost you a penny, but they sure help to pay off those student loans!  For more information, please see my disclosure page.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”To be crazy effective, start with things that require little or no behavior change, and cost the same or less than doing things the old way. – @TheCafeScholar” quote=”To be crazy effective, start with things that require little or no behavior change, and cost the same or less than doing things the old way.”]

Change happens one choice at a time. These choices require almost no behavior change and will cost the same or less than what you are doing today. + FREE download with 20 more ways to go greener on a budget! -

#1 Change Your Printer Settings

One of the easiest ways to go a little greener on a budget is to change your printer settings.  Why?  It’s simple. You make a one-time change, and then you don’t have to think about it anymore.  From here on (or until you replace your printer), you’ll automatically save resources and money.

First, if your printer has an automatic document feeder that allows you to automatically print double-sided, change the default print settings on your computer to print double-sided always.

Second, change the default settings to print as “draft” (uses less ink) and “black and white.”  That way, you are only using top print quality and color ink when you actually need it – then you would just change the settings from the application you are printing from.

Both of these settings will need to be set for any printer you regularly use, and they can be found in the printer settings on your computer.  Some big shared printers allow you to change the default for the printer itself as well.

#2 Refill Your Ink Cartridges

So you’re printing, with those new settings you’re saving ink, but you still eventually will have to replace those cartridges.  Take your empty ink cartridges over to one of these retailers, drop it off, and pick it up an hour later, filled with high-quality ink.  Trust me – I used to work for the company that sells this service, so I printed with refilled ink every day for almost 6 years.  It’s good stuff.  Many cartridges can be refilled several times, and each time you refill, you save money (refilling is up to 60% cheaper) and you keep that cartridge out of the landfill.

If you don’t want to deal with going in-store to refill your ink cartridges, you can buy refilled/remanufactured cartridges from Inkplicity (also available on Amazon). They are remanufactured or refilled in the US by the same company that does Costco’s refills, so you don’t have to worry about any shady business.  Whether you refill in store or buy refilled, you can go greener on a budget by paying LESS for a for more sustainable version of what you had to buy anyways.

#3 Use E-Books

I’m not against paper books. I have my e-Bible and my tree Bible.  Actually, I’m a Bible scholar so I have lots of tree Bibles.  But when it makes sense, I try to get the electronic versions of books.  Kindle books (or Nook, but I personally use a Kindle) are almost always cheaper than print books.  They take up no physical space other than your e-reader (this is a lifesaver for me…there are 500+ titles on my Kindle).  If you play your cards right, your Kindle will read them to you.  They are easier to carry around…ever been studying and realize you didn’t bring the right book with you?  They are searchable.  You get them instantly.

And…oh, that’s right, we’re talking about going greener on a budget.  There’s no physical book, so you’re saving resources with the book itself, the manufacturing process, packaging, and shipping.  Some books aren’t available as e-books, and some don’t make sense to use as e-books (like a study guide with fill-ins). And some people don’t like the feel of it.  But for many of us, e-books are a great way to go a little greener on a budget.

#4 Use Your Old Notebooks

If you’re like me, you go through notebooks like crazy.  Oh, no. Not because they are full. Because you start one for this class or that project, use part of it, and then move on.  Last year I went through all my notebooks and there were like 20 of them with space. Some with only a page or two used. And then another 20 or so that were brand new, never used.

Now I’m on notebook-buying restriction until I have used up what I have.  I took some of the nicer new ones and used them for gifts.  The partially used ones I put on a shelf and labeled it…you guessed it, “notebooks with space.”  Each time I need a new one, I grab one of those.  You can make a table of contents (now I try to leave a few pages for a table of contents and number my pages).  You can also flip it over and start writing from the back.  Save a little space, save a little money, go a little greener on a budget.

#5 Keep a recycle bin close by.

Most of us have recycling pick-up with our regular garbage pickup.  But let’s face it…if you have a handful of trash, and the recycle bin is in the other room or you don’t have one at all, 9 times out of 10 that item is going in the regular trash.  Keep a recycle bin any place where you are working – especially the kitchen and at your desk.  Keep it closer than the trash can.  Then, recycling all that paper (and other things) is no more work than throwing out the trash.

You don’t need to go out and buy a recycle bin or an extra trash can.  You may already have one around your house.  I did buy one when I moved.  But except in the kitchen, where it might get wet or have food crummies, your recycle bin can be a cardboard box.  It just needs to be easy to get to so you don’t have to think about recycling.

#6 Use a Whiteboard First

I like to scribble down thoughts, map things out, and sometimes paper works best for that.  But a whiteboard can be a great reusable option.  Don’t have a whiteboard, or working on-the-go and can’t bring one with you?  Put a sheet of paper inside a plastic sheet protector and use it with a dry erase marker.  Instant whiteboard.  That’s also really good if you have a template or form you use to work on certain projects.  Rather than printing it over and over again, put it in a sheet protector and use a dry erase marker on it.  If you need to save your work, take a picture for your Evernote account. BAM.

#7 Get Paid to Save Energy

Yes, you read that right.  I save energy (good for the environment, good for my electric bill), and then I get paid. Now that’s going greener on a budget. OhmConnect allows you to connect your utility account, and then gives you goals to meet during certain hours to earn points which can be cashed out for gift cards or via Paypal.  I’ve cashed out for over more than $50 a few times during the summer months.  I usually flip off the circuit breaker so I know I’ll meet my goal, which is why I was writing this blog post in the dark last night.  Once my mom came over during an OhmHour, so we had candlelight dinner.  I heart adventure. Sign up for OhmConnect with this link to get $10 when your account is connected.

Want even more ways to go greener on a budget?

I’ve put together 21 MORE ways in the download below.  Enjoy!  And make sure to comment below with some of your favorite ways to go greener on a budget!

Change happens one choice at a time. These choices require almost no behavior change and will cost the same or less than what you are doing today. + FREE download with 20 more ways to go greener on a budget! -

Follow The Cafe Scholar: