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Save Big by Going Green

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    How Going Green(er) Can Save You $1,500 Or More

    Week after week, wasteful use-once-and-toss products take a big chunk out of your budget. Here's how to save $1,500 or more a year by switching to greener items you can use over and over again.

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  • Istock

    Toss: Throwaway Batteries — Go Green: Rechargeables

    Common household batteries usually contain mercury, zinc, nickel and cadmium, heavy metals that can pollute the soil and water and endanger wildlife. So many are thrown away each year that, placed end to end, they would circle the world at least six times. The greener option? Rechargeables. Yes, a battery recharger will cost more up front, but by the second year of use, you'll be saving all the money you'd otherwise be spending on throwaways.

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  • Istock

    Toss: Disposable Air Filter — Go Green: Washable Air Filter

    Disposable air filters for your HVAC system get thrown out. Washable filters may last from 5 to 10 years. Even though washable filters need to be rinsed and left to dry before they're reinstalled, they're still the greenest and cheapest option. A year's supply of throwaway filters could cost almost $65. One permanent washable air filter of the same size costs only about $36. Over five years, you'd spend $325 on the throwaways, but only $36 on the reusable.

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  • Istock

    Toss: Plastic Wrap — Go Green: Silicone Bowl Toppers

    Plastic or cling wrap may contain chemical compounds like Bisphenol A (BPA) that have been linked to breast, prostate and liver cancer, among others. Plus, once used, plastic wrap cannot be reused or recycled. What's greener? Silicone suction lids. Simply put one on top of the bowl of food you want to store; it adheres to the rim for an air-tight fit, then washes up easily and lasts for years. A twelve months' supply of plastic wrap could cost you $75; a set of silicone lids costs only $19.99.

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  • Alamy

    Toss: Disposable Paper Coffee Filter — Go Green: Washable, Reusable Coffee Filter

    Sure you can get coffee filters made from recycled paper. But you still have to throw them away. Why use the paper or create more trash when a reusable filter works just as well? You can find a long-lasting mesh filter for most electric and drip coffee pots for about $6. Throwaway unbleached paper filters could cost $15 to $20 per year.

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    AARP Offer: Protect your money, grow your nest egg

    Take advantage of great information and tools to help build your future and prevent your money from going down the drain.   Join AARP and start saving for your future today.

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  • Getty Images

    Toss: Throwaway Face Wipes — Go Green: Cotton Washcloth

    Packaged face wipes come in a plastic-coated pouch filled with moistened throwaway paper towelettes that might also contain synthetic perfumes and cleansers that can cause allergic reactions. What's greener? Rinse your face with warm water and a gentle soap, then scrub your face lightly with a cotton washcloth. A set of 12 luxurious cotton washclothes costs around $22 and will last a few years. A box of 100 towelettes also costs around $23, but will last only three months.

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  • Getty Images

    Toss: Take-Out Lunch — Go Green: Reusable Lunch Box or Bag and Leftovers

    Most sandwiches, salads and soups "to go" come packaged in throwaway plastic, foil, paper and styrene foam, consuming precious natural resources and, in the case of foam coffee cups and food boxes, potentially exposing you to toxic chemicals. The pocketbook impact is significant, too. According to one survey, two-thirds of employed Americans spend $37 a week – almost $2,000 a year – getting lunch out. The greener option? Buy an insulated lunch bag for $15 or less, and take leftovers from home in reusable food containers.

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  • Shutterstock

    Toss: Paper Towels — Go Green: Sponge

    Paper towels don't only waste trees. The paper industry is the third-largest contributor to global warming. Producing paper can pollute rivers and streams, too. The greener option? A sponge. One sponge lasts as long as 17 rolls of throwaway paper towels. Though both a sponge and a roll of paper towels cost about a dollar each, over the lifetime of each sponge, you'll save $16 on paper towels. If you normally use two rolls of paper towels a week, you'd use 104 in a year, at a cost of $104. But you'd only use $6 worth of sponges!

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  • Getty Images

    Toss: Plastic Water Bottles — Go Green: Reusable Water Bottle

    Throwaway plastic water bottles create mountains of trash and waste two gallons of water for every gallon that's bottled. In return, you pay up: Tap water costs less than half a penny per gallon, while bottled water averages around $1.21 per gallon, with single servings a dollar or more a bottle. Consumer Reports calculates that you could spend $346 on bottled water annually. The equivalent from the tap? Forty-eight cents. Buy a faucet filter at around $30 and fill up a reusable bottle. Even if you get a $50 water bottle with its own filter, you still won't spend as much money as you would buying bottled water.

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  • Shutterstock

    Toss: Disposable Razors — Go Green: Reusable Razor and Blades

    Over 2 billion disposable plastic razors are thrown away in the U.S. each year — about 52 razors per person. The greener option? A reusable cartridge razor in which you only replace the blade, or a straight razor, which uses no blade and creates no trash at all. Reference.com reports that a disposable razor is twice as expensive to use than a cartridge razor, and as much as 22 times more expensive than a straight razor.

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