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RISMEDIA, March 5, 2011—(MCT)—We’ve all heard that going green is too expensive, not cost-effective, or that it just isn’t financially responsible in these tough economic times. That’s just not the case. There are ways to do your part to be easier on the planet and our wallets. Here are a few ways to incorporate everyday green living techniques into your routine and start saving right away.

Buy big: There are two good reasons to buy in bulk when it makes sense. It’ll save you money and it saves resources. If you’re a mom who always sends individually wrapped packages of crackers in your child’s lunchbox, this is a good place to save. I’ve added it up. It’ll cost you about four times as much when you go with the single serving packaging. And usually those individual containers and pouches are pretty hard to recycle.

Go the reusable route: What’s worse than throwing out barely used paper towels? Spending all that money on them. The cheapest paper towels on the market are about a dollar a roll. If you go through two rolls a week, that’s more than $200 a year. Save that money and keep dish towels and rags handy. It’s much more eco-friendly to wash them than it is to keep buying one-use paper towels. There are others ways to go the reusable route every day. Think of how much money you’ll save if you make the switch to reusable water bottles, cloth napkins and reusable food containers. And, most grocery stores now provide financial incentives when you use reusable bags.

Don’t buy what you can make: A lot of us have a bunch of household cleaners stockpiled in a kitchen cabinet. They’re downright expensive and many chemical-based ones can actually pollute our homes. Save money and have a healthier home by making your own green cleaners. An effective green cleaning kit will contain white vinegar, baking soda and borax. Want to know just what you’ll save? You can buy a 128oz jug of vinegar for about $3.49. That’s the same price of the leading glass cleaner which is only 26oz. If you whip up a glass cleaner using one part vinegar to one part water, that jug of vinegar will last nearly 10 times longer than the store bought cleaner for the exact same price.

Roll up your sleeves: A few weekend projects at home can save you serious money each month. Half of our monthly utility usage goes toward heating and cooling our homes. Adding a little weather-stripping where needed will help you keep treated air from escaping. Insulating attic doors will make a dent in your utility bills too. Installing programmable thermostats can help you slash another 10%. And, doing a little maintenance like cleaning your refrigerator coils and the vent line from your clothes dryer will keep them running more efficiently.

(c) 2011, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.