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3 No-Cost Steps To Reduce Your Environmental Impact


By: Jim Eagles

There are many ways of reducing your environmental impact; unfortunately, many are costly. You may want to consider the following but this article focuses on strategies that also save you money while reducing environmental impact.

  • Hybrid cars can be 20% more expensive than the equivalent gas-powered cars. At current gas prices, analysis suggest that lifetime (of the car) savings do not offset the initial cost premium.
  • Organic vegetables can be anywhere from 15% to 30% more expensive than regular.
  • Recycled paper can be often 20% more expensive than regular paper.

All require paying a premium.

But what if there were ways to contribute to the environment and save money?

Here are some practical suggestions:

1.    Buy Used                    

  • Buy Used books – Well Read Books in Nanaimo keeps 200,000 lbs. of paper (books) out of the landfill yearly (books rarely are recycled into paper).
  • Buy used building materials – Habitat for Humanity recycles millions of lbs. of plumbing, electrical, wood etc. You can donate that extra door that has been in the basement for years to Habitat and while you are there look for items you need before hitting Home Depot.Save big on “used” clothes, toys and kitchenware at Value Village, Sally Ann’s Thrift stores or many other similar stores. One store in one town (The Kelowna (BC) Thrift store) recycled 300,000 lbs. of clothing and miscellaneous items last year. Over the years I have bought, among other things, several almost new or new pairs of excellent Rockport shoes for 12$ – 25$- less than ¼ of the retail price
  • Surf Kijiji, Craigslist,, or for household items, gardening supplies, electronic items. For example; why would anyone buy a TV at retail now when there are numerous free TV’s available on Kijiji (Everyone seems to be upgrading).
  • Simplify this search process by going to Kijiji for your city. Type in the “search” area the item you are looking for e.g. “Books”. A List of books for sale will appear- ignore these for now. Scroll down the left side of the page to “Kijiji Alerts”, click on “sign up”. An email will be sent to you confirming that any new ads for “books” will be sent to you. 

2.    Bring bottled water from home

Each year 39 billion plastic water bottles are sold in North America resulting in 2.4 million lbs. of plastic (69% of bottles end up in the trash) (petrochemical) waste. Bringing a reusable bottle of water from home saves you the $1.50 per bottle price, keeps one more bottle out of the landfill and means one less bit of oil that must be processed into plastic. Remember, a glass or stainless steel bottle is best.

If you don’t like the taste of the tap water in your city try these ideas;

  • Fill your water bottle the night before and leave the cap off overnight – a lot of water “taste” is chlorine – which will evaporate overnight
  • Buy a Brita – type pitcher water filter: the $30 investment will pay off in less than 20 saved bottle purchases avoided. and 1 filter ($7.99) will produce 300 equivalent purchased bottles
  • Try a bottle with a built-in filter. Some of these a available with a 1 micron filter – capable of removing every impurity.
  • If you want perfection – buy and install a under sink reverse osmosis system. This is the exact system that the bottled water companies use. A new system costs $250 but I often see used systems in Kijiji for $100 or so. There has been a lot of negative PR about home water systems sold door to door with high pressure tactics but the system itself is great!

3.    Recycle computers

Many towns have an organization that takes in used computers, repairs any hardware problems, installs new software (A little-known Microsoft gift) and sends them to families selected by helping organizations. So try donating here before you go to the dump

It’s great to know that there are things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment. Steps you can take that not only don’t cost you more but in fact actually save you money!

Jim Eagles is a retired marketing strategist who currently volunteers as Marketing Director for Well Read Books, a highly successful used bookstore whose proceeds fund free literacy tutoring. Please visit their blog at

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