The economics of eco-friendly living

Green Queen: An eco-friendly lifestyle can end up saving you money.

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People who are making a new year's resolution to get their finances under control don't know it yet, but if they succeed they are also about to become more eco-friendly.

As I learned after vowing to regularly recycle last January 1, living sustainably costs less. Knowing I have to haul whatever is left over from my purchases to a recycling station means I pass on things I don't really need out of sheer laziness, because they will only eventually add to my clinking, heavy recycling load. I also work harder to reuse what I do buy, storing cereal and pasta in glass jars and saving plastic containers for leftovers.

These two-way benefits apply throughout the home. Using fewer personal products but ensuring they are made from organic, all-natural ingredients means it makes much less sense to be tempted by an expensive assortment of the latest potions and scrubs at the pharmacy or beauty counter. Trying to eliminate toxins from the home precludes chemical-laden dryer sheets, fabric softeners, and anything carrying a synthetic fragrance. Those half-dozen or more cleaning products stashed under the kitchen sink can be replaced with one or two "green" options or, even better, a natural alternative such as lemon, baking soda or vinegar.

So make the resolution to save money and each time you answer "no" to the question "do I really need this?" you can feel good about your place on the planet, too.