Top 5 Tips for Green Bargain Hunters

The demand for products and services that do more to protect the environment continues to grow as more and more consumers become aware of the negative impact that the pollution and waste of mass manufacturing is having on our planet. At this point prices on many items have dropped significantly, but in a recession economy people have to think about the bottom line. And in most cases, eco-friendly products will still cost the average consumer more than the mass produced goods that are made on the cheap (with savings passed along to buyers) simply because the companies that manufacture them don’t bother to go the extra mile to ensure environmentally sound practices. This is a major conundrum for eco-minded individuals that are trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Is it more important to preserve the planet or a personal budget? Luckily, you can manage both with just a few simple tips that will help you to find green bargains.

1. Spend a little, save a lot. If you’re new to the green game, then you may balk at the idea of spending more for energy-saving CFL or LED bulbs. You might not want to shell out the money to purchase low-flow toilets, energy-star appliances, or low-E window film to deflect heat in summer. But while these items may cost you a little more than their counterparts, each will deliver savings on your utility bill over time. You’ll have to look at the big picture, but in the long run these purchases stand to pay for themselves and then some.

2. Opt for second-hand. When you think of green products you probably go straight to items made from recycled goods. And while these are certainly a viable option for anyone seeking to support a cyclical production model (rather than a linear one that starts at a manufacturing plant and ends at the landfill) it’s not always the most economical choice for consumers on a strict budget. However, there is a better option that is just as green and it centers on buying second-hand. When you keep perfectly usable items from getting tossed in the trash you are behaving in an extremely eco-friendly manner (remember the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle). And you stand to save a lot of money on some really nice stuff in the process.

3. Solar incentives. With the push for alternative energy ramping up and federal guidelines calling for increases in sustainable energy production by power companies in the coming years, many power suppliers are helping homeowners to take the leap by offering programs with massive incentives. For example, several California companies are now installing solar panels for users in their network at no upfront cost. And instead of paying your power bill you’ll simply pay off the cost of the panels over the next 20 years, after which all of the energy needed to run your house will be free, thanks to the power of the sun. These programs are worth looking into for any homeowner that would like to support sustainable energy options.

4. Give green gifts cards. With the holidays coming, gifting is a major concern for many would-be greenies. So instead of overspending this year and hurting the environment in the process, give everyone gift cards for eco-friendly businesses. In many cases you can purchase them online and email them, cutting back on shipping and all of the pollution that comes with it. You’ll be able to stick to your budget and your family and friends can get exactly what they want (from eco-friendly outlets). Another option is to simply donate to green organizations in the names of your gift recipients.

5. Shop online. You already know that you can find great discounts at Amazon, but did you know that they have a similar website that caters to greenies like yourself? They recently acquired a company called Quidsi in order to launch their green product website, Vine.com, under the Amazon banner. You can find all kinds of eco-friendly products on this site, from food and cleaning solvents to housewares and sporting good. While not every item is marked down, you can save 20% on your first order just for trying the site. And that’s just one of many online options that can help you to save on green products.