Deforestation is a HUGE problem that affects every single living being on this planet. It is estimated that about 36 football fields of forest are cleared every minute! The effect of chopping, bulldozing, and burning these forests is felt on a global scale, as this process is responsible for about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This process is also largely detrimental to the animals that call these forests home. With every forest clearing, we lose about 135 different species of plants, animals, and insects.

While deforestation may seem like a problem that is just too big for you to make a difference, that is simply not true. By and large, deforestation is driven by consumers. Palm oil and paper production rank among the top drivers of deforestation. So while it is not good that many of the products we buy and use everyday are inadvertently funding deforestation, there is a lot that you can do to help end this disaster.

Making conscious decisions as a consumer is not only beneficial to the planet, but it can save you some serious cash. Here are a few simple ways you can help prevent deforestation, and save yourself 100 bucks. Now doesn’t that make you feel great?

1. Ween yourself off of palm oil!

Palm oil is in virtually every consumer product you can buy. From snack foods to make up and even laundry detergent, palm oil sneaks its way into our lives. Eliminating products that are made with unsustainable palm oil can have a huge positive impact on the planet as well as your wallet.

  • Purchasing 150 fl oz jug of Tide detergent costs around $19.61. By making your own detergent according to this recipe (free of palm oil!), your cost per load equals out to about 15 cents, meaning you can do 96 loads of laundry for only $14.40.
  • According to Style U.K., the cost of the contents of an average woman’s makeup bag equals about $287! Pretty much all of the items you can find in a cosmetics store can be made from items you can find in your pantry – costing around $20 total.
  • There are DIY planet-friendly alternatives to nearly every cleaning product you can buy that contains palm oil. Check out this article for ideas. Replacing a 32 oz of commercial window cleaner with a 32 oz bottle of white vinegar will cut your glass cleaner costs in half, plus save you from being exposed to the nasty chemicals found in traditional cleaners.

2. Replace disposable paper products

According to the World Wildlife Fund, 40 percent of the world’s commercially cut timber is processed for paper. A simple way to help reduce this number is to stop using disposable paper products.

  • According to this article from the Simple Dollar, by switching from paper towels to a cloth dish rag, you can save around $56 per year.
  • Switching your paper lunch bag and disposable utensils to non-disposable sustainable alternatives, you can save around $335 a year!
  • Go paperless! The WWF has an awesome guide to help you reduce paper consumption in the office. In your personal life, switch all paper letters to e-cards. A book of stamps costs about $10, where e-mail is free! It is estimated that if every household in the U.S. made the switch to online banking, 16.5 million trees could be saved, every year! Check out this article to help clear all the unnecessary paper from your life.

3. Be mindful of electricity use

Burning trees to generate electricity is a growing environmental problem. Some electric companies are switching from burning fossil fuels to burning biomass (plant materials), while in theory this is a “cleaner” alternative, there is little transparency as to where biomass materials are sourced. According to the NRDC, some companies are cutting down whole forests to produce biomass, rather than using reclaimed wood that would otherwise end up in a landfill. You can find out if the electric company you use is contributing to this problem by clicking here.

Regardless of whether your electricity comes from biomass or fossil fuels, switching over to clean energy is your best bet to ensure you are not harming the planet and displacing animals in the name of your gadgets. 

If you are not ready to make the renewable switch, simple habits can help cut your energy bill and save some trees in the process.

  • Turning off your computer at night can save you $1.85 a month in electricity costs.
  • Switch to LED lights for your home, they are 80 percent more efficient than standard bulbs and last up to 25 times longer! According to this Earth Easy article, the average household can save up to $267 by making the switch.
  • Using a programmable thermostat can save you $180 a year and help cut your home’s energy use.
  • Purchasing energy-efficient electronics (EnergyStar certified) can help reduce your electric bills by $200 a year!

Wow, who knew saving money and saving the planet could be so simple?! Get out there and start saving people!

Image source: Wagner T. Cassimiro / Flickr