Can You Find Debt Relief and Still Go Green?

Eco-friendly buys

Is debt relief possible for consumers who are trying to go green? Many people are faced with this question today because they want to do their share to save the planet, but the economy has made budgets tighter. Karen Hillgrad of Bakersfield, Pennsylvania stated, “I’d love to shop eco-friendly, but when you compare the cost to what I get at bargain stores, they just don’t compare. Due to the recession and with our budget right now, it just can’t happen.”

Hillgrad is in the same predicament as many consumers today, but there are some things that eco-friendly buyers can pass up without compromising the goal of shopping green. Following are some things sound good, but that, in the end, don’t do much for the ecosystem or your wallet.

Buying green for the sake of going green

Erica Sandberg, author of Expecting Money stated, “Some companies are capitalizing on people’s desire to splurge with a clear conscience.” Studies are showing that many consumers today are lured into buying things they otherwise wouldn’t. In particular, new parents are susceptible to the marketing ploys. Environmentally conscious baby gear is popular these days and no parents want toxic chemicals around their baby. The bottom line however, is that buying something that is not needed is wasteful and not at all green, no matter how the product was manufactured.

Picking the wrong products

Kathy Greely, director of Commonwealth Community Energy, stated, “Despite common knowledge to the contrary, replacement windows are typically the wrong thing to do to improve energy efficiency.” If you have antiquated double-hung, wood frame windows, it may make sense to replace them. However, if the windows are fewer than 50 years old, replacing them may well be a waste of money. It may be a better idea to add attic insulation and seal up holes in the home. Greenly also said that power companies will often provide an energy audit for customers and tell them what changes would help save money.

Spending a lot to save very little

Marketing ploys about going green are everywhere.  However, despite all the unhelpful commercial hype, eco-friendly experts believe that consumers really can save money and the earth at the same time. The basic rule of thumb is that the more something costs, the more energy it probably took to manufacture. For example, a solar energy kit, including solar panels, costs about $15,000. You can get tax credits when you purchase certain kinds of energy kits, but overall, the credit amount doesn’t balance out the investment. It has yet to be seen whether energy savings over time will offset initial investment costs, but for most consumers Greenly recommends more moderate changes.

Recycling the wrong way

Many people believe that recycling paper saves trees. James Wetzel, professor of environmental economics at Virginia State University, however, teaches that the end result of recycling is not more acres of timberland, but fewer. More than 30% of paper pulp already comes from recycled sources. Wetzel points out that, ironically, one of the results of paper recycling “is a decrease in demand for pulpwood.  “Thus,” he continues, “the price of timberland falls. If you want people to plant more trees, they need a reason.”

Going green

In the end, debt relief has to be carefully planned. It can’t be blanketed with a widespread marketing tool like “going green.” Consumers need to weight out what they need and then make decisions on each item by comparing prices. Going green isn’t just about buying items labeled “eco-friendly.” As Wetzel so aptly put it, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

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