Folks who think about living a more environmentally sound life may be put off by the notion that it would cost too much.
Not so, says author David Bach in a new book, "Go Green, Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth (and Get Rich Trying)" (Broadway Books, $14.95 paperback). The volume is co-written with Hillary Rosner, who worked on Al Gore's best-selling "An Inconvenient Truth."
"You can live a life in line with your green values AND you can put a million dollars in the bank," writes Mr. Bach, who has penned seven other popular books advising ordinary people on how to save for their futures.
The first chapter helps readers calculate their current carbon footprint using online tools that take about three minutes. Two examples:
It also zooms in on the litter factor. For example, Americans use 14.4 billion disposable coffee cups per year, the plastic linings of which could produce enough energy to heat 8,300 homes.
An even bigger culprit is bottled water -- a $15 billion-a-year industry in the United States. According to the book, we could run 100,000 cars for a year on the oil used to make a year's worth of plastic water bottles, 90 percent of which wind up in landfills and polluting the waterways.
The rest of the book is organized into two- or three-page tips on saving money/resources and -- the kicker -- investing those savings to bring back a profit.
For example, the book says an average family can save $3,377 a year with four steps: improving the car's fuel economy, sealing energy leaks in the house; adjusting the thermostat three degrees; and bringing lunch to work. If that savings is then invested in a green mutual fund with a 10 percent annual return (this was pre-Bear Stearns meltdown), it will earn nearly $700,000 in 30 years.
Here are some of the book's other suggestions. All the figures are per year unless otherwise noted.
• Save $50 on household energy by buying an EPA "Energy Star"-rated washing machine (and cutting water use by 7,000 gallons).
• Save $72 on the water bill by turning off the faucet during tooth-brushing, installing low-flow shower heads and buying dual-flush toilets (conserving 9,200 gallons).
• Save 30 percent on energy bills by getting an energy audit (reducing CO2 emissions by 9,545 pounds).
• Save $798 in gas by keeping the car well maintained (while keeping 5,800 pounds of CO2 out of the air).
• Save up to a third on many groceries by buying in bulk (helping reduce the 80 million tons of packaging that ends up in landfills annually).
• Save $40 by switching to recycled toilet paper (if everyone did, it would save 19 million trees a year).
• Save $45 over the lifetime of a light bulb by switching to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs).
• Save $94 on electric bills by buying $35 power strips and turning them off when the plugged-in items aren't in use. This averts "phantom load," or the energy that drains from "live" electrical outlets even when plugged-in appliances that are turned off. Phantom load accounts for 5 percent to 15 percent of your monthly electricity bill.
• Save $8,580 a year by ditching one car completely.
• Save $215 a year by using public transportation instead of a car for just one errand a week (if we all did this, we would collectively reduce carbon emissions by 149 million tons).
"Saving the planet is the most important issue we face in our lifetime," writes the author, who urges readers to ask themselves two critical questions: Why not me, and why not now?
For more information, go to www.finishrich.com.
Sally Kalson can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1610..