Save money while saving the planet this Earth Day

Kelli Fitzpatrick

Eco-friendly product seals: What they mean

  • Whole Foods’ Market Eco-Scale: Bans phosphates, chlorine and some preservatives and requires listed ingredients on product label.
  • Green Good Housekeeping Seal: Evaluates product’s ingredients, packaging and manufacturing for eco-friendliness and eco-footprint.
  • Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment: Screens ingredients and chemicals for health and environmental concerns.
  • Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred: Gives approval to products made with renewable materials.
  • Source: USA Today

    Check out what products you can recycle at

As the 42nd Earth Day comes around Sunday, caring for the environment remains crucial. If you think “green” and eco-friendly products and ways of life are out of reach or over your budget, think again. Three environmental experts share their tips on how to spend your Earth Day without spending much at all.

The Green Experts

Maureen Drinkard, owner of eco-friendly store, Dr. GreenBee, and Kent State Trumbull adjunct faculty member, graduated from Kent State with a degree in conservation

Lisa Meyer, member of the Kent State Sustainability Collective and Biology PhD student

Steven Larson, member of the Kent State Sustainability Collective and senior Spanish major

1. Revitalize your drinking habits.

“Students always have a plastic bottle in their hand,” said Drinkard, who teaches biodiversity courses. “Bottle water costs 100 times more than tap water. Water bottles are made of toxic plastic; one of the most damaging things to do is use water bottles.”

If you’re always grabbing a plastic bottle, update your routine with a reusable bottle with a built-in filter. One Brita bottle filter is good for up to 300 refills, according to

Brita: $8.49 at Target, $7.99 for two filters at

Bobble: $9.99 for bottle and $6.99 for filter at Target.

Camelback: About $14 for bottle and $18.50 for six-pack of filters at

2. Don’t jump on the latest gadget.

Each version of the iPad looks like a necessary buy when it comes out, but grabbing up every brand-new gizmo can harm the environment, not just your wallet, Meyer said.

Gadgets are among the “products that are the most damaging and (made of) chemicals that are the hardest to extract and get rid of, like lead and mercury,” she said. “If you can buy fewer electronic things and keep them for longer, that’s a huge step in the right direction.”

Consider gently used electronics when you want to update, and dispose of old gadgets responsibly.

Sell old electronics at and, which will resell or recycle the gadgets.

Return old phones to your cell phone provider, who will often recycle for you.

Donate phones to or

Scope out refurbished and used electronics at and

3. Veg out.

Vegetarian and vegan diets are much easier on the environment, Drinkard said.

“It takes 10 times the amount of energy to make one calorie worth of cow than one calorie worth of vegetable,” she said.

If eliminating meat isn’t right for your diet, you can still green-ify your cuisine by going out to eat less often, consuming fewer processed foods and eating locally. “Processed foods are high in corn and flour,” which deplete the soil sources, Drinkard said.

Test out meatless recipes at and

Walk or ride your bike downtown and eat at a local restaurant to cut down on transportation pollution. See what’s good at

4. Harvest and save.

A variety of edible plants grow right here on campus and can be harvested for no cost, Larson said. Garlic mustard, dandelion greens, blackberries and pawpaw fruit grow in the wetlands behind Cunningham Hall and along the bike trail to Dix stadium. Larson recommends looking up what each plant looks like, so you know you’re picking the right stuff. Step up your meals with these fresh-picked goods or donate to a soup kitchen.

“We don’t have a very nutritious meal plan here,” Larson said. “All the things that are growing in the wild are extremely nutritious (and can) supplement your diet.”

Check out pictures and descriptions of edible weeds at and .

5. Clean green.

If you’re planning to spring clean this month, try some eco-friendly products and methods.

“The simpler you can go, the better,” Meyer said.

Distilled white vinegar and water makes a simple all-purpose cleaner for windows and surfaces, she said. Cleaning products from brands like Seventh Generation and Dr. Bronner’s are natural, organic or vegan.

Seventh Generation two-pack of disinfecting wipes, $4.49 at

Dr. Bronner’s organic and vegan soap, 32 oz. bottle, $17.03 at

Contact Kelli Fitzpatrick at [email protected].