5 Benefits of Using Reusable Bags to Promote Your Business

Reusable bags have taken the grocery business by storm right now, and for a variety of reasons. People are more environmentally conscious nowadays, and they’re asking the same from the companies they do business with. This is why there is such a huge trend towards eco friendliness, and you can’t afford to fall behind. Here are some of the benefits of using reusable bags to promote your business.

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Effective Promotion Tool

Branded reusable bags work for promotion on so many levels. First of all, they are a prime tool in increasing your brand’s recognition and building brand awareness. Not only that, but every time someone decides to use one of your bags for any reason, they will be reminded of your brand. Your bag will work as a sort of portable billboard that will advertise your brand wherever your clients go. And not only that, it will work as a sort of endorsement; your friends and family will see this bag as a personal vote for the brand, and might form a more positive image of that brand as a result.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Since you’ll be using sustainable materials, you will be reducing your carbon footprint on the planet. Many reusable bags come from recycled materials, such as old bottles for instance, reducing our reliance on natural resources. And once the bag has served its purpose, it can be easily recycled and repurposed, or even composted in some cases.

Show Your Commitment to Going Green

Using reusable bags shows to your clients that you are actually willing to walk the walk and really do your part in protecting the environment. While this may work on a superficial level, you also have to follow through with actual measures if you want to be consistent. But this alone will do a lot to improve your image among your environmentally conscious clientele.

Allows You to Stretch Your Marketing Dollar

One of the great things about reusable bags is that they are a fairly cost-effective marketing tool. You could buy reusable bags wholesale and have them printed with your company’s logo for pennies. Not to mention that you’ll often charge clients for the bags themselves. So in a clever way, your clients will be paying to advertise your business on your behalf.

They Have Various Uses

Reusable bags are by far the star of the promotional item world. As a matter of fact, they are some of the most sought-after items at trade shows and people will literally make lines for them in some cases. So much so that they’ve become genuine items now, with Ikea’s iconic aqua reusable bag which has become sort of a pop culture cult. Because of their usefulness, people tend to hold on to them for many years, allowing your brand to gain even more visibility over time.

 

Recycled reusable bags have tons of benefits every business owner should consider. They’re cheap, convenient and are one of the most powerful and understated marketing methods you can use to build awareness for your brand.

Saving the Environment While Driving When You Can’t Afford a Hybrid

While you might love the idea of cutting back on the number of emissions your car churns out into the atmosphere, you might not be able to afford a hybrid vehicle. While you may not have any problem covering a hybrid with quality Austin insurance, it could be the monthly car payments that give you fits. Thankfully, there are other ways to do your part to save the environment without going broke as a hybrid vehicle owner.

Remove Your Junk

Before you head out again, clean out everything that you don’t need from the trunk, backseat and passenger seat. All that extra weight is negatively impacting your overall gas mileage, which sends you back to the pump faster. There’s also the fact that your engine is working harder to handle the stress of the extra weight, which certainly isn’t doing the air any favors.

Take It Easy When Stopping and Starting

There’s no need to gun the engine as soon as the light turns green. Not only does jackrabbiting chew up your gas and release more emissions, it can also lead to accidents should you collide with drivers trying to make lights just a second after they turn red. Easing to a gradual stop rather than stomping on the brakes is better on your brakes as well as your engine. This means you should make sure you’re going the posted speed limit and pay attention to cars and traffic lights ahead of you so you have time to respond accordingly.

Keep Your Car Tuned Up

Be sure to take your car in for regular oil and air filter changes. It’s understandable to want to put off an oil change for a while, but doing so can cost you more in the long run by eating away at your fuel efficiency and belching harmful fumes into the air. The same applies to tune-ups, which allow your engine to operate more efficiently and let you get as many miles as possible out of your vehicle. Something else about regular tune-ups even when your car seems to be running fine is that mechanics can let you know if there are any minor issues with your car that should be addressed in the near future, giving you time to start saving up for those needed repairs rather than learn of them when they’re more expensive.

Pay Attention to Your Tires

Proper tire pressure is essential not only to how your car maneuvers on the road, but also how much gas it burns. You want your tires to have the optimum amount of contact with the road so there’s just the right amount of friction and resistance to get you where you need to go without your engine or tires having to work harder than necessary. In the colder months of the year, you might have to over-inflate your tires to compensate for the cold air sapping air from your tires. In any case, a tire-pressure gauge or a professional mechanic’s help is essential for making sure your tires have the right amount of pressure.

Don’t Be Afraid to Turn Your Car Off

When you’re stuck in heavy traffic that moves slower than chilled molasses in the winter, go ahead and shut your engine off. Traffic jams can seem more like you’re in a parking lot and less like you’re driving on a road, so you might as well shut the engine off like you would in a parking lot. Imagine the reduction in emissions if every vehicle on the road was turned off during traffic jams. Do your part to start a positive trend all while saving gas.

Know that driving a hybrid only does so much if you don’t practice the basics of being an environmentally-conscious driver. How you drive is much more important than what you drive.

 

Other Home Improvements for a Sustainable, Energy-Efficient House

In the previous article, we discussed solar panels and how you can use them to turn your house into a sustainable, self-sufficient property. The prices of solar panels and supporting hardware are becoming more affordable by the day, which is why it is even more appealing to invest in a good solar panel system for your house.

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Solar panels aren’t the only upgrade to add in order to make your property more energy efficient and sustainable. There are other great home improvements to consider, and we are going to look into them in this article.

LED Lights

LED lights are among the best things to pick up if you want to boost your house’s energy efficiency. They consume much less power than conventional bulbs and investing in them will immediately lower your energy bills. LED bulbs are up to 80% more efficient than CFLs and neon lights. The cost of LED lights is also much more affordable than it used to.

This is a home improvement that practically pays for itself. You may have to pay for the LED lights yourself at the beginning, but you can expect to save a lot on your electricity bill that the savings will cover the purchase in just a few months.

Energy Efficient Windows

The cost of heating and cooling the interior of your house is usually the major part of your energy bills. Changing the interior temperature to the right level is even more expensive when you have cracked windows and bad insulation.

Investing in energy efficient windows is the first step towards solving that problem. Once you get the windows installed, you will find cooling or heating your house to be a lot easier and much more affordable. You can also add additional window treatments to boost energy efficiency even further.

Insulation Upgrades

Upgrading your home’s insulation is the next thing to do. Aside from wall insulation, it is also important to look into ducts, especially if you use central heating and cooling. According to the EPA, a fifth of the air forced through ducts in residential properties leaks. This results in poor energy efficiency.

Similar to the previous home upgrades we discussed, insulation for pipes and ducts is much improved and very affordable these days. Skipping this step would be a mistake, especially if the goal is to make your house more energy efficient in the long run.

A Smarter Home

Last but certainly not least, consider turning your property into a smart home. Use a programmable thermostat and install a smart home hub such as Google Home to further improve energy efficiency. These smart devices can be remotely controlled and programmed for maximum efficiency.

With a smart thermostat installed, for instance, you can have the interior of the house kept at a comfortable temperature just 30 minutes before you arrive home after work instead of all day long. Imagine the amount of money you can save from this feature alone.

Paired with solar panels and clean energy, these home improvement options are even more valuable. The next time you want to upgrade your property, consider the improvements we covered in this article to get started.

Building a Green Building: Key Principles

These days, a lot of people are becoming increasingly aware of the advantages of having an energy efficient home and this is why they employ the services of a reputable energy consulting firm to help them design a home that is sustainable and eco-friendly.

What is an Energy Efficient Home?

An energy efficient home often has features such as wind power, geothermal heating and solar panels. But green living is not solely based on the use of renewable energy. It’s also about designing the house in such a way that energy becomes more efficiently utilized; a home that is well insulated and properly positioned to rely mostly on passive cooling and heating

With this kind of home, you will use minimal energy to light, heat and your household appliances. A house with majority of its windows are facing south (passive solar) can lessen their heating requirements by up to 25% without spending anything.

But it’s also important to design the home properly so that during summer, you can avoid overheating. Your building should be well insulated and properly sealed so that cool air won’t escape due to leak or moisture.

Go for a Reasonably Sized Home

Naturally, the smaller the house, the more efficient it is. It also means you’ll need lesser materials to build it, less space to cool and less space to heat. If you’re a small family then you don’t need to build a big house. We recommend an average of 700 square feet per person.

Make Your Home Flexible

Design your home in such a way that it accommodates any future changes with little disruption. Your household size will change over time so you should also make your home flexible. You can lower environmental and financial costs brought about by a major renovation if you anticipate possible changes while you’re still at the design stage.

Use Reclaimed Materials

You can re-use existing building materials and doing so makes you part of the green building movement. Green building begins at the design phase so by incorporating used materials, you are doing your part to help the environment and at the same time, save money on construction costs.

Design Your Green Home

Regardless of whether you design your dream home yourself or you are going to hire a professional to do it for you, the important thing is that you keep in mind the principles of green living. If you have a designer for your home, make sure you pick one who shares your vision or at the very least, understands what you want.

There’s also the option of buying a pre-drawn plan which may be cheaper however, it can be difficult to find a plan for a green home. If you have the time and the inclination, you can draw up your own plan. It’s fun and rewarding, and you’ll learn a lot from this project too. Just make sure you understand the building regulations in your locality so you don’t end up breaking any rules.

What is More Sustainable than Living Off your Dividends

When I question whether something is sustainable I think of whether “it” can be responsibly maintained.  The goal of creating a dividend income stream should be to eventually use just the dividends letting the principal continue to grow.  It is analogous to living off the fruits of a tree rather than cutting down the tree itself, dividend payments can eventually provide an income stream that is sustainable since you don’t have to erode the principal.

This post was inspired by an interesting post the other day from a great dividend sites Sure Dividend that explored the idea of dividends paying stocks like a tree,

You start with something small – an actual seed, or a bit of hard-earned money.

Before you plant your seed or invest your money, you have to find the right place to put your tree seed or your money. Throwing a seed onto a rock will not do, nor will investing in a business on its last legs.

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Over time, your sapling becomes a tree. It now is producing seeds of its own. Your dividend stock’s payments have grown over time. In both cases, the cycle begins anew.

The tree’s seeds beget more trees. The dividend stock’s dividend payments are reinvested into other high quality dividend growth stocks.

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Once your first tree produces other trees, eventually you will have a forest of trees – let’s say they are fruit bearing trees.

You can now happily live off the sustenance your fruit trees provide.

Dividend stocks are the same way. Over time, your dividend income will grow. You will be able to live on the dividend payments of your dividend stocks.

Your Goal Should be to Live off the Dividends and Leave the Principal

Every time you eat into principal you are affecting your future income.  If you have a $500,000 portfolio yielding 4% ($20,000), but you sell another $20,000 of principal you are looking at $480,000 if that were to yield that same 4% (ignoring the growth of the underlying assets) you are looking $19,200 the following year.  Again, this is compounded when you still need that same $40,000 (now it is $19,200 of dividends and $20,800 of principal0.  In addition to the natural erosion of principal the problem compounds itself if it is a down year.

I am not sure if I’ll ever be able to a large enough portfolio where I can solely live off the dividends, but it’ll be a nice part of the income investments I’d like to create over the next few decades.

Green Washer Fluid

Today I was at wal-mart searching for, among other things, some new wiper fluid for my vehicle.  I typically dont give much thought to purchasing washer fluid, but something struck me when I was looking at the 5 or so different choices.

There was an eco-friendly alternative for wiper fluids.

Of course there was, why wouldn’t there be.  It seems that going eco-friendly or “green” is in vogue, and consumers will gladly pay a premium for eco-friendly products.  Such consumers typically buy and give  little thought going into whether or not the product was actually produced as they claim. (I do this on occasion)  At first thought, I figured this was just a well disguised attempt to separate me from my scarce financial resources.

Does the Earth Really Look like this from Space?

Upon further investigation, wiper fluid is typically hefty stuff, as the majority of the wiper fluids have some sort of anti-freezing agent in them.  It used to be methanol, but due to its known harmful effects (blindness, among other things) now they typically use ethanol and ethylene glycol (more commonly known as antifreeze).  So, did getting the green product really matter in this case?  The antifreeze is a key ingredient in the fluid in the winter (quick tip: if there’s frost on the windshield in the morning and you don’t have time to wait for the defroster to heat up, spray some wiper fluid on it.  It will melt the frost), and removing the things that make the wiper fluid not freeze would drastically decrease performance, and ultimately, my satisfaction with the product.

So, what’s a green conscious consumer to do?

Well, as mentioned before, the eco-friendly wiper fluid only went down to 32 degrees.  I bought two gallons to use for the summer time, and when the winter time comes back (in 3 months) I’ll use the eco-unfriendly stuff unless I can find an alternative.  Not only did I get the eco-friendly product, it was also 50 cents or so cheaper than the regular washer fluid.

Questions:

  1. Have things gotten too “green”?  You can find green things everywhere these days, but who really cares if your wiper fluid is eco-friendly or your superman underwear contain 100% organic cotton
  2. Would you sacrifice performance to stay green?

Sustainability and the New Saucepan

Recently, I purchased a new saucepan for my kitchen collection.  I was given a windfall, and decided to save the majority of it, but decided to take a bit and treat myself with a new saucepan.  Cooking is something I enjoy, and I had been eyeing a new sauce pan for some time.  The one that I have currently works just fine, however I am in the process of updating my cooking gear and looking to store the current set (given to my by an old roommate) for use in a possible vacation dwelling down the road.

So, you ask, Why does this concern me?

Well, the one that I purchased can be found here, and yes, I did pay 110.00 for a single pan.  I am well aware that it sounds like a but-load of cash (and it is).  When you think of the lifetime cost of the pan, however, it becomes cheaper than most pans.  A typical cooking set comes with 10 pans, and the one sold here costs $89.98.  It comes with two frying pans, 2 sauce pans, four lids and a dutch oven.

While growing up, I can remember my parents going through at least three of these sets, but I am sure that in their many years of marriage it could easily be double that.  I always wondered why they would get new cookware, and why the ones they bought did not last longer.  “They dont make stuff like they used to” my dad would say.  I always wondered why, but just  went along with it.

When the moment came (I regretted being an adult and having to spend my hard earned dollars on cookware), but I did the proper research and settled on a brand and began to purchase items piece by piece.  I’ve grown my collection up to four pieces at this point, and use each one frequently, and have never had any problems cooking (or cleaning!) any of them.  I have included a handy estimation chart to calculate the lifetime cost of purchasing lower quality cookware.

YearCostLifetime Cost
089.9889.98
589.98179.96
1089.98269.94
1589.98359.92
2089.98449.90
2589.98539.88
3089.98629.86
3589.98719.84
4089.98809.82
4589.98899.80
5089.98989.78

(I assumed a 5 year life span over 50 years.  If you have to buy your first set in your mid 20’s, I am assuming you wont need anymore cooking gear in your 70s.)

This does not count the shipping of the pots, nor does it take into account the ‘whole’ (or life cycle) cost of the product.  The whole cost is the cost of fuel for transport, the cost of materials disposal or any related costs of making, purchasing and disposing of the product 10 times!  As opposed to doing this, you could purchase one high quality set (here, total cost of $850) and use it for the lifetime.  While the set requires a large capital outlay, you can obtain your cookware piece by piece.  Will you ever really get “tired” of using the same pans for 50+ years? Well, maybe, but you can get over that.  These higher quality items will also be available for your children when you’re done on the planet.

Purchasing the cookware just once will also allow for a healthier planet in the longer term, as well as a positive return for your cooking new pan dollar.  So next time you need a new pan readers, what will you choose?

For further reading on life cycle analysis, check the following

  1. EPA Life cycle Analysis – EPA’s information about what a life cycle analysis is, and how it can help you.
  2. Life Cycle Assessment tool from Carnegie Mellon

Questions to the readers:

  1. Are there any products which you would pay top dollar for? If so, which ones?
  2. Do you consider the lifetime cost of a product when purchasing the item?