How I Profit From Being Green

What?! Green, as in environmentally friendly, as opposed to making more green. And yet, they can work together. Can’t they?

Phil Circle at Chicago’s Navy Pier for a film shoot at dawn.

Other than the obvious or possible spiritual and/or personal moral or philosophical reasons, it seems like being conscientious of green technologies and such can cost more. But, I’ve been finding otherwise. I pay attention to money because it’s often been scarce for me. Now that it’s less so, I’m paying even closer attention to how to make it work for me as it comes in. But I’m also seeing the trends in society, business, and even politics, toward a more mainstream understanding that this is just plain smart for our survival and good business.

I think the “good for business” thing can hit some people the wrong way, and I get it. I prefer that we all just understand the tremendous benefit of being conscientious to the planet we live on. But I’ve also noticed over my 30+ years as an entrepreneur that business and profit are a very effective side door to getting people to do the right thing. And because just passing laws (which I’m for, as well) without changing hearts is a little like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, I feel it’s very much worth pointing out to wide swaths of individuals how their simple and even money-saving moves can make a difference.

My parents were fairly conservative people. And yet, they did things that were green before it was widely considered important. I remember going with my Mom to the recycling center to drop off bottles, papers, and cans. You had to sort them yourself. I loved tossing the different colored bottles into their appropriate dumpsters to hear them crash, and carrying the big stacks of twine-bound newspapers to the back of the giant open-end bin. I felt very useful, for a little kid. My Dad was an economist, so he was aware of the effect of certain things on the economy. For instance, he constantly made the point for dollar coins over paper money. They were more economical, as they lasted forever more or less. He’d present clients his brochures complete with a silver dollar glued to the front to illustrate his point. He’d also worked at the tire recycling plant while in basic training at the start of World War II and often recalled the need to reuse and recycle for the war effort. I think he considered it wise in general, thereafter. Growing up poor, he was well aware of the value of saving a buck and like any old man, he would remind my siblings and I of the value of the dollar every chance he got. Now I get to be the old man.

As I may have implied above, I’ve always huddled a little left of center through most of my life, so I have the usual tree-hugging tendencies. And as a Buddhist, the sanctity of life motivates me to consider our home planet with some respect. I’m also pragmatic. I also don’t mind some of the accoutrements. Neither does my wife. Still, our newer model car is a Honda Civic, for the gas mileage and because it’ll last until 2032, if the previous Civic was an indication. Although, by then, we’ll likely own an electric car, since Tesla broke all gas combustion engines. Either way, newer cars when treated with care tend to pollute less, I’m told. I also enjoy the hellouta new technology. Interestingly, this leads to ways I save money while avoiding the use of paper and such.

I’ve been using scrap paper or notebooks from hotels where we stayed while on tour for keeping track of income and cash expenditures that didn’t present a receipt, for years. I can’t remember the last time I actually bought a receipt book or notebook. I found that to be a form of reuse and reduce. Sort of. A few years ago, switched over to an app. Like I said, I love technology. Now, I use no paper, I accept no receipts unless they’re automatically printed out (I then recycle them at home if they’re non-carbon receipts), and I save a ton of time. Time is money, right? Every day or two, I look at my app on my phone or computer. It tracks every transaction that goes through any of my bank or credit accounts, investment accounts, PayPal, Venmo, etc. I can enter cash transactions from my phone. But, because it’s more green, I ask for payments via Zelle or Venmo (no fees). The app also tracks all my mileage, so I’m no longer spending time looking it up or estimating, and writing it out on; more scraps of paper. The amount of time I save while not using resources, beyond the charging of my phone or computer, is noticeable. By the way, when I’m not using a device, cords are unplugged and power strips turned off. There’s a small, but noticeable savings on our electric bill. I learned a lot from listening to and watching my Dad as a kid and young man. For instance, the first, best way to increase your profit is by lowering expenses. If you can do this without changing the quality of your product or service and are also able to therefore maintain a steady price point, you’re going to outlast those who say, “Aw, it’s tax deductible,” and wonder later at why they have to raise their prices or neglect quality.

Here’s the app I use. The link will get you a deal. See that, you’re already saving money being green. Who said it ain’t easy being green? Sorry, had to do it.

Get QuickBooks 50% off for First 6 Months, as long as this code is good.

I also barely use paper money anymore. More trees saved… or at least a few branches, ha. Some phone pay apps give points for using them. I’m a lover of coupons and points and they’re all built in to apps on your phone or browser these days. I just cashed in my Honey points for a $10 a virtual Amazon gift card that I used toward a postage scale for my online store. I use compostable packaging for mailing all my products. They don’t cost more if you look around and they all say “I’m 100% Compostable” on the envelope or box. That sends a statement that is only good for business, and the world. I use one of our tote bags or reuse a plastic bag to avoid Chicago’s 5-cent bag tax and whatever the stores charge. Target gives you a nickel off per reused bag. They also provide recycling bins for that timesaving onestop shop and drop.

I use Dollar Shave Club in order to use less plastic and because it’s cheap! They have this awesome shave butter. I figured out how to make my own by doing a simple search. By getting larger containers, I used less in the way of resources. When I’m done making the recipe, I put the latest batch into a jar I’ve previously emptied of its contents through usage. Oh, be sure you don’t stir this recipe with a plastic spoon or you’ll end up recycling it! I learned the hard way. It melted! It is boiling oil, after all. Live and learn.

The Recipe I Used for HomeMade Shave Butter

(Cheaper than Dollar Shave Club and I Used 100% Organic)

I’ve also done the calculations on products I use a lot and found that I can use fewer containers (less resources) and save a sh*t-ton of cash. For instance, one small container of extra virgin olive oil when multiplied many times over to equal a gallon costs something like $35 more than just ponying up the money for a gallon can! Don’t feel like pulling the gallon can off the shelf every time you cook? Just use a small jar that you’ve cleaned from some other product and decant it. That’s what we do. Take cues from restaurants. They do that all the time. If you enjoy cooking and think there’s limited time to do so because you’re busy, consider this: The amount of time you wait at a restaurant is about equal to the time it takes you to put together a healthy (and organic non-GMO, vegan, etc,) meal for a fraction of the price. Leftovers won’t be using styrofoam or plastic containers if you’re at home. We reuse a ton. When I’m home alone working and take my lunch break, I enjoy taking the time to read up on something or somebody and inevitably end up with more information to share with all y’all. Of course, like anyone else, I also enjoy getting out of the house. So, there are still walks over to the cafe. Walks… who knows, I may be saving on health costs by getting my exercise and not using more gas? It’s worth hoping so. In fact, many insurance companies now give points towards gif cards for doing their little health surveys to be sure you’re caring for yourself, and thereby saving them medical costs later.

You can also build these savings into ways to expand your quality of life to being consuming more environmentally friends and sustainable foods. Through bulk buying, I’ve turned my savings in may areas into even greener and healthier consumerism. Be patient. It works, but with a close eye on costs and a longterm view.

When I initially looked at some of these cost saving/more green ideas, I was worried that I might not always have the $30 or more on hand to buy a gallon of this or large quantity of what-have-you. I found that the one-time expenditure freed up money down the line and it gradually builds into literally hundreds of dollars saved annually. I take that and invest it. Speaking of which…

I use Stash to invest, because I’m middle class and don’t have big dough lying around. Here’s more info on that…

I choose mutual funds that I believe in. Here’s another way I’ve profited by being green. In low-risk mutual funds with names like Clean and Green, Do The Right Thing, and Combatting Carbon, I’m currently averaging a great deal more than any savings account or certificate of deposit will ever yield. As I write this, green technology funds are up a great deal. Remember, it’s the market and fluctuates. I still keep a regular savings account, as does my wife. You can start investing on Stash with $5. I did. I have a lot more now. They have a bunch of tools for learning about this stuff. Use this link and you’ll get $5 to start with.

As long as this promo code is good, you can get $20 for signing up:

Lastly, I like plants. I buy very few. Mostly, I cultivate them from clippings and even the seeds of fruit we’ve consumed at home. It’s fun and relaxing. I have two date palms, a pineapple tree, and an avocado tree from seeds. Yes, you can grow these indoors. Half our regular house plants come from clippings. I put them in, you guessed it, jars I’ve cleaned and filled with water, until they sprout roots. Then I use everything from cool-looking jars to vases or pots I find at the thrift stores to plant them for the long term. For fertilizer I use coffee grounds or leftover brewed coffee, and a pinch of epsom salts. You can also use banana peels and egg shells. Look it up online for more details. Coffee grounds, once used and rinsed again, are neutral… not acidic nor alkaline. Epsom salts are basically Miracle Grow. So, once again, I’m reusing stuff and not spending money. I’m getting to where I have so many plants, I’m able to give away newly potted ones as gifts. Anyone want a house plant?

None of this has to be hard to do or a great big stretch. Every money-saving move we make is like any other habit we form. It can take a few months to become second nature. So, be patient with yourself. It’ll get to the point that you barely think about it.

Lastly, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot from the big money people like Bill Gates and Richard Branson that says businesses have to pay attention to their carbon footprint and show that they care about being green and similar social concerns (even if they don’t actually care), or people are less inclined to do business with them. So, it pays one way or another to be greener. Where will you invest your savings? How about a better quality of life for all of us?

Peace and the arts,





Phil Circle is a Chicago-based singer-songwriter-guitarist, award-winning music coach and author, and the founder of Guilt By Association Records.

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Phil Circle

Phil Circle

Phil Circle is a Chicago-based singer-songwriter-guitarist, award-winning music coach and author, and the founder of Guilt By Association Records.

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