Save Money—and Your Health—by Going Green

My personal transformation to becoming more environmentally conscious happened suddenly and, I must admit, by accident.

I moved into one of the leading green apartment buildings in the country, the Solaire, in New York City. At the time, I chose this location not so much because it was a green building but because of its location. But then something happened when I moved in—my health had improved dramatically within weeks.

For one thing, my allergies—which I’d suffered from throughout my entire life—simply disappeared. I was taking three prescription drugs a day when I moved in; within six weeks, I had pretty much stopped needing them. My son Jack’s mild asthma symptoms disappeared completely; he hasn’t had an asthma attack since we moved in. We’ve also started to sleep longer and more soundly.And so I started paying attention to how the building was affecting our health. What was so different about this building that made us feel better? Why was it that a building that was designed to be environmentally friendly could improve our health? The answers to my questions turned out to be rather simple. The building has a 24-hour air-quality monitoring system with an advanced central air-filtration system. There's a central water-filtration system for the entire building, too. And the materials and paints used have little or to no VOCs, so they won't off-gas into the indoor environment.


A rendering of the Solaire, where author David Bach lives.

Within weeks, I had made even more changes: My cleaning products at home are now all green. So is the dry cleaner we use. I gave up my gas-guzzing SUV. I began to realize that I wasn't spending more money to make these changes. I was actually saving money by going green.

That's right, I said saving money. Did you know that the average U.S. household shells out roughly $600 a year on 40 pounds of chemical cleaning supplies? Yet for $20, you can replace every cleaning product in your house with a safer, non-toxic, biodegradable homemade version using common ingredients like baking soda, club soda, vinegar and salt! (Check out Detox Your Home: Assemble a Green Cleaning Kit to find out how.)

Though I’m still in a period of transformation, I have become green-conscious. And it’s changing not only my life but also that that of my son. And it all started by just doing one green thing.

David Bach is the author of Go Green, Live Rich and a guest contributor to TreeHugger.

Tags: Economics | New York City