As world-class protagonists scramble to file their tax returns by this month’s deadline, most of us now turn to fantasizing about our refunds. Perhaps a wardrobe update for spring, savings for summer vacation, or simply just paying down a credit card. But, for those of us who are a little more environmentally conscious ahead of Earth Day, offsetting your carbon footprint is a thoughtful way to use your check.

With the average American household receiving thousands as part of a refund, there are limitless ways to use those funds to promote the planet’s health. Dig into this list of cheaper ways to promote sustainable living for you and your household:

  1. Get lighter and brighter: Using electricity releases carbon emissions into the air, which in turn eats away at the ozone. By changing out the incandescent bulbs in your home for LED lighting, you can use up to 80 percent less energy – plus they last longer! If you don’t want to use too much of your refund by switching out every single bulb, just focus on the rooms where your family and guests spend the most time.
  2. Change your shopping list: National Geographic estimates that eating a pound of beef is responsible for releasing more carbon than burning a gallon of gas—5% of all greenhouse gas pollution can be attributed to livestock, in fact. Not that you need to go full vegan, but consider introducing more fish, grains and meat substitutes into your diet to reduce your impact. While you’re at it, buy a healthy supply of reusable shopping bags, as driving demand for plastic is essentially driving demand for fossil fuels.
  3. Size down your electronics: If you’re in the market for a desktop computer for work or school, you might want to rethink laptops. They are designed to be sustainable in order to optimize battery life (e.g., screensavers, sleep and power saver modes). Energy Star finds that portable CPUs actually consume 80 percent less energy than desktop varieties. When picking out accessories, be on the lookout for energy-efficient LCD screens, hard drives and adapters (all of which can help extend the lifetime of your laptop too)!
  4. Put the power of purification in your hands: Similar to the issues with plastic shopping bags, packaged bottled water does incredible damage to our environment. Meeting America’s demands uses more than 17 million barrels of oil, wastes energy that would be enough to power 190,000 homes, and results in 38 billion water bottles getting sent to landfills each and every year. Reserve a slice of your check to buy a Brita or two for the home, or better yet, a water filtration bottle that you can take with you anywhere!

Once tax mayhem finally winds down, take a load off! Relax and recharge with these simple tips →