How to Shop for Eco-Friendly Products

shop for eco-friendly products

Earth Day is on Saturday, April 22, which means now is as good a time as ever to brush up on your earth-friendly ways. Going green isn’t always easy, but there are little things you can do over time to continuously help our planet, including shopping. But, when it comes to your regular purchases, it can be difficult to know what is actually eco-friendly and what is a sales attempt. Making smart purchases does not need to be difficult or take a lot of time. Here is how you can easily shop for eco-friendly products:

How to Shop for Eco-Friendly Products

Shopping green is not the same as shopping smarter. Some products do not live up to the title and cost you more. Here’s what to look out for:

  1. Biodegradable is not always the way to go. Just because an item is described as biodegradable does not mean it will work. They actually need to be composted and do not work in landfills. So, unless you live near a compost or have one, you should not purchase biodegradable products. Instead, look for reusable items.
  2. Research “natural” and “organic” products. Labels and companies can be deceiving, and some will go as far to completely lie, as was the case with this company in Atlanta, Georgia. Items that are truly organic will include the official seal from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Natural Products Association, or the BDIH stamp. These marks indicate that the products have met the criteria to be considered natural or organic. While natural is not the same as organic, natural products are still minimally processed and better for our Earth than many other substances we produce. Anything that claims to be but is not is not worth spending the extra money on.
  3. Hybrid cars can be our best friend. for the most part, nature loves hybrid vehicles. Plus, the government gives you a tax break for having a hybrid; that is, depending on the car battery size along with make, model, and year. However, don’t just go out and buy a hybrid for the tax credit. What you could do, though, is purchase a used hybrid or put the money toward your current car. Tune-ups do wonders for your gas mileage, which, in turn, helps the environment. Not to mention, when it comes to car shopping in general, look for the smaller vehicles with the best gas mileage. Mother nature likes these the best.
  4. Reuse plastic and paper bags. As great as the reusable cloth bags are, you should also try to remember to reuse your plastic and paper bags as well. This not only saves you money but is a great way recycle as well.
  5. BPA-free plastics may not be what they’re cracked up to be. Don’t waste your time with BPA-free plastics. You won’t know for sure if the plastic products contain the chemicals. Skip them all together. Use glass or lead-free ceramic containers instead.

Now that you have an idea of how to shop for eco-friendly products, you can test it out for yourself. Just remember to look for the seal of approval for natural and organic, reuse items as much as possible, and resist buying items just because of their “eco-friendly” claim.

What would you add to the list? 

Motorcycle Insurance Costs for First-time Bike Riders

insurance costs for first-time riders

Spring means clear roads and sunny days ahead, which motivates us to be outside more. Perhaps one way you plan on enjoying the nicer weather is by feeling the wind in your hair…literally. Motorcycles are perceived as a cheaper (and much more exciting depending on who you ask) alternative to your standard vehicles. However, what newbies don’t put into account is motorcycle insurance costs for first-time bike riders. Is it more expensive? And what all factors are considered for these costs?

Here is what you need to know about insurance costs for first-time bike riders:

What to Expect

Even though it may seem that motorcycles should have cheaper insurance options than regular motor vehicles, this is not always the case. An older car may have lower rates than a brand new street bike, insurance company Trusted Choice explains. They go on to say that rates do depend on where you live, the type of motorcycle, and how often you’ll ride. For example, if you live in New York and will only ride three months out of the year, you will pay less in insurance costs than someone who will ride every season, they say.

But, regardless of where you live, two factors come into play for higher insurance rates: age and experience.

What You Need to Know

Insurance costs for first-time bike riders tend to be higher. In an article by James Hirby on The Law Dictionary, younger and newly-licensed riders should “expect to pay a substantial premium” for a motorcycle policy. The reason for this, he writes, is that national statistics show younger riders are more likely to be involved in serious accidents, unlike older, more experienced drivers.

Along with age and experience, if you also live in an area with higher accident and crime rates, you should expect to pay a higher premium due to increased risk, Trusted Choice adds.

How often you plan to ride also affects your rates. For instance, if your bike will be your main source of transportation, this will lead to paying more on your policy. Conversely, if you plan to only use it leisurely, you will pay less.

What You Can Do

Naturally, one way to see about reducing the amount you’ll pay is to do a price comparison between companies. You should do this prior to even purchasing your bike.

Another way to reduce insurance costs, Hirby and the Law Dictionary staff advise not purchasing collision or comprehensive insurance on the bike. They say that if you bought the bike with your own money, you are not obligated to pay for the cost of repairs in the event of an accident. This alone could save you an extra $100 per month.

Additionally, Trusted Choice notes that bikes with larger engines that are more powerful will also affect your insurance costs. As a first-time rider, spend your first few years on a smaller bike in order to reduce your premium. You can always upgrade later. (And, you’ll be able to afford to do so a little more easily.)

Lastly, you should get your motorcycle license and take a rider training course to reduce your premiums. This will show insurance companies that you took the time to learn how to become a skilled, cautious rider.

The good news is that costs will go down with age (and experience). So, be patient and wise about your decisions, and you’ll be enjoying that open road at lower rates in no time.

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Are you or have you been a first-time rider? Do you find these tips useful? Share your own thoughts and tips in the comments below!

Can Payment Be Stopped On A Cashier’s Check?

can payment be stopped on a cashier's check

A cashier’s check is distributed by a bank and includes a guaranteed amount to the receiver. By signing off on it, the cashier confirms sufficient funds exist in the account to cover it. In other words, the banks are promising the money is there rather than the individual remitting the check. Credit unions will also issue these checks in the same fashion. This type of payment comes in handy for large purchases, but what happens if you lose or suspect that it has been stolen? Can payment be stopped on a cashier’s check?

Can Payment Be Stopped on a Cashier’s Check?

When you buy a cashier’s check from your bank or local credit union, they use the money from their account, thus mostly removing any concern to the payee that the check may bounce. This essentially makes the check usable as cash. You may need to use one when buying a home, where they would not accept debit or credit as a form of payment for such a large purchase. Unlike a regular check, a cashier’s check will not bounce. (Hence, the guarantee.) This does not mean, though, that it is incapable of becoming lost or stolen. So what do you do in a situation like this?

Many say you can’t stop payment on a cashier’s check. However, you do have options. According to the National Check Fraud Center, if your cashier’s check was destroyed, lost, or stolen, you can make a claim if the check was issued in a state that adopted the Section 3-312 of the UCC. This article notes the procedure for making what is known as a “declaration of loss,” which is made under penalty of perjury, to your bank that issued the check. By filing this, you claim the check is gone and cannot be redeemed.

The National Check Fraud Center explains that once your claim is submitted, you will have to wait 90 days after the check was issued or accepted, or the date the claim was made for it to become effective, whichever is later. During that time, the bank has no obligation to reissue or repay you for the check until they can determine whether or not your claim is valid. If it were stolen and the thief tries to cash it, the check will not be honored.

If you do need the money sooner than the 90-day period, you can contact your bank and see what can be done. But, they may still decide to wait on it. They may also make you sign an indemnification agreement to protect themselves. If your claim is valid, you should not have anything to worry about. Make sure to just always maintain communication with your bank in the case that it would show up.

When the claim does become effective, the National Check Fraud Center states that the bank “may pay the claimant the amount of the check or reissue a check to the claimant.” Following your approved claim, it may take 30 to 90 days to get a replacement check. While not ideal, this is still better than losing the money.

Although it is possible to create a claim and get your money back for your lost or stolen cashier’s check, this may not apply if you simply changed your mind. Many banks will not permit you to stop payment on a cashier’s check that you decide you no longer want, or they will make it as difficult as possible for you to do so. On the other hand, you cannot stop a valid payee (the individual you have given the cashier’s check to) from depositing the money.

It’s always wise to check with your bank to see what their requirements are prior to completing the transaction.

Have you ever had to stop payment on a cashier’s check before? What was your experience?