Americans go green to save money

In the U.S., signs of a looming recession are leading many Americans to make lifestyle changes in an effort to save their dollars. Rising food and oil prices and a slump in the housing market are forcing many to cut costs, as well as switch to cheaper for

The Economic slowdown has forever changed the landscape of many cities around the U.S. Closed factories have become permanent eyesores. As American companies look for cheap labour abroad, many Americans have lost their jobs at home.

And it is the American economy, not the War in Iraq, which is now the number one issue on the election campaign trail.

’Crisis’ is the word that everyone is thinking, but no one is saying. The first sign of it was the housing slump – the biggest since the Great Depression. More than 240,000 properties are heading for repossession.

Real estate prices have hit rock bottom. At best, many are watching their homes lose value at an alarming rate; at worst, many Americans have lost their homes.

Rising food prices also have people counting their pennies at the grocery store. Prices at the gas pump have also reached record highs, and many say that's just the beginning.

With such grim forecasts, Americans have no choice but to start getting creative in order to meet their budgets.

High fuel costs are prompting Americans to look for alternative forms of transport. More and more people are turning to scooters and small motorcycles as they burn less gas. Sales of scooters rose 24 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

Gerry Helfgott, Vespa company manager, says when gas prices reach $US 4.25 a gallon, the scooters will be flying off the floor and they won't be able to keep them in stock. “A lot of people are considering buying a scooter as their second vehicle,” he notes.

Cutting back on big purchases such as cars might be a temporary solution, but experts say it will take at least a couple of years before the U.S. economy starts to recover.