We often make excuses for things we know deep down that we need and do without priority. Why are you going to exercise now? I’m just so sluggish! What is the best way of developing your knowledge or skills? I don’t have time! And so on, and so forth.
The same can be said about going green – it’s often seen as expensive or inconvenient when in reality becoming eco friendly on a budget is now more easier than ever. Changing your mind can really save a lot of your precious energy. Here are some good ideas on how to be more sustainable.
Is sustainability just for the wealthy?
Often sustainable ideas appear on the Internet through rose-colored glasses. It contributes to this widespread belief that all sustainable activities must look big and Instagram-ready. This is not the case! There are many sustainable things you can do for little or no money. And some of these activities will actually save you money in the long run.
So don’t get discouraged – small changes really can make a difference. You don’t need to have a perfect green home to reduce your ecological footprint. Just think about some of the things you can do differently in your day-to-day life, and try to implement them little by little.
The relative cost of sustainable living
Sustainable lifestyles tend to result in higher costs according to most surveys on the internet. However, this is not always the case. Some “sustainable” choices may have an upfront cost, but save you money in the long term. For example, you might invest in a nice set of reusable metal straws. Yes, they’re more expensive than plastic straws, but you’ll never have to buy straws again. And if everyone in your family uses them, the cost per person is actually quite low.
The same can be said for things like reusable water bottles and shopping bags. You might spend a little more money upfront, but you’ll save money in the long term – and you’ll also be doing your part to reduce plastic waste. So, the “relative cost” of sustainable living really depends on your perspective, and in many cases is actually the opposite of what people believe.
How can I go green cheaply?
With all the shiny new gadgets and expensive installations, most of us have just one question: How to live green on a budget? This is a simple question with a complex answer – it depends on your lifestyle and where you live. That being said, there are some general tips that can help you save money while also being more sustainable. If you can be cheap while at the grocery store by buying a couple of grapefruits instead of the whole pack, you can certainly find ways to save some money and help the environment in your own unique way.
Sustainable living and lifestyles
Some of the misconceptions about sustainable lifestyle and living are the primary reason why people today consider it to be a premium-only option. The truth is that sustainable living and lifestyles are for everyone – it’s not about how much money you have, but rather about making smart choices.
So if you’re looking for budget-friendly sustainable living, there are plenty of ways to do it. You can start by doing simple things like recycling more, eating less meat, or using less water. You can also invest in some reusable products, like metal straws or a reusable water bottle. And if you really want to make a difference, you can look into solar energy or wind power for your home.
Remember, small eco-friendly habits can make a big difference. Sure, it’s great having an electric car or a solar-powered home. But even if you can’t afford those things, there are still plenty of ways to be more sustainable. And who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be able to afford those electric cars or that solar-powered home. Until then, just do your best and know that every little bit helps!
And now, let’s move on to ways in which you can be more sustainable while on a budget.
Switch to a 100% green energy provider
Switching from fossil-powered energy providers to 100% green electricity is hugely effective. No, we’re not talking about installing a solar system in your home. Just switching providers can instantly make your home more sustainable and reduce your ecological footprint.
The best part is that it doesn’t have to cost you anything – in fact, it might even save you money. Many green energy providers offer competitive rates to their traditional counterparts, so you can do your part for the environment without breaking the bank.
A good example is Octopus Energy in the UK. They offer 100% renewable electricity at rates that are often competitive with the big energy providers, and they offer award-winning customer service!
Give up bottled water
An astounding 35 billion water bottles are thrown away in the US each year, and that number is only increasing. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s also costing you a lot of money.
The average person in the US spends about $1,500 on bottled water each year. That’s enough to buy a high-quality water filter that will last you for years – and save you a ton of money in the long run.
Plus, filtered water is just as good – if not better – than bottled water. So ditch the plastic and save yourself some cash (and help the environment) by making the switch to filtered water.
If you need to travel, carry a reusable water bottle with you and fill it up when you can. You’ll stay hydrated and save money – it’s a win-win!
Upcycle & DIY
In addition to those three R’s (re-use, reduce, recycle), we can also use the three R’s to take into account some of our everyday consumer activities. The next time you’re about to buy something, think about whether or not you could make it yourself.
You can save a lot of money by being creative and resourceful. For example, instead of buying a new dress, try upcycling an old one. Or instead of buying a new piece of furniture, see if you can refinish an old one.
Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll also end up with a one-of-a-kind item that nobody else has. And who knows? You might even enjoy the process of creating something new out of something old.
Upcycling & DIY Ideas
- Food glass containers can easily be used in candle holders, pen holders, plant containers, or small containers for nails, screws, or other items. You can also use them as a base for lamps.
- Mason jars can hold everything from spices to office supplies and can be used as drinking glasses, vases, or soap dispensers.
- Tin cans can be used as plant pots, pencil holders, or storage containers for small items.
- plastic bottles can be used as plant pots, bird feeders, or storage containers.
Composting is an excellent way to reduce your waste and save money on your grocery bill. By composting your food scraps, you can create a nutrient-rich soil amendment that will help your plants grow.
And the best part is that it’s really easy to do! You can start composting with just a few simple supplies, and there are plenty of resources available to help you get started.
There are many benefits to composting, including reducing your carbon footprint, saving money on fertilizers and soil amendments, and diverting waste from landfills.
If you have a garden, composting is a great way to give your plants the nutrients they need to thrive. And if you don’t have a garden, you can still compost – many municipalities offer pick-up services for compostable materials.
Try samples before buying full-size beauty products
All beauty products, whether eco-friendly or not, have to be suitable for the skin of a person. Do not lose yourself in the search for the best natural skin care products and natural makeup. It is important to find those that will be gentle on your skin and do not have any harmful chemicals.
The best way to do this is by using samples of products before buying them in full size. This way, you can try out a product and see how it feels on your skin without spending a lot of money.
You can get samples from many places, including Sephora, Birchbox, and Beautycounter.
Outsmart your grocery store
Grocery stores are designed to get you to spend as much money as possible. But you can outsmart them by following a few simple tips.
First, make a list of what you need before you go to the store. This will help you stay focused and avoid impulse purchases.
Next, shop the perimeter of the store, where the fresh food is located. The inner aisles are full of processed foods that are often more expensive and less healthy.
Finally, don’t be afraid to haggle. If you see an item that’s on sale but the price is still too high, ask the manager for a better deal. You might be surprised at how often you can get a discount.
Use What You Have Before Buying New
You definitely need to buy new things from time to time. But before you head to the store, take a look around your house and see what you can use instead.
For example, if you need a new piece of clothing, see if you can mend or alter something you already have. If you need a new kitchen gadget, see if you can borrow one from a friend or neighbor.
Chances are, you can find what you need without having to buy anything new. And that’s good for your wallet and the environment.
It’d be as simple as just hearing that voice of your father in your head each time you’re about to make any purchase decision. “Do I really need this? Can I repair it instead of replacing it? Is there a more environmentally friendly option?”
You know what they say, we turn into our parents eventually. So might as well get started on that now and reap the benefits of being more eco-conscious in our spending habits.
Don’t write off-chain stores
It is possible to find environmentally-friendly items from your local chain stores. However, you might have to do some extra research to find what you’re looking for.
For example, Target now offers a line of sustainable home goods called Made To Matter. The line includes items like dish soap, laundry detergent, and shampoo that are made from natural and recycled materials.
So next time you’re at the store, take a look around and see if you can find some eco-friendly products. You might be surprised at what you can find.
This third R recycle seems simple and effortless but like most sustainable living, it requires a bit of extra work on your part. It’s not as easy as just throwing your recyclables in the bin and forgetting about them.
You need to learn what can be recycled in your area and how to properly recycle it. For example, some items like batteries and light bulbs can’t be thrown in the regular recycling bin. Instead, you need to take them to a special recycling center. However, bottled water today often comes in recyclable plastic packages, which can be recycled in most local recycling plants.
It might seem like a hassle, but recycling is worth it for the sake of the environment. Plus, it can sometimes even make you some extra money.
Why should we recycle?
By now it’s easy to learn about recycling and how to sort waste to reuse, but why?
The first answer is that it helps to protect the environment. The process of recycling often takes less energy than making something entirely new from scratch. This saves natural resources like water, trees, and minerals.
It also reduces pollution by cutting down on the release of harmful toxins and chemicals into the air and water.
In addition to helping the environment, recycling can also be beneficial to the economy. It creates jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries and helps to keep money within local communities.
Investment in quality
This may seem counterintuitive if you’re living on a budget, but hear us out.
It’s often cheaper, in the long run, to invest in higher-quality items that will last longer. For example, it’s better to buy a good quality pair of jeans that will last for years than it is to buy a cheap pair that will fall apart after a few washes.
The same goes for appliances and other big-ticket items. It might cost more upfront, but it will save you money in the long run.
Not to mention, higher quality items often have a smaller environmental impact because they don’t need to be replaced as often.
If you are buying something new, try to purchase it secondhand whenever possible. This could mean buying from a consignment shop, thrift store, or even online.
Not only is buying secondhand generally cheaper than buying something brand new, but it’s also better for the environment. That’s because you’re giving new life to something that already exists instead of buying something that requires new resources to be made.
Tip: Also look to buy recycled items, because you can often get them cheaper than the real thing! You can find recycled products pretty much everywhere that fits your budget, like water bottles, storage boxes, and even printing paper!
One of the easiest ways to be more eco-friendly is to simply use less water. There are a number of ways that you can do this.
For example, you can take shorter showers, turn the water off while brushing your teeth, and water your plants during the cooler hours of the day.
You can also invest in some water-saving appliances like low-flow showerheads and toilets. These can save you a lot of water (and money) in the long run. However, since we’re talking about living on a budget, you don’t necessarily need to go out and buy new appliances.
There are plenty of ways to save water without spending any money at all.
Share & borrow
Alternative approaches to reuse are sharing or borrowing.
For example, you could start a book club with your friends instead of buying new books all the time. Or you could borrow tools from your neighbor instead of buying your own set.
Sharing and borrowing are great ways to save resources. And they often lead to building stronger relationships with the people in your community.
Peer-to-peer sharing platforms
If you are interested in borrowing from someone you’re looking for something you want then you might want to check online. There are websites and apps that allow you to borrow items from people in your area.
These platforms are usually free or very affordable, making them a great option for those on a budget. And since you’re borrowing things that already exist, they’re also eco-friendly.
Apart from apps, Facebook groups are also a great way to find things to borrow from people in your community.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables
If you are looking for vegan food or just want to be more eco-friendly, then seasonal fruits and vegetables are a great option.
They are typically cheaper than out-of-season options and they don’t have to travel as far to get to you. This means that they have a smaller carbon footprint.
You can find seasonal produce at your local farmers’ market or grocery store. Just make sure to check the labels so you know what’s in season.
Take fewer showers
We’ve already covered this in the save water section, but it’s worth repeating. Taking shorter showers is one of the easiest ways to become eco friendly on a budget (and potentially save on your water bill).
If you’re not ready to commit to shorter showers, then there are still some things you can do. For example, you could turn the water off while you’re lathering up or shaving.
You could also invest in a shower timer. This way, you can make sure you’re not spending more time than necessary in the shower.
One way to save money and be more eco-friendly is to go digital. This could mean reading books on your e-reader instead of buying physical copies.
Or listening to music on your phone instead of buying CDs. There are a number of ways that you can incorporate digital media into your life.
Instead of traveling to your bank and acquiring printed documents, you can do your banking online. Almost every bank offers online services that allow you to do everything from checking your balance to transferring money.
Think before your purchase
It’s already been mentioned and will repeat itself throughout this article, but it’s worth reiterating: buying second-hand items is a great way to save money and resources.
Before you make a purchase, think about whether or not you really need it. If you can borrow it or find it second-hand, then that’s probably the better option.
If you do decide to buy something new, then try to choose products that are eco-friendly and/or have a small carbon footprint.
Rechargeable over disposable electronics
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Rechargeable batteries are better for the environment and will save you money in the long run.
If you’re still using disposable batteries, then now is the time to make the switch, and it’s no surprise why; according to one estimate, a rechargeable AA battery can save you as much as $100 over its lifetime and is equivalent to disposing of up to 70 regular batteries.
Cycle or walk
Rather than driving or taking public transport, try cycling or walking instead. This is a great way to save money on petrol or fares. And it’s also good for your health and the environment.
If you live close enough to your work or school, then consider walking or cycling there. If not, then see if there are any safe routes that you could take.
You could also cycle to the store instead of driving. This is especially convenient if you only need to buy a few things.
Eat less meat
We’re not talking about going vegan (although that’s an option). Even eating less meat can make a difference.
Meat production has a significant impact on the environment. It contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution.
So, if you’re looking for ways to be more eco-friendly, then eating less meat is a good place to start, and is one of the easier things to do when on a tight budget!
Reusing what other people owned
Today, it seems like everything is disposable. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
One way to be more eco-friendly on a budget is to reuse items that others have already used. This could mean anything from buying second-hand clothes to furniture.
There are a number of ways that you can find second-hand items. You could go to a thrift store, garage sale, or even look online.
Reusing what we already own
Replace disposable items such as cups, bottles, cut-outs, and plastic bags with reusable ones.
Instead of using paper towels, opt for a dishcloth or sponge. These can be washed and reused multiple times.
And when it comes to food, try to avoid single-use items such as plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Instead, use things like Mason jars or Tupperware containers.
Turn it off
After you’ve used an appliance, make sure to turn it off. This includes things like lights, TVs, and computers.
Did you know that leaving your devices on standby can use up to 10% of your electricity bill? So, by simply turning them off when you’re not using them, thereby saving money and reducing your carbon footprint at the same time.
Use a drying rack for your clothes
In many parts of the world, it’s common to hang your clothes out to dry. But if you’re lucky enough to have a clothes dryer, then try not to use it too often.
Drying your clothes in a tumble dryer uses a lot of energy and can damage your clothes. Instead, try using a drying rack or line-dry them outside when the weather is good.
Make your own cleaning products
Commercial cleaner products can contain toxic substances which can cause severe health risks, not to mention they’re bad for the environment.
Fortunately, there are a number of recipes that you can use to make your own cleaning products. These are usually cheaper and just as effective as store-bought ones.
Bring your own bag
When you go shopping, make sure to bring your own bag. This could be a reusable grocery bag or even just a regular backpack.
Using reusable bags is one of the easiest ways to be more eco-friendly. It will also save you money if you’re on a tight budget as most stores charge for plastic bags.
There are a number of ways that you can be more eco-friendly on a budget. From eating less meat to making your own cleaning products, there are plenty of eco-friendly habits available for the budget-conscious. So, start with one or two of these tips and see how it goes! You may be surprised at how easy it is to make a difference.