Two things we should all strive to save: our hard-earned money, and the planet!
Living a sustainable life can be quite the journey. It definitely requires changing some habits, possibly ditching some previously-loved products and, if you’re not careful, it can end up being a pricy switch. Marketing teams have sunk their teeth into the words “green” and “eco”, at times using them to justify slapping a hefty price tag on their products. But, luckily for us, there are ways to improve our sustainability that don’t cost any money. In fact, we can actually save some moolah by choosing the greener choice.
So, here are five ways to live more sustainably. These require no pricy initial investment, and will save you money right from day one.
1. Shop Second Hand
Thrift-shopping has been having a major moment. Well, I guess it’s been trendy for a bit more than a moment. Of course, people have relied on thrift stores long before secondhand was trendy. Whether it’s financially or sustainably motivated, thrift stores are a great option to save some cash and resist supporting fast fashion. Thrifting is also a sure way to find unique pieces, and there are few feelings as good as unearthing a glorious discounted gem.
2. Borrow Instead of Buy
The more things you start acquiring the bigger environmental footprint you make. Think of all the components that go in to, say, a carpet cleaner. Now, imagine instead of 20 people buying a carpet cleaner of their own, they all choose to borrow one. This waste-saving method can apply to any number of things, from cleaning equipment to power tools to books–there is often a way to save some money by borrowing instead of buying.
3. Drink Tap Water
Okay, this one seems so obvious I hesitate mentioning it. However, the bottled water industry is still very much in business, so perhaps someone out there needs to hear it: Bottled water is a SCAM. If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere with clean, potable water it’s time to ditch bottled. There are communities so envious of the opportunity to have safe drinking water running from their taps. Say no to plastic (and supporting an exploitative conglomerate…) and start drinking tap water. It’s a privilege.
4. Eat Less Meat
The animal agriculture industry plays a huge role in the production of greenhouse gasses. I would encourage anyone to read up on the industry themselves, and make informed dietary decisions. Even if you can’t go totally vegan or vegetarian, eating less meat is a valuable first step. Try Meatless Mondays, or, better yet, make plant based swaps multiple times a week! We’re all just doing our best, and reducing meat consumption is one of the best ways to help the environment. Contrary to popular belief, eating plant based doesn’t have to be expensive. Some of the newer products on the market are pricy, but traditional swaps (like legumes and tofu) can be way cheaper than some meat!
5. Reduce Food Waste
When you use all of your produce, you prevent perfectly edible food from going to the landfill, where scraps break down in a way that releases green house gasses. Additionally, when food is wasted we are allowing all the resources that went in to food production to be wasted as well. Instead, get creative with your meals and stay informed about how long food has stayed in your fridge– so you can be sure to use it up before it rots. Shop smart, store food properly and save yourself a trip to the grocery store.
6. Learn to Mend
Basic sewing is such a great life skill to have! Nowadays, you can learn practically anything on the internet. So, watch a video or read a tutorial so you can repair basic rips and tears in your clothes. This way, you can keep that pair of jeans out of the landfill, and you don’t have to buy a new pair.
7. Reduce Electricity and Water Use
This is another one that seems so basic, but it’s worth repeating. Try to change your electricity and water consumption habits, to conserve resources and knock some dollars off your bills. Get in the routine of opening curtains instead of turning the light on, unplug electronics that aren’t in use, and be diligent with taking short showers. Small habits add up, and this is a great step in reducing your footprint.
8. Reuse Containers
Instead of purchasing plastic containers to store leftovers, start reusing some of the jars your groceries come in. Glass jars (like from jams or pickles) are great because you don’t have to worry about the material degrading over time. Some plastics aren’t designed for prolonged use, but glass, as long as it’s washed properly, can be reused indefinitely. Repurposing what you already have is one of my favourite ways to live more sustainably, and stop myself from spending on unnecessary items.
Living sustainably doesn’t have to be over complicated, keep it simple so you can start today. Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you to take a look at what steps you can take to help protect the planet– while avoiding some costs. Once you start incorporating these ideas into your life, you can start looking bigger, and figure out how you are going to make more changes.