Incorporating sustainable practices and items into your life can cost money, but it doesn’t have to. One of the most eco friendly things we can all do that will save us tons of money is buying less things, and repurposing what we already have. Along with that, there are many other things we can do that might require spending more money up front but, in the long run, will save us quite a bit of money, and will have a better impact on the planet than alternatives.
I highly encourage any kind of reduction that feels reasonable for your lifestyle, even if that means only using some of these swaps on occasion, that is still better than never!
USE CLOTH NAPKINS
A few months ago I picked up these linen napkins and have been using them ever since. Most of us are so use to grabbing a sheet or two of paper toweling and then disposing of them immediately after multiple times a day that it can take some time to get use to using these, but I really enjoy them and by not having to buy paper towels, you’ll probably save hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of your life.
HANG DRY CLOTHING
I don’t have a whole to of outdoor room to hang dry my items, but you don’t really need to. All I do is tie a long piece of twine to my outside door handle and then tie the other end to a chair across my patio and that’s it. Might save a couple bucks a month and will definitely use less electricity.
UNPLUG WHAT’S NOT IN USE
Even when are items are not turned on or are fully charged, leaving the plugged in still uses a small amount of power. Unplugging things that aren’t being used probably won’t save you enough money to go on a luxury vacation any time soon, but even the smallest things matter too!
USE A SAFETY RAZOR
The main component of a safety razor can be used for a lifetime, meaning you only have to buy the blades, which you can find packs of 100 for as little as $5-6.
Another thing you can do is buy the kind of regular razors where you just have to dispose of the top part, which is not gonna be as eco-friendly as a safety razor (or not shaving at all which is always an option!) but will be more sustainable than having to dispose of an entire razor after the blades are worn out.
DON’T BUY TRASH BAGS
This might not be feasible for everyone but since I eat many different foods that come in plastic bags, I’m able to just use those (like bags for pretzels, tortilla chips, bagels, etc) to put any items in that I don’t want to just throw right in my garbage can.
Also a side note is that I’m pretty sure most cities (in the US at least) do not accept recycled items in plastic bags, or it may just make it more inconvenient for recycling sorters, so you shouldn’t put your recyclables in bags.
CLEAN WITH OLD T-SHIRTS
Instead of spending the money to buy new cloths, you can use any old t-shirts you may be wanting to get rid of and cut them into rag-sized pieces and use them for cleaning. I tend to use them for the dirtier, grosser stuff because I don’t care how gross they get.
REUSE PLASTIC BAGS
You can certainly go out and pick up a bunch of stasher bags (which are made of silicone) if you want to have bags that will stay intact for many years, but since they are quiet expensive, for those looking for a cheaper route, I recommend reusing plastic ziploc bags until you can’t anymore. Higher quality ones can actually last months so once you’re done with them, instead of throwing them away, you can wash them out, let em dry and reuse them again and again.
ADJUST FRIDGE + FREEZER SETTINGS
Depending on what you keep in your fridge + freezer, this might not be the best option but setting mine to the ‘warmest’ they can go hasn’t made any of my food go bad, but will probably save me a couple cents on my electric bill.
Of course this is very obvious, but taking shorter showers, turning off water when it’s not in use, flushing the toilet less frequently when going #1, and using less water to wash dishes are all things that can greatly help reduce your water waste and save you money (if you pay your water bill that is).
REUSE GLASS JARS
If you have the ability to buy bulk foods, it is 100% not necessary to buy new glass jars to put your food in. All of us probably have a ton of items in glass jars in our fridge right now that can be washed out and reused once they’re empty.
It is also much more environmentally friendly to use second hand plastic tupperware than it is to go out and buy new glass items to store food in. So don’t be afraid to check out a thrift shop or garage sale for some plastic items to put your bulk foods in.
BUY PRODUCTS IN LARGE QUANTITIES
If you don’t have access to bulk items or do have access but they’re pretty spendy, most of the time buying foods in larger quantities (like buying 25-50 lbs of rice, a couple lb bag of oats etc) is going to save you money and requires less packaging than buying multiple smaller sizes of the same thing!
USE A SILICONE BAKING MAT
Instead of using aluminum foil or parchment paper, you can opt for one of these reusable baking mats which just have to be washed and dried and can be use again and again. That could save you more than a couple dollars a year depending on how much you use your oven.
USE LESS A/C + HEAT
I’ve learned to get use to being a little warmer and a little cooler than I’d prefer by not turning on my a/c + heat as much. Not saying you should never use it but I tend to be fine only switching my air on for about 30-60 mins a day in the Texas summer heat.
SHOP SECOND HAND
Of course, buying used items is always going to be more sustainable and almost always gonna be cheaper. Not only clothing but furniture, decor items, and electronics are things we can also check around thrift stores, craigslist, Facebook marketplace, and any used item apps like BUNZ, OfferUp, and letgo for. It never hurts to check!