How to practice sustainable living on a budget & save money.
Updated: Jan 24
An environmentally conscious way of living has been wrongfully stigmatised as something only affordable to the wealthy part of the population. However, many eco-friendly choices are also budget-friendly choices. You might get surprised to find a reduction in your costs when investing in a greener home. If you want to go green and save money, do this:
Get used to going to your local farmer’s market. Have you ever been in that situation when you’re standing in the supermarket and debating whether you should get an organic product or just go for a cheaper option? I thought so. Farmers’ market is a great place to find organic vegetables/fruits (even though they are not always marked as such) and save money. Getting your groceries there means less pollution and less greenhouse gas emission (products don’t have to travel all the way from another country or state). This is definitely a win-win situation for your wallet, the environment & your local economy.
Learn how to do dishes. Yep, you’ve read it right. Use the two-basin method when you soak the dishes with warm water, scrub them, and only then rinse every piece in cold water. It reduces the environmental impact by up to 71 percent and lowers your monthly bills. If you're still not ready to give up a dishwasher, skip the pre-load rinse and turn off the heated dry setting. Also, run your dishwasher only when it is full.
Wash your clothes on cold. The same dishwasher rules apply to your laundry. More than 80 percent of the energy consumed by washing machines comes from heating the water. Coldwater cycles will save you up to $150 and 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Detergents we have today are totally capable of removing most stains without hot water.
Research inexpensive environmentally-friendly home products (or just use the link). This definitely includes spending money, but you’ll find yourself saving more in the long run and having to take out the garbage less. Sustainability should start at home, in your household. With a range of products today, it’s easy to get reusable kitchenware that most of us got used to dispose of (e.g. silicone tea infusers, reusable sweeper cover, fabric snack and sandwich bags, cloth napkins).
Stop paying a fortune for bottled water. Either switch to tap-water or keep a water bottle in your bag that you can refill at home. One of the reasons why bottled water is so expensive is because of the plastic production process – it takes three times the amount of water in a water bottle to produce just one. Also, only the U.S. uses 17 million barrels of oil annually for this purpose (that’s how much oil is required to keep a million cars fuelled for a year). It’s possible to save about $510 per year using your own BPA-free water bottle (which can last you up to a decade).
Cook at home & buy smart. Unnecessary food packaging is one of the most common ways we let the environment down. If you ever saved every single coffee cup and trash from your takeaway orders for at least a month, you’d see how much waste ends up in the landfill. An average American spends over $3,000 each year eating out. Putting your home-made lunch in reusable Tupperware will save you a lot of money and avoid wasting groceries you already paid for. Get a habit of writing a list of things you need before going to a grocery store, freezing anything you won’t use before the use-by-date, and reheating the leftovers from the last night instead of ordering more. Also, check out how to make a meal plan to avoid unnecessary food waste.
Turn things off. Every household spends more than $200 every year on plugged-in devices that aren’t even in use. Even when your TV, computer, and other electronics are “off” they still continue to draw electricity – it is called vampire power. It makes a tenth of residential electricity use worldwide. Learn how to identify and manage vampire power in your home. It might be strange getting your electronics in and out every time, but soon it will become second nature.
Most people think that going green in your everyday life is expensive – environmental practice usually associates with eco-luxury marketed goods. Yet, sustainable living is attainable even on a budget. As described above, environmentally friendly decisions can create a big payoff over time. It’s a great way to start off the year right – both for your wallet and the planet!