Going green is all the rage. So much so, that certain brands take advantage of the movement like it’s a trend and deceptively “greenwash” their products. Sometimes, sadly, it’s about making money and hiking up prices on products. That’s not to say honest green products don’t exist, but just like organic foods, you have to pay for the quality.
But what do you do to support the environment and leave a smaller carbon footprint when you don’t have that extra cash flow? By making changes to our lifestyle and introducing green practices and habits, we can become an advocate for the environment. No, you don’t have to go out and buy a Tesla. In fact, going green doesn’t even have to break the bank. One step at a time, even on a shoestring budget, we can create a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
From switching to LED lightbulbs to attending your own garden, here are six tips for a more eco-friendly lifestyle on a budget.
Reuse and Recycle to Reduce Waste
The mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is an important one. Unfortunately, most people give themselves a pat on the back for only recycling. However, one major way we can live a more eco-friendly lifestyle is by reducing waste and our product consumption from the very start.
And the first step to reducing waste is to reuse or recycle materials. For instance, you could rinse and reuse food jars to store your lunches or replace plastic baggies. You could also create a nutrient-rich compost for your garden (which we’ll get to in a minute) to reduce food scraps and throw-away waste.
Inspect Your Home
Take a look around your home or apartment and check these areas to ensure you’re not wasting energy.
Look for gaps and cracks that indicate a poorly sealed area. Maybe you have a front door that has an old seal–leaking heat or the air conditioning. Also make sure furniture is not covering up a vent. You can also reduce energy costs by simply adjusting the thermostat before leaving for the day–if even by just a few degrees.
If you can afford the initial cost, install energy-efficient LED bulbs throughout your home or apartment. These bulbs last much longer than the average incandescent or even CFL. Plus, they use only two to 17 watts.
Make DIY Household Cleaners
Most household cleaners are quite toxic–not only to our environment but our bodies as well. However, while there are now countless organic and eco-friendly cleaners available, they’re often more expensive than even the standard chemical-laced ones.
But instead of biting the bullet for these green cleaners, make them yourself! Since the ingredients are typically organic, such as vinegar, baking soda, Castile soap and maybe a lemon, you can mix up these cleaning solutions in your own kitchen. And before you go out and purchase a brand-new spray bottle, reuse one from a previous cleaner.
As you clean, consider eliminating paper towels instead of going wasting roll after roll. You can also use reusable cloth–from old clothes and sheets–to wipe down countertops and wash windows.
Walk, Bike or Take Public Transit
Cars are notorious for emissions that harm the environment, so why not reduce the number of times you turn the ignition?
While many of us are on a budget and unable to invest in an electric vehicle, there are still several ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Besides, it’s less wasteful to keep the car you own as long as possible, rather than purchasing a brand-new one, regardless of whether it’s electric or not.
By walking or riding your bike, you will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but will save money, too–not to mention it’s great for your health. Instead, use a car only when necessary, like for longer distances. Even then, it may still be possible to find public transit systems.
Create a Garden
Growing your own produce not only guarantees your food is organic, but can reduce your grocery bill. While you can always purchase organic food in-season and on-sale to cut your grocery bills, a garden is an excellent alternative. It also gets you outside and provides an activity to lower stress.
As a novice gardener, seek out veggies that are easy to grow and produce a large crop. After all, if you’re going to put in the effort, you want the best bang for your buck. You can start by seeds to be extremely thrifty, or pick up a few plants from your local garden nursery.
Even if you don’t own a home or live in an apartment, you can still grow a small garden. If you have a balcony, keep a modest cherry tomato bush in a pot outside. For apartment dwellers, grow some herbs by a window that gets sun exposure.
Eat More Homecooked Meals
While you grow your garden, also consider eating more meals at home. Sure, it’s easier to grab a quick bite during the workday, but by eliminating over-processed foods, you can reduce the supply chain’s drain on our environment. Cook more meals in the oven and in large batches for easy lunch leftovers. And if you own a home, you might think of replacing major appliances like an oven with Energy Star labels to reduce energy consumption.
If you do dine out with friends or family, plan to bring along your own to-go container. While most restaurants and cafes still use plastic and even Styrofoam takeaway containers, bringing your own will mean one less piece of waste.
When you eat a homecooked meal, also consider how it’s prepared and try to phase out any plastics used to cook. Replace disposable plastic bags with reusable beeswax wraps. Stop collecting takeaway containers to store leftovers and replace them with glass jars reused from pasta sauces. Even take a look at your cookware, eliminating pots and pans with non-stick coatings.
By Lauren Silver