For some of us, buying ‘green’ products is just too pricey to be financially sustainable. Not everyone has a bulging wallet, after all. What many people don’t realize, however, is just how affordable living green can be. Here are 6 sustainable habits that help you to save money and stay healthy while still making a huge impact on environmental health:
- Buying less packaged foods. Packaged foods are expensive – not just for your bank account, but for the planet. According to the Bulk Is Green Council, organic bulk foods cost an average of 89 percent less than their plastic-wrapped cousins. That’s huge! And not only does purchasing food in bulk help you to save cash and reduce food waste, but you’re also preventing a lot of plastic waste from entering landfills. Many companies use packaging that is not easily recyclable. And even when the packaging is recyclable, it’s not a guarantee that every consumer will put in the effort to actually recycle it. By buying in bulk, you get the quantities you want at a discount and cut down on plastic pollution. Some stores offer discounts to those who bring their own reusable bags, so why not bring your own and save even more money, one dime at a time?
- Eating less meat. Becoming a total vegetarian isn’t for everyone, but adapting our diets to be less meat-heavy can be a powerful tactic in thwarting climate change. According to the World Wildlife Fund, deforestation to make room for cattle ranching alone is responsible for 3.4 percent of global emissions. And that doesn’t take into consideration the resources that go into feeding and watering the animals, packaging them, and shipping them great distances to supermarkets. Large scale animal farming is an undeniable player in climate change. While many of us are lovers of meat, it is important to note that meat, on a cost-to-calorie ratio, is relatively pricey. Vegetarian meals, per serving, are vastly more affordable. It’s alright if you cannot bear to consider ditching meat altogether. Just buy smaller amounts of quality, sustainable meats. When wholesome sources of meat are used more as a garnish rather than a platter-sized headliner, you are saving cash while reducing your environmental impact on the planet.
- Recycling your old phones. You can actually get money for your old technology, like your phone or your laptop. Companies like Apple will give you a discount on a new product if you return your old phone or laptop to them for safe recycling. Not much more to be said—it pays to recycle.
- Carrying a canteen. Americans spend an average of $11 million each year on disposable plastic water bottles. If you buy one disposable water bottle a day, you could save up to $550 a year by opting for a reusable glass or stainless steel canteen. Additionally, many brands of bottled water are simply tap water in a bottle, so, in most cases, it’s really no better than the stuff coming out of your faucet. By ending your reliance on plastic water bottles, you’ll also limit your exposure to leaching chemicals like BPA and save hundreds of bottles from making their way into our landfills and oceans each year.
- Shopping secondhand. New items come at a high cost. Ever seen Patagonia’s Buy Less campaign? According to Patagonia, producing just one of their jackets uses 135 liters of water and creates 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, which is why they encourage their consumers to fix old Patagonia gear instead of buying something new. Rebel against our culture of disposability. Don’t buy what you don’t need. And if you need something, try to find it gently used. Not only are gently used goods significantly more affordable, but buying used saves incredible amounts of emissions and waste.
- Riding your bike. Biking is a great option for saving money and reducing your carbon footprint. Biking uses no fuel (unless you count that peanut butter toast you had for breakfast!), making it is a much greener transportation solution. According to the League of American Bicyclists, 60 percent of the emissions created by a car are emitted within the first few minutes of operation. By biking around town and reserving your car for longer trips, you’ll not only save a ton on gas but you’ll drastically be reducing your car’s carbon emissions. Plus, your legs will look great! If you don’t already own a bicycle, it is relatively easy to find an affordable used one.
Living green isn’t difficult. It doesn’t require a surplus of cash or a complete lifestyle overhaul. It simply requires a little bit of extra mindfulness. Take a minute and think about the conveniences you take for granted in your daily life and challenge yourself to make them just a little bit more sustainable.
Remember, it doesn’t take a lot of green to live green.