Healthy Living, How To

Going Green on a Budget

Going Green on a Budget 

You already know that being eco-friendly is the right thing to do. But for anyone who’s experienced serious sticker shock at the price of organic produce, let alone deciphered the cost of switching to solar energy, when you’re on a tight budget going green is easier said than done. However, although being environmentally friendly has the stigma of also being more expensive, there are ways to be sustainable without spending a fortune. And better yet, you may even save money. Here’s how to go green on a budget:

Ditch the daily disposables

It’s possible to buy recycled versions of plastic sandwich bags and your local coffee shop may hand out recycled paper cups. However, it’s even better to switch from disposable to reusable—even if those items are already recycled. Spend a little cash on BPA-free plastic or glass containers that you can reuse to store leftovers and snacks. Get a glass or aluminum water bottle that you can refill over and over at the office. And when you hit up your beanery for your daily dose of java, have them fill your own travel mug with their brew. Plus, some coffee shops will actually give you a discount for bringing your own cup.

Hit the switch

Obviously, your home could probably benefit from a total eco overhaul, with innovative self-tinting glass, water sensing toilets and all energy-efficient appliances. But few of us can actually afford these upgrades. Instead of paying to make your home greener, simply change your settings. Turn the lights off when you’re not using a room and turn down the heat or AC when you’re not home (or even all the time… your body will adjust). Even a three or four-degree difference will make an impact on your environmental waste and your bills. Cleaning the coils behind your refrigerator every once in a while will help it run more efficiently. And for those dishwashing haters out there, this one’s for you. It turns out that running your dishwasher actually saves more water than hand washing, but only if the dishwasher is full.

Shop smarter

You already know that bringing your own bags is a great way to be green. But do you actually do it? If you’re like most of us, you have every intention and then you realize you left your bags at home. Instead, try keeping a stash of reusable bags in your car to bust out of the trunk before you start shopping. Buying organic is also a no-brainer, but it can also cause your eyes to pop when the cashier tells you the total. Our advice is to pick what you can when it comes to milk and cheese. For fresh produce, eggs and meat, try going a whole other route by visiting your local farmer’s market. The prices will most often times be comparable to your grocery store and the food will be fresher as well. Best yet, it’s great for the environment because the food traveled such a short distance to get from the farm to your (reusable) shopping bag—even if it’s not organic.

Buy better (or borrow)

Minimalist living is on its way up, with more and more people rethinking the idea of large McMansions overflowing with the latest “must-have” gadgets. Instead, tiny homes and the idea of “less is more” is making a comeback. To be a part of the movement, really think before you buy something and try buying used or secondhand goods. Consignment shops can offer amazing fashions at a fraction of the price. Craigslist, flea markets and yard sales are filled with hidden gems waiting to be discovered. This is especially the case with furniture and other home items. Plus, you’ll create a unique living space without making your home look like a catalog copy. Borrowing is also an option for things you’ll use rarely, such as ladders or leaf blowers. Visit your local library to discover the latest bestsellers and even check out movies and video games. Start a book exchange with your friends and family, which will be good for the environment and help foster personal connections.

Lose the paper trail

How many catalogs do you really need? When you’re buying online, make sure to opt out of receiving catalogs or request that the company not share your address with anyone else. If you already get a mountain of catalogs, take a few minutes to call the companies that sent them, asking to be removed from their mailing list. Switch to paperless billing and pay your bills online, which can really add up over time. This reduces paper waste and also saves you in checks, envelopes and stamps. Many of us have switched to online news, but if you like your news the good old-fashioned way, make sure to recycle your daily news. In fact, recycle as much as you can. It’s one of the easiest ways to be an eco-adaptor without spending a dime.