You want to be eco-friendly but…. you don’t have money to buy that reusable mug or spend that much on a bar soap. You just want to make ends meet and worry about sustainability when you have more money. It is a personal dilemma. Maybe even a question of morality. But, it doesn’t have to be so hard. You can be budget savvy, maybe even save more money, with an eco-friendly lifestyle.
Worldwide, we produce 5 trillion plastic bags per year. Only 1% of those plastic bags are recycled. Now, let’s say, the local grocery store charges $0.25 cents per plastic bag. If we purchased all the 5 trillion plastic bags that were produced last year, together we must have spent a whopping $1 trillion and 250 billion dollars to buy just plastic bags! That is a lot of money. Now, imagine how many other plastic disposable items we purchase. We are basically throwing our money away and harming the environment in the process.
It is time to start being frugal and choose sustainable, reusable products that don’t get thrown away, saving your wallet and the world. But... how?
TAKE THOSE BAGS FOR A RIDE
When it’s time to go grocery shopping, the first step you want to take before rolling your cart in the grocery aisles is to make sure you have carried your favourite grocery bags with you. Purchase some reusable cloth bags from the dollar store and keep them handy in your backpack or your car trunk, and take them for a ride on your cart with you. If you love some DIY, have some spare time and want to save all your pennies, you can even make your own grocery bags with some old pair of jeans lying around the house!
PRACTICE MINDFULNESS… IN THE GROCERY AISLES
Now, when you are wheeling around your cart with your reusable bags, be mindful about what you are buying. Have a shopping list ready with all your items and only buy the items you need. This way you can reduce your food waste, contribute towards sustainability and save some money. It’s a simple action with a bit of thought, required to place items in your cart. But the difference it can make is tremendous.
WANT TO GO FOR A COFFEE?
An average American youth spends $20 on coffee per week. For a 4 week month, that is $80, a month. And since a year has 12 months, that is almost $1000 and 400 coffee cups per year for just one person. That is a lot of money and a lot of waste. So, what can you do to get our caffeine fix and also save your wallet and the planet? Add coffee ground to your grocery list, make some coffee at home and carry it along with you in a reusable coffee mug! Or you can also ask your favourite coffee shop to make your drink in your own coffee mug. Some coffee retailers such as Starbucks even give you discounts if you have your own mug! The same goes with tea! Or any other beverage for that matter.
Now that we have sorted the caffeine fix, we also need to consider our spending on Take- outs and the disposable containers that come with it. Take outs are easy - you don’t need to cook anything, you don’t have to do any dirty dishes and, in today’s world, your favourite food arrives with just a tap on your screen. But what’s the environmental cost of this convenience? The city of Vancouver, Canada reported that nearly 50% of the garbage collected from public waste bins were made up of disposable containers. And take outs are not entirely cheap either - with an average cost of approximately $10 a meal. In contrast, you could make a meal at home for $2-$4 and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. The meal would be healthier, and more satisfying to eat because you cooked it yourself! If you are on the go a lot, you can also set 2-3 hours aside on a weekend, meal prep and carry the food in a reusable container. It’s like a gift from your past self to your future self. And it’s better for you and the planet.
TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY?
And last but not the least, to be budget savvy and eco-friendly, you can always stick to your guns and simply not purchase any items you don’t need. We spoke about practicing mindfulness in the grocery aisles but the same mindfulness can be practiced anywhere. If you really want something, take the sustainable route. For example, for clothing, explore the local vintage store and buy second-hand bargains. Adventure around your city for backyard sales for household products or purchase sustainably sourced items from online zero waste stores, such as Circle Shop. These actions cost a little bit of time, but, in the end, you can save a lot of money and lead an eco-friendly lifestyle.
So, as you can see, living a sustainable yet budget friendly life is completely achievable. By simply, using your own reusable grocery bags, being mindful of your purchases, carrying your own coffee mug and making your own food, you can save your money, your health and, ultimately, our planet.
Be a sustainability hero. Find the best sustainable products that suit you and your lifestyle. Take our quiz to find your products.
Article written by Sarick Chapagain