You don’t need lots of money to live with the planet in mind, but over and over again we hear people say that living sustainably is just not attainable for them due to financial concerns. Our mission at Good Together and on Brightly is to inspire everyone to live ethically and sustainably, regardless of budget. The good news is — you can do good for the world on the cheap, and we’re here to share some tips on how you can put your values first while also saving money. Once you adopt the mindset of “working with what you’ve got” and being mindful of the new things you bring into your life, living sustainably and saving money go hand in hand. This podcast episode is packed full of hacks, tricks, and tips and we’re excited to get into it!
Is Sustainability Just for the Wealthy?
Often sustainability is presented on social media through rose-colored glasses. This contributes to this widely spread preconceived notion that everything we do for sustainability has to be grand and Instagramable. However, sustainability is not actually a competition over whose products are the most friendly to the environment– in fact, it’s quite the opposite! It’s about building a lifestyle that leaves the least amount of impact on the planet you can.
You might be surprised to find out that people in developing countries actually have a lower carbon footprint than those in the West. Traditional lifestyles are inherently sustainable and cost significantly less than the standard American lifestyle. What are they doing that we should? Buy less, make items yourself, and practice minimalism.
There are so many ways to do so that it can be overwhelming. Learn to prioritize your values and try to adjust your habits to reflect the world that you want to see.
Affordable Sustainability Tips
Buy Clothing Second-Hand and Sell On Thrift Apps
Buying second-hand prevents clothing from going to waste and emitting extra Carbon Dioxide in landfills. Not to mention, secondhand clothing articles are often cheaper and are clearly built to last if they were able to make it through one person’s period of wear already.
We have an article with tips by Rubilyn Loanzon for navigating thrifting apps successfully to sell clothing comfortably at home. At the end of the day, you’ll be contributing to the circular economy by giving that piece of clothing another life and you’ll make some money while you’re at it.
Use Up What You Have Instead of Replacing Them with Eco-Friendly Alternatives
Let’s not throw away the items that we already have! It’s better for the environment and our wallet to use it up before swapping for sustainable alternatives.
We can also share products that don’t work for us and give them to someone who would make better use out of it. For example, Makeup Alley is a community of women dedicated to reviewing beauty products and a platform where they swap products they’re displeased with. Communicate with friends if your products work for you, and see if you can score something better suited- help a friend out and avoid contributing to landfill.
Try Samples Before Splurging on Clean Beauty Products
Just because a product is eco-friendly does not mean it is well-suited to your skin. Don’t get caught up in the cute packaging and awesome mission statement. In order to avoid buying a product that will then be wasted, ask for a sample to make sure it’s right for you.
Keep in mind, the packaging for sample products is non-recyclable because of how small it is. If you can go in person to your favorite clean beauty store to test out potential products, this might help mitigate your waste contribution.
Get DIY Around the House
It really is as simple as listening to that dad voice in your head: turn off the lights when you leave a room, unplug electronic items when you don’t use them, utilize a power strip, and take shorter showers! Laura also loves getting crafty around the house and recommends DIY Network’s Tips to Renovate Your Home Sustainably for more tips on keeping a sustainable home.
She also recommends trying to wash clothes in cooler temperatures and try to wash them less. This will actually prolong the life of your clothing too. You can even go old school and hang your clothes up to dry.
We also love products from companies like Nebia which provide showerheads that minimize water consumption. While initially pricey, these smart appliances end up saving a TON on your bills.
Outsmart Your Grocery Store
In Good Together’s episode on conscious eating with Sophie Egan, we talked about the significant impact reducing meat consumption has on your bank account and the environment. Trying to opt for Meatless Monday challenges can drive down that carbon footprint with minimal effort.
You can also save some cash and still eat nutritiously by buying frozen fruits and vegetables. The flash freezing these products undergo preserve their freshness and nutrients so your body is receiving the same goodness it would have gotten had you spent the extra bit of cash on fresh produce.
We encourage you to experiment with what products you enjoy the best frozen and enjoy.
Ditch Single-Use Products
What are creative ways we can reuse single-use products?
This is especially something to think about in our bathrooms. Consider finding swaps for your Q-tips, cotton pads, and razors. Our Scout community recommends sustainable swaps such as using bamboo face cloths to wash our face and reusable Q-tips from Last Swab. Swap out loofahs for Boie USA’s silicone body scrubber for a more sustainable shower with less bacteria.
Grow Your Own Food
In our episode with Joe Lamp’l on gardening for beginners, we talked about gardening tips. One thing that we recommend is regrowing celery. All you have to do is cut the bottom stalk off and put the remaining stalk in water. Once it grows roots, you can plant it into the soil, and enjoy the perfect garnish as it grows.
You can also upcycle your food scraps to fertilize your plants. Coffee grounds and eggshells as an additive to gardening soil work wonders.
Keep an Eye Out for Fair-Trade and Eco-Friendly Products in Stores
You can find eco-friendly products of any kind at your local stores like Walmart and Target. On their own, these chains are not necessarily sustainable, but ethical shops are not accessible to everyone. We recommend if you are going to these big chains to buy up these more sustainable products as a way to vote with your dollars. If they see a high demand for fair trade and organic products and lower demand for non-ethical products, they will invest more in sustainable product makers and the products themselves. They might even extend their product lines.
Stop Buying, Start Upcycling
You don’t need to buy paper towels anymore! You can make paper towels out of old t-shirt rags. If you want, you can also buy a pack of cloth towels to dedicate to cleaning up messes.
Laura’s pro-tip: line a hamper with a trash bag and throw your dirty rags in there so you don’t have to wash the hamper in between laundry cycles. Try to wash these rags with a double cycle wash just to ensure you destroy the bacteria. You can even get some diluted iodine, put it in the washer where the bleach usually goes, and that can help get rid of any unwanted smells.
Use Half the Product You Usually Do
This is a pretty easy tip, but it can really make your product last longer and save you money in the long run! Your newfound minimalist practice will preserve your time and stop you from going on extra shopping trips.
Resources We Mentioned
- Carbon Footprint by Country
- Tips to Sell Clothing on Thrifting Apps
- Makeup Alley’s Community Swaps
- DIY Network’s Tips to Renovate Your Home Sustainably
- Good Together’s Episode with Sophie Egan
- The Financial Diet’s Tips to Affordable Sustainability Practices
- Good Together’s Episode with Joe Lamp’l