I often hear people say that they would like to live more sustainably, but it is too expensive. Having lived on a really tight budget myself for several years during my studies, I can totally relate to this: Organic vegetables are more expensive than the normal ones, just as well as sustainable clothes are just not cheap. But this does not mean that it is impossible to make an impact even if money is tight. Here’s why:
The most important rule for a sustainable lifestyle will actually save you money
Rule number one in sustainability is simple and cheap: Use less, recycle, repair and reuse. This simple guideline applies to mostly anything in life and will not only help you to a more eco-friendly and green lifestyle, but will also save our money!
Here are some examples:
- Eat less meat and animal products. Meat is among the most expensive groceries and has by far the worst impact on the environment.
- Cook seasonal meals! Vegetables that grow close to your home are usually abundant and if you buy them during their season, this is fantastic for the environment and also pretty cheap! And if you freeze or preserve it, it can last you all year.
- Buy less processed food and cook more! This will be healthier, too, and a lot cheaper. And if you take your precooked food to work with you, this can also save a lot of money.
- By saving water and energy, we can also lower our expenses. Remember to turn off the lights, use a power outlet strip with a switch and cut down shower time. If you can replace some lights with LEDs, it will also pay off in the long run, even if it is an initial investment!
- Also in the bathroom, less is more! We all use way more shampoo or toothpaste than we actually need. Try to make the most out of what you have! Soap bars are a great way to save money and are a lot more efficient in terms of transport weight, meaning they have a better eco footprint compared to liquid soap or shower gel!
- The same rule applies to cleaning products: We don’t need 10 different bottles of cleaners for all different parts of the house. Vinegar works best for most purposes and can be made into a less smelly DIY cleaner easily.
- Reusable products are often more expensive initially, but save you money in the long run. Examples are reusable face masks, razors, cotton buds, water bottles, coffee to go cups… the list goes on forever!
- Repair broken things instead of just buying new ones: In many cases, it is not too hard to fix the bike, computer or even the phone. It will always be cheaper than a replacement and you might learn something during the repair! If you feel insecure, you can ask a friend or check out online resources – there are instructions for nearly anything on the web!
- Second hand is also a great example for cheaper products and a benefit for the environment. Nowadays, you can easily buy not only second hand clothes, but also electronics, cars, bikes… Making use of what is already there and not used by others is always a good choice!
- Also in mobility, less is more: If you want or need to travel, you could try to combine several destinations that are on the same way to make the most out of it. I always try to visit friends or family when traveling from work, because this will save me a trip. This can also mean to do your grocery shopping on the way home from work. And whenever possible, try to choose the eco-friendly mode of transportation. Biking is for free, CO2-free and will make you fit! In times of Corona, it also has a very low infection risk – much better than public transport or a shared car!
- Fast fashion is one of the biggest drivers of our environmental problems due to toxic chemicals and the high water use. Instead of contributing to its success, we can choose to buy less and more durable, high quality clothing, which will last longer and therefore have a more positive impact – and again, save money on the long run!
- Tap water is not only the cheapest way to hydrate, but also the best for the environment.
A general rule that I always apply before I buy something is to actually think whether or not I really need this item. Ever since, I hardly buy new clothes anymore, because I simply have enough. Surely, my phone is slow by now, but do I really need a new one? I don’t think so, as long as it still works! The big benefit of this is not only that I make a positive mark for the planet, but I also save some money and I much more appreciate it whenever I do buy something for myself.
People often tend to think that if they can’t afford organic food or clothes, it’s not worth trying to reduce their eco footprint. But it’s quite the opposite: It is every little thing that we do which counts. Every time we make the green choice it is a little win, even if we can’t do it every time! Each step makes a difference. So let’s make a difference, together!
What are your sustainable life hacks that also save money? Please share in the comments!