Are you ready to live a more sustainable life and save money? Making life changes can be time-consuming and expensive, but honestly, it doesn’t need to be! While I always want to use healthy products for my family, I cannot justify spending outside our budget. The 12 strategies I share below will save you money and are an easy switch! (Seriously!) I’m all about progress over perfection, and these simple switches are great for those who just want to get started with living a sustainable life and don’t know where to begin.
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1. Invest in reusable paper towels
We got rid of our nonreusable paper towels in 2018, and it was SO SIMPLE. It involves a little more laundry, but that’s the only “extra” you have to do. And it maybe takes 30 seconds extra altogether.
I shared the specifics in my How to Stop Using Paper Towels blog post, but basically, we use these microfiber cloths that sit in a small basket under our sink. They’re used precisely like we used paper towels, and when they’re dirty, they’re thrown into a small bucket next to our garbage can. We probably go through 10(ish) towels a day, and I throw them in with our laundry every day. It costs less than $50 to implement initially, and I love our microfiber towels much more than paper towels. I haven’t purchased paper towels since 2018, so the investment is well worth it.
2. Make your coffee more sustainable
Compost your coffee grounds! Don’t have a compost pile? Add some coffee grounds to your plants. Used coffee grounds add natural materials to the soil, which aeration and water retention in the soil. You can invest in compostable coffee filters to make it even easier.
Love your Keurig? Ditch the k-cups. For just $8, you can have endless k-cups for your Keurig. Pick up one of the reusable k-cups and a bag of ground coffee to be more green and save money. I still keep regular k-cups around for when I need a quick caffeine fix, but by making the most of my coffee with reusable k-cups, I’m saving so many plastic cups from going to the garbage, and it’s great not having to buy k-cups every few weeks. (We drink a ton of coffee around here!)
Sustainable Coffee Options
3. Find more sustainable options for your monthly period
As great as tampons are, there are so many better options that are healthier for your body, more sustainablefor your life, and that save you money. I started with a few pairs of period underwear and became obsessed. The period panties are ideal for light or heavy days and effectively wick away moisture. I’ve had them for several years, and they still work as well as the first time I used them.
I also purchased a menstrual cup a few years ago. It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but now I am obsessed! It’s SO EASY and comfortable, and I love that it’s reusable. I use the period undies on lighter days and my cup on the 2-3 really heavy days.
4. Quit relying on single-use plastics to live more sustainably day to day
It’s time to officially ditch plastic water bottles if you haven’t already. We recently met with our Maternal-Fetal Doctor to discuss the next steps in our pregnancy options after having Lachlan. He emphasized that studies report BPA is directly linked to infertility, especially in men. BPA also seems to be the source of many other health issues. He recommended that we steer clear of drinking from or using any plastic bottles. So we’ve made necessary changes and keep cans of sparkling water in our fridge and use stainless steel or glass bottles for our water.
5. Switch to bamboo toilet paper
“Green” toilet paper has come a long way recently! It’s much softer and sturdy than it used to be. And Reel Paper Co makes it SO easy to get it delivered to your door. Use THIS LINK to receive $10 off your first subscription order! Their toilet paper is made from bamboo, a sustainable alternative to your typical toilet paper. I love that it’s an affordable option as well.
6. Live more sustainably with reusable snack bags
Now that there are so many fun options, you don’t need to purchase plastic Ziploc bags anymore. Grab some adorable reusable bags and just rinse them out (in the dishwasher!) after using them. Many are waterproof, and some can be frozen, baked, or even microwaved! Does it get much easier than that?
I also love Bee’s Wrap which you can use in place of plastic wrap! It’s even washable and holds together so well.
7. Start buying sustainable refill soaps every month
We recently began purchasing our soaps in bulk and pouring them into glass dispensers with a pump to be more sustainable and save money. This is great because many bulk packages of soap can be recycled (which is something I look for when purchasing them!), and the glass containers help us continue to avoid plastic waste. This also saves us a ton of money in the long run. Below are the soaps we’ve switched to purchasing in bulk and pouring into glass dispensers. We slowly made the switch as we needed more of each item, so it wasn’t a huge expense all at once.
My Favorite Recyclable Soap Refills for a More Sustainable Home
8. Make the switch to dryer balls instead of dryer sheets
I will never go back to using dryer sheets. This is one of the easiest ways to live more sustainably. Dryer balls are entirely reusable, extremely affordable, and just sit in our dryer at all times, ready to go when we need them. You can drop some essential oils onto them before using them, but it’s not necessary, in my opinion.
9. Switch out old cleaning supplies with refillable and chemical-free options
When our first son became mobile and put his mouth all over our windows and countertops, I started rethinking our cleaning supplies. Seriously, nowhere was safe from his gummy chops! I didn’t want him to consume any nasty cleaning chemicals, so I looked into more natural but equally effective supplies. That’s when I discovered SQUEAK. Their products are clean and hard working – and if your children accidentally lick the countertops after you clean them, it’s okay! I appreciate that (because they’re going to lick them… let’s be honest).
10. Dried beans are an easy way to live more sustainably
While the ease of canned beans is excellent, try switching to the more sustainable dried beans. You can purchase them in bulk and store them in large glass jars. Every night before bed, I check our weekly menu, and if we have beans the next day, I quickly grab a glass bowl, pour in one cup of beans, and fill the bowl with water. When it’s time to cook the next day, our beans are ready to enjoy. Dried beans are healthier because you can season them yourself, and the plastic bag full of 2 lbs of beans produces less waste and costs less than the 4(ish) cans you would need to get the same amount.
11. Eat more plant-based protein and less meat
I’ll be the first to admit that I adore a ground beef taco. But with all the research showing that red meat may not be the healthiest choice for us, it’s an easy one to cut out. What should you do when a recipe calls for ground beef, then? Just use beans! Black beans are a super easy switch to make from ground beef and are such a great way to be more green and save money. (And as mentioned above, they’re so affordable and accessible!) Just substitute 3-4 cups of beans for one pound of ground beef. Season them the same way you would beef and enjoy them in your favorite recipes! You can even mix half a pound of ground beef with a few cups of black beans to minimize your ground beef consumption if you can’t handle giving up ground beef.
What’s the research say on vegetarianism?
Still not sure? “Recently Harwatt and a team of scientists from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma Linda University calculated just what would happen if every American made one dietary change: substituting beans for beef. They found that if everyone were willing and able to do that—hypothetically—the U.S. could still come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals, pledged by President Barack Obama in 2009.
That is, even if nothing about our energy infrastructure or transportation system changed—and even if people kept eating chicken and pork and eggs and cheese—this one dietary change could achieve somewhere between 46 and 74 percent of the reductions needed to meet the target…
Talk about an impact. Every little bit makes a difference and you can be a part of that change!
12. Thrift, swap, and repurpose instead of fast fashion
What is fast fashion? “Fast fashion is a result of large retailers increasing the production of cheap fashion lines to keep up with quickly changing trends.” (Council, 2019) This may be nice when you’re hurrying to find the perfect outfit for an event, but it has several significant drawbacks.
- Not all retailers are responsible for their waste. Many factories release poisonous chemicals from the fabrics into waterways, working their way to our rivers, lakes, and oceans. These bits are consumed by animals, hurting them and us if we’re consuming these animals.
- Fast fashion reinforces low wages and horrible working conditions for workers.
- Producing more clothing adds more waste to our planet. I don’t know about you, but I have an entire closet full of clothes and have no idea which pieces came from companies supporting sustainable fashion.
Rethink how you shop
Learning about fast fashion has made me rethink how I shop. I hope to reduce our family’s waste this year by thrifting for more items and reusing the clothes I already have. I recently listened to the Minimal-ish podcast about “Shopping Secondhand First + Where to Donate Your Stuff” and adore their strategies. They’re so simple and easy to incorporate into our lives.
For example, if you’re looking for something specific to wear to an event one night, instead of going directly to Walmart or Target, pop into your local thrift store for 10 minutes and see if you can find something that will work (or may be even better!) If you can’t find something after 10 minutes, head to Target and grab what you need. But you’d be surprised at how often you can find something in those quick 10 minutes, choose something more sustainable, and save money!
I also recently started using the Stylebook app to see what clothes I have and create more of a capsule wardrobe for this season. It’s helped me take inventory, see what I wear most, and figure out new outfits.
So, what are you waiting for??
Get out there and do your part to live a more sustainable life while saving your money!
Sustainable Living Works Cited
Council, Y. E. (2019, May 17). Three Reasons Why Fast Fashion Is Becoming A Problem (And What To Do About It). Retrieved January 5, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2019/05/13/three-reasons-why-fast-fashion-is-becoming-a-problem-and-what-to-do-about-it/#7d3c245d144b.
Hamblin, J. (2018, October 23). If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef. Retrieved January 5, 2020, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/08/if-everyone-ate-beans-instead-of-beef/535536/.