One of the major misconceptions about going green and making more environmentally friendly choices, is that it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, PR Newswire did a study that stated four out of five consumers think environmentally friendly items are more expensive than non-green products.
Yes, with environmentalists like Greta Thunberg, who has been traveling around the world educating lawmakers and citizens about climate change, we should feel more pressure now than ever before. The facts are startling when it comes to how our choices are affecting the planet we live on, and anyone that thinks they can’t make a difference as one individual person, is so incredibly wrong. The planet doesn’t need people to entirely change their way of living, they need billions of people to make small changes.
What many people don’t realize is that going green can actually help you save money in the long run and decrease your expenses. The long-term benefits are obvious, but there are changes and things you can do today that can help decrease things like common household expenses, and it doesn’t require buying a solar panel, planting trees every day, or taking out a GoDay payday loan.
Avoid excess to avoid expenses
Anything that you make, take or buy in quantities that is more than what is necessary is considered an excess. Going green encourages minimizing excessive use of the things you use every day like food, water, and fuel. Especially in North America, we’re so privileged to have all of these things readily accessible to us. We’re not carrying water for hours each day to reach our family with it, so we take advantage of this valuable resource we can’t live without. We take super long, hot showers, we leave the tap running while brushing our teeth, we do a load of laundry to wash that one shirt you got a stain on, the list goes on.
The first step in cutting back on your excessive use of natural resources is being more mindful of it. Turn off the lights when you don’t need them on, shut the water off when you’re not using it, small changes like this can help you save on your electricity and water bills. Having a hard time breaking the habit? Set a sticky note beside your taps or light switches, or even consider switching to “smart” lights that are connected to an app on your phone so you can easily shut your lights off, even if you have already left the house or have kids that always forget!
These are such small changes that can not only save you money, but also save the environment. And hey, they didn’t require you to go out and spend a fortune now did it?
*Climate change can be irreversible by 2030
*More than 1 million species now face extinction
*Many of the world’s greatest cities could be under sea level before the end of the century
*A truck load of plastic is dumped into the ocean every minute
DIY or eco-friendly cleaning products
For some reason we’ve grown accustomed to cleaning our homes with the brand names we’ve had in our homes since our parents made us do chores as a kid. We’ve never questioned if there’s something better or cheaper out there, but we’re here to tell you that there is. There are so many different natural or homemade cleaning solutions you can make that not only are cheaper, but also are better for the environment. Think of it this way, bleach has so many warning labels on the side of the bottle, and child lock lids. You know better than to use it without gloves and are very careful on what you do with it. Now picture that bleach going down the drain in the wash or in your cleaning process. Where does that go? It makes its way into our water systems. Cleaning products contribute to pollution, and who really wants to use something that has a skeleton symbol on the side of it on your home’s surfaces anyway?
Instead of using commercial cleaners, you can use products like vinegar, lemon, baking soda, even rubbing alcohol. We usually have these products in our cupboards already, so why not use them? Not only are they better for the planet and cheaper, but they also are less likely to cause skin or eye irritation because they contain natural ingredients. You can even find dozens of recipes online to make your own cleaning products. Throw in some essential oils to your mixture to make it smell even better than what you’ll find in the store.
Quick All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe:
2 cups warm water
½ cup white vinegar
1 tbsp baking soda
15 drops of lavender essential oil
15 drops of orange essential oil
Mix it all together in a spray bottle and voila! A natural, non-toxic cleaner to be used all around the house.
Do we really need paper?
Okay, in short, yes we do. Paper is a resource we will likely need for some aspects of our lives. For example, toilet paper is pretty hard to live without. Although it can easily be replaced with better options like ones made from bamboo and aren’t wrapped in plastic, the likelihood of you making this change may seem small. However, where else are you using paper that you can live without.
Napkins and paper towels are a good start. You can use cloth napkins instead, or just cloths/tea towels. What about getting a recipe every time you buy something? Simply don’t ask for your copy. Or why are you printing out confirmations or tickets for everything when you can use electronic tickets? Why are you buying a morning newspaper when they publish everything online now? Books? Swap it for an ereader or a library card. Starting to pay attention to these things will make you more aware of the unnecessary consumption you have in your life and where you can cut costs.
*Paper is expected to exceed 50% of the world’s logging industry in the near future
*26 million tons of paper waste will hit landfills in the United States every 12 months
*When paper decomposes in a landfill, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 23x more potent than carbon dioxide
Not always buying new
Here’s the thing, almost everything you buy, you can buy used. Not only does this prevent things from going to a landfill, but it also saves you money. Why do you need new everything when there are people out there selling the exact thing you need, often hardly used, and in perfect working condition, for significantly cheaper. Value Village alone saves more than 650 million pounds of clothing from landfills each year, making it one of the largest recyclers of used garments in the world.
If you grew up in a privileged family, buying new was how you were raised. Thrifting or going to yard sales were just not a thing, but today, sourcing what you need in a used capacity is easier than ever with sites like Kijiji, or Facebook buy & sell groups. Plus, thrifting for clothing can be even more fun because you never know what you’re going to find, and you may score some one-of-a-kind items that you won’t find at your local H&M.
The amount of ways you can go green, while also saving money are seriously endless. Plus, it’s not a one-size-fits-all type of thing. Some changes may be really easy for you to make, while others may seem impossible, or vice versa. To give you a ton of inspiration for making greener choices (and saving cash), here is our list:
- Give up bottled water. Tap water is actually monitored and tested more closely than bottled water. If you can drink it in your city/town, drink it!
- Opt for rechargeable batteries over the ones that you just toss out when your remote dies
- Clothes don’t need to be washed in hot water to get clean, so keep it cold in the laundry room
- Opt to cycle, walk, or take transit over driving when you can
- Shop locally for produces and groceries by visiting local markets
- Bring your own bags. Always have one on you incase you pick something up, and never grocery shop without them.
- Speaking of groceries, why do you need that plastic produce bag? Bring your own reusable ones, or don’t use them at all.
- Use a drying rack for your clothes versus throwing everything in the dryer
- Make sure your lightbulbs in your house are energy efficient ones
- Pay your bills online and opt for paperless wherever possible
- Bring your own reusable coffee mug to your local coffee shop, you’ll also likely score a discount
- Fix leaky faucets
- Unplug unused appliances or chargers
- Use the water you cook your vegetables or noodles in to fill your watering can
- Go vegetarian! This may not be easy, but meat is pricey.
- Replace the weather striping on your windows and doors to make sure heat/air conditioning isn’t escaping.
- Start a garden!
Being more environmentally conscious doesn’t need to feel like a chore. Starting small or just making minor changes can make a huge impact. It’s important to remember that the worst thing you can do is think your small decisions can’t make a huge difference. Little changes in our mindset can go along way, and can even inform and inspire our friends and family to make the same changes.
Plus, who doesn’t want to save some money by making healthy and environmentally safe changes in their lives? It’s not just benefiting the planet but also your wallet.
What are your biggest money saving tips for going green?