Are you ready to be more sustainable and save money? Making life changes is often time-consuming and expensive, but honestly, it doesn’t need to be! While I always want to use products that are healthy for my family, I cannot justify spending outside of our budget to do so. The 12 strategies I share below will save you money and are an extremely easy switch! (Seriously!) I’m all about progress over perfection and these simple switches are great for those who just want to get started and don’t know where to begin.
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1. Ditch the paper towels to be more sustainable and save money
We got rid of our paper towels nearly two years ago and it’s been SO EASY. 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 exactly like we used paper towels and when they’re dirty, they’re thrown into a small bucket that sits next to our garbage can. We probably go through 10(ish) towels a day and I throw them in with our laundry every other day or so. It costs less than $50 to implement and I love our microfiber towels so much more than paper towels. I haven’t purchased paper towels in over two years and so the investment was well worth it.
2. 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 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!)
3. Ditch the tampons to be more sustainable and save money
As great as tampons are, there are so many better options out there that are healthier for your body, are more sustainable, and save money. I started with a few pairs of period underwear and became obsessed. The period panties are equally ideal for light days and heavy days and do a great job wicking away moisture. I’ve had them for over two years and they still work as well as the first time I used them.
I also purchased a menstrual cup almost exactly a year ago. It’s taken me nearly a year to get the hang of it but now I am obsessed! It’s SO EASY, 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. Ditch the water bottles
It’s time to officially ditch plastic water bottles if you haven’t already. We met with our Maternal-Fetal Doctor recently to discuss next steps in our pregnancy options after having Lachlan and he emphasized that studies are reporting 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 at all times and use metal or glass bottles for our water.
Bonus points if you can remember to use your reusable coffee mug instead of the paper coffee cups!
5. Ditch the fancy toilet paper to be more sustainable and save money
“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, which is a sustainable alternative to your typical toilet paper. I love that it’s an affordable option as well.
6. Ditch the plastic sandwich bags
Now that there are so many fun options out there, you really don’t even need to purchase plastic Ziploc bags anymore. Grab some adorable reusable bags and just rinse them out (in the dishwasher!) after you’ve used them. Many are waterproof, and some can be frozen, baked, or even microwaved! Does it get much easier than that?
We also love this Bee’s Wrap that you can use in place of plastic wrap! It’s even washable and holds together so well.
7. Ditch buying new soaps every month
We recently began purchasing all of our soaps in bulk and pouring them into glass dispensers with a pump to be more green 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 really does save 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.
8. Ditch dryer sheets to be more sustainable and save money
We keep a few dryer sheets in our laundry room for items that are extremely static-y. But for the majority of our dryer needs, we just toss in 8 organic wool dryer balls with a few sprays of my Everyday Laundry Spray or a drop or two of our favorite essential oil. Our laundry smells amazing afterward, we’re more sustainable and we save money. I haven’t purchased new dryer sheets in probably three years – WIN. The dryer balls don’t take care of static quite like dryer sheets but it rarely impacts our laundry and the benefits outweigh the costs.
9. Ditch store-bought cleaning supplies
I started making my own cleaning supplies to be greener when our son became mobile and put his mouth all over our windows and countertops. Seriously, nowhere was safe from his gummy chomps! I didn’t want him consuming any nasty cleaning chemicals so I looked into cleaning supplies that were more natural but equally as effective. I now sell my favorite homemade countertop spray using the Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner, distilled water, and my favorite oils and I also make my own window cleaner with kitchen ingredients I already have. These glass spray bottles are clutch and each spray lasts a long time, so it’s extremely cost-effective.
10. Ditch canned beans
While the ease of canned beans sure is nice, try ditching the canned legumes and buy dry beans in bulk. Every night before bed, I check our weekly menu and if we’re having 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 all ready to be enjoyed. Dried beans are healthier because you can season them yourself and the plastic bag full of 2 lbs of beans produces less waste than the 4(ish) cans you would need to get the same amount of canned beans.
11. Ditch ground beef
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 easy!) 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 completely.
What’s the research say?
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.” (Hamblin, 2018)
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…(Hamblin, 2018)
Talk about an impact. Every little bit makes a difference and you can be a part of that change!
12. Ditch fast fashion to be more sustainable and save money
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 in a hurry to find that perfect outfit for an event but it has several major 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 clothes I already have. I listened to the Minimal-ish podcast recently 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 over 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.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a note from my husband, Jamie…
For richer or poorer, till death do us part, I remember that part of the vows well, but I was a little confused when it came to ditching common items to become more “green.” Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of being more green, saving money, and reducing our footprint, but I wasn’t exactly sure what her plans were.
My wife is always doing her part to make us, our marriage, our son, our life, better. Sometimes her plans go well, and sometimes, well, let’s just say there can be learning curves to her ideas.
How Jamie feels about the changes
Immediately the items that I noticed the most, and honestly liked the most, were probably the microfiber towels in place of paper towels. Gone are the days when I truly ponder, what does soak up more liquids for a mess; brawny/Charmin, who knows, but you know what I do know, microfiber towels do the job better! Forget the commercials and ads, nothing beats a good old towel for any mess that you can truly reuse until the mess is gone!
We all like our laundry to smell good… make that great! So why not use wool dryer balls with a tad of essential oils. This week I’m feeling pine, the next lavender. I enjoyed being able to change my scent without having to purchase a box of 200 dryer sheets that would lock me in for a few months.
Living at the beach, nothing irritates me more than all the plastic trash that’s in our ocean, so when Kelly brought out the reusable shampoo bottles, I was ALL FOR IT! Showers are much better knowing that some poor dolphins/shark/aquatic creatures near our waters won’t be choking on my waste.
Honestly, I could drag on and talk about all the pros of all these small changes to be more green and save money, but instead, I challenge you; I challenge you to try some of these changes for yourself and see what you like or don’t like. If you keep an open mind I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised! -Jamie
So, what are you waiting for??
Get out there and do your part to be more sustainable and save some money!
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/.