So you’ve read countless articles on humankind’s footprint on the planet. Recent catastrophic weather events have you convinced that our Earth is in urgent, nay, dire need of help, from each and every one of us. But you’re broke, or at least you think you will be if you start buying artisan, hand-crafted soap from carefully designed hipster stores. And you may not be entirely wrong about that.
Worry not, friend — there are plenty of ways to be a good citizen of Earth (and make Captain Planet proud) without having to give up an arm and a leg.
I’ve created a thorough list of tips and suggestions for a healthy, budget-friendly conversion to a more sustainable lifestyle, including examples from my own daily practices. You may find it easy to adapt to some, while you might want to improvise on some others. Either way, I hope you pick up some tips and make them your own! It’s easier than you think.
Here are 11 different ways you can start saving money on those shopping trips and doing your bit for the planet.
1. Make a shopping list: Making a list will allow you to think ahead and plan your purchasing choices (organic, cruelty-free, etc.). Added benefit: you meander less through the aisles and reduce your chances of going over budget.
3. Shop local: You’re buying local (cutting down emissions from transportation and packaging), promoting the local economy AND eating fresher. Win, win, win!
4. Strip down: Buy products with minimal packaging. Each one of your grapes DO NOT have to be individually wrapped in the worst quality, non-recyclable plastic.
5. Buy seasonal: Chomping on fresh, locally grown apples in fall and turnips in the winter are not only easy on your wallet, but also better for the environment. You reduce the distance your food must travel to get to you by buying what’s seasonally available in your neck of the woods. Check out a seasonal produce chart here.
6. Don’t be judgemental: Pick that slightly distorted tomato. Just because it looks like it’s growing an extra limb doesn’t make it any less nutritious or delicious. “Ugly” foods cost the world millions of dollars every year, and it’s unjustified where I live in Canada because food costs keep rising. Some Canadian brands are even offering discounts on misshapen foods — check them out here.
7. Say NO to the bottle: Bottled water is one of the worst products you can purchase, in terms of carbon management and expenditure. From cradle to grave, bottled water and the bottles themselves continue to leave one of the greatest carbon footprints. Switch to a reusable bottle, drink from the tap.
8. Befriend the produce aisle: Fruits and veggies are cheaper on average than meat and much more sustainable. There is growing evidence showing the impacts of industrially farmed meat on the environment. A great way to get started is to cut out meat just one day a week, and take it from there!
9. Quality over quantity: Fast fashion seems fiscally promising, but it’s often neither that cheap nor remotely sustainable. Make that one time “luxurious” purchase, and choose quality over quantity. Good quality clothes, bags, and shoes last much longer, minimize the frequency of replacement, and give you a better bang for your buck.
10. Refills galore: A lot of eco stores sell biodegradable, natural, concentrated cleaning products and offer refills on popular items such as laundry detergents, dishwashing liquids and such. They might seem expensive on your initial purchase, but not only do a lot of them last longer, but the stores ask you to bring back your containers for refills, cutting out a lot of excess plastic waste.
11. No to receiving receipts: Plenty of stores and cash registers offer you an email receipt option. This is a great way to cut out paper wastage.
Which of these do you practice in your own daily lives? Share your own unique ways of shopping well for the planet, and let me know if I’ve missed any!
Niharika blogs at Windsor of Change. She enjoys tropical loose leaf tea, bad puns, and eclectic travel destinations and lives in Windsor, Ontario. She thinks there’s nothing better than a dance in the first rain and nothing worse than a “can’t-do” attitude. Follow her on Twitter here.
Image via Unsplash