Currently, there are just under seven and a half billion humans on this earth, and that number is guaranteed to climb to nine billion over the next few decades. But a growing population means more resources are necessary to sustain the quality of life most of us have come to know and appreciate.
That’s why the focus on sustainable living is so important – it helps us preserve our resources for future generations because it encourages people to reduce demand on the resources currently available such as food, energy, and clean air, and encourages people to think of ways to make resources stretch.
Living sustainably has the potential to create a safer, cleaner planet for all of us, but managing the financial aspect of doing so can be daunting.
Don’t worry! There are easy ways to embrace sustainable living without breaking the bank.
Start tracking your finances.
Most financial gurus are quick to say a frugal lifestyle is the best possible choice for those who want financial freedom.
I couldn’t agree more.
Pinching pennies when possible, creating and sticking to a hard line budget, and setting aside instant gratification for future financial success or paying down debt all work to your benefit in the long run. But living a sustainable life requires taking a deeper look at spending habits and the impact they have not only on the current financial position but the world around you as well. If embracing the sustainable life is on your to-do list, start here.
Begin with an evaluation of monthly expenses, including the small stuff like coffee, fresh flowers or a happy hour stop after work, and determine if they fall into the category of sustainable or wasteful. Blasting air conditioning all hours of the day and night, going for a drive to clear your mind, or replacing something in the house that could just as easily be repaired for a fraction of the cost are all wasteful to varying degrees.
Reviewing cash flow month to month is the only real way to acknowledge these purchases are taking place, followed closely by living within your means.
Anyone who has ever tracked spending comes to the same conclusion at one point or another: am I really wasting that much money on “x”?! (X in this case does not equal Y but could equal lattes, magazines, alcohol, clothes).
If it’s clear there is some degree of mindless spending, promise to cut back in those areas and track your spending so you’re accountable to yourself. Plus each time you shop, you’re using resources in some way, shape or form. Not spending on things you don’t really need or value is the most sustainable act of all.
Frugal lifestyle tips.
Here are some ways you can save money as well as the planet.
The simplest way to achieve sustainable living within the home is to turn off any appliances and lights when they are not in use.
Use the daylight to brighten up rooms, and open the windows instead of using air conditioning when the weather permits. Schedule the thermostat to use less gas or electricity during the hours no one is home.
Take it a step further and change out traditional light bulbs for energy-efficient CFL lighting has a significant impact on total energy use, as does upgrading to energy-efficient appliances. If the cost of making these household changes is too high, consider going room by room as cash flow allows.
Related Post: Why You Should Be Cutting Energy Usage
Instead of dining out, save money and cook at home. Not only do you save on gas, but preparing home-cooked meals is a better way to make your budget stretch. In addition, sourcing produce and ingredients from local farmers and vendors can save you even more money.
Another way to save on your grocery bill is to join a community garden or a community supported agriculture farm. Accessing produce in this way is much more sustainable as it avoids the high resource consumption of national or global grocery stores.
Instead of throwing out clothes and socks that have holes and tears, consider mending them. Not only is prolonging the life of a garment a sustainable act, it also saves you money as you won’t need to purchase a replacement, just a basic sewing kit that you can use to mend other items too!
That to-go coffee cup or packaged processed meal isn’t very sustainable. While convenient, single use items increase waste and add to your eco footprint. It ends up in a landfill, often never recycled, and resources are used to ensure the toxins in plastic waste aren’t transferred to the consuming public after they’ve been discarded.
Ditch these pricey disposables and see your savings grow.
Grow your own
Plant a veggie garden and save on grocery costs. Fruits, vegetables, and edible herbs can be quickly and easily sprouted with minimal space on a patio or porch, and they don’t take much effort to cultivate. Consider planting as an alternative to paying extra for the convenience of buying produce at the grocery store. As a bonus, growing your own saves on gas getting to the supermarket.
Declutter, embrace minimalism and sell those unwanted items. Selling goods such as clothes, books, furniture and homewards you no longer use or want, can fetch you hundreds. Sell it and let someone else enjoy it. This is more sustainable than letting it waste away in a cupboard.
In addition, if you need an item that you know you won’t use regularly, borrow rather than buy. You can borrow books, camping gear and machinery from friends and family. You can even rent fancy clothes from websites such as Rent the Runway if you need a special I’ll-only-use-it-once dress to wear to a fancy event.
Related Post: How to Become a Minimalist in 7 Simple Steps
Just like household energy use, water consumption at home is one of the bigger culprits in depleting natural resources – and costs you money too. Start with small changes, such as turning off the water while doing the dishes or brushing teeth and avoiding the dishwasher. If cash flow allows, upgrade to water-efficient toilets and washers. Not only do these strategies reduce water consumption at home, but they also help decrease spending on the water bill.
Taking public transportation instead of driving decreases your environmental footprint significantly. If possible, think about other methods of transportation that do not rely on fossil fuels such as cycling or walking. If these aren’t feasible options, consider a carpool service.
Related Post: 5 Eco-Friendlier Ways to Commute in the City
For some, living a sustainable life may require more extreme changes. Taking a job that is much closer to home to help reduce commuting resource spend may be a viable option in some instances. Others may need to consider the possibility of downgrading to a smaller home that is more energy-efficient but still meets their space and location needs. Taking these bigger steps toward sustainability is a commitment, but ultimately they can put far less pressure on the environment and the budget.
Living sustainably does not have to cost an arm and a leg, nor does it mean forgoing all forms of consumerism indefinitely. Small changes can have a big impact on the environment while also promoting a frugal lifestyle – both core components of living a sustainable life.
Want to live with more intention whilst saving cash? Visit Jacob’s personal finance website Dollar Diligence for more frugal lifestyle tips.