While rampant greenwashing has people believing they have to buy the latest and trendiest ‘green’ products to feel as though they are saving the planet, that is just clever marketing exploiting human psychology for a company’s own interests and gains. It is this type of marketing that has fueled the misconception that eco-friendly living is expensive. In fact, when done in the proper spirit of resource sustainability and frugality, an eco-friendly lifestyle should actually be cheaper over the long-run.
Here are 10 eco-friendly habits that will save you money:
1. Borrow or rent
While the consumerist capitalist society we live in promotes the idea of owning lots of stuff, you can challenge this mentality of infinite greed and material accumulation by saying no to complete ownership. Borrowing or renting items results in the same outcome – use – without the need to own. Consider the following: How many items in your house do you own that you rarely use? Could you have borrowed those insteading of purchasing to own?
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Here is a quick list of items that you can borrow or rent and enjoy, without having to own them outright: books, toys, party supplies, tools, camping gear, vehicles, beach home.
2. Shop second-hand
There are plenty of second-hand items in op-shops and thrift shops looking for a home and many of these items cost significantly less than brand new items (note: some of these items are still brand new and have never been used or worn!).
If you don’t have time to visit second-hand stores or are still under COVID lockdowns, there are plenty of second-hand marketplaces that you can browse in the comfort of your own home such as Facebook marketplace, Etsy, eBay and Depop to name a few.
3. BYO drink bottle
Whether you’re going to school, work, heading to the gym or travelling, make sure to bring your own drink bottle. Research shows that the world consumes a million bottles a minute. Since only nine percent of plastics is recycled (18% in Australia), that leaves most plastic either landfilled, incinerated or discarded in the natural environment. By taking your reusable and refillable bottle, you’re not only helping to save on single-use plastic bottles or glass bottles, but you also save some dollars too.
4. Limit one-time use items
Items manufactured for one-time use actually cost more in the long-run when you add all those individual purchases up not to mention the amount of single-use packaging that has to be dealt with. Napkins, tissues, paper towels, bottled water and drinks, cling wrap, plastic razors, tampons, pads, nappies – all this can add up to lots of waste. Thankfully, there are reusable options available for all of these items so it’s easy to make the switch. While there may be a higher upfront cost, you will see the savings accumulate over the longer term.
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5. Grow your own
Growing your own organic herbs, fruit and vegetables will help you save money and will give you more control over your diet and health . Even if you live in an apartment, you can still grow herbs (that’s of course, if you have enough natural light coming through). You could save $10 or more a week just by growing food yourself and the bonus to growing your own food is that it helps you to connect with the natural rhythm of nature.
6. Avoid private transport where possible
The biggest purchase people make beyond a home is a vehicle. Considering the upfront cost of a car, running costs such as fuel, insurance and registration, not to mention the costs of repair and maintenance and it’s easy to see how a car can be a money pit.
More affordable and eco-friendlier alternatives to private transport include public transport, carpooling, ridesharing, walking and cycling. And if more people chose these options, it would lead to fewer private vehicles on the roads, less traffic congestion and reduced air pollution.
7. Work out at home
Rather than jumping in your car and consuming fossil fuels just to go to gym, or forking out hundreds of dollars each year for a membership, set up a space at home where you can workout, keep the environmental impact of your fitness regime low and save money too. There are plenty of yoga practitioners and instructors publishing free fitness tips and videos online if you’re a beginner or just need some working out at home guidance.
8. Enjoy free ‘green’ public spaces
There are plenty of green public spaces that you can enjoy without having to pay an entry free such as local beaches, national parks, botanical gardens and state forests. Whether you’re organising a family camping trip or looking to hike, a quick search online will bring up many green spaces open to the public that won’t cost you a thing.
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9. Do it yourself
Doing things yourself saves a lot of money in outsourcing expenses and with so many how-to videos online, it’s never been easy to, well, do anything. Whether you’re looking to darn holes in your socks, service your car, bake sourdough bread or cook new plant-based recipes, if you’ve got the will to do so, you’ll be sure to find a step-by-step article or video to show you how. And if you need an expensive piece of equipment to complete a job, remember points #1 and #2 – borrow, rent or shop second-hand!
10. Barter and trade
Before money was commonly used as a medium of exchange for goods and services, there was bartering and trade; where individuals directly exchanged goods, services and labour without the use of money. Even today, in neighbourhoods and communities across the world, people continue to barter and trade their goods, labour and time with people in their community without exchanging money. Keeping such transactions local ensures that the environmental footprint of whatever is being traded is kept minimal while maximising the strength and bond of community members.
What to barter and trade? Well if you’ve grown lots of lemons and limes but need avocados for examples, check in with your neighbours and see if anyone is willing to trade. Alternatively, if you’re a mechanic and your neighbour is a plumber, you may simply barter and trade your skills for car repairs and plumbing work with no money having to be involved. Or you can offer to mind your neighbours kids if they agree to mind yours at a future date.
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Cover image by SHVETS production.