Some sustainability practices come with a hefty price tag. Follow the 3 Rs (and a bonus U) to enjoy a more budget-friendly sustainable life for you and the many generations to come.
The Costs of Sustainable Living
We’ve seen a strong upward trend for sustainable products, with eco-friendly labels popping up on everything from clothing to electric cars. Though over one-third of global consumers are ready and willing to pay more for sustainability, not every consumer can afford to pay that extra price.
The great news is that sustainable living can be just as diverse as we are. There are plenty of ways to cut down on consumption and use more environmentally sustainable products without breaking our budgets.
Reducing the products you use is the best budget-friendly option for sustainability—using less saves you money immediately and in the long run.
Buy samples and smaller sizes when trying new products. Whether you’re buying beauty, cleaning, or pet products, buy the smallest size possible or get a sample before committing to a full-sized version. If you dislike the product, you’ll be left with less waste.
Turn off electronics when they’re not in use. Turn out any lights when you leave the room, unplug unused electronics, use cooler water for washing dishes and clothing, and take cooler showers to reduce your utility costs.
Buy plant-based foods over meat and dairy. Reduce your fish, meat, and animal product consumption and watch your grocery bills drop up to 33%. Consider frozen fruits and vegetables when fresh is expensive. Frozen fruits and veggies are flash-frozen when freshness and nutrient density are at their highest.
Buy eco-friendly products from chain stores. Buying a green cleaning product at Target is generally cheaper than an identical product at Whole Foods—don’t be afraid to price shop and compare.
Try cutting your product use in half. We often use far more shampoo, conditioner, soap, and other products than we need to, so reduce your usage by experimenting with only half the amount you usually use. Loads of green products are high-quality and concentrated, making it easier to get away with consuming much less than usual.
Where we cannot reduce our use, recycling can help us divert much of our household waste away from landfills.
Participate in your local recycling program. Every city and town offers curbside pickup, so grab an accepted recycling bin, a can crusher on Amazon, and learn your neighborhood’s pickup schedule.
Choose products without plastic packaging. When choosing between store-bought products, select those without packages or packed in recyclable materials like cardboard, aluminum, or glass.
Reuse & Upcycle
Buy secondhand clothing. Rather than buying new, browse your local secondhand and vintage shops for finds to add to your wardrobe.
Shop your own closet. Most of us have more than we think, so look through your clothes regularly and cycle items from the back of your wardrobe to the front—you’ll get far more use out of what you have and save yourself some serious cash.
Upcycle old items into brand new uses. Use old ripped clothing as rags and paper towels, or create coasters out of old wine corks. The possibilities are endless!
This is just the start—see what other activities you can add to this list and use the 3Rs + U to live a sustainable lifestyle that doesn’t break your budget.