Sustainable Living on a Budget

sustainable living

It’s expensive going green, right? If you want to install solar panels or eat neatly packaged organic foods, it can stretch your hard earned dollars. You might be surprised to learn, however, there are plenty of little ways you can change your lifestyle, go green, all without draining your bank balance.

Why Live Sustainably Anyway?

It’s a bit like why we should give up smoking – we know all the reasons and we know it’s the right thing to do but we just haven’t got round to it. Here are the reasons often given for being greener in our daily lives:

  • The earth’s population is growing and we only have a finite number of resources. We all need to do our bit.
  • Western countries like the USA are far more wasteful than they should be.
  • Climate change is beginning to have an impact and unless we change our lifestyles we are going to hand a broken world onto our children.
  • Green is healthier and better for everyone.

Even if you don’t believe the excuses for living in a more sustainable way, the fact of cutting down waste and reducing the amount of energy we use should be important – it’s a way of saving money in the long and short term.

Switch to LED Lighting? Can’t Afford It

LED lighting used to be quite expensive with the average cost of one bulb around $15 but prices have come down in recent years. If you want to be greener on a budget, however, there are other ways to save on your lighting bills. For instance, switching off lights when they are not in use can save you between 30 and 40% if you really put your mind to it. And if you can’t afford new bulbs at the moment try spreading it across the year and replace a bulb once every few weeks. Before you know it your house will be lit by efficient LED bulbs.

Buy ‘Loose’ Vegetables and Meat

We are so used to finding things in packs that we hardly blink an eye nowadays. Buying loose vegetables, and only what you need, as well as meat can not only reduce the need for recycling but also help cut your food budget down. Most stores and large retail chains are starting to encourage more sustainable farming anyway so the chances are your normal fresh vegetables and fruit are more organic than they used to be.

Walk Rather Than Drive

We can’t all afford a nice new hybrid vehicle but changing a few habits can go a long way to reducing how much gasoline you use up. There may be a day when we all drive around in Chevys that are powered by the sun but for now you can stop those short trips to the store and cycle or walk there instead. Not only will you be getting more exercise but you won’t be filling the air with exhaust fumes.

Check for Phantom Load

It sounds like something out of Star Wars but is in fact about the number of appliances in your home that guzzle small amounts of electricity when you aren’t even using them. TVs on standby, microwaves and cell phone chargers all cost you money even though they are supposedly switched off. Go round your house and check out all the culprits and you’ll be surprised how, collectively, they add significant amounts to your electricity bill and your carbon footprint. Switch them off properly and you could be saving a good few dollars over the year.

Turning stuff off is actually the biggest green thing you can do that doesn’t require any financial outlay. Yes, you can install better insulation and digital thermostats, or even opt for something space age like a few solar panels. But using less means you create less of a carbon footprint. How many times have you wondered around your home in a t-shirt thinking it’s a tad chilly and time to put on the heating? Instead of turning on the boiler why not just pull on a sweater instead?

Make Your Own Cleaners

One area that many of us break green rules is when we buy cleaners. It’s difficult to find products that do the job without including some sort of nasty chemical that is harmful to the environment. The truth is that you can make your own cleaning products for just a few dollars. A website like Care2 has lots of home recipes for cleaning solutions that include household basics such as baking soda, white wine vinegar and even olive oil.

Make Your Own Beauty Products

It’s becoming more common for people to go natural and make their own beauty products. Let’s face it, a jar of moisturizer can cost a lot of money if you’re on a tight budget and you don’t even know what harmful chemicals and preservatives they contain.

If you’ve always wondered about the power of olive oil, why not try it on your hair. Simply massage it into dry hair and leave wrapped in a towel for about twenty minutes before rinsing it out with warm water. Cheaper than any conditioner on the market it will leave your hair full of vitality and soft to touch. Mix up some egg yolk, olive oil and avocado and you have another great product for your hair.

To go green and still be beautiful is about as easy as it gets. And natural household products can help you do it for next to nothing.

Ignore Most Supermarket Packaging Claims

According to the Lisa Borden in the Huffington Post:

“Whether you consider yourself green, not green at all, hippie, tree hugger, lifetime suv-driver, all-natural or anything else, all you need to do is ignore the front-of-label claims and the media-making picks for you and use your common sense to make your purchasing decisions.”

Going green is a marketing strategy. Most products nowadays, especially those that clean our homes, are tagged as green and better for the environment, which is not strictly true for most of them. If you want sustainable living on a budget, our advice is not to trust labeling and use the most valuable asset you have: Common sense.

Take a look around your home and have a think about your lifestyle and you’ll find plenty of intelligent and cheap ways to reduce waste, cut down on electricity bills and build a better planet without spending a dime.

Categories: Energy Efficiency, Green Living

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