How to Make Your Household More Sustainable in 3 Easy (Budget-Friendly) Steps
I looked around my bathroom in horror.
Twenty-five… TWENTY-FIVE bottles of random beauty products scattered about my bathroom. Various shampoos, conditioners, and oils for my temperamental mixed ethnicity hair.
Plastic jars of his and hers shaving creams, lotions, and toothpastes (my husband and I prefer different brands) sat on the shelves in our cabinet. This is not to mention my plastic shower cap, our plastic razors, and the linen closet. The linen closet *insert scream here* morphed in my mind into a House of Plastic Horrors. It housed all of my many other beauty supplies I kept on hand as well as the creams and lotions my hair had “rejected”, and I had just held on to for some irrational reason.
I noticed the plastic bottle of hand wash next to the sink and my mind immediately went to the plastic bottles of hand and dish soap sitting next to our kitchen sink. And then underneath that sink the plastic bottles of cleaners and laundry detergent. How much is it going to cost me to replace all of these plastic bottles?!
I’m not rich. I do bougie on a budget. I buy most of my clothes off Poshmark (F.Y.I .buying 2nd hand clothes is another earth-friendly habit!) and consider a $50 purse from TJ Maxx “splurging”. I’m not cheap, just “financially limited”.
The subject of climate change and the strain our planet is under due to the human race’s current wasteful way of life is a topic that keeps coming up more and more frequently. This is why I made the decision to live more responsibly. Frustratingly, one too many times, I have tried to opt for the “greener” option or gotten excited about the t-shirt made from recycled materials, only to have that excitement deflated by the outrageous price tag.
Is sustainable living really only for the rich? How is a girl on a teeny, tiny baby budget, who is wanting to live a more earth-conscious lifestyle supposed to do it? Get a new 6 figure job?! Even if I were made of JLO money,(in my dreams), even then, where would I begin?!
The key, (as with many habitual changes) is baby steps… no 6 figure job needed!
1. Start Eliminating Plastics Where You Can
Plastics..*sigh*. By now, unless you have been living on a different planet, you have heard how we here on planet Earth are being suffocated by plastic waste. It’s a HUGE problem.
Less than 10% of the 300 million tons of single-use plastic produced each year is recycled. This means the rest of our plastic waste is buried in landfills, (where it can take up to 500 years to breakdown) or washed into our oceans where they create floating plastic islands and are accidentally ingested by innocent sea creatures.
Are you ready to start doing your part to reduce our earth’s plastic problem?
A few simple steps can help you cut down on your single-use plastics.
Replace the plastic shopping bags at the market with reusable ones.
Reusable bags can be bought for as little as $1.00 making them a very budget-friendly way of reducing your plastic use. Also, replacing the little plastic produce bags at the market with reusable ones or, foregoing them all together (as I do) is another basically free way of reducing your plastic consumption.
Drink from reusable cups and water bottles.
1 person can drink up to 8 single-use bottles of water per day. By switching to a stainless steel reusable bottle, 1 person could keep roughly 60 plastic bottles a week out of our landfills!
Replace products you buy with ones that come in biodegradable plastic-free packaging.
It may seem that all of the eco-friendly products are waaaaayyyy more expensive than the ones you see in stores.
However, that’s not always the case!
As the demand for more earth-friendly products continues to grow, so does the competition for these products, which is great news for someone who is wanting to go green but can’t spend a lot of green.
This also means you can find a vast array of reasonably priced products that are made from safe ingredients and also come packaged in biodegradable and plastic-free packaging. Making them zero waste.
Here are a few products to get you started.
- Hand soap concentrates
mixing these with tap water in a glass hand soap bottle will help you avoid the need to buy a plastic bottle every time you need soap.
- Reusable ziplock bags
these come in all the same sizes as single-use ones and are very budget-friendly.
- Laundry sheets and plastic-free detergent pods
help you avoid using the big plastic jugs and saves you space in your laundry room too. (Careful — some common household laundry pods do contain microplastics!)
- Toothpaste tablets
come in cardboard boxes or glass jars that let you pass on the use of the plastic tube. Also, check out bamboo toothbrushes!
- Shampoo and conditioner bars, (also soap body bars)
allow you to go plastic-free by eliminating the need for a plastic bottle.
- Reusable plastic-free razors
are another simple product switch that will let you avoid the evil P.
There are so many new Earth-friendly products on the market now, the possibilities are basically endless!
Here’s a tip: Try switching to a new zero-waste product as you use up the traditional products you already have in your home to avoid getting overwhelmed and delivering too big a blow to your budget. No need to make the switch in 1 day!
2. How Many Squares Can You Spare?
If you’re a Seinfield fan, you’ll get that reference. But seriously. How many paper towels do you and your family use in a day?
Americans use around 13 billion tons of paper towels every year alone. Want to do your part to decrease that number? Good news! It’s easy and actually more cost-efficient in the long run for you to do it!
Take stock of the various paper products you use around your home.
Do you use paper napkins? Try swapping them out for reusable cloth ones. Do you use paper plates? Swap those for real ones. Next time you want to clean up a mess in the kitchen, use a dishcloth instead.
Here’s a tip: Dishcloths and reusable napkins can be easily sanitized by rinsing in hot soapy water in your sink. Then just hang to dry for the next use.
Want to decrease paper usage and save money in the bathroom?
Try investing in a bidet attachment for your toilet. Bidets can be found for as little as $30.00 online and are easy to hook up to your toilet’s water line (no need to call a plumber!). Having a designated drying towel to use after that refreshing rinse completely eliminates the use of toilet paper, which means never having to buy toilet paper (and bonus- never having to worry about another toilet paper shortage again!).
3. Don’t Let a Good Apple Go Bad
How many times have you completely forgotten about those left-overs in the back of your fridge? Or bought all of those lovely ingredients in preparation for making that fabulous recipe you saw on Instagram. Only to be too tired to cook it that night (and the next night …and the next…)
Don’t worry…you and I aren’t the only ones. But, unfortunately, we’re ones of many.
The average American family wastes around 250 pounds of food every year. I was actually expecting that number to be higher…but then I considered how many families are on my block, and in my neighborhood, and then in my city. That number grows disturbingly large quite quickly.
Fortunately, changing this number for the better in your household will also change the numbers in your bank account for the better.
“How?” you ask. Keep reading!
- Plan your meals and meal prep.
If you plan what you intend to make for the week and have it ready and prepared, you eliminate that habit of buying ingredients that you never use. Also, the prepared meals are just as convenient to eat as going out to eat. So, on nights when you are too busy or too tired to cook, there’s no need to eat out, as you have a quick easy meal waiting at home.
- Make a grocery list when you go shopping.
This eliminates those random, impulsive purchases that you make at the grocery store, forget why you bought them, then totally forget about as you get busy during the week.
- Share food.
See an onion or an apple that you know you probably won’t get around to eating before it goes bad? Give it to a neighbor! This little exchange is a great practice to have between you and the family (or hot single neighbor) next door that can help you both cut down on food waste and possibly save you money. One person’s potentially wasted apple could be another person’s snack!
- Make a soup or casserole and freeze it for a rainy day.
Have a bunch of things nearing their expiration date? This is a super-easy way (especially if you have a slow cooker) to turn at-risk raw produce and even meat into a delicious meal! Plus, freezing it means you can wait until the perfect time to eat it. Freezing in batches also means you don’t have to eat it all in 1 week (or you can share a batch with that hot neighbor!)
Living a greener life isn’t a life that’s out of reach for anyone! Even if you’re an average person with an average (or below average, teeny, tiny baby) budget.
With a bit of research, you would be amazed at how many fairly priced earth-friendly products are available (and I’m not talking about an $8 bottle of hand soap). By gradually adding a few small tweaks to your daily habits, eventually, you’ll see how all of those changes add up and what a large difference those tiny tweaks mean for our Mother Earth. You’ve got this!
Follow Cedar Desk Writing Company on Instagram for more tips on sustainable living and all things animal friendly and cruelty-free.