Do you associate “going green” with “spending a lot of money”? It’s true that choosing organic products, from skin care to clothing to food, can cost you a bundle. In fact, the organic market in the United States was worth over $52 billion in 2018!
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be kind to Mother Earth and still stick to your budget. We’ve gathered together X easy to implement strategies for living a green lifestyle on a shoestring!
Max out the laundry. Never run a half-full load of laundry. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for your washer to determine its capacity, then save dirty clothes (it won’t take long for a family!) until you have a full load.
Wash your clothes in cold water. An eco-friendly rule of thumb: wash everything, from clothes to linens, in the coldest water possible. This will help you save on energy bills, too!
Line dry. After you take your laundry out of the washer, bypass the tumble dry and use your clothesline instead. Don’t have a clothesline or a yard to put one in? Invest in a few drying racks; you’ll recoup the cost quickly.
Buy secondhand. Check thrift stores and consignment shops for gently used, high-quality children’s clothes. Keep your eyes peeled for items that will fit your kids in a year or two, too.
Hand ‘em down. Handing clothes down is a time-honored frugal family action, and it keeps clothing out of the landfill too. Hang on to garments like sweaters, hoodies, jersey shorts, basic jeans, girls’ skirts and leggings, and boys’ button-down shirts – not to mention seldom-worn items like ties, hair bows, and dress shoes.
Use ‘em up. Once clothing has become unwearable due to holes, stains, or just being threadbare, recycle it into rags. A pair of pinking shears is a good tool for this purpose, and you can get good ones for reasonable prices.
Make a quilt. Quilts provide warmth, become family heirlooms, and can be a wonderful keepsake. Turn your babies’ onesies and teeny-tiny shirts into a memory-filled treasure, or save your young athlete’s sports-team tees to make into a special graduation gift.
Around the House
Insulate, insulate, insulate. Make sure you have adequate insulation around your water heater and plumbing pipes, in the attic and/or crawl spaces, and filling any gaps around your windows or doors.
Get energy-efficient…everything. From appliances to lightbulbs, replace household elements with energy-efficient versions as quickly as your budget allows. It’s a small price to pay for reduced heating and cooling bills.
DIY and MYO. Many mamas and papas have more time than money, so put that time to good use. Learn how to complete repairs and renovations on your own. On a smaller scale, making your own essentials – think laundry soap, cleaning products, bread, salad dressing, soup – can save you substantial amounts of money.
Pare down plastic and paper use. Reusable shopping bags are the norm nowadays, but it’s easy to take this economical and eco-friendly action a step further. Try cloth produce bags. Substitute rags for paper towels. Use the back of school papers, memos and mailings for scrap paper. Save saran wrap and foil for when it’s absolutely necessary, and store your leftovers in glass jars or lidded containers instead.
Unplug it. Your electronics still consume energy even when they’re not on. Unplug them to keep the juice from flowing. And Dad was right – turn off the lights when you leave a room!
Collect rainwater. Buy (or better yet, make your own) rain barrel. Harvesting rainwater is good for your home, your budget, and the health of the planet.
Feed your family from the backyard. Yes, a garden is a good start, but also consider keeping chickens for the eggs (and/or the meat). Chickens can survive quite handily on certain food scraps and the bugs they scrounge from the ground.
Start a compost pile. A lot of folks think that composting is hard, expensive, smelly, or only for hippies. Think again. This simple act keeps food waste out of the landfills and provides valuable fertilizer for that garden.
Say so long to the lawn. Acres of green grass need a lot of upkeep, and for what? Consider replacing grass with low-maintenance plants, flowers to attract pollinators, herbs to use in meals and medicines, or even drought-friendly xeriscaping.
Plant some trees. This is another great option if you have lots of yard space to fill and like the look of native trees. Trees will increase the property’s value, shade the home (reducing AC consumption) and improve the air quality.
How do you keep costs low while also being a good steward of the planet? We’d love to hear your best frugal, earth-friendly strategies and suggestions, so please leave a comment below!