How to be Eco-friendly on a Budget
Updated: May 31, 2021
I am the definition of a broke college student, and I'm super thrifty, so I'd say you have come to the perfect place to find this information!
Also check out: ECO Alphabet: Week 13: Money (Save the Planet & Save Money)
You will always hear people say how it's really not that hard to go zero waste. But, if i'm being honest, it is and it takes some dedication: a change of lifestyle.
You will NOT be zero waste over night. But I do think the transition is easy if you break it down into baby steps and little goals. This way you're not breaking your bank account getting a ton of Earth saving products at once.
Below is a year long journey to going Zero Waste!
Month 1: No plastic straws or water bottles.
Sometimes smoothies and milkshakes need straws: so order yourself some reusable ones from amazon (~$10).
If you don't already have a reusable water bottle...get one. Try to avoid plastic. The glass ones are nice, but could break. I recommend the metal water bottles.(~$10-30)
Month 2: Bring reusable shopping bags
Keep these in your car so you don't forget them. There are also some that you can roll up really small and keep in your purse. If you forget your bags, it happens, ask for paper bags as soon as you get to the register - these you can recycle!
Grocery Shopping: Avoid plastic as much as possible. Buy a whole pineapple instead of the pre-cut, avoid the plastic wrapped fruit/veggies, instead of buying prepackaged mixed veggies, buy them separate and cut them yourself. They're cheaper per ounce this way too!
Month 3: Bring your own to-go boxes
Keep some clean Tupperware in your car, so if you didn't finish your food you can take it home in a reusable container.
Month 4: Quit Fast Food
As much as possible... lol
You'll save money from not randomly going to McDonald's or Zaxby's all the time, and you'll probably loose a few pounds too... The reason for this is because of the packaging.
If you must stop by, then try to go to a place that puts their food in paper, instead of plastic or Styrofoam.
Pack your lunch: Because you're not buying as much prepackaged food at the store anymore, you'll have some delicious goodies to prepare. When you cook dinner, cook extra so that you can take it with you for lunch the next day! Click here for some easy, quick, and zero waste recipes!
Month 5: What are you cleaning your house with?
It's time to check the toxicity of your household cleaning products.
Anything that gets sent down the drain, ends up in our environment. They also usually come in a plastic, single-use bottle. Check out Clean Cult and other sustainable cleaning products!
Month 6: What are you cleaning yourself with?
What chemicals are you putting on your body? Now this will be the most expensive part.. I personally make my own toothpaste. And I'm interested in making my own shampoo in conditioner.
You have two options here: You can invest in all the ingredients to make your own products but end up saving money in the end or you can purchase some sustainable hygiene products that may cost a bit more.
Month 7: Start getting non-plastic products
What I mean by this is instead of plastic sponges or plastic toothbrushes, get bamboo brushes. Instead of plastic cooking utensils, get wood. Don't replace the products you already have! - That is a waste of money! But when it is time to get a new one, choose the sustainable option!
Month 8: Fashion
Be conscious when shopping for new clothes. Several companies like Forever 21 and H&M are fast fashion brands meaning they are extremely unsustainable (for more about this, click the link above). Try to stop buying new clothes, unless they are made from sustainable brands. The best way to get good clothes for cheap, are from consignment and thrift shops!
Also, when you don't want your clothes anymore, don't throw them away! Take them to Goodwill or another donation center, or try to sell them!
Month 9: Menstrual Products
Men, you're off the hook this month. I've saved this one for closer to the end because even I am reluctant to do it...but I know it will make a difference. Get washable cloth pads, or the silicone menstrual cups to avoid single use pads and tampons. I hear that they are fantastic, I just have a little bit of the fear of the unknown...
Month 10: Dog poop
Stop using bags to pick up your dogs poop. Instead grab a leaf or stick and flick it into a bush. It will act as fertilizer for the vegetation and avoid using plastic bags.
Month 11: Stop using paper towels, and napkins
Is it worse to use water in the laundry machine, or add trash to the landfill?.. The landfill releases CO2 and leads to global warming, and the laundry water is filtered and reused. so I'd say the landfill is worse..
Start using cloth towels for drying your hands and dishes. Cut an old t-shirt or use a cloth towel for cleaning up messes. You can just throw these in the wash with your regular load! If you use old t-shirts, you won't spend a dime!
Month 12: Really try to stop
This is it! The last month a year long journey to zero waste. Really try to stop buying ANYTHING you would put in a waste bin. Make sure the products you buy come in reusable containers (100% preferred) or something you can recycle.