April is Earth Month! The big themes around this time of year are to reduce, to reuse, and to recycle. In that order precisely. To keep our Mother Earth glistening we have to reduce our waste. A zero-waste life isn’t for most people, so for what we can’t reduce, we must learn to reuse or recycle. Here are 25 money saving sustainability hacks everyone can use.
The best way to reduce is to simply refuse extra ‘things’. Unfortunately, this is a privilege that many people don’t have. However, you can still practice sustainability without privilege, and here are some easy money-saving sustainability hacks for you to try. If you’re not too worried about the sustainability part but still want to save money, check out this post on saving/making money for travel.
Go Virtual/Digital Paperless
1. Find Money Saving Sustainability in Paying Bills and Storing Paperwork Digitally
Forget paper copies and put everything online. Use Google Drive to store any and all information you might need – you don’t have to worry about your computer crashing or running out of storage space either. Even my Medical Information and copays get sorted into a file on my computer. True money saving sustainability can be found in not paying the postage fees for these companies.
I receive all of my bills via e-mail and sort them into folders. I even have a folder for travel plans and documents that houses confirmation numbers, schedule changes, etc., a folder for online shopping receipts, and more all in my e-mail. It makes it very easy to find what you need when you need it and it never goes away.
2. All Entertainment Can Be Accessed with Wifi
You can even go digital in the world of entertainment. Books can now be stored and read on kindles, you can watch movies and television shows without owning a DVD or a VHS, and there is a slew of ‘board game’ and other family activities that simply require an electronic device. I understand the feeling of a good paperback, or playing an actual board game – I own quite a few of both – but maybe select your absolute favorites to own and keep the rest digital. If you must read hard copies, get yoself a library card and share share that’s fair.
Food and Other Kitchen Sustainability Hacks
3. Reusable Shopping Bags are Your Friend
Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags! Single-use plastics are awful for the environment. As a result, New York has finally adopted a plastic bag law. So save yourself some money on plastic/paper one time bags at checkout and remember your reusables. You’ll also be keeping one-use plastic out of our landfills and oceans. I also like to bring cloth shopping bags to department stores and farmers market to reduce my need for a single-use bag.
P.S. Keep a few in the car for those impromptu trips.
4. Bring on the Reusable Tupperware, Zip Lock Baggies, and Water Bottles
Reusable containers all the way! To heck with single-use containers. I love my lock and locks for leftovers, and my Hydroflask is my go-to reusable water bottle. Lock and locks are also amazing for packing lunch alongside a reusable velcro bags for a side snacky. Reusable water bottles, tumblers, and mugs are all the rage while also helping our earth, try them out sometime!
5. Buying Food in Bulk is a Low Key Money Saving Sustainability Hack
Try buying your food in bulk and even in reusable containers if possible. This reduces the amount of packaging and therefore the waste. A lot of whole food stores will allow you to buy dry items such as oatmeal, farro, and rice with your own containers from home. I love this idea! It’s definitely what’s best for our earth when it comes to purchasing groceries.
6. How Can I Reuse my Food Scraps?
There are a few sanitary ways you can reuse your food. I like to put veggie scraps in a plastic baggie to make broth at a later date after a few weeks of cooking have added up. If you have pets, feed them food scraps that are safe for them in their bowl instead of throwing them out. My final solution for your unused food includes composting; there are quite a few ways to approach this solution though so make sure you do your research.
7. Lessen Your Food Waste All Together
A real bit of money saving sustainability includes planning your meals and eating your leftovers, it’s really that simple. Plan plan plan for the week and eat all your leftovers! There is nothing I like more than making a big dinner so I have leftovers for work the next day. It makes me look forward to lunch even more than I already do.
8. Meal Delivery Services are Life Saving
Order a meal service! You’ll quickly decrease the amount of food waste you create. Everything you need comes pre-portioned for cooking. A lot of these companies also strive to be sustainable in their packaging as well. No longer are the days of buying produce and forgetting you have it until you smell it from the back of the crisp drawer. This is an absolute lifesaver for a busy couple/family; my boyfriend and I are both teachers who coach after school all year long – it makes eating healthy dinners thoughtless.
9. Why Does Eating Lower on the Food Chain Make a Difference?
Significant resources are needed to produce animal products for food compared to plant-based foods. Red meat, in particular, has a very high carbon footprint. Switching to an animal-free, vegan diet is a powerful way to help protect our environment. While this remains a somewhat controversial topic, it is generally accepted that meat and dairy consumption needs to decline in order to feed both the growing global population as well as reduce global emissions.
If going completely Vegan isn’t for you that’s OKAY! My household isn’t either but what we do try and eat 3 or so vegan meals a week. Purple Carrot is one of our favorite, easy ways to eat delicious, plant-based meals without much hassle or creativity at all. That meal service I just talked about that is a lifesaver for us? Yeah, Purple Carrot all the way!
Conscious Clothing and Textile Sustainability Hacks
10. Be Sustainable in Your Purchasing
First and foremost, purchase well-made clothes from a sustainable brand. Next, wear those clothes until they fall apart. Choose pieces that are true to YOU; if you have your own style, nothing you wear goes out of style. A majority of the world’s waste comes from textiles. We need to do better. Spending more money on sustainable textiles is the ultimate money saving sustainability hack in that the piece will last you much longer and you won’t have to spend more money on a new piece!
11. Sell Unwanted Clothing for True Money Saving Sustainability
Before you toss your clothes in the trash, try selling them first! You can try selling your unwanted items at a local consignment shop or online through apps like Poshmark or Mercari. These are also great places to buy second hand, lightly worn clothing; providing a home for some else’s old clothes is simply the right thing to do. Clothes that are in good shape but can’t be sold should be donated before being thrown away.
If you join Poshmark or Mercari using the link above, you’ll save $10 on your first purchase!
12. Clothing Rental Services are All the Rage
Need a gown that you’ll only wear once? Need the perfect interview outfit that you’ll never wear again? Maybe your style is just always changing and you don’t know what you want to wear. Try renting your clothes. This is an amazing way to stay fresh and trendy without wasting textiles. Many companies allow you to purchase your favorite pieces for a discounted price at the end of your rental – once you’ve worn something a few times you should have a good idea of if you NEED it or if it was just fun for a little while.
For everyday wear, American Eagle’s Style Drop is a great option. If you’re looking for something very fancy rent the runway might be a better fit for you. There are a lot of different companies! Renting your clothes is a sneaky money saving sustainability hack that most people don’t think – stay up to date with the latest styles without spending the extra cash and creating the extra waste,.
13. Green Cleaning in Your Home
Wash your clothing in cold water and then hang them to dry. Whether this is on an outdoor clothesline or a folding drying rack in your house. It saves precious energy and it’s better for your clothes.
I also stumbled across Grove Collaborative which provides a one-stop-shop with awesome deals on green and sustainable cleaning supplies! I’ve absolutely loved this subscription. I never have to worry if I’ll run out fo toilet bowl cleaner or dish soap. Will I desperately need a new sponge but not have the time to run out and buy one? The answer is no… because Grove ship cleaning products to my home on a schedule of my choosing and it’s such a beautiful thing.
Household Money Saving Sustainability Hacks
14. Reuse Gift Bags, Tissue Paper, and Packaging
Don’t only reuse these items but STRIVE to only use these things. I save the boxes, wrapping paper, bubble wrap from packages I receive for when I need to mail or gift something to someone else. Of course, this works for receiving gifts as well; save the bag and wrapping paper that housed your gift and pass it on. There’s no need to create more waster (and it saves you money).
15. Reuse your Plastic Baggies
Reuse newspaper bags, plastic shopping bags, bread baggies, etc. for any purpose you can think of. I know we use any plastic shopping bags we wind up with for our kitty litter, car garbage bags, hiking trash baggies, packing shoes in our luggage for vacation, and more. It doesn’t make the plastic bag situation much better but at least the bag is being used multiple times before finding its place in the garbage.
16. Take Time to Unplug and Turn Off
Something I was awful at as a kid and still struggle with is turning lights off. I spent a lot of time home ‘alone’ (Nana lives in our basement apartment!) as a kid and watched too much Criminal Minds; I liked my lights on. However, this did create a bad habit. Try your best to turn lights off and unplug items when you’re not using them.
17. Take a Chance on Solar Energy for Serious Money Saving Sustainability
This option is becoming more accessible with each and every year. Definitely an awesome way to utilize a renewable energy source. Great for the planet and will pay for itself and then some over time.
18. Switch to LED Lights
LED light bulbs are more expensive than traditional incandescent bulbs, but because they are so efficient, they will save you money over their lives. LEDs can also last as much as 20 times longer than an incandescent bulb and 3 times longer than a CFL. All of the lights in our home are LED and my school -which is undergoing a serious project right now- has switched all of our lights to LEDs as well.
19. Wrap Your Water Heater
For just a few dollars, you can wrap your water heater in a heat blanket. These few dollars will save you some serious cash while also reducing carbon emissions. This is a money saving sustainability hack if I’ve ever seen one!
20. Buy Efficient Appliances
When you plan to purchase new appliances, look for ENERGY STAR qualified products. But don’t just settle for the certification—pick the model that uses the least amount of energy possible. Using less energy not only helps out the environment, but it helps out your pocket.
21. Seal Up Those Drafts
Use caulking for leaky windows and get a door sweep to keep the heat in your house and CO2 out of the atmosphere. This will also save you money heating each month; you can also vacuum seal your windows (behind blind and curtains) for the winter for some serious draft sealing.
Easy Lifestyle Sustainability Hacks
22. Ladies, you Have to Go With a Diva Cup
Ladies Only here… This item has been a saving grace to my menstrual cycle. It has saved me so much money on purchasing tampons and it so simple to use. And obviously, if I’m not purchasing tampons they’re also not taking up space in our landfills.
23. Grow Yourself a Green Thumb Ya’ll
With urbanization on the rise, more forests are being destroyed. With fewer plants to process carbon dioxide into oxygen, maintaining an urban garden (or at least loving on some indoor and outdoor plants) is one of the best ways to replenish the world’s rapidly dwindling plant population. You can go with flowers, cactuses, and other decorative houseplants, or you can grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs for bonus points on the eco-friendliness scale.
Growing your own herbs and fruits provides sneaky money saving sustainability! There’s nothing better than the smell of herbs on your windowsill either. My absolute favorite site to order my indoor plants from is the sill! I belong to their low light subscription and LOVE it.
24. Exercise Can Save the Planet
Can you walk there? Ride a bike? Skateboard? If this isn’t an option, try ride sharing or public transportation. This is truly one of the major money saving sustainability hacks that we must master.
25. Borrowing Doesn’t Have to be Reserved for Kids at Recess
Need something for a single project or only temporarily? Borrow it from a friend or family member. If it isn’t something you will get regular use out of, don’t waste the purchase. It will likely end up in the trash or collecting dust after you spend money on it.
The truth is, you don’t have to do any earth-shattering, awesome deeds to make a difference. Even the smallest choice has a real impact. Good choices, when added up, can ripple out to create a significantly better world. The better we keep our world, the happier she is and the more adventures she will allow us to go on. And if it’s an adventure you’re looking for, check out these true beauties of mother nature.