Would you like to show more love to the environment, but are afraid of the costs it might imply? Some of the suggestions out there do seem a little far-fetched and possibly quite unnecessary, but being eco-friendly does not have to be more expensive. In fact, most of the things you can do for the environment will actually care for your wallet as well. Here are a few simple and cute things you can do:
1. Buy less packaged foods. Not only will you significantly reduce waste, but it will also be good for your health. Packaged foods usually equal overly processed foods that are filled with preservatives, sugar and other nasty things. Try to cook from scratch as often as you can. You’ll be doing yourself, your wallet, and the environment a favor.
2. Keep your fresh fruit and vegetables fresh for longer – naturally. While we’re on the subject of wasting, I’m sure we’ve all experienced fresh produce going bad before we’ve had a chance to eat it. That’s such a terrible waste of money, but especially of resources. Luckily, there seems to be a magical product that can save this global waste phenomenon. It’s called FreshPaper and it’s been invented by total chance when a woman accidentally drank some tap water while visiting her grandmother in India. To calm her panic, her grandmother prepared her a drink with special herbs and she didn’t get sick. She then thought she could use the same herbs to keep fresh fruit and vegetables in a bacteria-free environment and that’s how FreshPaper was born. It’s basically a small piece of paper infused with organic herbs that you place in your fridge drawer or in your fruit basket and the fresh fruit and veggies last 2 to 4 times longer. Isn’t that amazing? Check her inspiring story on Ted here.
3. Take a reusable mug/cup to the coffee shop. Can you imagine how many disposable cups are thrown away each day around the world? It is estimated that over 58 billion cups are discarded to landfill every year in the United States. You can help a lot by taking your own reusable cup to the coffee shop, like the ones KeepCup makes. They are really pretty, cheerful, practical, and BPA free! Of course, you could take your own mug to the coffee shop, but KeepCup has been specifically designed for coffee on the go. But it really doesn’t matter what cup you take to the shop as long as you do it. You might even get a discount by taking your own cup to the shop.
4. Buy fair trade products as often as you can. Whenever you’re buying a product that is labeled “fair trade” you’re helping farmers and workers at the beginning of the chain to get a fair share of the trade. Purchasing fair trade helps developing countries get a fair price for their exported goods. You’ll feel a lot better eating that chocolate when you know the cocoa used to produce it comes from a fair trade that offers producers the sustainability they need.
5. Use microfiber cloths instead of paper towels. Save some trees by using microfiber cloths instead of paper towels when you spill or need to wipe down something. Microfiber cloths are great! They absorb well, are great for dusting and cleaning, and you can just throw them in the washer to get them sanitized. They will last a very long time.
6. Install a water filter. We spend billions of dollars on bottled water and endless amounts of plastic bottles end up in our landfills, causing massive amounts of pollution. You can install a water filter at your sink or buy a filtered pitcher and you’ll never have to use bottled water ever again. It will be a small initial investment, but so much worth it in the long run. You’ll have fresh water whenever you want and you won’t have to dispose of those endless water bottles (you know what I’m talking about if you drink a lot of water).
7. Use glass containers and reusable produce bags instead of plastic bags. Along with plastic bottles and disposable cups, plastic bags create huge pollution problems. 100 billion plastic bags are being used annually in the US, according to the Wall Street Journal, with a very small percentage of them being recycled. Petroleum is used to produce them and they are not biodegradable. They end up in our landfills and waters, with approximately 1 billion seabirds and mammals dying each year by ingesting plastic bags or getting entangled in them. We have to do everything in our power to reduce plastic bag waste. One thing would be to buy reusable mesh produce bags and shopping bags and take them with you whenever you go shopping. Another practical idea is to replace lunch bags with glass containers with airtight lids. There are so many great options out there; you just have to start looking!
8. Use reusable fabric gift bags instead of wrapping paper. What a great idea the guys at VZWraps had! You can save time and money by simply throwing in your gifts in one of their cute fabric bags and that’s it! You’ll help diminish the tons of wrapping paper and gift bag waste especially around the holidays and you’ll save yourself some money in the long run. You can keep the bags inside the family and exchange them when you get tired of your models.
9. Buy reusable straws. GreenPaxx sells straws made out of 100% food-grade silicone that you can easily wash and keep on reusing. It will help diminish the same waste problem I keep talking about.
10. Learn how to recycle. A lot of people are confused about recycling and don’t know what goes where, if plastic wraps are recyclable or not, where to throw Q-tips and so on. Get your recycling routine straight and you can help the environment a lot!
How about you, what tips and tricks do you have to be eco-friendly without spending more money or actually spending less?