Going green doesn’t have to be expensive. With some creativity and commitment, you can adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle without breaking the bank. Here are 9 unconventional ways to go green on a budget:
1. Repurpose and Upcycle Household Items
Before throwing away old clothes, furniture, or household items, think about how you can repurpose them. Some ideas include:
- Turn old clothes into cleaning rags or quilts
- Transform glass jars into water glasses or storage containers
- Use scrap wood to build raised garden beds
- Give furniture a makeover with a fresh coat of paint
Repurposing requires creativity, not money. It keeps waste out of landfills and gives old items new life.
2. Go Paperless
Switching to online billing and documents saves paper and other resources. Here’s how to go paperless:
- Set up electronic banking to receive and pay bills online
- Request electronic statements from lenders, utilities, insurance, and other services
- Scan important documents to store them digitally
- Unsubscribe from junk mail lists to reduce incoming paper
Going paperless takes some time up front but quickly becomes a habit. It’s one of the easiest ways to curb paper waste.
3. Use Reusable Alternatives
Disposable products aren’t just wasteful, they’re expensive. Using reusables can save you money while reducing waste. Try these reusable alternatives:
- Food storage containers and bags instead of plastic wrap and zipper bags
- Reusable water bottle rather than buying bottled water
- Cloth napkins and towels instead of paper ones
- Safety razor rather than disposable razors
- Rechargeable batteries rather than single-use ones
With some adjustments, reusables can replace many common disposable products. They pay for themselves over time while cutting down on waste.
4. Buy Second-Hand
Shop at thrift stores, garage sales, and second-hand markets to save money and keep usable stuff out of landfills. You can find great deals on:
- Furniture, appliances, and home goods
- Clothing and accessories
- Books, movies, music, and games
- Sports equipment, tools, and electronics
Buying second-hand reduces demand for new products and their associated manufacturing and transportation emissions. It takes some hunting to find treasures, but saving money and the planet rewards the effort.
5. Do Your Own Yardwork
Lawncare services use lots of water, fossil fuels, and chemicals. For a greener DIY approach:
- Set mower height to 3 inches to encourage grass roots to grow deeper, retaining water better
- Leave clippings on the lawn to return nutrients to the soil instead of bagging them
- Pull weeds by hand rather than using herbicides
- Use electric or manual tools like push mowers instead of gas-powered ones
Doing your own yardwork minimizes environmental impact. It also provides free exercise and satisfaction along with the monetary savings.
6. Make Your Own Cleaning and Hygiene Supplies
Commercial cleaning products often contain toxic ingredients. Fortunately, effective DIY versions can be made from a few simple, inexpensive ingredients. You can make:
- All-purpose cleaner from vinegar, water, and essential oils
- Scrubbing powder from baking soda
- Laundry detergent using soapnuts instead of conventional detergent
- Shampoo, conditioner, and lotion from natural ingredients like honey, oils, and herbs
Making your own supplies avoids chemicals while saving money. It also reduces plastic waste from bottled products.
7. Install Eco-Friendly Home Upgrades
Some green upgrades like solar panels or EV charging stations require major investment. However, smaller changes can still make an impact:
- Switch light bulbs to LEDs
- Install low-flow water fixtures
- Seal windows, doors, and ducts to boost energy efficiency
- Insulate water heaters and pipes to reduce heat loss
Focus on quick, inexpensive upgrades first. Then save up for bigger changes down the road.
8. Learn Do-It-Yourself Skills
Expanding your DIY skills saves money while reducing consumption and learning something new. Useful skills include:
- Basic home and auto repairs
- Furniture building and refinishing
- Clothing alterations and repairs
- Food preservation like canning or pickling
- Vegetable gardening and composting
The internet offers a wealth of DIY guides and tutorials. Start small, be patient, and learn from mistakes.
9. Rethink Gift Giving
Gift giving inevitably produces waste and consumption. Rethinking gifts can reduce environmental impact:
- Give experiences rather than physical gifts – concert tickets, massage, or cooking class
- Make gifts like baked goods, artwork, or mix CDs
- Give services as a gift – lawn mowing, pet sitting, house cleaning
- Shop at second-hand stores to give lightly used items new life
- Give sustainably-produced consumables like coffee, chocolate, or wine
Focusing on intangible or consumable gifts reduces clutter and waste while still showing loved ones you care.
Going green doesn’t have to cost more. With some creativity and commitment to changing habits, you can live sustainably on any budget. What unconventional tips do you have for green living on a budget?