When first learning about climate change and its effects on our future, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed or even discouraged. With all of the numbers and the statistics floating around out there, it can seem like these problems are too hard to be solved. While it is true that we can not solve all of these problems overnight, there are some actions that almost everyone can take to work towards a solution for some of the issues we face today.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned many ways to live a more environmentally mindful life while living on a budget. I hope that some of the options I will discuss in this post can help you find what fits your lifestyle, whether you take up some of the things I mention specifically or spark other ideas. While most of the options that I’m going to list can be done by almost everyone for free or at a low cost, it is important to acknowledge that some changes cannot be made by those facing financial hardships. With this in mind, we must remember that even the small adjustments will significantly impact all of us whether you can afford the newest sustainable gizmo or gadget on the market.
1. Ditching Plastic
While I’ve never been a huge consumer of plastic-based products, I still use plastic often as it is impossible to live a life completely free of it. However, I have successfully cut a massive amount of plastic out of my life in a little less than a year by changing how I shopped. I began using reusable bags instead of plastic bags and purchasing products that contained little to no plastic or other non-biodegradable/nonrenewable materials. While some of these changes were not easy, I found that in the long run, many of them were not only worth it in an attempt to be more eco-conscious but also as a way to save money. For example, I’ve started buying shampoo and conditioner bars that last me twice as long as my old bottled products did. I’ve also made it a habit to carry a reusable bottle with me as often as possible, so I don’t have to purchase a drink everywhere I go. Other possible methods to cut plastic out of your life include
- Purchasing bar soap instead of liquid.
- Buying plastic-free or recycled accessories for electronics.
- Using reusable silicone bags instead of plastic sandwich bags.
- Switching to plastic-free makeup and beauty products.
- Shopping from online stores such as Package Free or Earth Hero.
2. Reusing and Repurposing Everything From Glass to Water
Some items I’ve learned can be reused in various ways over the years include:
- Glass containers — I’ve saved almost every piece of glass I’ve ever had for years. I’ve reused candle containers for storing jewelry, food, and even housing plants.
- Cardboard/Shipping materials — Cardboard itself can be used in some ways (when recycling isn’t an option), but I love to reuse it, especially when it comes to shipping packages. I live in a small town where shopping online is a necessity. In return, I often sell things online and reuse the same packaging, so I don’t have to purchase new boxes.
- Plastic water bottles — Since my hometown doesn’t have any form of recycling available, I’ve used plastic water bottles for crafts and school projects. Pinterest has a great collection of crafts you can do with them, but one of my favorites is to create fake, plastic flowers for yard decor.
- Water — I live in an older house whose water takes a while to heat up. A few years ago, my mom suggested we put buckets in the shower to collect the cooler water for her garden. Although it won’t save you a lot of money, it does help keep a few extra dollars in your bank account, and it is a great way to save water (just try not to get too much soap in your bucket!)
While I kept this list relatively short, there are many things you can reuse or repurpose, most likely sitting in your junk drawer as we speak. I recently read about a nurse who collected pieces of plastic over the years at her work to create this stunning mural with artists in 2018.
3. Switching Up Your Mode of Transportation
I’ve always loved walking, so not bringing my car to campus was an easy decision. However, there were certainly times when I couldn’t walk everywhere I needed to go, but luckily there are plenty of options available to deal with that. Whether you decide to take a bus or ride a bike, skateboard, or even a scooter to your destination, I’ve found that making this switch has led to me getting more exercise and saving money while being more eco-friendly.
I still have many aspects I need to improve upon to call myself a true low-waster. Still, I’m confident that I will eventually reach my goal of doing so — and hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll join me in that mission!