If you’re an environmentally-conscious person, you may know that satisfying feeling when you’re able to repurpose something instead of throwing it out, or when you remember to bring your reusable bags to the store. Similarly, frugal people get satisfaction when they’re able to avoid spending money on unnecessary things.
It turns out, the reason both groups of people get joy from similar practices is that eco-friendliness and frugality have a lot in common. Both groups strive for minimalism, reducing waste, and repurposing material belongings to avoid having to buy something new.
Perhaps you consider yourself a tree-hugger or a frugal, but not both. If so, then this article will list ways that will make you consider identifying as both environmentally and financially conscious.
If you’re already an advocate for saving money and the environment, then congrats! This article will reinforce and amplify the meaning of your practices.
1. Eat less meat
Whether you’re a meat lover, vegan, or somewhere in between, we can always think about how our food consumption affects the environment.
Meat production has one of the worst carbon footprints, contributing to pollution through fossil fuel usage, land and water consumption, animal methane, and effluent waste.
Compared to vegetarian alternatives, meat tends to be more expensive as well. Boneless chicken breast costs an average of $3.27 per pound, while tofu clocks in at $2 to $2.50 per pound.
Dried beans cost about $1.39 per pound, while pork and beef range from $3.27 – $6.86 per pound. By cutting out or reducing meat from your diet, you can slash anywhere from 20 – 80% off your grocery bill.
You don’t have to be a strict vegan to make an impact on the environment. If you currently eat meat every day, start by dedicating one day of the week to eating no meat at all.
Gradually increase the number of meals in the week that you substitute proteins like tofu, beans, and dairy for meat. If you make this change, your grocery bill, health, and the environment will thank you.
2. Get rid of your car
It’s no secret that driving a car takes a toll on the environment. This tip is not for everyone, especially not for readers in semi-urban or rural areas.
Cars consume fuel and convert it into carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, contributing to one-fifth of the United States’ total global warming pollution.
Cars are also costly to own and maintain for a variety of reasons. The cost of the vehicle is one, with the average car payment ranging from $390 – $550 per month.
Even if the car is paid off, there’s still the cost of gasoline, insurance, and maintenance. The total cost of owning a car depends on a variety of factors, including your commute, where you live, and the fuel efficiency of your car.
However, on average, the annual cost of car ownership adds up to $8,469.
There are several alternatives to owning a car while still getting from point A to point B.
If you have more than one car in your household, consider selling one of them and moving closer to your work so that you can bike or walk there.
You can also take advantage of public transportation if you have access.
If you’re unable to get rid of your car, then there are still several ways to lessen the financial and environmental burden.
If you live near a coworker, see if they’d want to take turns carpooling to work.
If your lease is up, consider switching to a more fuel-efficient vehicle to save money on gas and reduce your carbon emissions.
3. Buy less clothing
Have you ever bought a piece of clothing and only wore it once or twice? It can be easy to impulsively buy new clothes, even if you don’t need it.
Particularly in today’s fast-fashion world, there are significant environmental aftereffects of producing and transporting clothes.
To lessen the impact on the environment and your wallet, there are several steps you can take to reduce your clothing consumption.
When I want a new piece of clothing, I write it down and wait a couple of days. If I still want it after waiting, I know that it’s something I want. This helps me avoid impulse shopping.
Thrift stores are also a great option to buy inexpensive and high-quality clothes that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill.
4. Use until you can’t
I have water bottles with faded patterns and sandals with frayed edges.
I could go out and buy new ones, but if what I have still served me, I do my best to use it until it doesn’t.
Another alternative to this is the usage of reusable products. There’re plenty of options available for everyday products that can replace the “traditional” single-use ones starting from reusable paper towels to washable cotton pads.
When you use your belongings for their full lifespan or buy reusable ones, you get more value out of what you paid for it, while helping to reduce the things you throw out.
I live in Florida, and my energy bill is nothing to laugh about. Especially in the summer when temperatures get upwards of 100 degrees, running the AC is a necessity.
While using electricity is unavoidable, we can always make an effort to reduce the amount we use.
We shut off any lights we aren’t using, keep the temperature at a comfortable but not freezing level, and only open the fridge for what we need and not to browse.
By reducing our energy consumption, we can make our electricity bill more reasonable and lessen our impact on the environment.
6. Reduce food waste
Food production takes a significant toll on our environment.
Not only does growing crops and livestock consume land and water, but the production process also releases pollutants into the atmosphere.
The costliness of producing food makes wasting it so much worse. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American wastes 20 pounds of food every month.
Food waste comes in the form of throwing out leftovers, not using foods before they expire, buying more than you can consume, and tossing edible parts.
Aside from the environmental impact, throwing out food when it could’ve been eaten wastes money as well.
How can we maximize the food we buy so we don’t waste as much?
The first step is to buy only what you’re going to eat. This involves planning meals so you don’t buy too much and using up your perishable ingredients first.
Some other ways to reduce food waste are to freeze foods before they go bad, use every part of each ingredient (like herb stems and lemon rind), and revamp leftovers so you don’t get tired of them.
7. Reduce single-use plastics
While single-use plastics are convenient and tend to be the norm at grocery stores and takeout restaurants, the amount that ends up in our oceans and landfills is frightening.
Some ways to avoid single-use plastics:
- Bring reusable bags to the grocery store, including small ones for loose items like herbs
- Shop at stores with bulk bins so you can avoid buying foods that come packaged in plastic
- Bring your mug to cafes
8. Buy used
With the convenience of online shopping, it’s tempting to order things that you need without thinking. But online shopping can get expensive, and the process of producing, transporting, and packaging the items is costly to the environment.
The next time you want to order something, consider whether you can buy it second-hand.
Websites like Facebook Marketplace, Offer Up and Craigslist offer a place for sellers to list their unwanted belongings, usually at a steep discount.
Thrift stores are also a great option for not only clothes but also household items and books.
9. Repurpose household items
Give common household items a second life with these creative repurposing ideas:
- Glass jars: use them to store loose items like dry beans, sugar, and craft beads
- Shoeboxes: line them in your dresser to create compartments for undergarments and socks
- Tissue boxes: use them to store plastic grocery bags
- Toilet paper tubes: organize extra cables to avoid tangling
10. Buy reusable products when possible
Households produce over 2 billion tons of waste every year. To reduce our waste and avoid spending money on disposable goods, try to choose reusable products whenever possible.
Use washable dish rags instead of paper towels to clean countertops. Invest in reusable makeup remover rounds instead of disposable cotton rounds.
About the author: Mia is the founder of Money-Minded Millennial, a personal finance blog that teaches readers how to save and earn more money while consciously designing their ideal life. Visit https://moneymindedmillennial.com to get inspired and join the growing tribe of people seeking Financial Independence.