Go Green to Save Green: 5 Easy Ways to Get Started

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This is a guest post by Jennifer Garry of Cuddles and Chaos

I’ve crossed paths with a lot of people who are turned off to the idea of “going green” because they think it’s too expensive. Thoughts turn to organic food, solar panels, CFL bulbs, energy efficient appliances, and other pricey investments that seem contrary to saving or paying off debt. Who has that kind of money? Sidetracked by thinking on a bigger scale, it’s easy shut down the idea of eco-friendly living as something out of our means. But you know what? It’s not.

Being environmentally friendly does not have to mean spending more money. There are ways to go green that require an investment that will save you money in the long run, but there are also plenty of ways to do it that require nothing and can cut costs in your weekly budget.

Don’t believe me? Here are 5 ways I spend less while being good to the environment.

1. Pack your lunch

It might make some people roll their eyes, but when you sit down and look at how much money you can save by bringing lunch instead of buying a $7 sandwich every day, it’s amazing. Take a few extra minutes each night (or a half hour once a week) to make yourself something for the next day—whether it’s repurposing leftovers or throwing together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Take it a step further and use reusable containers. Not only will you save on lunch expenses, but you’ll also save money on brown bags, ziplocks, and throwaway utensils that sit in a landfill. Added benefit? It’s much healthier to plan ahead than to buy when you’re hungry.

2. Buy used clothes

Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, buying used clothes does not mean dressing like Grandma and smelling like moth balls. There are so many different ways to add used clothes to your wardrobe. Aside from thrift shops, consignment stores and eBay, places like thredUP offer gently used designer pieces that must pass serious inspection before being sold.

There is also the option of a hosting a clothing swap with people in your community. Have everyone clean out their closets and bring something to eat or drink. For the price of an appetizer or a bottle of wine, you could add a bunch of new-to-you pieces to your wardrobe. Again, less stuff in landfills, more money in your pocket.

3. Upcycle

We’ve all heard the mantra reduce, reuse, recycle, right? Upcycling is sort of a combination of all three. Instead of just throwing something out or even recycling it, try to think about how you can reuse and repurpose it in a new way. Empty jars and cardboard boxes work well for storage, scraps of paper and fabric are good kid’s art supplies, and old furniture can sometimes be converted into new storage.

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4. Make homemade cleaning products

Eco-friendly products in stores are great, but they usually cost more than typical cleaning products. By making your own, you take toxins out of the equation and spend less money.

The idea of making your own cleaning products can be a little overwhelming (at least it was for me!), but once you start to explore the possibilities you will slowly realize that there’s no logical reason to keep buying a product that you can make—and with minimal effort!

You can start really simple by doing something like making your own foaming hand soap. Did you know that the number one ingredient in most hand soap is water? Why not make your own?

All you need is a foaming soap dispenser (whether repurposed or new), two tablespoons of castile soap (I’m a big fan of Dr. Bronner’s peppermint) and some water. If you want to get extra fancy, you can add some essential oil for antibacterial properties or fractionated coconut oil for moisturizing goodness. There are plenty of great recipes on the internet (hey Pinterest!), which means you can make this as simple or as elaborate as you want.

5. Go shampoo free

Taking chemicals out of your self-care routine is just as important and can save a ton of money—especially for women with long hair. Annoyed by both the amount of money I was literally washing down the drain and my limp hair, I decided to go shampoo free almost a year ago.

I know. Most people turn to me with a look of both shock and disgust when I share this little tidbit with them. But I promise, there’s nothing disgusting about it. Instead of going with a traditional bottle of shampoo, I’ve turned to the same ingredients I’ve switched to for cleaning my home: baking soda and vinegar.

I’ve written about it at length on my blog, but here’s a general run down of what I do: before showering I comb a little bit of coconut oil through my hair to detangle it. Once in the shower, I make a paste out of baking soda and rub it into my head. After rinsing, I pour apple cider vinegar mixed with a few drops of peppermint oil over my hair before rinsing that too. It’s just as simple and effective as using traditional shampoo, but it’s much cheaper and removes harsh chemicals from the process. In fact, I like it better than the bottled stuff.

I use shoe boxes to corral my daughters’ socks in their dresser drawers. Jelly jars have become pen holders and homemade granola containers. And I’m itching to take out the drawers of a broken dresser and turn it into a dress-up closet. These are all things I probably would have bought if I hadn’t thought of ways to use what I already owned.

Each of these tips are simple but really effective ways to both save yourself some money and be eco-friendly—no spending or tree hugging required! They may seem small, but little changes lead to major transformations. If you get into the habit of doing each of these things, you can save yourself a nice chunk of money over the course of a few months.

Image Credit: Micah

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  • bookishheather

    There are tons of do-it-yourself household cleaning suggestions in the book “Clean House, Clean Planet” by Karen Logan. Most of them draw from just a few basics so if you have those on hand, you have the flexibility to tackle most anything…