Hello once again! In continuing with the Little Intern That Could series, I’m back to talk about a subject quite near and dear to my heart – the environment.
I attended UC Santa Cruz (banana slug shout out), which is known for being environmentally conscious, so I’ve had my fair share of conversations with eco-friendly friends. From my classmates, I learned tons of tips to cut costs and waste simultaneously – tips I still use today. Not only have they helped my bank account, I’m doing double duty by reducing my environmental footprint.
I’m happy to be sharing some of the ways I’ve made some sustainable switches while reigning in my costs at the same time:
Consider an alternate mode of transportation
I’ll be the first to admit – I don’t love waiting for the bus in the rain. Who does? That being cleared up, I actually do love commuting on public transportation. I know, I know. You might not buy into the enthusiasm, but honestly – I really do! It carves out a part of my day where I can relax and zone out. I listen to Podcasts, catch up on phone calls or read a book. Other options, include bicycles or scooters – both less expensive than owning a car and effective ways to commute!
For an even more drastic alternative – you might consider going car-less. Yeah, I said it. I haven’t owned a car since high school. I know this isn’t a practical option for everyone, especially those living far from their work, friends or family. But it’s an option that should be considered if you can swing it. No car insurance to worry about, no repairs, no gasoline and no tolls. Not only will you be saving money by cutting the cost of a car, you’ll be contributing less individual pollution as you take on your commute.
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Don’t go crazy – if you’ve sneezed into a paper towel, set it free. But there are plenty of things that can be reused with the result of cutting costs and waste. By tackling even one area of your daily life and putting forth some effort to reuse materials you can cut down on your cost and environmental impact. For example, bringing a lunchbox or Tupperware instead of a disposable lunch bag. Plastic shopping bags and coffee cups are also fantastic places to consider buying reusable options – much of the time, you’ll even be given a small discount for remembering to be awesome.
And the benefits of reuse go even beyond those easy fixes! For example, visit a thrift store (Macklemore will tell you, too) before you decide to buy a new set of dishes. You might find something perfectly suitable for much, much cheaper. An additional bonus is that you’re using things that would have been adding our ever full landfills.
Bonus: Combining tips #1 and #2… you can get a used bike!!!!
Keep Tabs on Your Food
Familiar with the phrase, “her eyes were bigger than her stomach?” A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council reported that people in the US throw away, on average, 40% of the food they buy.
I’ll type that again: 40%
That means some seriously big eyes in the grocery store.
That’s like buying a pie, and then throwing away nearly half of it before you even take a bite! And remember – you still paid for that 40%. Now imagine breaking a 100 dollar bill and tossing 40 dollars of the change. Not only is it food waste, but it’s financial waste as well.
Making a weekly menu plan which accounts for leftovers is generally a good bet for keeping your grocery purchases under control.
If it seems like too much forethought at the moment, then you might simply start off by buying less food. A simple solution, yes, but an effective one nonetheless. Start with the things that have an expiration date. If you’re not sure you’ll be able to use a cart’s worth of groceries, take out some perishables before you check-out. Presumably, you can always go back for more.
I used to have an absurd habit of buying individual trail mix packets to go along with my lunch. The perfect portion for on the go, each one was also something like a dollar a pop. A larger bag containing 12 servings cost something like 4 dollars. Buying the same amount in single servings would have cost me an additional 9 dollars to match the same amount of product. Ah! Plus, I was throwing away wrappers on a daily basis. Ah! By buying the larger option, I not only saved money but I reduced waste. Convenience often dictates our willingness to spend a little extra cash, but it’s a short-term satisfaction.
Instead of reaching for the single serving, or the prepackaged meal, consider the bulk option. You’ll be cutting out unnecessary waste and will nearly always save money by doing so.
Simple switches in my first year of frugality made a huge impact on my finances and my outlook on how easy being even slightly less wasteful could be. Not only did I save money as I experimented with eco-friendly, I also came to understand how much waste I had been been creating on a weekly basis. Through plenty of trial and error, ultimately, the conclusion was easy to see – making a few small switches was an easy way to make some substantial changes in my life.
Image # 2 Credit Eric BC Lim