Being environmentally conscious doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact it can be free or may even end up saving you money! Living a low waste life can seem like a foreign concept at first, but if you implement just one of these sustainable tips then you’re already taking steps to help the Earth.
1. BYOC (Bring Your Own Containers)
Plastic is everywhere, it may seem like an impossible task to avoid it. However, visiting bulk stores and going the extra mile while grocery shopping can make a big difference. You can achieve zero waste shopping when you bring your own containers made from glass, wood, or metal. Not all products at your local grocery store will be packaging-free however, it’s important to try, even if it’s not every item on your grocery list. If you do not know where to go shopping and what stores you can bring your containers to, here is a list of stores by states that offer low-waste options.
Another way of reducing your carbon footprint is by asking staff to use your personal containers at restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, or movie theaters. Ask the cashiers at the place that you’re shopping if you can use your own containers and make sure to explain why as well. It’s important to be friendly when asking, even if they turn you down. Ensure that you’re planning and bringing containers that match the product. If you’re buying a soda, bring a reusable water bottle ideally, one with measurements.
2. Avoid Single Plastic Use Products
We know you have heard this one many times, but plastic piles up and has an irreversible and negative impact on our oceans. Even though the U.S only represents 4% of the world’s population, it is one of the leading countries in plastic waste. This issue gets worse by the year and it is time for us to do our part to reduce our plastic usage.
Just say no to single-use plastic products, it’s easy and free. The best way to reduce your plastic pollution is to avoid plastic whenever possible. Only 9% of plastic worldwide gets recycled, and even if we have the best intentions and put it in the recycling bin, there’s only a small chance it will truly get reused. When you go out, say no to products like plastic bags, straws, take-out containers, plastic cutlery, and coffee cups. Always anticipate when you are going out and let the staff know in advance that you won’t be needing any plastic products. This might be hard to remember at first, but soon enough it will become a habit.
3. Make Your Own Rags
Around 13 million tons of textile waste goes to the dump each year when 95% of it could have been reused or recycled. Fast fashion companies have been linked to devastating environmental damage and unethical practices. The apparel industry also accounts for approximately 10% of global carbon emissions, making it second only to oil.
We do not have to continue being part of the problem, we can choose to support ethical and sustainable clothing brands next time we need to buy clothes. We can also reuse old clothes and give them new life. Make cloths by cutting up old towels or clothing, which you can then use to wipe down counters, replace paper towels, mopping up spills, or cleaning your windows!
4. Reduce Your Utility Bills
Keep your energy and water costs low by simply reducing your usage of them whenever possible. A few easy and free tips are to only run your dishwasher when it’s full, avoid rinsing plates, unplug unused appliances, save water when waiting for your shower to heat up to reuse later, take shorter showers, and close your doors/windows to keep the rooms cooler or warmer longer.
Besides reducing your water and energy usage, also consider changing the services you use daily. These services may come as an afterthought, but if you want to truly make the change to be more sustainable, you shouldn’t forget about these. Your energy, water, and gas companies also have a responsibility to do their part. Here at Renaissance Power & Gas, we care about providing cleaner energy choices that can help preserve our environment, while saving you money. With our green energy product, we offset 100% of the carbon output generated by the power we supply through purchasing carbon credits and contribute to various green projects.
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5. Use Glass Jars
Glass is a sustainable choice that is 100% recyclable. It is made entirely from natural materials, it’s non-toxic and durable. Glass made from recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20% and related water pollution by 50%. It has an unlimited life and can be melted and recycled endlessly to make new glass products.
So, should you be buying new mason jars for storage, so they all look identical in your pantry? Not necessarily, there are better and cheaper sustainable options. You do not need to spend extra money on mason jars to be zero waste, we have an easy and cheap alternative! When going to the grocery store opt for products that come in glass jars like salsa, pasta sauce, jams, or pickles. Once you finish the food inside, clean out the glass jars, run the label under warm water for an easy peel-off, and ta-da! You have a perfectly fine glass jar, which is more sustainable than buying new ones. This can take some time and patience if you’re just starting your sustainable journey, but it will also save you money in the long term.
6. Borrow Before Buying
Many times, you may need products that offer results that are a one-time use for you or that will be forgotten in a junk drawer. A great example is books! Many of us love the smell of a brand new book and prefer reading print books to e-books. We get it, it’s a different experience.
However, there is a way to make sure you get the experience, without creating more waste while also saving you money, by borrowing it! From a library to a friend or even renting it online. You can ask friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors if they can lend you the things that you may need. There are many things you can borrow like a bicycle for the occasional ride, a ladder, camping equipment, DVDs, video games, specialized tools, formal wear, sporting equipment, and many more. This will save you money and help the planet!
7. Eat Less Meat
Industrial agriculture as a whole has negative effects on our environment, however, the meat industry produces the most greenhouse gases. The UN has estimated it generates around 18% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, cutting down on red meats and eating lower on the food chain can overall help significantly lower your carbon footprint. Additionally, it will help with your health, from reducing cancer rates and heart disease to an overall lifespan increase, just by consuming more plant-based foods. Tofu, beans, legumes, lentils, tempeh, or seitan can all be cheaper alternatives to meat.
8. “Ugly Produce” Service
Each day in the United States approximately 103 million tons of food is wasted and sent to a landfill. Supermarkets are responsible for about 10% of this waste and throw away billions of pounds of food each year, which could be given to people in need, food banks, or donated.
Customers have been accustomed to expecting a perfect product from the color to the shape, which usually has nothing to do with the quality. This is where the “ugly produce” service comes in to save us money every week and help save the broken food system. Misfits Market is a food delivery service that provides high-quality foods that superficial grocery stores would rather let go to waste because of small imperfections that do not affect the taste or quality of the foods. This is a great sustainable alternative, and you could also be saving up to 40% on groceries! A win for you and the environment. Another great option for a food delivery service is Imperfect Foods, they offer hundreds of options and are customizable as well.
We’re all aware of the negative impacts of climate change on our environment and health. We can choose to be part of the problem or we do our part to help. You do not have to spend any money to be more sustainable and do your part. Remember that small changes can have big impacts. Start slow when transitioning into your environmentally conscious lifestyle and remember we’re not perfect, but we’re trying our best to help the earth. You can help to spread awareness by sharing this blog with your friends and family to remind them to be a little more sustainable every day.
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