Whether it’s Earth Day or just dealing with all the trash everywhere, you might be like us and are wondering about ways to generate less waste. But does that mean you need to invest in expensive high-end products to have an eco-friendly home?
It’s not too surprising that most sustainable products cost more than their disposable counterparts. Yet, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes environmentally friendly options are no more expensive than disposable options. There are also often affordable options that will make up their cost in a short amount of time, saving you money in the long run.
More and more communities are dealing with water shortages or increased water bills as infrastructure is replaced. That means water bills are going up.
An easy way to reduce the amount of water used at home without feeling the sacrifice is to use low-flow showerheads. Compared to older showerheads, these use a lot less water and the water pressure still feels great.
The savings are great, too. Let’s say you have a moderately old showerhead that outputs 3 gallons per minute. With a family of 4, each taking a modest 5-minute shower daily (20 minutes total), that comes to 60 gallons of shower water per day. That is 21,900 gallons per year. With a 2 gallon per minute showerhead, you are down to 14,600 gallons. You can even find showerheads that output only 1 gallon per minute for more savings!
Looking to save money on the heating and cooling bill? Look no further than a programmable thermostat.
If you have an older thermostat, you’re likely paying to heat or cool your house while out for the day. That’s a lot of wasted energy, especially when about half of a family’s energy bill goes towards heating or cooling the home.
While you can spend more to get a fancy learning thermostat, there are more affordable options that still allow you to program different time blocks for each day’s heating and cooling needs. Best of all, you’ll save an average of about $180 every year.
Reusable Water Bottles
Bottled water is everywhere, but that plastic ends up everywhere as well. By using a reusable water bottle, the plastic stays out of the landfills and ocean and you save money.
While you might be able to get a 24-pack of bottled water for about $3, you can use a $5-$20 water bottle hundreds of times. We’ve had some of our water bottles for over 5 years!
This is another easy way to become more eco-friendly while saving money. If you still have incandescent or CFL bulbs, replace them with LED bulbs as the old ones burn out.
While CFLs use about 25% of the energy and last about 10x longer than incandescent bulbs, they have mercury which must be disposed of in hazardous waste. LED bulbs, however, don’t have mercury and last about 25x longer than incandescents.
So, not only do they last longer, but LED bulbs also use a lot less energy than those old incandescent bulbs. They’ve also become increasingly popular and easy to find as prices have dropped.
Reusable food wraps
Tired of throwing away all those plastic sandwich bags and plastic wrap? It’s time to move towards reusable options.
This could be as simple as using small plasticware like Rubbermaid containers for your sandwiches, or you can invest in reusable sandwich bags made from silicone, cloth, or beeswax wraps.
There are also silicone stretch lids you can get to cover bowls so you can stop wrestling with the plastic wrap.
It may seem odd to list a power strip as an eco-friendly item, but it can be! A lot of electronics use a bit of power even when turned off. Plug things like your tv, DVD player, stereo, or computer to the power strip. By doing that, it’s easy to cut off power to everything with the switch each night.
Drying rack or clothesline
You can even take advantage of nice weather and use an outdoor clothesline.
DIY cleaning products
Sure, it takes a bit of time to make your own cleaning products, but so does driving to the store. By creating your own cleaners, you are avoiding a lot of chemicals along with creating more waste from all those plastic bottles. Not only that but a lot of the products at the store easily cost anywhere from $3-$6 each.
There are tons of DIY formulas available to make your own cleaners from baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, washing soda, castile soap, and even salt. That’s just pennies!
How are kitchen towels an eco-friendly choice? Where you would normally use paper towels to wipe up spills or clean up other messes, use a kitchen towel, dishcloth, or rag instead. They can go in the laundry to be reused again and again.
Paper napkins are fairly inexpensive, but they do use up a lot of resources when being made and then they are tossed after one use.
Cloth napkins can be used repeatedly. If you can sew, or want to learn, napkins are easy to make and are a great beginner project.
Don’t want to sew? You can often find mismatched sets at thrift stores or inexpensive options at your local big box store.
Buying second-hand is part of the reuse in reduce-reuse-recycle. Not only do you pay less, but you are extending the life of something that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Of course, not everything is a good option for buying used, but things like used bikes, clothes, or textbooks are great options.
How many items in your home use batteries?
We have several remotes, thermostat, clocks, flashlights and more that need them. A pack of 8 standard AA batteries may cost around $8, but they can only be used once and then become hazardous waste.
But if you look, a pack of 8 rechargeable AA batteries will cost about twice as much but they can be recharged upwards of 1000 times. So, even with the initial cost along with a battery charger, you’ll be saving money while creating less waste.
A library card is free at your local library and using it can save you a lot of money on book purchases, movie rentals, and magazine subscriptions. It’s especially great for parents of little ones that are easily bored by the same books over and over. You can try out new authors and new books as the kids grow, all for free.
By using the library, you save money you would otherwise use on buying books and that many fewer trees were used in the making books.
Do you live in an older home? Chances are the faucets in the bathrooms don’t have aerators. When you install them, they reduce water flow by breaking up the water with a filter.
This is perfect for the bathroom where you need to wash hands or brush your teeth because you want effective water flow rather than lots (quality vs quantity). The best part is aerators are inexpensive and easy to install if your faucet is equipped to take one.
How is a coffee maker an environmentally friendly product?
If you’re a coffee addict, making coffee at home saves on trips to the coffee shop and waste from the cups. The best part is the money you would have spent stays in your wallet.
Reusable grocery bags
More and more cities are charging for bags at checkout. If not that, then think of the amount of plastic bags going into your trash each week from shopping trips! Trash you pay to have picked up.
You can easily reduce waste by using reusable shopping bags and also avoid those bag fees.
Reusable coffee filters
Are you someone that loves their Keurig? It’s great, but what about all those little plastic cups?
You can save money by buying regular ground coffee and using a reusable K-cup. There are also reusable filters available for other coffee makers – even for an Aeropress!
Plastics and products used only once are bad for the environment and hard on your pocketbook. The good news is that you can save money by switching to affordable, sustainable, environmentally-friendly products.
What other green products do you use to save money?