There’s no better time to start practicing more sustainable lifestyle habits—given that our planet is experiencing record heat, drought, and torrential weather, all the lovely bi-products of climate change. One of the things that makes people more hesitant to practice eco-friendly habits is that they think sustainability is harder on the budget. That may be true in some respects—more people would probably buy electric cars if they weren’t so expensive. But being sustainable is much more affordable than you think! Here are a few ways to be eco-friendly, on a budget.
1. Don’t Buy Locally-Grown
One of the best (and healthiest) ways to be eco-friendly is to have a diet that consists mostly of vegetables and fruits. Beef and steak require large animals to be slaughtered, which releases a huge amount of harmful gases into the atmosphere that amplify the greenhouse effect. When you eat more vegetables and fruits, you’re reducing the amount of animals that need to be killed.
You might hear a lot of talk about supporting local farmers by shopping at farmers’ markets rather than larger superstores. That’s a noble cause, and all-power to you if you do that. Unfortunately, though, locally-grown food is usually more expensive. If you want to take on a healthier diet but you’re worried about how much it’ll inflate your budget, just know there’s no shame in buying your health food from a chain grocery store. You’ll still be helping the environment, and your body will thank you for the healthier sustenance.
Recycling is a great way to ensure that your used materials aren’t just tossed in a landfill or incinerated (each of which has harmful environmental effects). And it literally costs no money! All you’ve got to is bring a recycling bin into your home and use it to collect your recyclable items, like plastic bottles and cans. You can even make money through recycling by taking your used bottles and cans to a recycling center (and they pay in cash!).
You could also avoid using items that can’t be recycled. For example, instead of using a disposable water cup at the office, you could use a reusable water bottle, instead. Rather than using plastic grocery bags at the store, just buy your own reusable grocery bags—keep them in the trunk of your car so you’ll always have them when you make an impromptu grocery run.
3. Get Financing for Your Home Renovation
There are lots of home improvements you could do that make your home energy-efficient, and thus, less costly. You could install solar panels on the roof of your home and use the sun to power your utilities (a great way to reduce your utilities bill), or you could replace your windows with new windows that better insulate your home (saving you money on heating and air conditioning). Of course, these home improvements can be expensive and may counterbalance the savings you’d earn.
However, there may be lots of financial incentives you can get for making eco-friendly home improvements. You may be able to claim tax deductions for making energy-efficient upgrades. Some states even offer financing programs for eco-friendly upgrades that can make them a lot more affordable (like California PACE financing, for instance). Do some research and see if there are similar programs available in your state.
4. Let Your Lawn Die
A lot of people spend a lot of money watering their lawn to keep it in pristine condition. But not only does frequent watering cost money, but it’s also impractical in warmer states, like California and Arizona. Many states even impose financial penalties for watering too much because of local water shortages.
If you live in such an area, don’t be afraid to let your lawn die. Replace it with desert landscaping (using decorative rocks and desert shrubs that don’t require lots of water to survive) or replace it with an artificial lawn. As mentioned earlier, you can get financing and tax incentives to make this upgrade, and you’ll cut down on your water bill in the long-run.
5. Use Public Transit
Choose to take public transit when you have the option to. The bus, train, or light-rail system is a much more eco-friendly way to travel because you’ll be reducing the emissions that your vehicle produces when you drive. And also remember that a car can be very expensive, when considering gasoline, maintenance, and repair costs.
Just making one of these 5 eco-friendly changes will help you live a more sustainable life and keep your budget balanced.