Going green doesn’t have to be expensive—those days are gone. You can go green, stick to your budget, and even save money!
Carbon emissions have a big impact on the earth. They trap heat in the atmosphere, which causes temperatures to rise across the planet. There isn’t anyone that isn’t affected. Humans, animals, ocean life, and plants are all affected by the change in temperature.
You might find it helpful to shift your mindset and look at things like buying reusable items as the investment they are. Sure, a set of reusable sandwich bags might cost more upfront than a box of disposable ones, but how many boxes of reusable bags would you use in a year? Once you compare things at that level, the money savings start to quickly add up.
Check out 60 ways you can go green and save money in your home and your kitchen by altering your purchasing habits and food handling, even your beauty routine. These small changes could end up having a significant impact on the health of our planet and the state of your finances. Win-win!
1. Shop Secondhand
Thrifting is a sustainable way to purchase what you need by focusing on products and materials that already exist. It encourages a circular economy, which is great for your budget and the earth. Approximately 85% of textiles end up in landfills as waste, and thrifting slows that down. Many thrift stores will also offer a discount on your next purchase if you make a donation.
2. Get a Library Card
Speaking of a circular economy, making use of your local library is another great example. Not only are plenty of resources used to create the books you love to read, but the cost can add up quickly. You can find resources on any subject you could want, absolutely free. If they don’t have the book you want, you can request it, and they will order it and let you know when it arrives.
3. Install a Bidet on Your Toilet
Bidets are common just about everywhere but in North America. However, that’s changing. New companies have created affordable and easy to install bidet attachments. They’re far better for the environment and your wallet.
Did you know:
- It takes 37 gallons of water to make one roll of toilet paper.
- It will take 384 trees to create the toilet paper one person will use in their lifetime.
Meanwhile, a bidet only uses an eighth of a gallon of water, and it will reduce your toilet paper use by at least 75%.
4. Stop Using Dryer Sheets
Don’t be deceived by the pleasant smell of your freshly cleaned clothes. Dryer sheets are doing nothing for your budget, the environment, or your health. Their microplastics affect you and the planet and they coat your lint trap. They are also one-time use and must be purchased over and over. Instead, try wool dryer balls. They can be used thousands of times, contain no harmful chemicals, reduce lint, and help your clothes dry faster.
5. Stop the Leaks
Ever heard of appliance vampires? There are plenty of appliances in your home that are consuming electricity even after you’ve turned them off—things like computers, TVs, WiFi routers, and cell phone chargers. The average American home has 40 electronics drawing power while off or in standby mode. It totals almost 10% of electricity use. They leak energy with no purpose when they are plugged in all the time. Try purchasing a power bar so that you have one button to turn off whenever you leave the house or go to bed at night to stop the leak.
6. Employ the Sun
Installing solar panels and using the renewable energy provided by the sun is one of those swaps that is an investment upfront but will save money over time. Try starting out small, like trying a small solar bank when you’re out camping. You’ll see how easy it is to keep your devices charged.
7. Dispense with Disposables
Switch up single-use paper towels for rags or unpaper towels that can be used and washed hundreds of times.
8. Install a Sink Water Aerator
A sink water aerator is cheap and easy to install. They will reduce the flow of water coming from your sink, which in turn reduces the water you use, the water that’s wasted, and your water bill. The average family can waste 180 gallons per week, or 9,400 gallons of water annually.
9. Install Low-Flow Shower Heads
In the same vein as a sink water aerator, a low-flow shower head will drastically reduce the water coming out of your shower without reducing the pressure.
10. Put a Brick in Your Toilet Tank
You can easily turn an old toilet into a new, low-flow toilet just by putting a brick in the tank wrapped in waterproof plastic or a plastic bottle filled with sand. It will reduce the amount of water wasted every time the toilet is flushed.
11. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water
There are plenty of detergents formulated to work great in cold water. Your clothes get just as clean but you save tons of energy by not having to heat the water.
12. Hang Your Clothes to Dry
Many appliances come with an Energy Star rating, but not dryers. That’s how terrible they are on energy consumption. Hanging your clothes to dry will save a ton of energy and prevent power plant pollution. It will also make your clothes last longer as dryer cycles are hard on fabric.
13. Replace Your Light Bulbs
You’ve likely heard this one before, but it’s a simple swap that will save lots of energy and money. Switching your regular light bulbs for LED lights can save hundreds of dollars and a lot of energy. The bulbs can also last up to 10 years.
14. Install a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat will allow you to program your heat or AC to come on when you’re about to get home or turn down when you’re getting ready for bed. This can save you a ton on your utility bills and reduce pollution.
15. Weatherproof Your Windows and Doors
Replacing the weatherstripping on your doors and windows will stop the cold air from getting in and the heat from escaping during the winter, and the AC from escaping during the summer.
16. Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
Making your own detergent is easy and budget-friendly. It also reduces plastic consumption. All you need to do is purchase washing soda, baking soda, and castile soap. It will last forever. If you’d like it to be scented, just use your favorite essential oil.
17. Insulate Your Water Connections
Insulating your hot water heater and water pipes will help them work less to heat and, therefore, save you money on electricity.
18. Don’t Forget Your Fridge Coils
When it’s time for spring cleaning, add your fridge coils to the list. That area gets dusty and forces your fridge to work harder to keep things cool and run efficiently.
19. Join A CSA
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Every CSA is a little different – some deliver while others require a pick up at your local market. Some CSA’s include only fresh vegetables and fruits but you can find others that will also have fresh meat, dairy and eggs, it all depends on what you’re looking for. The benefit of a CSA is that you’re locking in the price of all that food for a whole season up front, so you’re avoiding possible supply chain price hikes. It also guarantees you’re eating fresh, local food that hasn’t been picked early, shipped by plane or transport truck and chemically ripened. Better for your health, your wallet and the environment!
20. Use Beeswax Wraps
Beeswax wraps are a simple kitchen swap to start. They are washable and reusable, making them great for the planet as they can help cut back drastically on your plastic wrap usage. This will keep more plastic out of landfills and more money in your pocket.
21. Keep a Stock Bag in Your Freezer
An easy, zero-waste swap is using your own stock instead of buying it. You can keep a bag in your freezer, and anytime you’re chopping vegetables for dinner prep, put the peelings and end bits into the bag. The same goes for meat bones. When you have a full bag, throw them in a pot with plenty of water and herbs and voila! You have your own homemade soup stock.
22. Regrow Vegetables
Regrowing vegetables on a kitchen windowsill is easier than you think. Take the ends of things like green onion, celery, cabbage, or lettuce, and stick them in a little bit of water. You will see new growth even after just one day! Around 30-40% of our food supply ends up in landfills—that’s more than $218 billion each year. Try using your scraps to grow more instead of just throwing them out.
23. Reuse Glass Jars
Lots of the food you buy in grocery stores come in glass jars, like sauces, condiments, and pickles. The glass jars are easy to reuse—whether for food storage, gifts, packaging, plant pots, and more. We only recycle 67 million tons out of the 267 million tons we could be … less than a quarter. Reusing the items will help reduce that number.
24. Bulk Shop
Shopping in bulk will save you money and means there is less packaging material used. Even if you’re not a big family, buying things like rice, pasta, pet food, and toilet paper in bulk can still save you money and won’t go bad before you can use it all.
25. Drop the Single-Serve Coffee
Single-serve coffee machines like Keurig are definitely convenient, but they also create a lot of waste. According to NPR, 60 billion K-Cups have gone into landfills since 2015. If convenience is important to you, why not purchase reusable cups? They’re easy to wash and use over and over again—better for the environment and your wallet!
26. Build Out a Meal Plan
Wasted food ends up in landfills and generates methane gas which is actually 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Creating a meal plan will ensure that you are only buying food you have every intention of eating that week. It will also reduce some of that “What’s for dinner?” stress after a full day’s work.
27. Use a Reusable Water Bottle
It’s an easy swap and will make sure you always have water with you, keeping you from having to buy a plastic water bottle when you’re out and about. While you could drop that plastic water bottle in a recycling bin, 91% of the plastic doesn’t actually get recycled.
28. One Solution for All Your Cleaning Needs
Making your own all-purpose cleaner is simple and inexpensive. You can reuse the same bottle over and over again, while being in full control of the ingredients you’re using to spray all over your home. Simply use one part white vinegar, one part water, and then your scent of choice, and you’re good to go. We love the idea of a lemon rind and some rosemary sprigs for a fresh spring scent.
29. Meatless Mondays
Pick one day of the week and dub it your family’s “Meatless Monday.” Get creative with meal ideas to keep it fun while saving money with a meatless meal.
30. Knix the Paper Towel
Instead of buying disposable paper towels, buy a reusable stack of cloth rags or “unpaper towels” and just toss them in the laundry after they’ve been used. Less garbage, fewer trees, and better for your budget.
31. Cloth Napkins
Not only does using cloth napkins save money and the planet, but it will also add a little elegance and intention to your meals. They’re also easy to wash and a little stain remover will keep them looking new and fresh
32. Grow a Kitchen Garden
A huge backyard garden might seem a little daunting, so why not start with a little herb garden? Fresh basil for salads, rosemary and thyme for pastas, sage for a roast, or cilantro for your guacamole craving—it will save you from buying more than you need and, they will taste even better because they’re so fresh!
33. One Car Family
Take a look at your habits and see if you can reduce to one car for the family. Can you carpool or arrange your schedule so sharing the car is feasible? It will save the environment from your gas usage, and it will make a huge difference in your finances as well.
34. Rotate and Fill Your Tires
You can save fuel by making sure your tires are always inflated to the correct PSI and that they are rotated regularly.
35. Online Trade Groups
Facebook is a great place to connect with other families doing the same thing you are. Trying to save money and reduce their waste. You can find “Buy Nothing” or “Free Cycle”-type groups where members will post things they are looking for or things they would like to get rid of. These items are typically still in good shape and could be well-loved by another family.
Health & Beauty
36. Swap Liquid for Bar Soaps
Bar soaps are back and better than ever. Unlike the old bar soap that your grandpa used to use, you can find great quality, highly-moisturizing soaps with all kinds of different properties depending on what your skin needs. They’re also usually sold in plastic-free packaging.
37. Switch Out Single-Use for Refillable packaging
There are zero-waste stores popping up everywhere, where you can invest in your own containers and fill them up with all kinds of beauty products. Shampoo, conditioner, lotions, face creams, and more. There are also plenty of companies offering refill or recycling options, like Method, L’Occitane, Lush, Kiehl’s, or Mac.
38. Look for Reef-Friendly Ingredients
Chemicals in cosmetics, especially sunscreen, can have devastating effects on ocean reefs. Scientists have discovered that 10% of coral reefs are threatened by bleaching from sunscreen products.
39. Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
It takes over 5000 liters of water to grow 1lb of cotton. How many makeup remover pads do you go through a month? Instead, why not switch to reusable ones? You can just throw them into the wash with the rest of your reusable laundry. There are tons of cute options out there and many come with pretty storage bags too.
40. Plantable Invitations
Do you have a big event coming up? A wedding or baby shower maybe? Why not send plantable wedding invites? Your guests can bury the invites after the event and see flowers or herbs bloom, a beautiful full circle, and a reminder of your event.
Making an Impact
41. Invest Wisely
Is that purchase your wavering on a “need” or a “want.” If you really stop to think about it, a lot of purchases aren’t necessary and are most likely coming from an unhealthy place. Take a moment to stop and consider why that item is in your cart before you go through with your purchase.
42. What Really Matters to You?
Dig deep and figure out what really matters, what your highest values are, and focus on those. It will help you consider who is affected by what you are buying. Saving money by thrifting but splurging on some amazing fair trade coffee might be just the thing. Or, consider getting together with friends to volunteer at an organization that means a lot to all of you.
Work from Home
43. Reevaluate Your Office Products
When it’s time to replace that pen holder or desktop organizer, consider purchasing reusable or sustainable materials like bamboo products or biodegradable pens.
Backyard or Balcony
44. Compost Your Scraps
You can compost even if you live in an apartment, and it will save a ton of waste from ending up in a landfill. It will also keep all your indoor plants and any veggies and herbs on your balcony garden well-fed and fertilized. You can find plenty of composter options online that have no smell and will fit easily into your aesthetic. Check out this list of 50 things you can compost.
45. Plant Native Trees
Planting a few trees, especially those native to your zoning, will not only offer your home shade and reduce AC use, but it will also increase your property value. Did you know that by planting 20 million trees, we would have 260 million more tons of oxygen—and that those same 20 million trees would remove 10 million tons of CO2?
46. Collect Rain
Collecting rainwater can have multiple benefits, but even if you choose to just use it outside, it’s perfect for watering the garden or your lawn or washing the car. According to Popular Science, “When an inch of rain falls, over 1,000 gallons of water runs off the average American roof.” That’s a lot of water you could be using for free.
47. Keep a Low-Maintenance Lawn
If you have a small yard, why not try using a push lawnmower? You’ll save on gas and pollution and also get in a great workout. Or, replace part of your lawn with a vegetable garden!
48. Install Solar Lights
A well-lit path or garden is beautiful at night. Instead of doing that using electricity, why not install solar lights that can charge up during the day?
Dropcountr is an app that connects to your utilities and lets you know how you’re consuming water. It will keep track of how many gallons you use daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. It can compare to other households in your area and will encourage ways to help you live more frugally. There are even rebate options through the app.
Oroeco will help evaluate all different areas of your life and how they connect to the climate. It will evaluate things like your home energy choices and then offer tips for how to improve. There are plenty of personalized, actionable tips that work alongside its carbon footprint calculator to save you money and the planet
RecycleNation is a recycling search engine where you can choose from 13 different material categories and look up directions and hours of operation for recycling locations near you. You can even track your own recycling progress.
Fridgely offers a great service that will help you keep track of the food in your fridge, when it is set to expire, and suggests custom recipes that will help you reduce food waste.
Joulebug is another energy app with a twist. You can track your energy usage and win prizes for reduction. You can also compete with friends and compare!
We know shopping second-hand is a great way to save money and keep clothes out of landfills. ThredUp is an online consignment store as well as a styling delivery service offering great prices on high-end items. You can search by their curations, specific brands, or their sales section to make things a little less overwhelming. They will also accept your clothing donations through their Clean Out Tab.
Borrowing or sharing things you won’t be able to use in time like extra groceries or cleaning products you don’t need anymore is a great way to introduce eco-friendly habits into your life. Olio is an app that can help with that. All you have to do is take a photo of the items you want to share and any neighbors who also use the app will get notified. You can also browse items your neighbors have posted.
We’ve already talked about how annoying and wasteful junk mail is. PaperKarma is the answer to dealing with it. The app’s goal is to reduce paper waste by nixing junk mail. Next time you receive unwanted mail, take a photo of it, making sure it includes your name, address, and the sender’s details. Then, just unsubscribe. PaperKarma will take care of the rest.
How much time do you spend each day searching the internet? Both at work and for personal use? Search the web, plant a tree—that’s the goal of Ecosia, a desktop app with a chrome extension. They use the profit they generate from search ads to plant trees where they are needed. You even get to see a tree counter that tallies up how many trees your searching has planted.
Building new habits isn’t always easy, especially if there is no accountability. Ailuna wants to help with that. The app will present you with a list of “dares” you can accept, which will take about a week to complete. Each one is designed by experts and backed by behavioral science to help you form healthy, long-lasting habits. Things like saving water, or buying nothing new. The app will check in with you and send reminders to help keep you on track.
59. Fat Llama
Get connected with people who have the things you need. Want to try camping but don’t want to commit to all the gear right away? You can use Fat Llama to find people in your area who are willing to let you borrow their tent and camp stove. If you have items you’re willing to lend out, you could even make a few dollars yourself. The app includes insurance on all transactions too!
60. Falling Fruit
Foraging isn’t something that most of us consider naturally. It’s a habit from days gone by. But while we might not notice anymore, there are a ton of foraging opportunities around us. Falling Fruit is a large, collaborative map of the “urban harvest.” Zoom in on your location and you will see opportunities near you. Crab apples, raspberries, plums … you never know what you’ll find in your growing season.