Is a tight budget holding you back from an eco-friendly lifestyle? Don’t let it! There is plenty of good you can do for the environment with little to no money!
First, remember that the concept of an “eco-friendly lifestyle” isn’t black and white. You do what you can with what you have. Small changes add up to make a big difference! Don’t be too hard on yourself.
I remember when I was in college, living off of student loans, feeling really defeated and guilty every time I bought cheap goods from the store because I didn’t have the resources to buy the expensive sustainable and ethical alternatives (if there even were any back then!).
But the problem wasn’t that I didn’t have the money to buy the expensive eco-friendly options, it was that I wasn’t familiar with low-cost or free alternatives!
Trust me, you do not have to be wealthy in order to reduce your carbon footprint. In fact, the wealthiest people and countries have the largest greenhouse gas emissions!
With these five strategies, you can decrease your impact on the environment, reduce costs and know that you’re doing good for the planet!
Repair, Reuse and Repurpose What You Own (FREE)
Before buying new or used, the first thing you should ask yourself is, “Do I really need this?” If not, problem solved.
If so, what can you piece together from home to make what you need? Can something be reused or repurposed? Do you have a well-loved version that simply needs some TLC to get back into shape?
This requires a mindset shift from “I need to go buy a new _______” to “I can use ________ to fill my need for __________.”
I love repurposing glass jars into drinking glasses. In fact, I’ve never purchased drinking glasses! I simply remove labels from pasta sauce and pickle jars, clean them out and turn them into glasses and even food storage containers.
Join Your Local Buy Nothing Group (FREE)
These groups are so cool and an example of how social media can be used in a positive manner! Many cities and communities have “buy nothing” groups in which residents post items they’re giving away or items they are seeking.
People in my local group often post furniture, books, maternity clothes, appliances and even tech gadgets.
Whenever I need something, I like to put up an ISO (in search of) post in my local buy nothing group to see if i can get it free from a neighbor!
Host or Attend a Swap with Family and Friends (FREE)
Swaps are so much fun! It’s like shopping, socializing, snacking and drinking (if you want) all in one! Usually everyone who comes brings some items to give away. It’s best if the group is bigger so that there is plenty of stuff (and a variety of sizes, if you’re doing a clothing swap).
You can organize your own swap or search for swaps in your area (via Google, Facebook, Meetup.com, etc.)! Many are focused on clothing but you could also do household goods, decorations, kitchen gadgets and appliances, baby toys, etc.
Barter Goods and Services (FREE)
The barter economy is making a comeback and for good reason: to fight climate change! I’ve bartered with a friend with the services we each provide and it was super cool.
If you’re looking for a specific service or item, and have a service or item to share in return, this is a great option. It usually works best between friends, family and acquaintances.
Buy Secondhand at Local and Online Thrift Stores (LOW COST)
If you absolutely need to buy something and don’t have much cash, head to your local thrift store! From clothes and furniture to books and kitchenware, thrift stores are full of treasures for an affordable price. And, many hire marginalized people and donate to great causes.
Local shop not have what you need? Look at online secondhand retailers! Poshmark and ThredUp (referral link for $10 off your first order!) are great for clothes while Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace have lots of other goods. Remember to be safe when buying anything directly from a stranger on the internet.
A bonus low-cost, eco-friendly strategy is to DIY personal care and household products using inexpensive ingredients. I’ll probably do a post entirely on my favorite DIY products soon and link to it here!
At the end of the day, you can only do so much. Consider what areas you can have the largest impact and start there. No one is perfect and we’re all trying out best! I hope these strategies help you stretch your dollars a bit further and boost your environmental motivation.
Do you have any additional free eco-friendly strategies to share? Comment below!