Lately, all over social media are photos, comments, and stories about how our planet is almost past the point of no return when it comes to sustainability aka. The earth is dying and we can almost no longer save it. I think saving the earth is an incredibly important thing, especially for Christians. God calls us as Christians to be caretakers of this planet. He said it right in the beginning (Genesis 2:15).
I am not just talking about this because it is the topic of conversation lately but because it is something that I am truly interested in. Also, as the title says, saving the earth and being sustainable can actually help you save your money. So, I am going to go through a bunch of different things that I do to save both of these things. Some of these savers have come to be because of life circumstances, which may or may not continue in the future. Others are more general and applicable to all stages and areas of life. I will give an explanation of the use and also my reasoning behind these suggestions.
- Reusable Water Bottle. Yes. This is the main one that everyone talks about. The one that is probably the easiest to put into practice. The one that will save you the most money per use. The one that even though is so accessible here in North America and yet the one that so many still ignore. You can buy a reusable water bottle starting at like $2.00 from the dollar store. As soon as you have purchased that one water bottle you are almost already saving money. One use water bottles are so expensive, need to be re-bought so often because about 8 cups of water a day is what we should all be drinking. I think I can stop there because this information is everywhere. But if you are not already doing this, why are you not?! So many benefits, so easy.
- Recycle. Now, recycling is a way to help the environment. You are doing your part with the packaging that you get with what you buy. Whether recycling plants do their part or not is another matter. However, rinsing out the bottles, cans, and containers is a good way of making sure that what you put in the recycling will actually be able to be processed in the plant. Also, be sure that you are only putting things in the recycling that have the recycling symbol and number that is accepted in your region. Now, you may be thinking, “How does this one save me money?” Glad you asked 😉 Depending on where you live, you may have to pay for garbage pick-up. If this is the case, the more you recycle, the less you are paying for garbage bags and bag tags.
- Having/Growing/Propagating Plants. I really like plants. However, I am trying to be selective and specific when I choose them. Finding plants that will come back year after year (perennials) or plants that are leafy or succulents and will look great all year are some of my requirements. Also, if possible, plants that have seeds that are easily collectible and easy to plant or that have leaves that are simple for propagation are also desirable. This way I can multiply my collection without having to buy more plants. Plants are great natural decorations, they are not very expensive, especially if you buy them when they are small (which can be more fun because then you get to see all the stages of growth and there is a certain sense of satisfaction getting them to maturity and reproduction). Plants are also lovely air fresheners (depending on the plant and whether it has a fragrance or not). Plants also clean the air, some are more known for this than others, but having leafy friends in the house can be beneficial to your health. Multi-purpose, not very expensive, can reproduce itself (maybe can make a couple of dollars off their babies or use them as gifts or trade for another plant to grow your collection and variety), and of course plants are great for the environment of both your home and the world as a whole as they clean our air.
- Re-Growing Certain Vegetables. This may not be for everyone, maybe just for plant people like myself, but it is definitely an easy option for anyone in their money and earth-saving endeavors. Some vegetables are very easy to re-grow from their bases; green onions, carrot tops, lettuce, and celery (these are ones that I have found successful). To do this all you need to do is buy any of these vegetables, save their stub when you are cutting them up, plop it in a container with water, and put it in the window. There is very little upkeep other than making sure they have clean water. When they get up to size, which happens faster than you would think, simply chop them up and use them. I have found that they only re-grow well once. But, if I only have to buy these items every other grocery run because I can reuse them all once, then that is money saved, and a little bit of fun in the process.
- Grow your Own Veggies and Save Seeds. I live in an apartment and I am able to grow some plants on my balcony/in my windowsill. So, if I have space to do this, then you should have no problem. Buying a packet of seeds is not expensive and the harvest that you get from a couple of seeds in the ground is so worth the minimal effort it is to put them there. It is instant savings. Also, in my city, we have a seed library. You take out some seeds, use them, give back the packet with all the seeds that you did not use, save some of the seeds from the plants that you grow, and hand those in as well to help continue the process. It’s quite an awesome system. You can also do this by yourself. Do a little bit of research on what kinds of vegetables have easily harvestable seeds, collect them and store them properly, then the next year plant them and continue to save money, be sustainable, and don’t waste your viable seeds.
- Thrift Shopping. If you want to save money on clothing, thrift shopping is a no brainer. There are so many great finds here and some are barely used. Sure, there is generally a little bit more hunting and time involved but it is definitely worth it! The process of making clothes is not good for the environment and it can be harmful and unjust to other human beings. People tend to get bored with their clothes or grow out of their clothes before they become unusable. By giving your clothes to the thrift store you are possibly helping people who have a lower income get great clothes, you are helping the environment by being more sustainable, and if you shop there you are saving yourself some money (some thrift stores will even give you a percentage off of your purchase if you have donated something that day). Please do not waste your perfectly good clothes by throwing them away. Drop them off a thrift store and bless another person with some great clothes for less cost.
- Scrubba Wash Bag, or Another Company that does this. This is not a paid for advertisement, nor am I gaining any profit through an affiliate link or anything, this is just a great product that I need to add to this list. As I stated before, I live in an apartment building. This means that I do not have my own washer and dryer and that if I want clean clothes that I have to pay for each use. This typically ends up costing about $5.00 per load for a wash and dry. The only other option than the apartment washing system is to go to a Laundromat which is $7-$9 per load, which is ridiculous!! So, to save money in the long run and with our circumstances, we bought a Scrubba Wash Bag. Basically it is a bag that doesn’t leak water, it little nubs that are a softer plastic that works as a washboard inside the bag, you put in some clothes (it specifies all instructions right on the bag), you put in a small drop of detergent (saving lots of money on detergent with this way too because you can see exactly how much is needed to wash the clothes instead of the recommendation by the brand or guesstimating), and then you lock the back and do a little bit of muscle work. It’s a bit of work, a bit of time, but saves money, detergent, and hydro. It also comes in a recyclable cardboard package. This product is originally made for camping, but works just great in an apartment too! We will definitely be taking this with us on our backpacking trip to New Zealand.
- Learn the Very BASICS of Sewing. All you need is a needle and some thread, which you can find at the dollar store. I have a backpack that has lasted me about 6 years now that I have used for everything. This backpack has carried school books, clothes for small trips, it has gone to Mongolia as my carryon and day pack, it has been used to carry clothes and food to and from work, it has had some wear and tear. There have been 3 seams that have ripped and made it unusable for a time. However, since the rips were on the seams I just had to take out a needle, some thread, use a little bit of time, my very limited skill, and voila seam is sewed and good as new, used a couple of cents worth of materials and saved me $50.00 on a new product or $9.00 on a used one #worthit. If you have a piece of clothing that is beyond repair, cut it up into reusable rags or into patches to save another clothing item in the future. I have a pair of work jeans that have a large hole in them; I used a random piece of material as a patch and saved them for an extra month of use. Now another pair of old jeans has bit the dust so I will be cutting that into jean patches and re-rescuing that other pair of jeans for work (my favourite pair of jeans) and this patch will definitely last longer since it is the same material.
- Reusable Grocery Bags. Thankfully, most stores now make you buy their plastic bags at checkout. This should be a huge incentive to invest in some reusable grocery bags. They are so readily available almost everywhere you go and some clothing stores/phone stores give these bags out for free with your purchase. I have not paid for a single reusable bag that I have. Also, if you go to a conference these bags are sometimes handed out. Or just suck it up and pay the $5 or less for one from a store. A general grocery trip, depending on family size, will use about 5 or 6 plastic bags, that is a lot of plastic and one household can only use so many small garbage bags in their house. Do yourself and the environment a favour by using reusable grocery bags. Another bonus to this is that your bags will be much less likely to break and make a mess!
- Re-usable Produce Bags. Most produce that you buy is either already in a plastic bag or needs to be bagged and the store provides those clear, thin plastic bags for customers. If you buy 4 fruit/vegetable types, you are using 4 plastic bags, which will go into your garbage when you get home because they are too thin and weak to be used for anything else. Maybe you can get one more use of them at the grocery store if you reuse it, but they do not last long. This is a huge waste, is so bad for the environment and I hope something that stores will soon make you pay for as well to help with the environment. Mesh, reusable produce bags last a very long time. They are a sturdy material, you can store the food in them and your fruits and veggies can actually breathe, and you can wash/rinse your veggies right in the bag if you wish. Investing in these may not save you money currently, but you can know that with each purchase of fruit/vegetable you are not harming the environment.
- Cook your Own Food Instead of Buying Processed, Pre-made Foods. There are many reasons that this one is on the list (reasons that don’t even pertain to what this post is about). Packaged and processed food is almost always more expensive, and has a lot more packaging (sometimes recyclable, sometimes not). If you buy your own ingredients to make food, you can buy dry goods in bulk which will save you money and will also save on the amount of packaging. If you are making a vegetable dish and you have those reusable produce bags, you will be saving on a lot of packaging and let’s just be real, the end product is almost always better than the packaged version. You could also go to a bulk food store and bring in your own containers, they will just get you to weigh your container upon entry at the register and they will then subtract it from your amount at checkout.
I could definitely add more to this list, but I think this is enough for now. I hope that this list inspires you to help out the environment in tangible, inexpensive, and easy to remember ways. Also, I hope this helps you save some of your hard earned money so that you can bless others and/or save up for something that you have been eyeing up or an awesome adventure somewhere.
Please do your part to take care of this planet, to be sustainable, and to keep the outdoors clean. Enjoy the process and incredible benefits of doing so.