In honor of Earth Day (a day late) I thought I would list some ways we try to be green while still maintaining a budget. Buying eco-friendly products isn’t always cheap (most of the time it is significantly more expensive); however, there are certain ways that you can be green and still stay in the black.
1.) Buy Used:
As I have mentioned before, we are all about the hand-me-downs. To save on baby stuff in the past, we have gone to rummage sales and saved some serious cash (we got three practically new Baby Bjorn toilets for $2–nothing a little vinegar and sanitizing wash can’t fix!) We also picked up some adorable clothing for B and our friends’ son–three Mini-Boden shirts for 25 cents each and a couple of Hartstrings and Bonnie Brae dresses for $1 each. Reusing and handing down baby items saves a ton of stuff from going to the landfills every year.
We also buy used furniture and cars. One of my best purchases was our couch, it was a one year old Room & Board York couch for $1000 on Craigslist from a meticulous thirty-something woman who was relocating (you bet I checked out her house and hygiene when I looked at it!) It was originally $2000. By buying used (it was in perfect condition) we saved money and it had already off-gassed a lot of its nasty chemicals. Our dining room table was an estate sale find for $50, and E even found five chairs for $40. We certainly don’t luck out every time but by being patient and looking on places like Craigslist, rummage sales, and estate sales we were able to both save money and be environmentally responsible.
Although our car isn’t by any account green (it is a Suburban) it is the size of car we need with two great danes and by buying pre-owned we saved a lot. By keeping it running instead of trading it in for a new one, we are helping maintain natural resources. Even though it isn’t gas efficient, it still takes a lot less energy and resources than producing a new one.
2.) Buy concentrated refills:
We use all natural eco-friendly cleaners in our house (mostly Method and Honest Co.) The cheapest option for green cleaners (aside from making your own with vinegar and water) is to buy large refills that you can replenish your spray bottles with. It saves on packaging and it is the cheapest option. For more on how I keep our house clean with two huge dogs look and which products I use look here.
3.) Go straight to the source:
As I have mentioned before, this past fall we bought a quarter of a cow from a lovely farm (I am going to do a post detailing the process and how to find a farm in a later post). Needless to say is cheaper to cut out the middle man and buy straight from the farmer. For grass-fed organic beef, we paid about $5 a pound for everything. Now that included roughly 60 lbs. of ground meat but also 70 lbs. of steaks. At our local Whole Foods, you can barely buy grass-fed ground beef for $5 a pound, much less steaks. By doing this, we can afford to buy grass fed beef and we eat it year round.
In the past, we have also subscribed to a CSA (we did it for 5 years but took this year off because of the possibility of moving). By subscribing to a CSA (Community Sustained Agriculture) you are giving the farmer money ahead of time when they need the cash (usually in the winter) and paying them in advance for a weekly bag of vegetables. Our farmer also sold pastured eggs, dairy, and meat, and fish so we were set! It wasn’t cheap but again it was much less expensive than buying it all from Whole Foods or even the local farmer’s market.
4.) Skip disposables:
I know I have already mentioned here how we cloth diaper, and even though it wasn’t free we are setting ourselves up to save money every year that B or any subsequent kid is in diapers (more on that here). But we also try skip disposable stuff in other areas of our life–we minimize paper towel use, entirely skip paper napkins, and always use refillable water bottles in lieu of plastic ones. Paper products aren’t very expensive so it is easy to just lump them into your grocery budget, but by reducing the use we have not only saved resources but also saved some cash. We have a boatload of cloth napkins, dish towels, and microfiber towels so we always have an alternative to a paper towel on hand. Now, I am certainly no angel, and I definitely use them from time to time (when I am not going to do laundry for a few days and don’t want dirty cloth napkins with a lot of food on them–hello B! to sit in the laundry bin); but, I do try to minimize their usage.
Lastly, we eat leftovers like it is our business. When we cook we always try to make sure we have at least two days of lunches and one dinner at least from one meal. E always takes leftovers to work to eat which saves money on dining out and saves resources (disposable food is always wrapped in stuff!) A couple of years ago, I bought a huge set of glass lock tupperware from Costco and supplemented it with some glass tupperware from our wedding registry. By using glass, we are minimizing the chemicals our food is subjected to and we can reheat it in the microwave or oven without dirtying another dish. Whereas plastic is permeable, glass is not so I don’t worry about scrubbing the heck out of them and can easily sanitize them when they are forgotten in the back of someone’s car after taking them to work 😉
Obviously, we could be greener by not driving a car, not having big dogs, and not traveling (these are the big ones); but, we choose to live life. We like what we like and need what we need. However, we do try to be green wherever we can which is better for us, better for the environment, and sometimes better for our wallets. Where do you try to save money while being eco-friendly? Our grocery budget is usually the first place I try to save money on organic stuff by buying meat, fats, and the dirty dozen always organic; but, with other stuff I am more relaxed about (avocados, onions, mangos, bananas and the rest of the clean fifteen.) Happy belated Earth Day!