We all want the environment to be a safe and healthy place for our children and our children’s children. We want to be sure they have the best air quality, the healthiest foods, and a nontoxic living environment. Sometimes it feels like you need to spend a lot of money to achieve these goals, but I’m here to tell you that’s not the case and give you five ways to help save the environment on a budget.
1. Make your own cleaning supplies.
This not only saves you money, but it is a healthier way to clean. You are avoiding all the mysterious, sometimes toxic ingredients in typical store-bought cleaners while protecting your family, pets, and the environment from unhealthy products. I make most of my cleaning supplies with white vinegar, baking soda, liquid Castile soap, and filtered water.
One of my favorite scrubs for the sink, bathtub, or shower is a fresh lemon and some baking soda. Just cut a lemon in half, sprinkle it with baking soda, and scrub your tub. Rinse when done, and your tub is clean. No fumes, just the natural smell of lemon. Here are some more easy recipes for cleaners.
2. Grow your own produce.
Growing your own produce is a great option to save money on your grocery list, especially if you’re reaching for organic options. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can make container gardens to grow lettuce and herbs. And when you grow your own food, you’re less likely to let anything go to waste.
If you can’t grow a garden in your space, consider joining a community garden. If you don’t have time for gardening, you might consider a community-supported agriculture subscription for farm-fresh organic food. And if neither of those options works for you, do be sure to check the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to see which fruits and veggies you should be buying organic.
3. Buy gently used.
Giving an item a second life reduces the waste from the production, packaging, and shipping of a new product while saving you money. When buying new, be sure to put quality over quantity, which will also save you cash in the long run. Buying one quality natural fiber shirt that lasts for years versus one cheap synthetic shirt that doesn’t last through its first wash is better for your wallet and for the environment.
4. Buy reusable, not disposable.
Buying items that can be reused may cost more on the front end but will save you money — and benefit the planet — in the long run. Think cloth napkins, reusable cloths for cleaning, reusable straws, and so on. If you need to buy disposable, make sure to find more-sustainable options like paper napkins with recycled fibers or tree-free paper products.
5. Drink filtered tap water.
Stop buying soda, juices, and bottled water. Soda is bad for your teeth, your health, your waistline, and the planet. And if you are wondering if fruit juice is a better option, take a peek at Healthline’s Is Fruit Juice as Unhealthy as Sugary Soda?
Drinking filtered water from your tap is healthier for your family. And by skipping bottled water and soda, you’ll reduce your plastic consumption and carbon footprint. Be sure to invest in a good filter; check out EWG’s helpful Water Filter Guide to help you find a filter to fit your needs and your budget.
Want to add some flavor to tap water? Try infusing your water with fruit!
Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something.” —Carl Sagan
Originally published on May 16, 2017, this article was updated in May 2022.