Being friendly to the environment has increasingly become at the top of the general populations mind. After moving to Oregon, a progressive area that is very environmentally conscious, we have learned a thing or two about why being eco-friendly is so important. Being eco-friendly has to do with being aware of how your actions impact the environment and doing what you can to prevent harming the environment. The first thing you can do to be more environmentally friendly is just by being more aware of what you’re doing and how that impacts the environment. It requires a shift in your thinking. Once you start to be aware of this and recognize how much of an impact little things you do can effect the environment, you’ll never go back.
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Many people think that being more environmentally friendly requires you to spend a ton of extra money. They think this because they believe the only way to do this is by getting rid of all of the current products you are using that is not environmentally friendly and replacing it with better options. This couldn’t be further from the truth! I would argue that doing this actually hurts the environment more and is wasteful.
I’m not suggesting that you need to throw away all the plastic products in your home or completely change your life. Trying to do too much at once will actually set you up for failure. You need to do this slowly and over time. As you run out of products, evaluate if there might be a better, environmentally friendly option available. Don’t continue to buy the same old things you always have. Take the time to see what else might be available.
Not convinced on why you should be more environmentally conscious? Here are just a few important reasons:
- Pollution is arguably one of the most hazardous factors affecting the environment. It affects the quality of food we eat which could lead to the ingestion of toxic substances.
- As the environment gets destroyed, the ecosystem suffers. This causes many animals to face extinction.
- The air we breathe is cleaner because trees act as a natural filter to remove harmful particles.
- Millions of people find being out in nature to be relaxing. It has also been scientifically proven that being out in nature can serve as a remedy for emotional and mental distress.
Hopefully some of those facts convinced you? If not, keep in mind that there are so many different things you can do to be more environmentally friendly, that don’t require you spending any money whatsoever! Even if you’re not convinced, it will literally cost you nothing to do it anyways!
Being Environmentally Friendly Without Spending Money
There are so many things you can do to help the environment without spending money. You just have to be open-minded and willing to take some additional steps to be able to make a difference. Let’s talk about a few of the things you can do to maintain your frugality while still being environmentally friendly:
1. Walk, don’t drive
If you are within walking distance to anywhere that you need to go to, try walking instead of driving. Instead of jumping in your car and polluting the air to drive to somewhere you could easily walk to, just walk. You may even find that it’s relaxing and gets your body moving which is better for your health. I live within walking distance to my job. It’s a 5 minute drive to work and a 20 minute walk. I walk to work whenever possible because not only is it relaxing and helps me get focuses and energized for the day ahead, it’s better for the environment and actually saves me money on gas.
2. Use a reusable cup/water bottle
Plastic water bottles are very wasteful and one of the most unnecessary things you could buy. Instead of buying bottled drinks, use a reusable bottle or cup. You could buy at reusable cup from amazon like this one, or you could just use whatever you have a home! Put that alumni mug you got for free when you graduated college to good use to reduce plastic waste.
3. Recycle as much as you can
Start looking at the items you are throwing away on a daily basis. Before you throw them in the trash, see if it is something that can actually be recycled instead. I couldn’t believe how many things I was throwing away that were actually recyclable! All you have to do is check the label on the packaging to see if it is recyclable. Check out this guide on plastic recycling symbols if you need some help determining if something can be recycled.
4. Donate your old items to charity
We all tend to throw away old household items that we don’t need anymore (e.g. old books, baskets, cups, etc.). Instead of throwing it away when it will just end up in a landfill somewhere, see if you can donate it to a local thrift shop. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! The more something can be reused, the better! The key elements here are to reduce, reuse, and recycle (I know you’ve heard that before).
5. Re-useable grocery bags
I’m so thankful that Oregon has banned single use plastic bags. Instead, stores now offer brown paper bags. If you don’t have your own reusable bags like these, hold on to those paper bags! Reuse them as much as possible. The best part is once they are wore, ripped, and unusable, you can easily recycle them! Some places will charge you 10 cents for paper bags, but that’s still a pretty inexpensive reusable bag if you ask me!
6. Make your own cleaning products
There are so many different types of cleaning products for different things. There’s one product for cleaning glass, a different one for cleaning floors, and another one for cleaning counters. The list goes on. Instead of buying all these different products that come in different spray bottles, try creating your own. Once the current product you have runs out, create your own cleaning solution to put in the empty bottle. There are so many great homemade cleaning recipes out there that are super easy to make.
7. Eliminate plastic
When making purchases in the grocery store, try to be more mindful of how much plastic is in the packaging. If I see a bag of apples wrapped in plastic and another option without it, I’m always going to pick the one without plastic. Instead of using the plastic bags from the store to put your produce in, bring your own reusable bags like these, or just put it in the cart without a bag. You are going to wash it before you eat it anyways!
Slowly Replace Items Over Time
In addition to these great ideas on how to become more environmentally friendly, it is important to replace your non-environmentally friendly products at some point in time. For example, when my husband and I ran out of our paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, etc.), we started to look into alternatives. We bought these products from Costco and they were always wrapped in plastic.
We wanted something better for the environment that wasn’t wrapped in plastic. That’s when we discovered Who Gives A Crap which was a great alternative for us. When we started to run out of our laundry detergent, we started looking into alternatives as well. We discover how Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds which could be used to make a variety of household cleaning items. Buying this one product that had multi-use options, helped us cut down on the products we were buying. We didn’t have a ton of plastic bottles that we were wasting anymore.
As we start running out of things, we evaluate what it is that we are using and research if there might be a better alternative. We didn’t throw away all of our current cleaning products or paper products. We used them up and just bought something new and better for the environment when they ran out. It’s about being a more mindful consuming and really thinking about things before you mindlessly buy the same product you’ve always used.
There are so many things you can do to help the environment and be a more educated consuming. The first and most important step is just to actively think about what you can do (no matter how small of a step) to help. Develop good frugal habits that will have a lasting impact on the environment. We each play a little part in making a big difference.