It can be hard to make the switch to sustainable living when it seems like it’s going to cost more money. You’re not alone in feeling this way. A lot of people think that sustainability and living a green lifestyle have to come with a high price tag, but that’s not always the case. What if you had a few sustainable life hacks to help you go green on a budget?
Check out our list of sustainability hacks that also save you money. From turning off electronics when you’re not using them, to taking your lunch to work instead of eating out, we’ve got you covered.
Before you dive into these frugal eco hacks, remember… every baby step counts. You don’t have to go zero waste but you CAN reduce your trash output. There is no need to buy 100% organic food but you CAN skip the plastic shopping bags and choose the reusable ones.
Whether you start to recycle your office paper or spend your shopping dollars at the local farmer’s market, do your part to create a planet that is healthy and sustainable for the next generation. And do it without going broke!
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Table of Contents
20 Frugal Sustainability Hacks
With Earth Day coming up, these sustainable life hacks will help you reduce your carbon footprint while also saving you money.
Turn off the lights and electronics when they’re not in use.
Turning off your lights and electronics when they’re not in use is an effective way to use less energy, cut costs, and help protect the environment.
This simple act requires very little effort and can provide significant benefits. By conserving electricity, we can reduce our carbon footprint while at the same time reducing our costs on energy bills.
Additionally, when we turn off the lights and unplug electronics, this reduces stress on the power grid while lower demand for energy can lead to more renewable energy sources being developed. In short, turning off lights and electronics when they’re not in use gives us all something positive to gain – a cleaner planet and fewer expenses.
Further Reading: How to Use Less Energy at Home
Reuse containers and bags for food storage instead of buying new ones.
Reusing containers for food storage is a great way to help protect the environment. Not only can reuse reduce the amount of plastic we throw away, but it also cuts costs since reuse does not require any additional expenditure.
Reusing containers also diminishes the need to purchase single-use disposable bags which are often wasteful and bad for the environment. These benefits make reuse an ideal solution for individuals looking to reduce their environmental impact in a cost-effective and convenient manner.
Adjust your thermostat to save energy, especially during the summer months.
Adjusting your thermostat to reduce energy usage during the summer months is not only beneficial for your wallet, but also for the environment. Energy conservation makes sure that we avoid unnecessary waste and allows us to start saving money on utility bills.
Instead of simply setting the thermostat to one temperature and leaving it alone, be mindful of adjusting it up a few degrees when you do not need your home as cool (like when you are at work), or down a few degrees if you feel like you want it to be cooler.
For example, at nighttime when everyone has gone to bed, turn off or raise the thermostat setting temporarily to use less energy and lower your utility bills.
Conserving energy is an effective way of decreasing our collective consumption of nonrenewable resources while still staying comfortable in any season. Read my post about appliance maintenance tips to get more life out of your air conditioner.
Unplug appliances that are not being used.
Be a sustainability pro and unplug anything you aren’t using. Unplugging appliances that are not being used is an important part of sustainability, both for the environment and for saving energy.
Many electronics can use energy even when turned off if they’re still plugged in, meaning you’re wasting unnecessary resources and contributing to climate change. Additionally, unplugging electronics helps to reduce wear on their parts and prevents potential surge damage, increasing the longevity of your devices. This makes a real impact on your wallet in the long term.
Taking time to unplug unneeded appliances also serves as a reminder to think about our consumption habits and how they affect the planet. Reducing our environmental footprint benefits our planet now and into the future.
Switch to LED Lights
Switching to energy-efficient LED lights is a smart decision for several reasons. First and foremost, they are more energy-efficient than traditional lightbulbs, making them a great choice for anyone who wants to reduce their energy consumption and lower their utility bills.
In addition, LED bulbs last much longer than their traditional counterparts. Switching to LED lights will mean you will have fewer overall replacements over the years, saving time and money in the long run.
Furthermore, LEDs contain no mercury like fluorescent lighting does which makes them a more environmentally-friendly choice. Overall, switching to LED lights is an excellent way to reduce costs and energy usage while having a long-lasting product. If you run a home business and are home all day working, this will make a big impact.
Reuse Food Scraps
Reusing food scraps is a great sustainable life hack. Repurposing food waste for composting and other projects helps to reduce overall waste in landfills, as well as giving you the opportunity to create nutrient-filled soil perfect for gardening or potting plants.
Some ways besides composting that you can reuse food scraps include things like making homemade soup stock or candied orange peels. You can also make carrot top pesto or regrow your celery root. Don’t throw away veggie scraps. Reusing them is a great way to reduce waste.
Hang clothes outside to dry instead of using a dryer.
Most people use dryers. I get it. I do too for most of the year. Between the humidity and allergens, hanging clothes on a line is challenging. However, if you can do it, you basically dry your clothes for free.
Hanging clothes outside to dry instead of using a dryer has many advantages. It is an energy-efficient way to keep clothing and linens looking new, as the sun’s ultraviolet rays naturally bleach fabric while they hang in the fresh air.
Airing your laundry outdoors will also help eliminate static cling and reduce odors. Additionally, you’ll be reducing your household’s carbon footprint as no electricity or fossil fuels are used when hanging clothes outside.
In fact, hang drying your clothing can result in significantly less carbon dioxide emission compared with standard electric tumble dryers over their lifetime. With the numerous benefits that come from hanging clothes outdoors, it’s worth trying this all-natural method of drying your laundry next time you want that feeling of a fresh start.
Other frugal laundry tips include washing in cold water and skipping the dryer sheets. Check out my post on dryer sheet alternatives you might want to consider. You might also want to read my tips for hanging a clothesline before you get started.
Use reusable water bottles or mugs rather than single-use plastics.
Reducing the consumption of single-use plastics is an important sustainable life hack. A reusable water bottle and mug are a great way to cut down on plastic waste while also helping you stay hydrated or caffeinated as needed throughout the day.
Using a reusable water bottle or mug ensures that you won’t have to keep buying single-use items and will also be better for your health as plastic bottles can leach chemicals.
If you want more information, check out my post on giving up bottled water.
Plant a garden
Gardening can be a frugal and sustainable hobby. Planting a garden to reduce your grocery bills can be an incredibly rewarding experience that you can enjoy with your family and friends.
With a few simple frugal gardening tips, you can plant a successful and affordable garden that provides savings on grocery bills throughout the season.
The biggest tip for saving money is to plant vegetables that you actually enjoy eating! Additionally, it’s best to plant vegetables and herbs that are easy to grow in your area, as they require less maintenance to help reduce costs. Check out this post on how to grow your own herbs for more tips.
Focusing on perennials and heirloom varieties of vegetables can also prevent you from having to continuously purchase seeds or plant starts every season.
Finally, seek out local resources or communities where you can get ahold of viable plant material or shared tools without having to spend money.
Prepare ahead by doing research on what plants grow best in your area and assess any soil amendments needed in order to maximize your savings. Read my post about zero-waste gardening tips to grow more food with less waste. And consider a front yard food garden in you don’t have room in the back yard.
Avoid pre-packaged foods as much as possible
Avoiding prepackaged foods in favor of fresh and unprocessed ingredients is a great way to maintain a frugal and sustainable lifestyle.
Prepacked foods are often expensive and come in individual servings with extra packaging that can quickly add up. Furthermore, many prepackaged ingredients have hidden preservatives, dyes, and other additives which may not make them the healthiest option.
Ultimately, avoiding prepackaged foods whenever possible can help avoid excess waste, save money, and contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
Snack healthier and choose fruits without wrappers. Reduce dairy consumption and get your protein with nuts purchased in bulk instead. Bake some homemade granola bars and skip the prepackaged ones from the store. It’s the first step in your zero-waste journey!
Repair broken items before replacing them
Repairing broken items is a sustainable life hack that can save you a ton of money as you reduce waste.
Fixing a broken item instead of replacing it can be beneficial in many ways, from saving you time to reducing your ecological footprint by decreasing the amount of waste ending up in landfills. Additionally, it can also help your budget as buying a new item can often be more expensive than fixing the existing one.
In addition to learning how to make basic repairs yourself, seek out local repair shops or services that specialize in making sustainable repairs. There may also be online resources available where you can find tutorials and tips on sustainable DIY repair projects.
Ultimately, investing time and effort in sustainable repair projects can be a great way to reduce costs and also do your part to protect the planet. And of course, start taking care of your things as much as possible.
Shop secondhand whenever possible
This is one of my favorite sustainable life hacks. I LOVE thrift shopping. Shopping second-hand is a great way to go green on a budget. By shopping this way, you are giving items more than one life and preventing them from ending up in the landfill too soon.
Not only that, but you’re helping reduce your carbon footprint and the demand for new items by reusing furniture, clothing, and other objects instead of buying them brand new.
In addition, most second-hand stores offer competitive prices on quality items, meaning that you don’t have to break the bank if you shop wisely.
All in all, shopping secondhand is an environmentally conscious and cost-effective alternative to buying a brand-new item. It uses less plastic and you can often find a higher-quality item for less money.
Take public transportation or carpool if available
Taking public transportation or carpooling is an ideal way to reduce your carbon footprint. You can stop throwing away money on gas and start saving for your next vacation instead.
Not only do mass transit systems such as buses, subways, and trains take multiple people in one vehicle, reducing the number of emissions released into the environment from cars, but it also costs less than taking a personal vehicle.
Public transportation fares often include discounts for frequent riders and senior citizens, making it more affordable for individuals to take part in their community’s green commitment.
Additionally, when traveling by bus or train you can take advantage of that time to relax compared to the stress of driving yourself—so you can enjoy the ride while feeling good about helping the planet. Check out my post on how to save money on gasoline for more tips.
Make DIY cleaning products with natural ingredients
Making DIY cleaning products with natural ingredients can be an excellent way to make your home both sustainable and budget-friendly. Doing so gives you the opportunity to make your own cleaning supplies while having full control of the ingredients used in your products.
Natural ingredients are often safer than commercial cleaning solutions and better for the environment, as they recycle and reuse materials that would otherwise go to waste.
Additionally, making your own green cleaning products at home is more economical since it requires fewer basic items and lower-cost materials.
With a few simple but effective steps, you can make great use of everyday household items like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, essential oils, and herbs to design eco-friendly cleaning solutions without spending extra money.
Don’t forget, when you have to start cleaning, skip the paper towels and use rags made from old shirts or sheets. They work well to clean everything from counters to glass and mirrors. Paper products are a single-use item that just wastes money.
Green Cleaning Articles
- Creative Uses for Baking Soda: From cleaning to beauty routines, learn how this pantry staple can be put to good use.
- DIY pine vinegar: Simple white vinegar and pine branches make a great DIY cleaning product.
- Eco-friendly cleaning tips: Check out these sustainable ways to clean your home.
Make less frequent trips to the store by purchasing in bulk
Purchasing in bulk is not only an effective way to save time and money, but it can also reduce gas usage and shrink your carbon footprint since bulk products often use less packaging.
By stocking up on items at the store, you cut down on the number of shopping trips you have to make which boosts your sustainability big time.
By reducing your own individual carbon emissions you do your part to preserve important environmental resources for future generations.
Bulk purchases are an easy and cost-effective way to save gas, save money and reduce your personal signature on the environment.
Some stores have reusable cloth bags or plastic containers for bulk purchases. Ask your store if this is a possibility to help cut trash even more.
Bring lunch from home rather than eating out
Living a frugal eco life means considering the environmental impact of everyday decisions. Even something as simple as bringing lunch from home rather than eating out can make an eco-friendly difference.
Not only will you cut costs, but you’ll also produce less waste and help reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating unnecessary packaging and transportation associated with going out to eat.
Additionally, preparing food at home allows you to control exactly what ingredients go into a meal and leaves room for incorporating eco-friendly options, such as selecting organic growers or locally sourced foods when available.
By taking the initiative to bring eco-friendly meals from home each day, you can stay on track with your eco-lifestyle ambitions. Try my easy homemade hummus recipe for lunch this week.
Wrap Your Water Heater
Investing in sustainable home improvements can save money over time, while also preserving resources and protecting the environment. One such sustainable improvement is wrapping your water heater.
Wrapping your water heater is a simple solution that does not cost a lot of money. It prevents heat from dissipating and lowers energy usage, resulting in decreased energy bills. The wrap helps preserve the life span of the appliance and leads to lower maintenance costs in the long run.
While it may not be a particularly glamorous sustainable home improvement, it is worth considering as a smart and efficient way to reduce costs while protecting the environment at the same time. Purchase water heater wrap and start saving money today.
Install low-flow showerheads and faucets
Low-flow showerheads and faucets are sustainable life hacks designed to save money, time, and resources. Installing these sustainable fixtures can help reduce water consumption significantly by controlling the flow of water without sacrificing water pressure.
In many cases, you can simply switch out your existing showerhead or faucet with a low-flow alternative. Low-flow fixtures can save up to 40% of water consumption, resulting in lower energy and utility bills over time.
Additionally, this sustainable hack helps conserve resources, prolong the life of your plumbing system, and reduce your carbon footprint.
Try this: Check out these low-flow shower heads to start cutting back on water usage.
While trendy sustainable products might cost you an arm and a leg, they are not necessary to live a green life. In fact, one of the simplest and most sustainable things you can do is to create a life like your grandparents had.
They didn’t own plastic disposable things. They saved money by reusing things and being frugal. Maybe they traded the fruits from their backyard for the veggies that their neighbors grew.
In your efforts to go green, track your spending for a few weeks. Follow a few of these sustainable life hacks. I bet there are a lot of things that you could cut out of your budget that would ALSO help you live a more sustainable life. Without buying that fancy bamboo gadget you have your eye on.
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire and has worked in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging and freelance writing to share this knowledge with others. Learn more about her HERE.