If you’re anything like me, you love a good hack. Especially one that makes a positive difference in the lives of your loved ones! When it comes to Mother Earth, she, too, can benefit from easy tricks we can use to reduce our environmental footprints. And while springing for veggies from the farmers market or those organic cotton PJs are worthy indulgences, being an eco-warrior doesn’t have to cost a dime. It can even save you money!
5 tips to save the planet (and your wallet!)
Here are five of my favorite planet and money-saving tricks I’ve committed to this year.
- Just Say No: Skip the things you don’t actually need, such as layers of tissue paper a cashier might wrap around a new sweater you’re buying before putting it in the bag or paper versions of your bills (who wants those anyway?) that can now be sent electronically. When ordering takeout, you often wind up with an entire second bag of napkins, straws, and little packets of ketchup or soy sauce. Ask for your food without these additions, and use your own utensils and condiments at home instead.
- BYOB (Bring your own bottle!): Fill a reusable bottle with water rather than purchasing new ones, particularly at places with marked-up prices, like the airport. You can also bring your own mug to coffee shops or the office. (Some coffee shops will even give you a discount, like Starbucks!)
- Become a Bulk Buyer: It may be time-consuming to get started, but most cities have at least one grocery store or chain with bulk sections for nuts, grains, granola, candy, popcorn, etc. Go see what is available that you regularly purchase and commit to (a) switching to scooping out that product from the bulk bin and (b) keeping a plastic or glass container from a food product to fill with it. Once you get the hang of it, add another grocery item to your bulk list. Buying in bulk means fewer plastic containers used, and less money spent.
- Put the Pause on Printing Waste: Default to double-sided printing for all home and in-office communications, use the backside of old printouts for draft documents and notes, and skip printing out emails.
- Grab Your Bag: A growing number of grocery (and clothing!) stores sell reusable shopping bags, many of which are made of eco-friendly materials. Stock up on a few of these, which usually retail for under ten dollars, to avoid accumulating a pile of plastic bags in the kitchen that eventually get thrown away. It can take one thousand years for a plastic bag to degrade! TO THE MARKET offers ethically made, affordable, reusable bags to consumers and retailers alike. If your local store doesn’t offer an alternative to plastic, buy one elsewhere, and encourage this addition.
Jane Mosbacher Morris is the Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET, a company that connects businesses and consumers to ethically made products. Get more easy tips on how to help save the world in Jane’s new book, Buy the Change You Want to See: Use Your Purchasing Power to Make the World a Better Place (Penguin Random House).