We’ve seen the signs, we’ve heard the warnings; The planet is dying and it’s our fault.
Sorry to begin on such a dark note, but these facts are unfortunately no longer avoidable (the exact action that got us here in the first place) so there’s a world-wide appeal to change our deep-seated consumerist ways.
For us broke gals or guys, going green adds more anxiety to that money stress. It’s difficult to factor in eco-friendly choices into an already restricted budget.
It’s elementary of us to pass the baton to the rich; those that have enough to counteract our shortcomings, and donate toward relevant organizations that are helping to slow climate change on our behalf.
But we can’t just rely on the rich to save the world, and even the most frugal of it must play a part in the actions against further environmental decay.
The cog of capitalism has cleverly ingrained behaviors into all of us to preserve our diligent consumerism, and it’s time to look inward and demand a change.
As humans, we generally abhor change and find comfort in familiarity. Nobody likes to read a guide about behavioral changes unless it’s going to have a direct, immediate benefit. We’re selfish creatures in an age of individualism, two traits that don’t mesh well together.
I’ve been grappling with environmental conscientiousness for about a year now, and with many slip-ups, there are certain routines I have carefully incorporated day to day, that keep my budget restricted and ensure I play my part in the fight to safeguard our future.
This is my work-in-progress guide of tips to be environmentally conscious and to live eco-friendly, on a budget.
1. Goodbye Fast Fashion, Hello Ethical Goddess.
How long have we known about (usually child-employed) underpaid sweatshops that source our beloved Primark or H&M basic tee’s? Forget about the environment for a second – this is just downright unethical!
This has been a part of our submerged psyche for a long time, and no matter how many news stories about illegal sweatshops busts or hidden notes being found in clothing, that splash across our headlines, we still queue for twenty minutes just to buy those sale items that are half off.
Budget-friendly maybe, but environmentally and ethically friendly? Oh hell no.
I recently saw that Primark had opened its biggest store ever in Birmingham with a cafe, a salon, and the works, and my heart sunk. When will they stop capitalizing? I am a recovering addict of Primark, and many of the items in my wardrobe bear their tag. But I’ve tried to wave goodbye to the bargains, the €1 racks, and the remarkable knock-offs.
Regardless of ethical thinking, or buying sustainably, these fast-fashion brands compromise 10% of the worlds carbon emissions alone, don’t even get me started on the waste (14 million tones in the US alone)
In general, its a lifestyle change. No more consuming for the sake of a good bargain, only buy what we need.
To sum up, buy smart. Don’t buy an item you won’t wear at least thirty times. Which is exactly what we should be doing on a budget, anyway.
Don’t fall into the trap of a good deal, buy only what you need, and do so sustainably. You might have to fork over a bit more to buy something eco-friendly, but the chances are that investment will last you a lot longer than the Primark or H&M version, thus saving you money in the long run.
Don’t take the seemingly easy way our – replace that zipper or button, repair that hole. Giving up and buying a new one is exactly what capitalism wants you to do – so stick on the planet’s side.
But most importantly, go Marie Kondo on your wardrobe and try to reignite that joy you had when you initially bought your clothes; half the time its subliminal consumerism telling you that you need more, override that urge!
2. Home is Where the Magic Happens
A nice way to begin budgeted eco-friendly thinking is to start with the bathroom. Recycle all those nearly empty bottles that litter your shower floor.
Go retro and buy a bar of soap, with minimal packaging and stop buying massive plastic containers of it. Lush try to package their face masks, soaps, and shampoos in solid form to cut down on plastic containers, and hopefully, others will follow suit.
It might seem annoying and expensive to buy a bar of soap or shampoo over a cheap bottle in Lidl, but the chances are with a nicely invested shampoo bar, you might need to use less. We aren’t supposed to wash our hair every day anyway, so let’s start there.
Bamboo toothbrushes may seem overpriced and stress-containing, but you can buy in bulk on Amazon, or go straight to the site and get a subscription so that a new brush arrives when the old one is a goner. Then simply cut off the bristles and try to reuse the wooden sticks for your garden or an artistic project.
As for your showers – keep ’em short or keep ’em cold. Something we’ve been told since adolescence, it’s surprising how many environmentally aware adults still lull in the shower for longer than necessary. Cold-showers have been proven to boost immunity and concentration, so maybe its the push you need to brave that.
As for the moon cup, that is my next mountain to overcome to cut down all that sanitary waste (and that goddamn woman’s tax!)
Turn off lights and plug out things that aren’t in use, and just generally use less, recycle and reuse more. Nothing we haven’t heard before, but perhaps we need reminding of just how important the little things are.
P.S. The kettle that you boiled ten minutes ago and forgot about is still hot, and does not need to be boiled again.
3. Step Away From the Plastic!
This is the main point of discussion in the news when consumerism and environmental issues meet. It’s a bit of an over-used eye-roll invoker now.
We know already okay? One straw won’t hurt, right?
One straw will hurt, because that came from a whole packet of 500 straws, and you better hope that the 8 other billion people on this planet don’t have the YOLO attitude that you just displayed.
Luckily, the straw debate is beginning to end with mass companies such as McDonald’s opting for paper straws and some bars have begun to forego them altogether (do we really even need straws?!) so no need to worry our money-anxious heads about buying a metal one, unless you really want to.
It might seem more convenient to keep all your loose lemons in an itsy bitsy plastic bag until you get home, but it shouldn’t be seen that way. That itsy bag that you’ve used just to help the cashier lady out a little, is going to outsurvive you and maybe even your kids.
Keep your fruit and vegetables loose and don’t bother with pre-packed ones, sometimes Lidl and other budget-appealing supermarkets go overboard with their packaging so maybe stick to your local grocer for your fruit and veg. Try to buy bio-products where your budget allows.
And as we’ve heard too many times before – invest in a nice water-bottle and travel coffee mug! For the price of about 15 plastic bottles of water that have to be thrown eventually, its a pretty good bargain, not to mention the discount you will get on your takeaway coffees if you provide the container.
4. Is Veganism the Future? Gimme that tofu!
There seems to be a massive feud ongoing between meat-eaters and vegans, so much so that a recent study has said that aggressive vegans are more likely to increase a meat-eaters consumption of meat.
Maybe we can begin with 3 to 4 meatless days. Or meat only allowed for dinner. As a budgeter, I personally don’t like spending my allocated allowance for dinner products on meat so I tend to avoid it for the sakes of the environment, my upset gut, and my measly purse. Maybe sometimes buy nut milk instead of full-fat dairy, and skip the cheese on that meal.
The big illusion created by meat-eaters seems to be surrounding the constant availability of meat and the ‘circle of life’ speech.
That argument expired a long time ago, around the time that they started breeding animals simply for consumption.
The old concept of supply and demand is in our favor here, if we all gradually lower or meat eating, the demand will lower and so will the carbon footprint of the meat industry.
5. Miles Away from Giving Up Travel Miles
Most cities have undeniable public transport systems and they should be utilized more. If you really hate squishing into a metro cart, then buy a bike and breath in that fresh (mildly polluted) air every day. If you really need to drive, then try carpooling or cutting down on trips.
A public transport card or a bike probably costs less than the monthly or yearly costs of a car, so we’re kidding ourselves using the defense of cost and convenience.
Travel Tourism has really spiked in the last couple of decades. It’s mildly terrifying how many planes are polluting our atmosphere daily. I love a Ryanair bargain as much as the next broke girl, but we should try to fly less if possible.
Thanks to the Instagram account @instawrecked I’ve been made painfully aware of the damage tourists are doing to the planet; overrunning Instagram-worthy destinations, with no respect and high-littering habits. Try to travel eco-mindedly, leaving no traces behind and maybe avoid cities that are beginning to crack under the pressure of selfie-stick holding tourists (i.e. Venice, Santorini, and many more).
If you have any eco-tips and tricks, please get in touch, I’m always looking for frisky ideas!