This “How to Save Money and Help the Environment” post describes the tips I implement to save money and help Mother Earth and may contains affiliate links.
Helping the environment tends to have a bad rap. People think it takes too much time or is too expensive. What if I told you that you can save the environment and save money at the same time? And it doesn’t have to be hard at all!
By living a more mindful life, you can keep trash out of the landfill and keep money in your wallet.
Bring Your Own Shopping Bags
Shopping bags, they’re an inevitable part of daily life. Whenever you buy something, it’s given to you in a plastic bag. Due to environmental concerns, some states have banned stores from using plastic bags. If you want a bag to carry your groceries home, you have to pay for it.
Nevada is not yet one of those states but I keep reusable shopping bags in my car. I help keep plastic bags out of landfills and also save money! I shop at a regional grocery store called Sprouts and they give me a 5 cent discount for using my own bags. Target also gives a 5 cent discount off the total bill when you bring your own shopping bag.
Stick With Reusable Containers
Plastic freezer bags are so handy. I get it. You can put whatever you want in there and when you don’t need the bag anymore, you just toss it. But, in exchange for the convenience, you’re just throwing money away. Reduce waste by using reusable containers.
I like Pyrex glass containers because they’re microwave, oven, and dishwasher safe. They’re also super durable and since they’re made of glass, food smells don’t linger.
I used to like to marinade food in gallon-sized freezer bags but I got tired of throwing them away so often. Now I just marinade in my reusable containers. If you’re worried about germs, the scorching hot water from your dishwasher will kill them all.
I still use freezer bags from time to time. I use them for, well, freezing food. I’m afraid to stick the Pyrex in the freezer because I’m afraid the lid will crack. Also, I use the containers daily and sticking them in the freezer will put them out of commission. If anyone knows of freezer friendly containers I’d love to hear about it.
Bring Reusable Cups to Coffee Shop
If you go to the coffee shop every weekday for a cup of joe, that’s 260 cups you’re throwing away a year. And you’re also spending a lot of money on coffee, lol. Try bringing in your own reusable cup the next time you go. Not only are you helping out the environment, many coffee shops will give you a discount. Starbucks is one such café that offers discounts to customers who bring in their own tumblers.
As an added bonus, you’ll keep your drink warm or cool longer. I find the disposable cups don’t do that great of a job at maintaining temperature. My coffee tumbler keeps my coffee hot for up to 6 hours! I love it because I like to drink my coffee slowly and my tumbler lets me do that. On the other hand, I notice people at work dump their unfinished coffee because it’s no longer hot.
Replace Paper Towels with Kitchen Towels
Paper towels are a great invention and I do keep some in the house but I try to avoid using them as much as possible. Unlike kitchen towels which can be washed and reused, paper towels end up in the trash.
I keep a kitchen towel on the oven handle and that’s what I use to dry my hands and wipe up light spills. When drying dishes, I let them air dry or wipe them with kitchen towels.
Use a Reusable Water Bottle
It’s important to keep hydrated in the summer heat and I like to tote around a reusable water bottle. I think bottled water is a waste of money. There’s really no difference between tap and bottled water. It’s just a clever marketing scheme to get us to spend more money. I use a stainless steel bottle which eliminates issues with BPA. I really like the Klean Kanteen brand.
The colors are so cheerful and it’s a well-made product. I’ve been using the same bottle for 10 years!
Save your money and help the environment and drink tap water. If your city’s water doesn’t taste good, you can install a water filter or get a pitcher with a filter to get rid of unpleasant tastes.
Make Homemade Cleaners
Homemade cleaners can be just as effective as store-bought cleaners and they don’t contain additives like fragrance and coloring. Many pantry items can be turned into cleaning supplies. Baking soda and vinegar are my top go-to items.
Baking soda is a mild abrasive. I mix it with a little bit of water to wipe down counter tops and the stove. I also use it to clean the shower doors. If you’re worried about scratches, test it on the underside of your counter where people can’t see.
About once every two weeks, I clean the kitchen and bathroom sinks by pouring in about ½ cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar. Remember the volcano experiments from childhood? This is the reaction you’ll get. I let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes then finish off with hot water. I find this helps prevent clogs and gets rid of funky smells. The same mixture works great for cleaning toilets and shower drains.
Rubbing alcohol is also in my cleaning supply rotation. I put it in a spray bottle and spray down the outside of the microwave and oven. It does a really good job at cutting grease. If you can’t stand the smell, put some orange peels in the bottle for some citrusy goodness.
You can even make your own pest repellent. Mix equal amounts of borax and sugar and sprinkle around the perimeter of your house to ward off ants and cockroaches. You can find borax in the laundry aisle at grocery stores and it’s also available in big box stores. If you have pets and young children, please be careful as you don’t want them to accidentally ingest this.
Make Fewer Car Trips
Many of us rely on a car as transportation, that’s just a fact of life in many U.S. cities. But, with some planning, you can save money and help the environment by reducing CO2 emissions.
Every Sunday, write down all the errands that need to be completed for the upcoming week. Separate those errands into groups so that you can complete multiple errands in one day. This will help you save gas and be environmentally friendly because a warm engine runs more efficiently than a cold one. I always go to the library and Trader Joe’s on the same day because they’re on the same street. I don’t tend to linger at either place so I can be in and out in a jiffy and take advantage of a warmed up engine.
For those of us who work outside the home, you can look into carpooling, taking public transportation, or riding a bicycle. If you don’t know of anyone to carpool with, you can look into uberPOOL. It’s just like a regular Uber ride but will match you up with people going the same direction as you to lower the cost of the ride.
Reduce Food Waste
Wasting food is wasting money, straight and simple. Therefore, you should do all you can to avoid throwing away food. The easiest way to reduce food waste is to avoid buying more than you need. I achieve this by menu planning and making a list before visiting the grocery store. It takes slightly more work than just going to the store and buying whatever you want but the results are worth it.
I’m not perfect but pre-planning allows me to use up most of the perishables I bring home from the store. I’m also the type of person who will eat the same thing day after day in order to avoid wasting food. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I prefer it to the alternative of wasting food.
Similarly, when you go out to eat and there are leftovers, you should bring it home. You already paid for the meal so why not bring it home and enjoy it some more? Plus, bringing home leftovers means less cooking at home. It’s a win-win!
If you would like to be more environmentally conscious but don’t know where to start, start small. You don’t have to overhaul everything overnight. There are lots of suggestions here. Just pick one and build from there. Not only will you have the satisfaction of helping the environment, you’ll also save money!