The idea of going zero waste can be really overwhelming at first, and it can seem really expensive too if you focus solely on swapping out products for more sustainable ones. But did you know that there are a lot of things you can do to benefit the planet that are either cheaper than what you're doing now, completely free, or actually save you money? Most of these are small habit changes you can make to live a little more sustainably and be more intentional with your actions. Here is my list of practices you can start as soon as today.
1. Unplug Your Appliances:
This one is minor but it can make a difference. When you aren't using your coffee pot, toaster, etc. just go ahead and unplug it. When devices are plugged into an outlet they can draw energy out, even if you aren't using them. This will help conserve energy and lower your energy bill.
2. Wash Your Clothes on Cold:
Here's a fact: 80-90% of the energy used in a washing machine cycle is just heating up the water. So if we skip the hot water and wash our clothes on cold we can save 80% of the energy used in our washing machine! And once again, this will reduce your energy bill too.
3. Skip the Dryer:
Another great way to save energy is skipping the dryer completely and air drying your clothes. Now I will admit I am not 100% sold on this myself, I feel like my clothes take 2 days to dry when I do this. But one thing I have committed to is not drying anything a second time if it's still slightly damp, and using my drying rack instead.
4. Do a "No-Buy":
I love this one because it involves you spending no money at all. A "no buy" is when you commit to not buying anything outside of necessities for as long as you decide. Could be a week or a month. Consuming less is massively helpful to the environment because every individual product we buy has its own carbon footprint. And this will help you in the end save a little bit of money and be more cognizant of your spending.
5. Turn off the Water:
Whether it be in between washing dishes or while you're brushing your teeth, keeping the water off when you aren't actively using it will save you money on your water bill. And even more importantly, it conserves water! Also, trying to shorten your shower time if you take long showers would make a big difference as well.
6. Lights out:
This one is pretty self-explanatory: if you aren't in the room, turn off the light!
7. Eat less meat:
Meat, especially red meat, is the primary source of methane emissions. Our global meat consumption needs to decrease by 50-90% by 2050 to remain in a good space for climate change, according to EAT-Lancet. I think people are intimidated to eat less meat because they think you can't eat plant-based meals without being a vegetarian or vegan. But that's simply not true. Anything you can do though to reduce your meat consumption will make a difference. Whether it be taking part in meatless Monday's or trying to aim for more plant based meals overall, you don't have to go vegetarian or vegan to reduce your carbon footprint. And yes, eating plant based will save you money and is better for your own health overall.
8. Shop Secondhand:
This is a big one I've already talked about quite a bit so I won't elaborate much, but buying as much as you can second hand cuts down on packaging and helps save items from the landfill that you would be using anyways. Plus it can save you so much money at the end of the day. (Check out my previous blog posts on shopping secondhand here).
9. Find a new home for your belongings:
If you are getting rid of something, before you just simply donate it, try to find someone who will use it and hand it off to them. This is where Facebook Marketplace comes in handy! While donating to a store is great, there is no guarantee that they will be able to sell what you donated, and at the end of the day it may end up in a landfill. However, if you try to find someone who wants what you have and will use it, there's a far greater chance that it will go to use. When this doesn't work, Goodwill donation bins are a great backup!
10. Get outside:
Spending time outside and turning off your heat or AC for a few hours can help conserve energy. Plus getting fresh air is always good for the soul.
These are just a few habits that we can try to get into that will have an impact on the environment, and our wallets for the better. And who doesn't love a win-win? What small things do you do that help the environment and save you money?
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.