Being sustainable on a budgetMateus Pinto @ 2020-10-06 18:16:12 -0700
Being a newbie entering the vast world of sustainability can be daunting. After doing research and learning more, I was overwhelmed at all the waste and plastic that can be found in my daily life. Most of the products in my bathroom alone were non-reusable or lacked plastic packaging! It’s crazy how much plastic is embedded in our daily lives without us even realizing. Upon realizing that, I decided to shift my daily routine towards one with more eco-friendly products in an effort to be more sustainable.
Sustainability often gets a bad reputation as being expensive to maintain. However, for me, a sustainable lifestyle should be one that is not only sustainable for the earth, but also for your wallet and time. How many times have you written those unattainable New Year’s resolutions only to fall short of them a week later? Implementing a sustainable lifestyle can be seen in the same way - small, maintainable tasks are much more effective in the long run than short bursts of extreme goals.
As much as I would love to replace all my plastic products, I am a college student with student loans and can’t afford all that. Thus, I like to do what I refer to as being sustainable with a budget. Here are some ways that I minimize costs while still being friendly to the earth!
Upcycling is taking old things and giving them a new life. It’s great since there are many creative ways to give older, useless things a new purpose and function.
One of my personal favorite uses of upcycling is reusing old tomato sauce or glass jars for homemade cookie mixes. I love gifting cookie mix (or any baked goods mix) this way to friends. Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked cookies? You can also personalize and design the jar to make it more personal to that friend, which is a bonus. To do that, boil the jar to remove the paper from the original label. Then use soap, warm water, and a sponge to remove the remaining glue. To get rid of the smell of tomato sauce, soak the lid and jar in a ratio of 3:1 baking soda to water overnight and leave the lid and jar in the sun for a couple days. These glass jars can also be used to store food you get from the bulk bins at your local grocery shop. Just make sure to go to the cashier first to weigh your empty jar before putting things in it!
There’s so many ways to upcycle items and prolong their life. And the best part is that it costs very little and you get something new in return!
Buying secondhand or exchanging clothes
When looking online for stores that implement environmentally friendly measures, humane labor, and cruelty-free animal practices, I was overwhelmed by the price. Though I would love to support companies that use 100% cotton, and are completely transparent with their labor practices, along with various other things, I simply cannot afford to pay $50 for a t-shirt. On the other hand, supporting fast fashion would contribute to worldwide pollution and plastic waste. I wanted to find other ways to be an environmentally conscious consumer without paying as much. And I knew just the place: my sister’s closet! One way to minimize your consumption of fast fashion is to borrow or exchange clothes with your siblings and friends. Most colleges have Facebook groups whose main purpose is to connect those looking to sell secondhand items. Not only does this minimize the amount of new items entering the consumption cycle, but it is an inexpensive way to buy new, stylish clothes. Thrift shopping is another amazing way to expand your closet in an inexpensive way. It allows you to try on the clothes and get the full shopping experience online shopping may lack. Instead of breaking the bank buying a closet full of sustainable yet pricey clothing, alternatives such as those I mentioned above are great for those on a budget.
Changing your mindset
The best way to live a more sustainable life is to change your mindset. Being aware of the plastic and pollution that you consume on a daily basis is the most important step in living a more sustainable life. Be conscious of what you buy, how you consume, and your daily actions.
Overall, make sure that you are including long term sustainable practices into your daily routines that work for you, your wallet, and your time. It is better to have a bunch of imperfect people striving to do better than a small amount of “perfect” zero waste living people. Be conscious, be aware, and do what is right for you!