What first comes to mind upon hearing the words “eco-friendly” product? Most likely you associate it with expensive brands. I know I do.
So we want to become greener and purchase items that do more good than harm. But how can we do this in a way that doesn’t hurt our wallet?
Oftentimes, this association of living sustainably and paying a pretty penny is what de-motivates us from making environmentally conscious shopping decisions. It’s a natural deterrent, and we feel powerless to do what we can to support the right brands and not use products that feed the endless waste supply chain and toxicity into the environment.
Believe it or not, being de-motivated by money restrictions is also a way to prevent us from being aware of our ecological impact.
Living green should not hurt your wallet
Now, I’m no expert in money-saving hacks, but my experience throughout my time trying to focus on living more sustainably (and therefore monitoring what kind of products I use), I’ve learned these three tricks to not losing much money along the way and making sure my impact doesn’t hurt much of anyone or anything:
- Buy in Bulk
- Simple Ingredients = Cheaper & Better
- Create Your Own Quality Products
#1: Go for bulk!
You’ve probably heard this one before, but I’m going to repeat it anyways. Buying in bulk is oftentimes far cheaper than buying a pre-packaged item. The secret is doing your part to not use more plastic. Therefore, bringing your own reusable bag. That way you’re not wasting anything, and you’re saving money as well.
Now, finding a store near you that offers items in bulk may be a hassle. A great site that I like to use to make things easier is here: https://app.zerowastehome.com from the influential zero waste lifestyle advocate Bea Johnson.
#2: Simpler is Better & Cheaper
There was a time when people all around the world believed that the more complicated a product is, the healthier it was for you. The more fragrances in a shampoo, the more quality it seemed to be. The bigger the logo on the product, the more drawn to it we were – and still are. These brands have marketing tactics that they’ve mastered over many years. They can make an item look higher quality when in reality it is just a concoction of cheap chemicals and materials. The label can say just about anything in order to sell us on their item. This, ultimately, makes the item more expensive than it needs to be.
The reality is this: the less ingredients, the more natural, straight-from-the-earth they appear, the better it is for your health, the health of the environment and your wallet.
Food industries know that they can stuff a ton of cheap, unnecessary ingredients into their products and charge you more for it. But think about it: ages ago, there were no global companies that mass produced items. Everything was handmade by locals and people who had skill. And items were simple to make (yet they required more effort.)
For example, castor oil has been shown to have replenishing and cleansing effects when used on the face, and is often recommended by dermatologists. It’s a single ingredient – the oil itself – extracted from castor seeds and sold at a variety of shops. I usually see them sold for no more than $7 for a 2 oz. Keep in mind, these are oils and shouldn’t be used excessively, which helps the item last longer.
If you want something more aromatic: lavender oil, rose hips and tea tree oil works much the same way for not much more in value.
So why spend $15 on a fancy cream?
Home remedies that are simple in ingredients is almost always the better way to go. They don’t always sound luxurious, but do we really associate fake products with luxury?
And then there’s food.
Food applies much in the same way. We as humans are designed to eat simple, solid food that we may immerse in whatever flavor and garnish with any kind of delicacy that appeals to our senses. But extra, unnecessary flavoring in packaged food? Conventional processed meals that are labeled “nutritional” by big brands? They do more harm than good.
Trust me, you’ll save money with this technique. And you’re not contributing to further environmental troubles either. Remember, nature is on your side when you take care of it. It is abundant with it’s own natural products that you sometimes don’t even need to spend money on – you can just pick a lemon or an apple from your own backyard!
#3: Create your own products
This may be a difficult one for us to grasp. We live in a society that adores instantaneous results and the freedom to choose whatever we want. So what I’m about to suggest is something a bit out of our comfort zone.
However, expanding from what I briefly spoke about in my tip #2, I’d like to take a shot and explain how much better for you and your environment actually making your own products can be.
Here’s an example first: I recently started making my own granola. I eat yogurt and granola almost every morning for breakfast. For all the years that I’ve been practicing this morning ritual, I had been on the hunt for granola with the simplest ingredients. Less artificial stuff, no corn syrup, no “added flavors” or canola oil (I am against this oil). It was strangely difficult. Never had I put much thought into making my own granola, though.
I suppose I wasn’t creative enough, but I eventually stumbled upon this simple yet pretty inspiring blog post and found that it is incredibly to make your own granola – and cheaper too. And way tastier than store bought. The best part? You know what kind of ingredients is going into your meal.
This was not a legendary or life-changing event, but it opened up a door for me, which I knew about but never bothered opening before: You can make your own products.
If you want to save money, I promise you will when you think outside the box and realize that your own creation is even better than anything bought in the store!
To sum up. . .
Consumerism has gotta change. It’s gotta change because we live in a world of “buyers fever”, shopaholics anonymous and consumer-cravings. We view ourselves as consumers, and we view the norm as us constantly needing things.We need to buy things because it makes us feel good, battles boredom, induces pleasure.
Understandable. I love buying things, and yet all can be done in modesty.
AND we can buy things while thinking about the planet.
Each other. Ourselves.
Buying things while living sustainably does not only include the environment’s health – which is still paramount – but also ours (read more about that here: Sustainable Lifestyle: What Even Is It?)
Ultimately, the question resides in do I care more about quality or cheapness? Which are you more willing to sacrifice?