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I am someone who strives to live more sustainably, but as a single mom of two, it’s not always that easy. In an effort to save money and have a more positive impact on the environment, I’ve made a few changes this year that have been really helpful.
I want to preface this post by saying that I am not perfect. I still produce more trash than I am comfortable with and I’m in no way a budgeting expert, but everyone has to start somewhere, and these are some simple changes that have helped us. The way I see it, a bunch of people making some small lifestyle changes to help the environment is more effective than one person living a perfect zero-waste life.
Sustainable Changes That Save Money
Make Your Own Cleaner
I’ve been making my own all-purpose cleaner for over a year now and I will never go back to the store-bought stuff. Not only has this saved a ton of money on cleaning supplies, but there aren’t any harsh chemicals involved so it’s better for our bodies and the environment.
1. Fill a jar with citrus peels (lemon, orange, lime). I save my peels in a bag in the freezer whenever I eat an orange or juice a lemon.
2. Pour white vinegar over the peels until the jar is filled. Let sit for 1-2 weeks, giving it a shake every couple days.
3. After about 2 weeks, drain the liquid into a spray bottle and fill it to about halfway. Fill the other half of the spray bottle with water and you have your cleaner.
We ordered our first Imperfect Foods box back in January this year, and it’s truly one of my favorite services.
Imperfect Food focuses on getting the unwanted products that don’t meet grocery store standards into homes at a discount so they don’t go to waste. Since I live in a house of eight, we order the large mixed fruits & veggies box weekly. On Thursdays, I am sent an email letting me know it is time to customize my box, where I can log on to my account pick out what items I want for the week from the selection they have available. We spend between $25-$30 on this box weekly. The majority of the stuff we get is produce, but I’ve even ordered things like pasta and canned goods that were a great deal because of a packaging change. This helps us save money and trips to the grocery store, and helps out farmers and the environment by lowering waste.
Replace Disposables With Reusables
Plastic straws, sandwich bags, dryer sheets, and plastic wrap are something that we used to buy all the time but don’t use anymore. I’m also in the process of switching over to earth-friendly sponges and we’ve limited our use of paper towels by keeping dishtowels available in the kitchen. By switching over to reusable items we are able to save money because we don’t have to continuously by these items and it keeps them out of the trash.
Some reusable alternatives:
Straws: There are so many options for reusable straws now, that there is really no reason to buy disposable ones.
Sandwich Bags/Plastic Wrap:
Dryer Sheets: Wool dryer balls are a great alternative for these. We have a few of these and use them all the time.
Sponges and Paper Towels: Marley’s Monsters has some great options for reusable sponges and towels.
Check For Running Water
We had an issue with two of our toilets constantly running water, as well as a blockage in our garden hose. It made our water bill higher and was wasting a ton of water. After fixing the toilets and replacing our hose, we’ve lowered our water bill and stopped that unnecessary water waste. If your water bill feels a bit high, check your toilets and faucets to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Pickling, Canning, and Drying
Learning how to can, pickle, and dry foods are some of the best things I’ve learned this year. I’ve been able to dry my own herbs, make jams and jellies, and pickle items that would’ve otherwise been thrown out.
Goals For Next Year:
My next project is to start composting. We have a yard waste bin that is provided by the city that we can throw some stuff in, but for the most part, everything goes in the trash. I would love to start composting so we can keep our organic waste out of landfills and put it to good use.
I would love to grow, harvest, and dry more herbs next year. I order most of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs, but I decided to grow some of my own this year and I really enjoyed the process. This year I focused on rosemary and sage, but I have a list of herbs I would like to grow next summer.