How To Live Sustainably When You’re On A Freaking Budget

Sustainability is a very important value to me. But I’m also no Rockefeller. I won’t even bother you with how organic and healthy food is so much more expensive than crappy fast food. The whole concept of living sustainably is that less is more. Quality over quantity. But sometimes those quality items can rack up quickly. Here are some of my best tried + true tips for living a sustainable lifestyle on a budget.

Stick with the “Clean Fifteen”

Organic food is not cheap. If buying a fully organic supply of groceries weekly is overwhelming, stick with the Clean Fifteen. If you’re unfamiliar with the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen, it’s the 12 most highly affected produce in regards to pesticides and chemicals. If you can only afford to buy some organic groceries, these Clean Fifteen should be at the top of your list. Things like organic milk actually last longer than non-organic and are usually only $1 more. It’s worth not throwing away an almost full carton at the end of the week.

Switch to bar soap

Honestly, shower gels and hand soaps are some of the most wasteful products in common households. Bars of soap actually tend to last longer and have fewer chemicals than liquid soap. You can invest in a soap tin for travel purposes and just toss it in your purse.

Recycle everything

You should be doing this anyway, if we’re being honest, but it’s time to really dig your heels in. I keep this handy one sheet on my fridge so I know what I can and can’t recycle. Your city should have one on your local environmental services site. By separating your recyclables you can actually make money. At the end of each month, take your collection to the recycling center and earn some cash.

Buy used

We’ve talked about this a lot before, but vintage furniture is actually really great quality. You know how your grandpa says, “they don’t make ’em like they used to”? He’s right. Vintage furniture is not only cheaper and high-quality, but it’s one less couch or coffee table in a landfill.

Reduce phantom energy

What is phantom energy? It’s that ~10 percent of your electric bill that comes from laptops, lamps, chargers and anything else you leave plugged in all day long. You can unplug these when not in use, or invest in “smart” surge protectors that disable power of items that aren’t in use.

Go veggie

Meat is expensive and it’s crap for the environment. No, it’s literally their crap that’s ruining the environment. Farming animals for consumption creates greenhouse gas emissions produced by the growing, rearing, farming, processing, transporting and disposing of all these “products.” 70 percent of the deforestation of the Amazon is to provide land for cattle ranches. Vegetarians have half the carbon footprint that meat eaters do, and a lot smaller grocery bill! If you can’t commit to going fully vegetarian, at least aim for one “meatless” day a week.

Make easy swaps

Meal prep

Now that you’ve bought all those Clean Fifteen veggies and healthy foods in bulk, it’s time to prep your meals for the week. Making your lunches and coffee at home will not only save money, but will reduce unnecessary waste that undoubtedly comes from buying food on the go.

shop some of my favorite sustainable products:


You might also enjoy 5 Apps To Help You Live More Sustainably, Why Sustainable Feminine Products Are So Important and 10 Things You Won’t Believe Are Made Out Of Recycled Water Bottles

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Author: Samantha Welker

Samantha Welker is the business manager at Glitter Guide. She has an Master's in Corporate Finance & Sustainability from Harvard Business School but prefers working in the creative industry. She also hosts a weekly business podcast for creative women called Pretty Okay Podcast. She loves spending time with her husband and her son, Rocky, in sunny San Diego. Follow along on Instagram