Sustainable Living Practices that Save You Money

Going green might seem like an expensive change, but in many ways it can save you money without requiring much sacrifice. From drying your clothes outside to using your own coffee cup, you’d be surprised at just how easy it can be. Here are ten ways to save money while helping the environment.

Dry Clothes Without a Dryer

Clothes line
Invest in a drying rack or clothesline to save both electricity and money. Drying a small load in a traditional dryer for 45 minutes costs 49 cents per load in electricity. If you’re using a Laundromat or apartment dryer, then you’ll spend a few dollars on this every time you wash and dry your clothes. An outdoor line is a cheap and easy-to-maintain alternative. The sun even has stain removing powers, and mother nature tends to leave clothes smelling wonderful. Just make sure the line isn’t under a tree that drops a lot of debris, or one that’s home to many birds.

Bike to Work

Bicycle commute
Let’s say you’re blessed with a short 10-mile round-trip commute to work and fortunate enough to not pay anything for parking. According to Kiplinger’s commuting calculator, bicycling still saves you $4.75 a day. As you can imagine, if you are able to ditch a parking fee, or have a slightly longer commute, biking will generate even more savings. It pays for itself in no time, is environmentally friendly and has health benefits. In fact, it might even help replace a gym membership, which would save you even more.

for more insight into this strategy, read our post about living without a car.

Make Your Own Detergent

Homemade detergent
Cut down on wasteful packaging by making your own laundry detergent. All you need is some borax, shaved bar soap and washing soda to whip up a batch in no time. Going this route will cost just five cents a load, which is 25 percent of what it costs to use the store-bought detergent. DIY Natural has a good recipe to follow.

Use Cloth Diapers for Your Child

Cloth diapers
Cut down on the waste society creates by re-using cloth diapers for your child. It’ll be a huge drop in price from plastic diapers and it will also mean less garbage filling up landfills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a typical baby goes through 8,000 diapers. Those diapers last centuries in a landfill and make a lasting impression on your finances. Many parents find that diapers run over $50 per month, and a mere $100 investment might be enough to cover the cost of cloth diapers for your baby’s entire first two years! Of course, there will be a marginal increase in laundry costs and a little more elbow grease required of you as the parent, but don’t ignore the savings possibilities here!

Ditch the Dishwasher

Dirty dishes
If you have a small number of dishes, try doing them by hand instead of using the dishwasher. You’ll save both water and electricity, which is a fair tradeoff for the extra effort you’ll be putting down.

Start Composting

Compost bins
If you’re into gardening, composting is a great way to save money on fertilizer and waste disposal. If you generate enough, you shouldn’t need to buy much more plant food, and you’ll be able to purchase fewer trash bags. The savings don’t just come from kitchen waste; you can also compost leaves, yard clippings and fireplace ashes. Of course, there’s a positive environmental impact too, and the Environmental Protection Agency has a thorough guide on how to get started.

Be sure to check out our guide on how to save money on gardening, too!

Use Your Own Coffee Cup

Reusable mug
Those disposable paper cups at coffee shops are convenient, but bringing your own reusable cup will limit unneeded waste. Many shops offers small discounts if you use your own, or will at least give you a little more coffee for free depending on the cup you’re using. Thanks to America’s addiction to coffee, an estimated 25 billion Styrofoam coffee cups are thrown out annually, according to the Carry Your Cup advocacy group. Offices are especially guilty of wasting cups, so store a reusable cup at your desk. If you’re really feeling bold you can save a few more cents here and there by not washing your cup. It’s a Navy tradition, after all.

Sell or Donate Your Old Stuff

Yard sale
Having your old stuff lugged off to the dump is easy, yet it would be a shame to do that. Try selling stuff on sites like Craigslist or eBay. If there aren’t any takers but the things you’re trying to get rid of are in good condition, consider donating them. Donations—such as books, furniture or other items—are tax deductible and could save you a little money. Likewise, buying second-hand stuff also limits waste while saving money.

Stop Wasting Electricity

Computers, lights and appliances that are left on add a little to your electricity bill each month, and that ends up costing a lot over time. The 115 million residences in America today collectively use around 22.5 percent of the country’s energy, with somewhere between 61-86 percent of all the energy in the U.S. being wasted. This is because of outdated electricity plants as well as home appliances and other electronics that are left on, to name just a few of the causes.

Always Recycle

Recycling has been on the rise over the past few decades, which is great news. The bad news is that a lot of things that could be recycled are instead being thrown out. According to the National Environment Agency, only 20 percent of glass is recycled while the rest is trashed, and only nine percent of plastics is disposed of properly. This can be improved upon at home by properly recycling. Depending on where you live, it can help you save money immediately by allowing you to use a recycling bin and minimizing bag costs.

Start Making Changes

By employing these tips, you can help save strain on the planet and on your wallet. Jump in, and be prepared to go green while you save money in the process. If you’re thinking about other changes to your budget or just want to get more organized with your monthly spending, be sure to give our budget calculator a try, too!

Anum Yoon is a personal finance writer and blogger who started and maintains Current On Currency. As a supporter of the sustainability movement, she also frequently writes about how we can help the environment. You can follow her on Twitter to catch her updates.

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2 responses to “Sustainable Living Practices that Save You Money”

  • Taylor

    We’re about to move and selling off stuff is on the TOP of my list. Living the minimalist lifestyle is a great way to be sustainable and frugal.

    • Thomas Bright

      Absolutely! Good luck with the move, and thanks for stopping by!