With the vast array of greenwashing* done by companies these days it can seem like going green might cost the earth (exactly what you’re trying to avoid!).
*Greenwashing is when a company markets themselves as being ‘sustainable’ in order to sell a product or service that is actually quite unnecessary. For example: A silicone (reusable) sandwich bag might be marketed as the best ‘green’ alternative you’ve never known you needed before, when in actual fact you could be using the same old tupperware container that you’ve always used… given that you already own the tupperware and it works perfectly well, why would you buy something just for the sake of it?! That’s not truly being green at all.
Once we look past the greenwashing and the various products you could be using or buying, going green can actually be much cheaper than you initially thought. Here are my tips on going green on a serious budget:
REUSE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
I mentioned not buying into products that you don’t need, but what about using what you already own. I cut up my old stained, holey tea towels to use as dishcloths. You’ll be stopping the need to buy plastic sponges (in plastic wrapping) and giving a product you already own a new life! WINNING. If you have an old towel you can do the same, be creative, what else can you reuse that already exists in your home?
MAKE SOME OF YOUR OWN PRODUCTS
Now that you’ve reinvigorated the use of your kitchen and are concentrating on your inner chef you may have a few lemons leftover… did you know these can be made into natural cleaner?! Simultaneously saving your pennies and avoiding nasty chemicals going down the drains, now that’s thrifty!
EAT LESS MEAT
Meat is expensive, not just to our hip pockets but also to the planet. It takes a lot of resources and land to raise animals, (and even more land to grow their food)! If you can start to swap your meals to eating more fruits, vegetables, beans and pulses then you’ll be helping the planet and straining your hip pocket a lot less too.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF SPICES (and don’t be afraid to cook)
Without my herb and spice bucket (because it is essentially a huge bucket container) my food would be VERY bland. With just a few spices I can turn boring boiled potatoes and peas into exciting bombay potatoes and peas! Often when our palette is satiated by spices and flavour we don’t need to go in search of other richer foods (often more expensive animal products). If your spice cupboard is bare I would suggest starting with just a few (fairly) cheap spices: smoked paprika, cumin, ground cinnamon. Also- In the UK you can almost always get rosemary and sage for free (from people’s gardens).
If your shoestrings are particularly tight this month and won’t allow for purchasing new spices then learn to recycle right. This might sound like common sense but there is a huge percentage of people who don’t know what their councils will and won’t accept and what happens to their rubbish after they throw it in the bin. Did you know that you can recycle your soft plastics?! YUP! It’s a little known fact that you can recycle any stretchy plastic (think frozen food bags, multipack drinks wrappers, cereal inner bags, bread bags, clean cling film, toilet roll film, bubble wrap) all in the same bins at the supermarket where you would recycle your old plastic shopping bags.
Composting is free and you wouldn’t believe just how much this helps! The only way any biodegradable product actually degrades is with the presence of light and air (two things that landfill don’t have). By sending an compostable material to landfill you’re creating more methane than if you just used plastic to begin with. Don’t let this put you off using compostable materials, just go the extra mile and find out where your local community compost project is.
Being green isn’t all organic coconut oil and expensive products, being green at its source is just cutting out the faff and going back to basics. It might mean foraging for some food (or at very least learning which of your neighbours are growing rosemary) or it could mean re-purposing your old jars into cups or containers. Being green just means thinking outside the box, being thrifty, in short, more like our grandparents.