Which Products and Habits Save Money and are Eco-Friendly?
Sustainability is important and while the upfront cost of some items seems expensive, they save money in the long run. Below are items I have used to be more environmentally friendly and to save money
1. Period Underwear and Menstrual Cups
I read about these long before I was willing to try them. Years ago I used cloth pads to save money but it wasn’t great. The period underwear available now is fantastic. Most teenage girls I know are requesting to use this instead of pads.
As for the cup, I love it and it has been so useful for travel, especially as we spent a lot of time in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. I did not want to contribute more to waste there with pads and tampons plus, we were quite remote at times which meant no access to those items anyway.
A cup can be in for up to 12 hours and it also meant when I started to have some health issues and suspected fertility issues, I knew exactly what my body was doing.
I found it more comfortable than pads and tampons too. Check out how to switch plus tips on using them and reviews on a few brands.
2. Cloth Nappies
When I had my first daughter 13 years ago, another mum introduced me to modern cloth nappies instead of the big towels you had to fold. Total game-changer. So easy to use, similar size to disposables so I started making them and sold some too.
Modern cloth nappies have a bit of an upfront cost but definitely pay for themselves. Both my daughters were out of nappies by 2 years old and we never had wet beds. Hoping for similar with my son.
Part of the reason I think it was easier to toilet train my kids is due to cloth nappies. They feel being wet for a bit so associate it more with needing to go to the toilet compared to disposables which whisk the wet away immediately.
3. Buy Once, Buy Right
Do your research and buy quality items. Too often we go for the cheapest option then end up having to replace it quickly which results in more junk going to landfill and it gets expensive.
Instead, learn which is the best option for your budget and needs. Pay a little more for better quality if necessary and buy once instead of buying cheaper multiple times.
Items such as reusable period underwear, cloth nappies, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable coffee cups, thermos and similar are all great examples of buy once, buy right when it comes to small items.
When you have to replace big items including white goods, compare their energy and water efficiency, not just price. Read reviews and if needed, spend a little more to get an efficient one. Your bills will thank you long term.
4. Eco-Friendly Cleaning
We do not need all the cleaning products you see advertised. Vinegar is great for cleaning a variety of things, also as a fabric softener. Reusable cloths are so much better than wipes. In fact, you can use old sheets or clothes as rags to clean with.
Hang your clothes to dry instead of using a dryer. We don’t even own a dryer although sometimes I wish we did. Our clothes line is set up underneath our carport. The one in the backyard had too many issues with bats and birds ‘decorating’ the washing.
Check for eco and sustainable options before buying a million cleaning products for different things.
5. Repair vs Replace
Whatever you are considering replacing, check if it can be repaired first. If the repair is affordable or works out cheaper than replacing, do it. Be aware though, sometimes it is cheaper to replace an item.
If you do replace it, is there anything about the current broken item that can be repurposed? E.g. buttons or zips on clothing and use the clothing for rags or turn a shirt into a dress for a kid etc.
As just mentioned, repurposing is both environmentally friendly and frugal. Many items can have a second life if you make a few changes. For inspiration, Google whatever it is you need to repurpose and see how others have done it.
Some items we have repurposed include turning a loft bed into a day lounge, pallets into a garden bed (safely), left over wood into a clock etc.
7. Buy Local
Shop at your local farmers’ markets for the freshest produce which has not been shipped from far away. Farmers appreciate it and you are helping the local economy while also being environmentally friendly.
Plus, buying local usually means you get to know whoever is growing your food, baking your bread, selling you meat etc. Thus creating a strong community feel too.
8. Get Outside
We spend most of our time outside hiking, bike riding, swimming at the beach etc. It reduces our electricity usage at home and the active lifestyle means we are healthier and closer as a family
Rather than sitting inside with air conditioning, watching Netflix or playing video games, we are enjoying the outdoors for free and reducing our carbon footprint.
9. Grow Your Own
Establish a garden to have some of your own produce such as tomatoes, herbs, cucumber and maybe some fruit trees. Along with saving money, this helps clean the air and gardening has been shown to reduce stress. Numerous benefits for everyone.
10. Safety Razors
These are the razors where you change the blades rather than the whole razor or razor head. The blades are extremely sharp and last a few weeks if you shave every day.
Shaves are closer to the skin than disposable razors and it works out significantly cheaper to use a safety razor and replace the blades. Plus, much less waste goes to landfills.
11. Reusable Items or Ditch Them
Straws, napkins, paper towels and so many other products have become the norm. Thankfully, most restaurants are getting rid of straws now. If you truly need a straw, get a reusable one. Also, reusable coffee cup, thermos for your lunch so you can take lunch from home, use cloth instead of paper towel and fabric napkins instead of paper ones.
Look at everything you use and see if there are reusable options.