There is an illusion that living a green life is expensive – but that’s not the case at all. In our “How Can I Go Green on a Budget?” series, we focus on different areas of your life where you can live more conscious of your environment AND finances. We’ll help you use what you already have so you can reduce your expenditures and impact on the planet.
Maybe it’s the nature of green(-ish) grocery stores that are often more expensive than other chain stores, or particular expensive clothing brands targeted at crunchy folks that make us believe living green is costly. The truth is you can live green at home, and you can do it on a budget.
If lessening the carbon footprint of your home is important to you, we can help you take those steps toward greener pastures by focusing on cleaning, recycling, and yard work.
Have you heard the term “dirty hippie?” Well, we don’t encourage it. While hippies are tree-huggers for the most part, there’s no reason living consciously means living dirty.
- Turn to your pantry for window cleaning. Fill a spray bottle with equal amounts of distilled white vinegar and water. And after you spray this mixture on your windows, wipe them clean with old newspapers to leave your windows sparkling. Just don’t be turned off by the smell – it will burn off in no time.
- Ditch the disposable sweeper gadgets and turn back time by sweeping your home with a broom. Get the kids involved by turning the chore into a fun family activity!
- Vacuums are loud, noisy, and use electricity. Want your children to latch onto another green chore? Buy a silent sweeper. They pick up dirt off carpets with no cords or engines, and they’re safe enough for children to operate.
Recycling is a no-brainer when it comes to green living. Cities of all sized have programs aimed at recycling in mass quantities. If city-wide recycling isn’t available, then sort and collect your recycling in separate plastic bins and deliver to recycling stations once a month. It’s an effort, but it’s better than your waste ending up in a landfill.
And even if you participate in one of these programs, there are still ways to recycle even more around the home.
- Use larger jars, like pasta sauce and jam jars, as plastic storage containers. With tight fitting lids, they work just as well as smaller containers, but won’t hold onto the smell of your food like cheap plastic does when you heat it in the microwave. By using old jars, you have no worry about foreign smells or chemicals getting into your food. Besides, glass containers are expensive, so use what you already have!
- Use old newspapers for cleaning. See our tip above on window washing!
- Collect corks and toilet rolls to donate to your local preschool or kindergarten arts and crafts programs. Ask the schools if they are collecting anything else like plastic tubs for craft projects. Young children are great at turning trash into little bits of handmade treasure. Wouldn’t you love to know your 12-pack of toilet rolls are becoming a whole cast of characters at the local preschool?!
Green Yard Work
Anyone who’s ever invested any time in yard upkeep (not to mention actual landscaping) knows how much time and energy can be involved. But with a little effort, you can keep your yard, budget, and world in the green, too!
- Grow grass that doesn’t require over-cutting and/or over-watering. Consider a variety like zoysia that doesn’t require frequent cutting, while still retaining the soft, vibrant green look that makes grass appealing in the first place.
- Ditch the blower! Get out a rake and a broom to clean up your leaf and grass debris the old fashioned way. You’ll get a workout doing it like this, too! Make sure and use biodegradable bags. Some cities won’t pick up green waste unless they’re in these special bags.
- Be smart with your water use, and water only in the cooler times of day. It’s important to stay conscious of when the sun is hottest. When you water your garden between 9am and 6pm, you risk boiling plants roots in the hot sun. And those high temperatures mean the water just evaporates.
- Use fallen dead leaves and pine needles as mulch. Don’t bag them up when raking. Simple spread them around your garden beds and around the base of your trees. You’ll save money on purchasing bagged mulch.
- If you want to landscape your yard, choose native varieties. They require less water, naturally bloom in all the right seasons, and provide a natural habitat for native birds, bees and butterflies.
In our next installment of “How Can I Go Green on a Budget?,” we’ll help you go green at work for less.