As a kid, I wasn’t much for nature. I preferred playing inside than out. My first time swimming in the ocean left me with nightmares. I stayed far, far away from animals. And if the summer temps ever got over 80 degrees, you’d find me hiding in the house because goodness knows this Midwest girl would start to melt.
But as I started honing in on my frugal ways, I started to take more walks instead of paying for a gym membership. I started turning my AC up to cut down on the electric bill. And all of a sudden I realized that a lot of the things I was doing to save money were actually helping save… the environment. Imagine that.
Pretty soon I decided that maybe I didn’t actually hate nature and not long after, I found myself willingly recycling (even separating the plastic from paper), reading books by Lake Michigan, and even filling my apartment with lots of pretty green plants.
Here’s a list of every day things I now do that have helped me create healthy green and frugal living habits.
10 Ways I’ve Become a Frugal Environmentalist
1. Buy in Bulk
You know those packs of individual crackers or nuts that are super easy to throw in a lunch bag or purse? They may be super convenient, but they are also super expensive. It’s cheaper to buy a huge bag of almonds at Costco for $12 and separate them out yourself into little containers or even reusable silicone zip bags. You’ll save money and the trash will be saved from collecting more packaging waste.
2. Drink from a Reusable Water Bottle
I’ve done this one for years. I mean, who pays $2, $4, sometimes even $10 for a single bottle of water?! Living in the United States, I’ve got incredible access to clean water. Why buy the imported stuff from Iceland when I can drink the stuff straight from my tap for free? This also means less plastic bottles floating around the world.
Here’s my favorite water bottle. Well worth the investment. It keeps liquids cold up to 24 hours and hot up to 12 hours. It’s been with me through my travels in Africa, Europe, and now across NYC every single day.
3. Reuse Bags
I typically take these super cute and strong reusable bags with me whenever I’m out and about. But for the times I don’t have them with me and end up with 7,000 plastic bags after grocery shopping (because the store by me doesn’t have paper bags?!), I store them for later use. I typically reuse plastic bags for the small trash cans in my bathroom and office, but they also come in handy for doggy poo bags or for collecting scraps when chopping veggies.
4. Reuse Jars
Sometimes being frugal makes me feel like an old lady who lived through the Depression Era, never wanting to throw anything out and reusing everything. Case in point: my cupboard full of old jars. Some of them are literally my grandmother’s original Ball mason jars from over 50 years ago.
I also tend to stock up on the glass jars my favorite natural peanut butter comes in. They are perfect for storing all those items I’ve bought in bulk (nuts, oats, popcorn kernels, rice). Plus they are great for making my homemade mayo in!
5. Live with No Car
When my husband and I moved to Chicago two weeks after getting married, we said goodbye to our cars and hello to the L. We’ve been happily riding the subway ever since. We now live in New York City where we each pay $121 monthly for our metro passes. This is so much cheaper than car insurance, gas, and a parking pass, less stressful and quicker than driving through Midtown, and is car pooling at its finest.
Related: 5 Ways Riding a Bike Saves You Money
6. Shop Secondhand
I’ve written about this quite extensively, but I am a secondhand fanatic. I do it mostly because it’s cheap. I can get high quality items at low prices. But the added benefit is that it can help lessen waste in landfills and if more consumers shopped resale, it could mean less factory costs and less energy being used.
thredUP is my favorite place to shop resale clothes online.
7. Make Natural Beauty Products
I’ve used coconut oil to remove makeup, cornstarch as dry shampoo, and have created body scrubs from olive oil and sugar. Not only do these things cost very little to make (with ingredients I already have sitting in my kitchen cupboard!), they are also chemical-free and natural.
Related: 9 Frugal Uses for Coconut Oil
8. Wear Reusable Feminine Products
Yes, you read that right. I had a roommate once whose mom gifted her a menstrual cup. And I was all like, “A menstrual what?!” I let the thought stay there and let my roommate do her thang. But about a year ago, that weird gift popped back into my mind and I started researching reusable feminine products. I bought this menstrual cup and haven’t looked back. It’s cheap and creates no waste. A win-win!
9. Cut Cable
The same day my husband and I left our cars behind in North Dakota, we also bid adieu to our friends, family, and… cable. We haven’t had it for over 4 years and I’ve never once missed it. We do, of course, have Netflix. But we typically spend less time with the TV on than when we did have cable which means less electricity is being used.
10. Buy less stuff
The ultimate way to be frugal is simply to buy less. If a $200 pair of jeans is on sale for $100, you may have saved 50%, but you still SPENT $100. Being frugal has truly made me think twice before buying which is good for both my budget and the environment.
In what ways has being frugal helped you become more green?
Join the newsletter
Learn how to spend less and live more with the Crafty Coin newsletter.
Get my latest posts and tips sent to your inbox!