7 More Tips for Saving Money with Sustainable Behaviors

Are you looking for more environmentally friendly actions to incorporate into your routines? These sustainable actions may take a bit more effort than those listed in Part One, based on our personal experiences, but they won’t be as much of an investment as buying an electric car or switching out your water heater, for example! Here is a list of seven more sustainable behaviors to try out along with some simple tips to help you succeed.

Take shorter showers ($8-30/yr)

Taking shorter showers is a great way to lower your monthly water and heating bills, while also reducing your environmental impact. If you are able to reduce your shower times by 5 minutes, you could save between $8-30 a year.

Tips for Success

  • Choose 1-2 songs to play as you shower to provide a baseline of when you should be done by.
  • Set a timer for 5-10 minutes to become more aware of your time spent showering.

Eat a plant-based diet ($750/yr)

Eating a plant-based diet can reduce your annual food costs by 33%! Eating less meat is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, since a 11.2% of global emissions are due to agricultural production. Even if you are not fully vegan, making vegetarian substitutions throughout your week will be cheaper than eating meat daily! Many plant-based proteins, like lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and seeds, are cheaper than meats. However, note that meat alternatives, like Impossible or Beyond, may not save you money. 

Tips for Success

Switch to LED lights ($225/yr)

LED lights use up to 90% less energy and last up to 25x longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs. This reduced energy consumption will reduce your demand for fossil fuels and will cut down your bills! 

Tips for Success

  • If you are renting, consider asking your landlord if they’ll switch out your bulbs for you. 
  • Make a quick note to yourself to buy some LED lights during your next trip to the store!

Air dry clothes ($80/yr)

ENERGY STAR estimates that, on average, dryers account for 6% of residential energy use. Making this shift will decrease your demand for fossil fuel driven energy and can save you close to $80 annually.

Tips for Success

  • To break the habit of automatically transferring our laundry from the washer to the drier, leave yourself a little note atop your drier to remember to air dry instead. 
  • Make sure to space out your clothes by at least an inch and use a fan if you are drying indoors (fans use less energy than a dryer!).

Use cloth napkins ($70/yr)

Consider switching to reusable cloth napkins to reduce your waste generation and save money long-term. The average annual cost of disposable napkins for a family of four is about $80. By making your own napkins from fabric or buying pre-made reusables you can save about $70 each year.

Tips for Success

  • Don’t feel like you need to cut out paper napkins all at once. Using disposable napkins for a gross mess or an oily spill is perfectly fine!
  • You can set up a laundry system to wash the dirty napkins, like placing a basket on top of the washing machine where you can throw them after use.

Switch to reusable period products ($52/yr)

Reusable period products, like menstrual cups, period underwear, or reusable pads, do not need to be purchased many times throughout the year, unlike traditional tampons and pads. This reduces waste and your costs. 

Tips for Success

  • Before switching, research which alternative option might be best for you; they all have pros and cons!
  • Carry backup sanitary products in case you find that the alternative ones are not for you. You can always try out different products, no need to fully commit right away. 

Use reusable cotton makeup remover rounds ($46/yr)

Makeup remover wipes result in a lot of waste and can also get expensive, fast! Reusable makeup remover rounds can solve both of those problems. To make your own reusable rounds, you can cut up old cotton T-shirts and dip the fabric in makeup removal solution. Or, they can be purchased pre-made. 

Tips for Success

  • Keep a “clean” and a “dirty” container to store your rounds so that you can stay organized.
  • Check out this website to learn about which makeup remover products are best for your health

Consider if any one of these sustainable behaviors might work for you, and know that you can always modify these to make them more accessible to you. It does not have to be all or nothing! Here are some examples of that in our lives. 

Anna: When I was transitioning away from my single-use makeup remover wipes, I did not buy reusable options. Instead, I used my regular face wash to remove my makeup with no extra products and used a washcloth to wipe off excess makeup. Doing this was free for me because I did not buy any new products and as a bonus, I now produce less waste!

Emily: I currently live in an apartment, so it would be very difficult for me to switch all of my light bulbs to LED. Instead of trying to change every bulb in my residence, I just switched out the bulbs in our lamps. Although imperfect, this small shift has been making a dent in my electricity bills which has been great!

Remember that small efforts can make a difference, and you don’t have to be perfect. Happy saving!