This week, I’d like to offer you 10 household swaps to save money and the Earth.
I think there is often a misconception that making the kinder choice has to be for the privileged few, but the disposable culture that we live in actually costs us far more money than we might realise.
Before I go on, I’d like to point out that a lot of living more ethically and affordably is about buying less, not about purchasing expensive ‘eco’ alternatives to something you already have, or that you don’t really need.
So although I have recommended some genuinely good products here, don’t be fooled into thinking that buying more stuff is the answer to environmental problems caused by, you guessed it, people buying too much stuff.
Even if you just adopt one of these changes, you’d be surprised how much money you can save in the long run. I hope some of the ideas might be useful to you!
1. Coffee pods
There are enough coffee pods (K cups) in the trash right now to wrap around the entire world 11 times. The inventor of the coffee pod himself has expressed a great deal of regret about designing them, with tens of billions going to landfill every year.
You can save money and loads of waste by using a french press style coffee maker, or getting a reusable coffee pod if you already have a machine.
On average, a reusable coffee pod will save you more than 600 dollars a year!
On average, a menstruating person will use 11,400 tampons in their lifetime. Many will go to landfill and many more will end up in the ocean where they will contaminate the ocean, breaking into microplastics and being accidentally eaten by marine animals. (Yuck!)
NB: Never ever flush a tampon down a toilet where they can end up in our rivers and oceans – they should go in the bin!
But if you want to save money and the planet, you have loads of better options.
You can use a menstrual cup, which is made of medical-grade silicone and can be used for up to 10 years. Or you can use period pants, which are so comfortable and can get thrown in the wash cycle with the rest of your clothes. You need one pair of pants per 12 hours of your cycle, so you can either get several pair or just have a few but make sure you do a laundry load partway through your period.
On average, a menstrual cup will save you over a thousand dollars!
3. Laundry liquid
Did you know that laundry detergent is one of the most toxic products in our entire household?
If you look on the back of most of them, you will find a symbol that says harmful to aquatic life with long-lasting effect. Not only do they poison our rivers, lakes, and oceans, but they are diluted heavily with water, meaning we buy 556 million bottles of laundry detergent every year in the UK alone. (Office for National Statistics) Can you imagine how much plastic that creates?!
Well, one brilliant answer is to buy an Eco Egg. You throw it in the wash with every load, and it will last for over 700 washes. It cleans your clothes without any toxic chemicals and will last you for an average of 3 years, saving you a tonne of money.
4. Wet wipes
If you haven’t already said goodbye to wet wipes, it’s time you do.
They are made almost entirely of plastic and they are entering the world’s rivers at an alarming rate. They have already formed a second river bed of the Thames.
So save yourself a load of money and stop terrorising rivers by using a good old fashioned flannel. You can just make them from old clothes rags, or you can buy a special face cloth.
5. Plant Milk
So let’s say you’ve already reduced dairy consumption for the planet, nice one!
But you can do even better. You can so easily make your own plant milk and sidestep all the production, transportation and packaging that goes into producing it.
Making your own oat milk only takes a few minutes, it tastes just as good, and it’ll save you so much money! This quick and easy recipe will sort you right out!
6. Wrapping Paper
Another quick and easy idea is to wrap presents in newspaper. It looks really cute and vintage, and it’s a great way to repurpose something that normally gets chucked out or burned on the fire!
To make it look even cuter, you can tie a ribbon around it which your loved one can keep.
Rather than plastic sellotape, you can use paper washi tape. It is much prettier and more colourful too.
Clingfilm is not recyclable. Even if it were, recycling is not the solution to our plastic crisis. The small percentage of plastic that does get recycled will still be around on the earth in its next form, and will eventually end up in a landfill or the ocean. So it’s better to consume less plastic, not recycle more!
An alternative to clingfilm is to just put your food in a bowl and then a small plate over the bowl to cover it, then put it in the fridge. That’s right, you don’t have to buy a silicone plate cover!
If you are bringing food out and about with you, you might like to consider a beeswax food wrap instead. Don’t wash these in hot water or the wax will melt off!
8. Bottled water
It makes me want to despair when I see people filling up their trolley with disposable plastic bottles of water.
If tap water is safe to drink where you live, then you’re only paying for a plastic bottle! If you genuinely think that water from a fresh wild spring is worth shipping across the earth in a bottle, then I hope you’re prepared for those freshwater sources to end up filled with micro-plastics from all the plastic bottles in the environment! (Ok, whingey rant finished now, I just had to get that out my system, thank you for listening.)
If you are worried about your health, you can still ensure super safe water and a healthier planet by buying a water filter.
9. Local Vegetables
You will reduce the environmental cost of shipping and support local farmers by buying produce from the same region where you live. But if you can grow your own vegetables, then you will do even better!
This way you know your food hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides, which unfortunately are contributing to a collapse in pollinating species as well as cancers in human beings. Growing your own food is cheaper than buying and it’s a wonderful way to look out for your mental health and reconnect with the earth.
You don’t have to grow ALL your food. But maybe this year you could challenge yourself to a bucket of potatoes. If you live in an apartment, you can read up on tiny space gardening, consider an allotment, or get involved with a community food project.
I do not think you should go and swap your loving family pet!
But it is really worth considering adopting a dog from a shelter instead of buying a puppy from a farm or even a family breeder. The shelters are filled with dogs of all types and ages, many of whom would be perfect for your family.
Adopting a dog costs far less than buying a pedigree puppy, and they have often already been neutered and vaccinated. Offering a loving home to a rescue pup can be so rewarding, and the world needs these acts of kindness now more than ever!
Whether you plan on buying or adopting or even if you already have a dog, I massively recommend this book about rehoming a dog. It will give you so much information about positive dog psychology and bonding games you can play.
You could be a loving home for an unwanted animal instead of contributing to more breeding, which has surprisingly good climate outcomes considering dogs and cats are responsible for a quarter of the greenhouse gases associated with animal agriculture. (Forbes).
I hope you found some of these suggestions useful! I kept it to 10 for now so I didn’t overwhelm you. If you are looking to make more sustainable changes in your life, there is a Facebook group called Sustainable Steps which is very welcoming and helpful.
Here are some more of my articles you might like to read:
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I used some affiliate links in this article, so if you make a purchase through a link I recommended I could make a small commission at no extra cost to you. However, if you can buy any of the mentioned products from a local store or second hand, this would be even better!