How to Be Eco-Conscious On A Budget

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Living a more eco-conscious lifestyle may sound expensive – but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for budget-friendly green living.

Obviously, our planet is facing a number of serious environmental challenges these days. From climate change, to pollution, to food waste, there are numerous things that need fixing – and changing our wasteful lifestyles is the best way to accomplish this.

But some people – especially from the younger generation – view eco-conscious living as “too expensive,” which honestly, it can be, if you aren’t careful. Buying all organic foods can be pricey, not to mention the cost of buying clothing or other living accessories from the newer “eco-friendly” brands that are popping up everywhere.

However, there are numerous things that you can do to help make the planet a better place, even if you’re on a tight budget (in fact, some of them may even save you money).

One of the best things you can do is to cut down on meat consumption. Meat is not only expensive, but it is a highly resource-intensive food, and industrial farming is incredibly destructive to the environment. Responsibly raised, grass-fed, and organic meat can be pricey, but if you want to eat meat, it’s the only eco-friendly way. If you can’t give up your occasional steak, just cut back, and when you do buy meat, buy the good stuff (grass-fed & locally raised).

Vice magazine interviewed Pandora Thomas, and environmental consultant and advocate, about some other ways to save money while saving the planet:

VICE: What would you say it costs you to living in an eco-conscious way? Do you find it to be more expensive than if you just defaulted to what everyone else is doing?

Pandora Thomas: Well, actually, a lot of what we call “environmentally friendly practices” are things people of low means do because they have to. You’re saving things and you’re trying to cut corners here and there, so you’re using less products [and spending less money] in general.

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A lot of times the high cost comes in when you’re buying things packaged. Also, [it can be expensive] when you’re eating out a lot and you’re getting organic food out. I probably spend $50 a week [on food] for me and my mother, buying meat and buying bulk.

But that can get expensive if you’re shopping at, say, Whole Foods every week. Where do you find locally-sourced, organic food for cheap?

I’d say 80 to 90 percent of what I eat is either from the farmers market or from the Berkeley Natural Grocery, which is a natural food store. I do eat meat, but it’s all free range, locally grown. I don’t buy a lot of packaged food. I buy bulk rice and quinoa and things without so much packaging. If possible, I’ll take in my recycled little baggies from home so I don’t even have to buy a new plastic bag there…

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Besides buying food, what about bags and containers? Plastic pollution is obviously a big problem for the environment.

You don’t have to buy bamboo or wooden forks or water bottles. Just use whatever you have in your house. If you have a house, you probably have forks and glasses and mugs and some kind of a bag. Bring it with you where you go. Then challenge stores by saying, “Can I just bring my own container, or are there alternatives that you can use other than plastic or Styrofoam?”

………………………………………………………………..What kind of eco-friendly products are cheap and easy to DIY?
Definitely cleaning products. You can make cleaning products with, like, three other products. Air fresheners are very simple and easy to make. Then beauty products, like scrubs and lotions. They’re pretty easy to make.

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Do you think an eco-friendly lifestyle is at all at odds with a frugal lifestyle?

Not at all. I think frugality allows you to live a more sustainable life. We definitely are going to have to give stuff up. We can’t continue consuming and living the way we are, but that doesn’t mean that we have to give everything up. I often times tell people, “Start to track your spending. See where your money goes.” I used to do this. I spent $50 on espressos in two weeks, whereas if I just bought an espresso machine or a coffee maker, I would shift that money.

To be frugal is when you’re tracking and understanding your spending and then finding ways to meet your needs that aren’t so expensive, but also saving money so that you can support the things that you really want to be doing.

Read the full interview at Vice.com

 

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