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Living sustainably can be an overwhelming proposition. Often the “green” option is more expensive, takes more effort and resources, or may even be difficult to access.
Before you break the bank with your eco-friendly efforts — or even worse, give up entirely on living responsibly — it’s important to step back and approach the environmental issue from another angle.
Here are several ways to rewrite the sustainability script. Rather than asking how you can invest more money, look for ways to cut back, contribute, and feasibly live a sustainable lifestyle all while sticking to a responsible budget.
Start with Your Finances
It’s tempting to drop money on sustainable solutions in an “all-in” attempt to make a difference. However, money squandered today will eventually hamper your ability to live a green lifestyle in the future.
Instead, consider starting the process of living sustainably in one of the least likely places: your finances. There are many healthy financial habits that every person should embrace, such as:
Creating and sticking to a budget.
Limiting and managing both credit and debt.
Avoiding impulse purchases and reducing expenses whenever possible.
Investing wisely in the future.
It’s important to create a healthy financial foundation to build on. This ultimately gives you a sense of sustainability for yourself that, in its turn, can help you live an eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle for the rest of your life.
Look Out for Greenwashing
Once your finances are in order, it’s time to consider the specific things that you’re purchasing. This is especially important with so many companies participating in greenwashing on one level or another.
Resist the urge to simply grab the “better” option (which is also four times as expensive, by the way) simply because it has words like “organic” and “green” on the label. Instead, take the time to research the products that you’re purchasing.
Many apps can help you decide how earth-friendly a product truly is. You can also look for cheap options, like using vinegar instead of an expensive green cleaning product.
Embrace the “Three R’s”
Sometimes having the right mindset is better than any one specific action or activity. If you’re looking for ways to live sustainably without sinking a ton of money into the deal, try to run each decision that you make through the filter of the three Rs:
Reduce: How can your current activity be reduced to avoid excess or waste? Often you’ll find that you don’t even need the thing that you originally were looking for. At other times a modified solution can reduce your environmental impact.
Reuse: Can you reuse an item to get the solution that you desire? If you need clothes, can you get them at a thrift shop? Before purchasing new furniture, consider getting a used option. Even things like cars and homes can often be much more sustainable when purchased second-hand.
Recycle: Once something is broken, don’t throw it away unless you have to. This applies to everything from tuna fish cans to cell phones. If you can recycle the item, do your best to do so.
The three Rs provide a great filter to help you live more sustainably without having to put a penny into the effort. On the contrary, often you end up saving money out of the deal.
Make Smart Investments in Your Home
Another great way to responsibly live a green lifestyle is to overlap sustainable living with other financially savvy activities. For example, there are many ways to improve your living space in a way that can both give you a return on the investment and reduce your carbon footprint. A few suggestions of ways that this can be done include:
Becoming more energy efficient: Everything from a better roof to adding insulation, replacing old appliances, and sealing up leaks in your windows and doors can reduce both your utility bills and your carbon emissions.
Investing in your exterior: There are many ways to use greenery to spruce up your home. Trees, bushes, and gardens can help you improve your curb appeal while simultaneously adding a carbon-positive element to your life.
Building sustainably: If you decide to tackle a larger home improvement project, consider taking a total project management approach. This lumps planning, architecture, and construction management services under one individual, who can be responsible for keeping things affordable and eco-friendly.
Your home is one of the best places to look for areas where you can address waste. Everything from air leaks to excessive electricity usage can be addressed, reducing expenses and helping protect the Earth at the same time.
Finding Financially-Conscious Ways to Be Sustainable
At the end of the day, living sustainably shouldn’t boil down to the specific actions that you take. Notice that these tips tend to focus on attitudes, behaviors, and mindsets.
If you can put yourself in a better, more earth-positive state of mind, it won’t matter what kind of income you have. By balancing an eco-friendly mindset with fiscally responsible activities, you’ll be able to create your own unique plan to live a responsible, sustainable lifestyle that preserves both the Earth and your finances at the same time.
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