We all know it’s important to do things that are good for the environment. We recycle, turn off the water when we brush our teeth — that kind of thing. But when it comes to changing our daily habits and really challenging ourselves to be more eco-conscious, we bump into some inner resistance.
Our brains whisper, “It’s gonna take a lot of time, make a big mess, or cost extra money,” and we talk ourselves out of it before we’ve even decided what “it” is. But the truth is, living sustainably doesn’t have to be any of those things.
On the contrary, I want to tell you about a few things I do that are not only good for the environment, but also make my life easier and actually save me money.
Looking to Alternative Produce Options
One great way to save money while helping the environment is to change how you shop for produce — go local and ugly. I’ve tried this in two ways.
First, shopping at farmers’ markets. It supports the local economy and I spend less on better products because I’m not paying for eco-harmful things like long-distance shipping or excessive packaging.
Second, we subscribe to a delivery service that specializes in produce that doesn’t meet grocery stores’ aesthetic standards. The products are often organic but discounted because they may be too big or small, not the right shape, or have some scarring or visual imperfections that would otherwise land it in the trash. It’s like a CSA box — we customize it online and it shows up at the door, saving us a trip to the store. These kinds of services are popping up all over the country, so do a little searching to find one near you.
Reducing Food Waste
Let’s start small. Cooking is one of my favorite ways to de-stress, and I learned to cook chicken soup from my grandma. She ruined me for the store-bought stock — it’s just nowhere near as delicious.
The good news is that you can make stock at home with things you would otherwise throw out, which pretty much means it’s free. Keep a large resealable plastic bag in your freezer.
Every time you have bones leftover from a meal you made at home (or ate at a restaurant — the server will just think you have a dog), veggie scraps (e.g. onions, carrots, celery butts, or herb stems), or rinds from hard cheeses (e.g. Parmesan or Pecorino Romano), toss them into the bag instead of the trash.
When the bag is nearly full, throw the contents into a big pot or slow cooker with a bay leaf if you have one. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2-3 hours or set your pressure cooker to “stock” and walk away.
The result will taste better than anything you can get at the store. It will improve everything you use it in — sauces, soups, pasta — my husband calls it the “magic ingredient.” And you will never again pay for boxed stock.
Adopting Electric Vehicles
Now let’s talk about cars. A lot of people assume electric cars have hefty price tags but consider this: the monthly lease on my first electric car was under $250 thanks to tax incentives. That’s less than the payment on my husband’s Prius.
In 2014, when my husband drove a gas car and I had my old hybrid, we spent $3,000 on gas and $1,760 on electricity. In 2019, with my husband driving a hybrid and me an electric, it was $615 on gas and $2085 electricity. So by ditching our gas-guzzlers, we’re saving $2,000 a year and helping the environment.
Of course, there are a lot of variables to consider. No eco-friendly practice is a perfect fit for everyone. But if money worries are stopping you from taking that next big step toward becoming more environmentally conscious, you might be in for a happy surprise. With a little research and courage, you can save the world and save some cash at the same time.
Short bio: “Rebecca Metz is an American actress. She is best known for her roles as Tressa on the FX television comedy-drama series Better Things, Melinda on the Showtime television comedy-drama series Shameless and Jenna Wrather on the Disney Channel comedy series Coop & Cami Ask the World.”