This article first appeared on Mind Body Green.
These days, it seems like everything has a “healthy, green, environmentally friendly” alternative—with an additional cost. But there’s no reason to hand over all of your money in the name of living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Here are nine surprisingly simple and (relatively) affordable tips for creating more sustainable habits.
1. Play into the collagen craze.
Recently, I’ve started buying bones from the local butcher (it’s inexpensive and zero-waste) and making my own bone broth. For chicken or beef broth, cook for up to 24 hours in a slow cooker with celery, carrots, garlic, onion, and any other healthy boosters like fresh turmeric.
2. Save your scraps (wine included).
Save and freeze leftover vegetables to add to stock later in the week. And if you can’t finish a glass of wine or have only a small amount of tomato sauce left, freeze it in an ice-cube tray. “These little cubes of leftovers add fun flavor to stocks, stews, and creative dinners,” says entrepreneur and women’s empowerment coach Stephanie Beveridge.
3. Opt for package-free products.
4. Personalize your personal care.
There are tons of ways to get creative with this one. A great example is making your own body cream. Jayla Pearce of Her Collectives, a company that connects women over spiritual events and rituals, recommends buying shea butter in bulk (sometimes it comes in a block that looks like a big hunk of butter), coconut oil, and another oil (like jojoba or almond oil). Mix one part of each, boil down, and let it cool slightly. Once cooled, whip with an electric blender (this will make it a fluffier, whipped consistency) and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Not into creams? Check out these easy recipes for a whipped aloe vera body balm and superfood facial mask.
5. Stick to seasonal.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables will always, always, always be fresher and (generally) less expensive. Buying organic produce in season can save so much money and is better for the planet.
Don’t waste your money on organic “junk foods” (i.e., organic candy, gum, chips). Instead, save your organic dollars where they really matter (namely produce, animal foods, grains, etc.). Buying frozen organic fruit will also help you save cash when fresh is too pricey. For example, in the summer, organic peaches are expensive, but the frozen counterpart is typically more affordable and just as delicious in smoothies and desserts.
“Remember: Eco-friendly foods are simple and close to nature,” Sharon Palmer, a plant-based dietitian, told me when I asked about this. “Nobody needs to buy nutrition bars and expensive prepared foods in order to attain a green, healthy diet.”
6. Always use a certain ingredient? Grow it instead.
If you use particular herbs regularly, consider growing your own in a kitchen windowsill to save yourself (and the planet) the cost of buying plastic-wrapped herbs week after week.
7. Create your own cleaning products.
Making your own household cleaning products is not only eco-friendly and natural, but it also saves a fortune. Buying bulk natural cleaner in concentrate is easy and lasts longer than regular spray, and it prevents waste too. Create your own cleaner with vinegar and aromatherapy oils with disinfectant properties (tea tree, lemon, or lemongrass oil). Fabric softeners are also costly and full of chemicals. Replace softener with white vinegar for a simple and successful alternative.
8. Make refurbished technology your friend.
Buying secondhand and refurbished goods has a much lower carbon footprint than buying new items. Tech waste can also be super damaging environmentally if not disposed of properly, so why not give secondhand a shot? Tech expert Vanessa Sigman recommends starting by checking out Amazon’s Certified Refurbished program for popular products like televisions, sound systems, and computers.
9. Shop for circular economy options.
Some beauty brands now have circular economy programs, which give you the option to send empty packing to the store to be reused. This keeps plastic jars and containers away from landfills, plus you might get a discount or reward for taking part. More and more big brands are starting to provide incentives for shoppers to return used clothes so they can be reworked into new pieces. “This growing trend is becoming more popular in the fashion industry, with some street brands offering cash or store vouchers for old clothing,” explains Sian Conway, founder of Ethical Hour.