10 Secrets to Low Impact Living While on a Budget
We understand that sustainability isn’t equally accessible to every person, and that buying new tools or high end natural products isn’t always within reach. Low impact living looks different for every one, but there are ways to reduce your footprint no matter where you live or who you are. Here’s a few we love:
- Compost. We are so lucky to have a curbside composting system in Seattle. Did you know that by law, Seattle apartment and condominium properties of 5+ units are required to provide a food waste collection bin for residents to use? Composting diverts waste away from the landfill, reduces greenhouse gases, and contributes to the wonderful soil and ecosystem we have in the Pacific Northwest. Don't have a kitchen compost container? Use an old bucket or pet litter container. You can even use a large food container with a lid, which can easily be kept in the freezer to avoid fruit flies in the summer.
- Buy a low-flow shower head. For a small upfront cost of about $20, your water use will decrease on its own. (For those of you who are wary, there's no noticeable difference in water pressure.) Better yet, take shorter showers and save on your water bill. Try turning the water off while you shave or washing dishes by hand with one sink plugged and filled halfway with water.
- Buy in bulk at the grocery store. Not only is buying in bulk the number one way to reduce plastic in the kitchen, but it's usually cheaper too! You can use the paper bags they often have for mushrooms and other produce. Once you have an idea of how much of each bulk item you use, get some jars in the appropriate sizes from a yard sale or a secondhand store like Goodwill. (PS: If you don’t live in a city, sometimes it’s harder to find natural or bulk foods near your home; we’re collaborating with one of the amazing women in our collective to create a guide to reducing plastic at everyday stores like Fred Meyer, Safeway, or Kroger... keep an eye out for that!) Are you a bulk foods veteran? Instead of lugging your jars to the store or using the disposable bags grocery stores provide, get a set of reusable produce bags.
- Ride your bike to work. With a little effort and time, you can take a bike anywhere in Seattle. Save money on gas, and get in a workout during your commute. Who wants to be stuck in traffic anyway? Map out your commute here. The desktop version of Google Maps also has a great tool that illustrates the ascents and terrain along your biking route so you can be aware of any big hills.
- Turn off your lights. If you keep your lights off during the day and get in the habit of turning them off every time you leave a room, you'll save energy at no cost to you. Try unplugging electronics and appliances - sidenote: we mean your coffee pot, not your fridge ;) - and you'll start to see your utility bill go down.
- Shop secondhand. The average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles every year. By shopping at secondhand stores, you'll come across unique pieces that are often in great condition, and you'll get a closet refresh with more bang for your buck.
- Turn down the heater a couple degrees. Put on a warm sweater or cuddle up with your beau, and your body will adjust before you know it.
- Get an Imperfect Produce subscription and eat leftovers instead of eating out. Get creative with using food scraps and making new meals with the produce or dishes you have on hand. By mixing up what you eat, you'll reduce food waste and probably find new easy meals you like too. Try this amazing tool to find recipes based on what’s already in your fridge.
- Line dry your clothes. In Europe, dryers are rarely used. They cause unnecessary wear on clothing, and they are a highly inefficient use of energy. Plan ahead and lay out your clothes on a clothesline or drying rack. Don't have one? You can totally get away with drying clothing on hangers, doorknobs and chair backs. Just be careful about moisture on fine wood furniture.
- Repurpose. Instead of going out and buying a new box of tissues or roll of paper towels with your next grocery run, try cutting up an old towel to use as a handkerchief or cleaning rag. The towel gets a second life, you save money, and reduce your unseen footprint by countless pounds of paper and water used to make those convenient products we take for granted.
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