Spending Sustainably: Going Green on a Budget

As college students, saving money is necessary, but it can sometimes be hard especially when we begin living on our own. With the pressure to practice sustainable habits while also not wanting to spend tons of money to do so, it can be pretty hard to feel like you are doing your part for the environment. Cheap products can lead to an easy lifestyle, but with major ecological consequences, so here are some easy tips on how to go green without spending that green in your wallet!


Shop locally - farmer’s markets!


I love a good farmer’s market: the products are local, they are much cheaper than the supermarket, and the sellers are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet! Not only do they love it when you buy from them, because that means you are supporting them, their families and their products, but they also love talking about what they do. The Haymarket in Boston is a fantastic place for us college students to nab some cheap, local produce from tons of different sellers. Also, always be on the lookout for free produce markets at community centers or through local farmers.


Prep your meals


By prepping your meals for the week, you know exactly what to buy at the grocery store so that you don’t mindlessly shop for food that could potentially go to waste in the future. If you visit a local co-op or similar stores where you can buy food that won’t expire quickly in bulk, you reduce plastic or paper waste as well. Know what you need before you do your shopping, just in case you accidentally buy something you’ll just throw out later. 


DIY household cleaner


Buying name-brand cleaning products can be such a huge waste, expensive and typically extremely chemical-heavy. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, and can easily be put into a spray bottle with water some soap to be used at home. Plus, it’s cheap. Pure hydrogen peroxide is one of the best glass cleaners I have ever discovered - it works like a charm! No streaks!


Reuse food jars


Why buy a bunch of mason jars when you can so easily wash and reuse the glass jar that those amazing dill pickles you devoured came in? Skip the pack of 12 mason jars and instead build a collection of food jars that you would buy while you meal prep. This way, you’re decreasing waste and spending less. You’ll have 12 jars in no time!


Walk when you can 


Yes, avoiding the use of a car will definitely cut down pollution, but since we’re talking about ways to save money, choosing to walk is a much cheaper option! Considering how expensive gas can get, it is always smarter to only use the car when walking is not an option. And quit idling! The more gas you use up unknowingly, the more money you’ll spend.


Buy reusable household items


Ditch items like paper towels, plates, cups and plastic straws and instead start your own collection of cloth rags or towels and reusable plates, cups and straws. Those paper and plastic items can add up when you shop, so if you can, purchase more reusable items and get more bang for your buck!


Bring your own mug to the coffee shop


I work at a coffee shop, and we will totally give you a discount when you ask us to fill your reusable travel mug or water bottle. Most places that serve coffee drinks or similar things charge you more for the paper or plastic cup that the coffee comes in than for the drink itself. Packaging is the reason many items are so expensive, so coffee shops will reward you for your refill by taking a few dollars off, so definitely take advantage of that! 


Get a diva cup


Save the money that you would spend on pads or tampons or other disposable hygiene products and get yourself a diva cup. Those little guys last a long time and will decrease the amount of money you have to spend on your period every month.


Compost and grow your own produce


Composting is the act of recycling food scraps to create dirt and it is literally so easy and can be such a fun process. Take the peels of your fruit, coffee grounds, rinds, etc and save them in a bucket outside. For an added bonus, you can sometimes use food scraps to regrow food in your own garden, and compost can be added to the soil to help the plants grow.


Buy second hand (or swap with your friends)


Lastly, this one is kind of a given. Buying second hand clothing at your local thrift store can be a much cheaper option than buying brand new at the store. There are so many clothing items that are always in need of a new home. And for a free option: swap clothing with friends or peers! You get new-to-you clothes for no cost at all!


And if you are interested in free clothing, come to Her Campus and Sustainability Club’s Swap ‘N Shop on Saturday, Dec 7 from 1-5 pm in Quadside! See you there!