Eco-Friendly Swaps That Pay Off Fast

An assortment of eco friendly products such as a spray bottle, cotton pads, and avocado huggers.

One of the biggest arguments against becoming more environmentally friendly is that it’s too expensive. I get it. We don’t all have thousands of dollars to invest in big swaps like solar panels or electric cars. What most people don’t realize is that there are much cheaper ways to become more environmentally friendly, and that, certain eco-investments can actually end up saving you money.

Swap Single-Use Paper Products:

Growing up, we used to go through one-two rolls of paper towels every single week, and a pack of napkins once or twice a month. We easily spent $15-$20 per month on just these two products. While my husband and I still use single-use products for certain messes, for the most part, we’ve switched to cotton reusable products. I no longer have to buy paper towels or napkins every month. I buy a pack of single-use paper towels two-three times a year–if even– and my un-paper towels have already lasted me two years.

If it’s in the budget, you can find reusable paper towel rolls online for as little as $20 to as much as $65 depending on the quantity and quality you want to start with. The price range for cotton napkins also varies–I’ve seen packs of four for $10+ in basic colors and quality, but I’ve also paid $0.75 for them when Hobby Lobby had a 75% off sale.

If it isn’t in the budget to buy anything right away, you can use old clothing, towels, and rags instead. Just cut them to size, make sure they aren’t the type to leak color, and you’re good to go.

We usually reuse our cloth towels and napkins a few times before throwing them into a bin to be washed with bedding or other towels.

DIY Cleaning Products:

While there are some messes where hardcore chemicals seem like the only solution, most of your everyday cleaning can be done with a handful of simple, cheap, and natural ingredients.

White vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, and water, are all commonly used in DIY cleaning products.

I use vinegar and baking soda as a soak for burnt-on messes. My homeade all-purpose spray is just ½ water, ½ vinegar, and a few drops of lemon essential oil. It smells like Kombucha while it dries, but it does a fantastic job. Some people put in enough lemon oil that you don’t smell the vinegar at all.

Just look up “natural (insert need) cleaner” and you should find a slew of recipes. However, it’s always good to research each ingredient in a recipe independently. I wish I’d done that before discovering that using essential oil in hand soap bothers my sensitive skin and that it essential oil can also be toxic to animals.

Reduce Single-Use Plastic

Growing up, other products we used to buy weekly at the grocery store were plastic wrap, sandwich baggies, and water bottles. Not only are these products incredibly wasteful but, in the long run, they cost a lot of money.

For the most part, we store everything in glass containers with plastic snap-on lids. The glass is pretty light and is both microwave and dishwasher safe, so they’re really convenient. We also invested in silicon sandwich baggies (I’m not totally in love with these if I’m being honest), plastic food-huggers (now these I LOVE), reusable water bottles, and a filtered water pitcher.

These swaps cost more money upfront, but pay off within a few weeks or months, between the amount you save on single-use items and the amount of food you stop wasting. For instance, with my food huggers, I can store half an avocado (with its seed) or half an apple for two days, sometimes three, without them becoming inedible. I can store other cut or halved fruits and veggies (cucumber, tomato, lemon, etc.) for even longer.

We still use plastic baggies when we freeze certain items, but even then I try to reuse them as much as possible.

To All My Gals…Don’t Be Cheated By Feminine Products

From beauty products to feminine hygiene products, we do more than waste the earth’s resources…we waste money.

Instead of makeup wipes, invest in reusable cotton makeup remover pads. Use these with makeup cleansing products like a bar of soap, micellar water, or Ponds cold cream–things that you don’t have to buy too often and can recycle the packaging.

Instead of disposable cotton pads or tampons, look into options like reusable cotton pads or a diva cup. These options might not be the best if you have a heavy flow or aren’t good about washing things regularly, but I haven’t had to buy a product for “that” time of the month in over five years.

While we’re at it, be realistic with what makeup products you need–Do you really need five lipsticks, six eyeshadow palettes, and three shades of foundation on hand? When something runs out, do you have to replace it?

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