Making Sustainable Choices While Being Financially Responsible
The word green is used to represent money. It’s also used to refer to sustainable or environmentally-friendly behavior. However, getting the two concepts to sync up can be a bit more difficult than it sounds.
If you have a desire to live responsibly in both a fiscal and Earth-conscious manner, here are a few suggestions for ways to do so simultaneously.
Start With Your Finances
It’s difficult to live within your means when you don’t even know what those means are. With that in mind, start your responsibly sustainable journey by assessing your current financial situation. A few questions to ask yourself include:
- Do you have a budget already pulled together?
- Have you set aside an emergency fund?
- Can you identify wants versus needs in your daily expenses?
- Do you need to focus on things like paying off debt or increasing your credit score?
Once you’ve established your current financial status, make sure to revisit it on a regular basis. This will allow you to see whether you can increase the resources you’re investing in your sustainable lifestyle or if they are still required for other responsibilities.
Practice the Three “R’s”
One of the easiest ways to live sustainably and be financially responsible is to adopt the three “R’s” into your lifestyle and manner of thinking. These are:
If your goal is to reduce your consumption. Once you’ve got this first step down, you can work on reuse/repurpose second and recycle third. Doing the three “R’s” can make a big difference in your sustainability and even save money at the same time.
Ride Your Bike More Often
It doesn’t matter if you’re a city slicker or a college student, if you live near work, the store, school, or your friends’ houses, always consider riding your bike rather than driving.
This isn’t just good for the environment. It also avoids using gas and putting miles on your car — both of which can save you significant money over time.
Go Paperless Wherever Possible
Going paperless has become so easy in so many areas, it’s a no-brainer way to affordably stay eco-friendly. From sending messages to paying bills, do everything you can to weed the use of paper and ink out of your life.
Once again, you’ll not only reduce your impact on the environment, but you can also reinvest the money you would have spent on paper, ink, envelopes, postage, and even a printer.
Look for the Little, Sustainable Home Improvement Activities
While the idea of creating a “smart home” may sound pricey as a whole, there are actually many small-yet-powerful ways you can upgrade your home’s sustainability without breaking the bank, such as:
- Installing a smart thermostat.
- Sealing up cracks in walls and doors.
- Swapping out traditional lightbulbs for LEDs.
- Replacing water fixtures and old appliances with high-efficiency alternatives.
Yet again, many of these are sustainable activities that also save you money over time.
Research Government Incentives
Often something like solar panels or a high-efficiency furnace may seem too expensive to warrant investing thousands of extra dollars into them.
However, if you do your research, you may find at times there are either local, federal, or state incentives that can help to mitigate the additional cost of the more environmentally-friendly option. This can give you access to sustainable, low-cost home improvement upgrades to help you cut down on both your carbon footprint and your bills.
Adjust Your Eating Habits
Eating habits can have a huge impact on the environment. Everything from production methods and food miles to product packaging can be a scourge to the Earth. You can affordably combat this tendency by implementing more sustainable food practices, such as:
- Buying organic food.
- Purchasing from local farms.
- Reducing food waste in your home.
- Buying and eating in smaller quantities.
- Looking for labels indicating sustainable practices, such as Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance.
- Growing your own garden.
- Eat less meat.
By addressing the kind and quality of your food, you can help to reduce your carbon footprint. However, this is one area where the costs can typically mount quickly. With that said, use the above list to identify as many food-purchasing options as possible without overextending past your buying power in the process.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Finally, remember to adopt a growth mindset as you go about discovering where you can affordably go green in your personal life. Methods like revisiting your budget and studying the latest technology can help you find new, cost-effective ways to remain sustainable far into the future.
Staying Sustainable…and Under Budget
From small home improvement and government rebates to adjusted eating habits, going paperless, riding your bike, and practicing the three “R’s,” there are countless ways to live a sustainable lifestyle without ignoring your financial limitations.
The most important thing of them all, though, is maintaining an open mindset focused on growth and continual learning. Only then can you consistently marry the best eco-friendly behaviors with your budget over the long term. So review the above list, go over your financial situation, and then look for the best ways you can start living sustainably, both now and far into the future.