Inequality Series Pt. 3: Low Cost/No Cost Alternatives

... to eco-friendly products you see being sold online or in stores, and eco-friendly choices you can make with no change to your every day life

A little bit behind schedule, but hey, no one is perfect right now... Especially not me!

Anyway, I’ll get right to it. Today I’m going to be talking about green products or choices (added by Instagram request) and low cost/no cost alternatives!

1. Making reusable shopping bags out of old clothes

  • A lot of places are selling reusable shopping bags for only 99 cents, but I won’t play ignorant and pretend that 99 cents isn’t a lot for some people, so I have another idea. Old tee shirts, pants, etc. can be made into a shopping bag with relative ease! All you need is some old fabric, a needle, and thread! And actually you may not even need that []! This is an easy and possibly fun idea, especially when bag taxes have you down. Another free option: simply say “I don’t need a bag” if you only have a few items!

1.5 Using reusable shopping bags at store other than the grocery

  • They will just as gladly use your own bag at Nordstrom as they will at Kroger!

2. Composting

2.5 Choose local produce

  • Often less expensive when bought directly, say at a farmers market. Also saves on waste/energy in the transport process!

3. Reusing plastic grocery bags and recycling when done

  • Not all recycling companies will take shopping bags, so do not just put them on the corner with your cans and bottles. The best way to recycle plastic shopping bags is in store! Next time you’re at your local grocery store, look near the exit and there may be a bin for recycling your old, used, torn up plastic shopping bags. If there isn’t one, google and see if another local store has one. If this still produces no results, ask your grocery store manager! Just like requesting products, this is something you could approach management with. However, I wouldn’t recommend requesting this now if there isn’t one already. As we all know, and hopefully recognize, grocers have a ton to deal with right now. This is more of a post-pandemic idea :).

4. Use CLFs

  • Compact fluorescent lightbulbs are a great option for reducing your energy usage and can be found for as low as $3! They are shown to use significantly less energy than their counterparts.

4.5. Turn off the lights...

  • This won’t cost you any money - it actually may save you money! Turning off your lights when you’re not in the room or when you leave the house is free and is just a good habit to get into. This can be drawn out further to say unplug your unused electronics too, though “vampire energy” is so low it can be undetectable, it still exists, and it’s still a waste []!

5. Biodegradable pet waste bags

  • I don’t think my biodegradable bags were any more expensive than my regular ones, and my pet certainly doesn’t notice a difference, lol. I found mine on Amazon (not ideal) and recently at a Kroger!

6. Microfiber towels instead of paper towels

  • I no longer use paper towels for anything other than bio-hazardous spills (pet waste, vomit, etc.) or if the person I’m visiting doesn’t have towels. I have a bunch of towels, microfiber works the best IMO, and I just keep them in a mini hamper and wash them as infrequently as possible! I say I like microfiber, but don‘t go out and buy new towels, that’s besides the point, honestly! An old cut up towel or old rags will work just as well!

7. Rechargeable batteries

  • A great option to cut down on waste, especially if you find yourself using battery powered things over and over again. They are great for gamers who have battery powered controllers, especially.

8. Reusable water bottle and coffee cups

  • If you’re someone who is buying a water bottle every day, a reusable water bottle will no doubt save you money over time, and it will happen VERY quickly. You can even find reusable bottles at low cost stores like Five Below off Dollar Tree, too! Additionally, a lot of coffee shops will give you a discount if you use your own cup!

9. Using your dishwasher

  • Yep. That’s right. Using your dishwasher (assuming it’s a newer model) is typically less wasteful than washing by hand []!

10. Eco/Econ on your A/C unit

  • I’m not telling you to go without A/C, I do live in Louisiana after all! But I recommend keeping it within reasonable limits and using the more energy efficient modes when possible.

11. Time your showers

  • I think we can all figure this one out!

12. Bring your own food containers

  • A lot of takeout places will allow you to use your own container. I sometimes get weirdly embarrassed to ask, I’m sure others have felt that way too. But the reality is that many people care about the environment! I’ve had people who were genuinely excited to be able to use my container and save the waste. However, I do not recommend doing this during the pandemic, it could expose you or others to germs that could be avoided otherwise.

12.5 Eat your leftovers

  • Wasting food isn’t just an issue because there’s starving children. It’s an environmental issue as well. Reducing your food waste is easy and will end up saving you money, it has saved me probably over $100 this year alone.

13. A bidet

  • We’ll end on kind of an awkward one to talk about, but oh well! Bidets can help save on toilet paper which is wasteful, sometimes harmful, and expensive. You can find a bidet for under $40, which is the price of what? Idk, 1 roll of toilet paper ;). Not really, but it will save you money in less than a year, typically.

Before I sign off, I’m just going to toss out a few more ideas that don’t require explanation: thrift shopping, eating less red meat, donating old clothes, fixing things instead of replacing them, following the three R’s in the correct order (REDUCE, and what you can’t reduce you should REUSE, and when you can no longer reuse it than you may RECYCLE), walk or bike instead of driving, learn to cook, use your library (or an e-reader), read scientific articles and findings.

As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check out my social media @cmlovesscience where you can keep an eye out for an upcoming poll about the topic of part 4!