We sometimes think that going green, making our lifestyle more environmentally conscious, requires spending: buying compact fluorescent bulbs or even solar panels, maybe even trading in the old gas guzzler for a new hybrid or electric car. In our consumer culture, our default mode is to think we have to buy something in order to do something.
Every product that we buy new not only costs us money, but it also has a carbon footprint: the fuel used in manufacturing it, getting it to the store, getting us to the store to buy it, and so on. Every time you decide to reuse something you already have—even if it’s a soy yogurt container—you’re not just helping your budget, you’re helping the planet.
Here’s some more tips that will both save you money and help the planet:
Repurpose: When we find a new use for an old thing, rather than just throwing it away, we’re keeping it out of a landfill and also cutting costs. Craker suggests: turning old clothing into a quilt or rags; saving empty plastic jars, cartons, and fabric scraps for kids’ craft projects; OR, like Ella Yoder, repurposing old cans in your garden.
Recycle: If your town has a recycling program, participate! But also consider recycling yourself: use old cans or glass jars to store nails, screws, and other odds and ends; or clean out plastic containers to reuse for food storage. One thifty/green secret Craker shares in her book, thanks to a reader’s tip: take old jeans and make them into pillow covers, using the pocket to hold a tooth for the tooth fairy!
Garden: Like the Amish, plant a garden and put a dent in your summer grocery bill, reduce your carbon footprint, and make the world a little greener—literally. If you don’t have a green thumb, but still want to be green, buy from a local farm or farmer’s market.
Hand-Down: Small children don’t stay small for long, so they typically outgrow their clothes before they wear them out so consider reusing them for the next child. Most Amish families have at least half a dozen kids, so they naturally clothe the younger ones with hand-me-downs. If your family is slightly smaller, find other families you can trade with, or at the very least, donate used clothing to charity instead of them hitting the landfill.
In Money Secrets of the Amish, Lorilee Craker notes that the Amish often say, “use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without,” to describe their thrifty lifestyle – that reads as an eco-fabulous motto to us too!