When Devin and I were first married, I did not consider myself ‘green,’ ‘eco-friendly’ or anything along the lines of a ‘hippie.’ So I guess I finally understand when couples say “I’ve had at least three marriages. They’ve just all been with the same person.” Well, bless Devin for accepting and even embracing his hippie wife.
Here are some zero-waste habits that I’ve picked up, and are collectively saving my little family some serious cash.
#1 Mason Jars. I have what some people probably call “an unhealthy obsession” with mason jars. They’re such practical workhorses though, and they’re pretty too. I use mine for canning, storing leftovers, storing dry goods, as soap dispensers, herb planters, to-go containers, drink glasses, bobbin containers, and as simple little vases. Brit + Co even has a list of 100 ways to use a mason jar.
#2 I Reduced My Food Waste. This one points back to the mason jars too! I’m making an effort to waste less food, and I’ve since discovered the power of mason jars + water + the fridge when it comes to keeping fruits and veggies longer. Reduced food waste = reduced grocery bill!
#3 I compost scraps and reuse that compost for my plants. Coffee grounds, eggshells, tea leaves, and produce scraps (well, the produce scraps that I can’t feed to my guinea pigs) all get thrown into a sealable container that sits under my sink. When I bring new plants home, I mix a bit of this compost in with their soil, and my plants absolutely flourish. This is definitely cheaper than buying Miracle-Gro or something similar.
#4 Homemade Laundry Detergent. Using this simple 3 ingredient detergent, I save an estimated $40 a year. All of the required ingredients in this laundry soap come in recyclable cardboard boxes (or no packaging at all) making them pretty eco-friendly.
#5 I do homemade meals seven days a week. Devin and I do eat out (we freakin’ love Moe’s!) but it’s always as a date night or celebration, and not out of convenience. I can’t even think of a day that one of us hasn’t cooked.
#6 Glass Jar + Charcoal Stick. This one started out as a preference thing for me but has since evolved into a health/eco-friendly habit as well. I prefer cold water, so I stuck this 2-gallon glass dispenser in my fridge, which I refill daily. After that, I started reading about the benefits of charcoal as a water filter and later added that. Personally, I would never rely on water bottles for my drinking water, but if I did, making this switch would save an estimated $916.84 to $2,788.20 per person, per year.
#7 I shower less frequently. Since I work from home, I rarely get dirty or sweat a lot. Because of this, I can get away with showering twice a week, and washing my hair once every 7-9 days (I have dry, curly hair, so the less I wash it, the better it is). I think our water bill is $20 a month.
#8 I use simple, multipurpose cleaners, such as vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. I use vinegar as a shampoo, fabric softener (it keeps my towels sooo fluffy), window cleaner, stain remover, and floor cleaner. I use baking soda to clean fruits and veggies, brush my teeth, in my laundry soap, and house deodorizer. Hydrogen peroxide is what I use as a mouthwash, blood stain remover (you’re welcome ladies), and in replacement of bleach to whiten whites.
#9 Keep bars of soap and foaming dispensers. Bars of soap are easy to find in recyclable packaging or no packaging at all. They’re also pretty darn cheap, at $1 a bar. Now I know that many people don’t like bars of soap, so I do keep liquid soap in mason jars with foaming dispensers. With foaming dispensers, you fill your container three-fourths of the way with water and one-fourth of the way with regular hand soap. Here’s what Erin from LiveAbout.com has to say about your soap savings:
One 64-ounce refill bottle of liquid hand soap, which costs just a few dollars, is enough to make 128 bottles of foaming hand soap. If you’re used to spending $3 for each bottle of foaming soap, that’s a saving of more than $350.Erin Huffstetler
#10 I follow the 1 Pound for $1 Dollar Rule. The 1 for 1 rule is excellent at saving money and helping you get healthier. Processed foods such as Oreos, chips, pop tarts, and Little Debbie cakes (yum) are much more than $1 per pound. Healthier foods, such as canned (or fresh) fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, bread, oatmeal, rice, beans, pasta, and oils are typically cheaper than $1 per pound. Oh yeah, and eating healthy isn’t as expensive as you may think. I tried to eat healthier and accidentally slashed my grocery bill down to $24 a week.
#11 I use less electricity. I turn all my lights off during the day, I only plug in our hot tub on days that I know we’re going to use it, I take fewer showers (which results in less hot water being produced), and I keep my doors and windows open as much as possible during spring, summer and fall so I’m not using heat or air conditioning very often. Because of this, my husband and I only spend about $90-125 a month (about 1000 kilowatts) on electric in our 3
#12 I use fewer paper towels. When simple little towels like these (I prefer the red ones) exist for about $1 each (and will probably outlive you), it’s easy to kick wasteful paper towels to the curb.
#13 I submerse myself in simple eco-friendly,
When my great uncle Charlie passed away, I was given his 1946 Sears Kenmore sewing machine. I’ve been using it several times a week since then, and I’ve made all sorts of good stuff, including an apron (the same one he started but didn’t finish before he died), some curtains (yes, we were those heathens who didn’t have curtains for almost two years), window valences, bed ruffles, and reusable cotton rounds. Sewing has already saved me roughly $300 in curtains and valences alone. Of course, getting a free machine, free accessories, and nearly free fabric (discounted $2/yd Walmart cotton fabric) makes those savings easy.
Cooking is another obvious money saver, as told in #5.
Hiking, kayaking, and camping are also big money savers, especially when you’re lucky enough to already own all the gear you need such as hiking boots, kayaks, tents, coolers and more.
#14 Buy meat in bulk. This is one of the few hippie-like activities I was already doing before Devin and I got married. My grandparents raise beef and pork, which we buy at $1.92 per pound from them, and then pay the local locker a small fee to process it. The locker usually sends us home with 50 pounds of fat for free too, which we mix in with the venison that Devin harvests in the fall to make delicious deer burgers. $700 can feed the two of us for more than two years, and this keeps a whole lot of packaging out of landfills.
#15 We bulk shop other goods too. Thanks to the mason jar trick that keeps our fruits and veggies nice and crisp for a month, we can limit our grocery shopping to about once a month now. Devin and I like to dabble in practical prepping, and we have a big pantry, so we buy canned goods by the tray rather than by the can. When Aldi has a sale, we stock up on bread ($0.79 a loaf), milk ($0.89 a gallon), and eggs ($0.69 a dozen) and I throw them in the freezer to help keep them fresh for long periods of time. Yes, you can freeze eggs, just be sure you break them out of their shells before doing so!
#16 I have a modest home gym. It’s nothing fancy, just a treadmill, a yoga mat, and some free weights ranging from 3lbs to 75lbs each, but it gets the job done while saving money and fuel.
#17 Coffee is my drug of choice. I just turned 22, and I can actually say that during my 21st year, I only had a single tablespoon of alcohol (I couldn’t refuse a sip of my mom’s black cherry soda). Coffee is cheap, easily renewable, it comes in recyclable packaging, and the leftover grounds can be composted. I even have a nifty reusable coffee filter. Choosing to stick to coffee rather than alcohol saves me a lot of time, money, and packaging.
#18 I cut my own hair. If you have straight hair, this is definitely more difficult to do, but thankfully I don’t. I’m sure it’s a bit off, but since it’s so curly, and I literally don’t even own a hairbrush or a straighter, no one can tell that I do it myself.
#19 I keep a minimalist capsule wardrobe. For more than two years, I’ve kept a 16 piece wardrobe. Last week, I did go clothes shopping to replace some worn out clothes of mine. I think I bought two long sleeve shirts, two pairs of blue jeans, a handful of panties, and a new bra for $75. This should keep me clothed for at least another year.
#20 I wash my clothes less often. Again, I spend a large majority of my time at home, so my clothes and I don’t get very dirty. Yes, I do cook 2-3 meals every day, but I always wear an apron, which really keeps the messy to a minimum. I wash my jeans after 4-5 wears, shirts after 2-4 wears, and underwear after each use. If clothes (especially my yoga pants I use to run in) start to smell bad, and detergent isn’t cutting it, I throw them in the freezer for a day and the odor completely disappears.
#21 I have fewer home decor items. I do have a handful of knick-knacks in my house, but I bought none of them- they’re gifts that I just happened to love. I believe in keeping surfaces as clean as possible, and letting your useful items double as decor pieces. Plates, mugs, cutting boards, plants, books (that I actually read), fruits and veggies, candles, and mason jars of snack foods are decor enough for me.
#22 Stop by goodwill, craigslist, antique shops, habitat for humanity, or facebook marketplace first. If you know what you want, do a quick second-hand search for it before heading off to a big box store. You’ll be surprised at how often you can find exactly what you’re looking for, at a really great price.
#23 Reusable cotton pads. This is so freakin’ easy, I feel ridiculous for not making them sooner.
#24 I work from home. Because of this, I save a LOT of fuel, I need fewer clothes, and I completely avoid the temptation to go out to eat. If you have kids or pets, switching to a remote job could save you up to $21k a year (that’s not a typo!!!).
#25 I try to give thoughtful, useful gifts. Can we do away with the over-the-top-totally-useless gifts already? If your uncle Mark likes to drink coke, buy him a few 24 packs of coca-cola. If your grandmother loves to knit or crochet, get her some high-quality yarn. Renew Hulu, Netflix, or gym memberships. Buy cleaning or lawn mowing services. Try one of these 101 Zero-Waste Gift Ideas.
If you already have good gift ideas that you know your person will love, get that for him or her, but don’t be afraid to buy slightly boring but useful gifts too.
Non-Money Saving Hippie Habits (that simply bring me joy)
#26 Buy from small shops + local boutiques whenever possible. Shopping small is good for the local economy, and it’s good for the environment because less (if any) shipping has to occur.
#27 Cast Iron > Teflon. Though
I suppose this could be a money saver (because over a lifetime, you’ll have to throw out several teflon pans), but the upfront cost of the two pans are pretty similar.
#28 So. Many. Houseplants. I love house plants because they filter the air, they’re cheap to buy, they make good decorations, some smell nice, and some are even edible (like herbs).
#29 Eucalyptus in the shower. If you’ve never hung eucalyptus in your shower, you’re missing out! Not only does it make your bathroom smell nice and fresh, but it’s also a natural stress reliever, and it’s great at cleaning out your airways.
Hippie Habits I’m Still Working on
#30 Reusable shopping bags. Look, it’s not that I don’t have them, it’s that I always forget to bring them into the store with me. I’m just thankful they’re not children that I’m forgetting in my truck on a hot summer day.
#31 Recycling Bins. I *really* need to start searching for some recycling bins so I can be greener. I also need to find a handy location for them as well, that isn’t a complete eyesore.
#32 Bamboo Toothbrushes. I haven’t purchased any of these yet because I still have a huge stash of plastic ones I bought in bulk. I’m really excited to make the switch though!
#33 Diva Cups + Reusable Pads. I’ll probably DIY some pads soon, but I don’t know where to begin when it comes to Dive cups. Trial and error I suppose.
#34 Fountain Pens. I love fountain pens, I just haven’t ponied up and bought a nice one for myself yet. I’ve got my eye on this one, but I just can’t seem to make myself pull the trigger on a pen that costs more than $100!
#35 Beeswax Wraps. I’ve heard such good things about these that I’ve gotta try them myself.
#36 An attachable bidet. This zero-waste swap would allow me to significantly cut down on our toilet paper usage and save some money in the meantime. Don’t worry, I’ll still keep a few rolls on hand for when friends and family visit!
#37 More Library, Less Bookstore. I’m struggling with this money-saving hippie hack! I love the library as much as the next guy, but I also really love supporting bookstores and authors. When I find books I like, I prefer to keep them in my little home library and return to them. With a library book, I lose that convenience. It’s going to take me a while before I can finally make myself do more library trips.
- What are your hippie-hacks to save money?
- Are you a fan of the zero-waste movement?
- Is there anything on this list that you disagree with, or have a better solution for? Be sure to share that with us in the comments!
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