Sustainability is often associated with major investments like electric vehicles and solar panels, leaving many eco-conscious millennials feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. However, sustainable shopping is not exclusive to those with large budgets.
From investing in long-lasting items to exploring second-hand options, there are plenty of ways to align your personal values with your sustainable resolutions. Here are 5 practical tips for the budget-conscious, eco-friendly shopper.
1. Get to Know the Brand You’re Purchasing From
Whether you’re buying food or furniture, it’s essential to research the brand you’re purchasing from. By evaluating the company’s commitment to sustainability, you can practice eco-friendly shopping habits before even swiping or tapping your card.
Keep in mind that sustainability exists on a spectrum! Every company will offer a different take on sustainability, so it’s important to take the time to do your research and find out what steps they’re taking to make their practices more eco-friendly.
2. Shop Quality Over Quantity
In a world that often encourages cheap, fast furniture or fashion and low-cost disposable products, shifting your focus to durable, well-made items that might be pricier upfront can be difficult. However, investing in products that are built to last has several eco-conscious benefits. Not only can you help minimize the resources and energy associated with manufacturing, but you can reduce replacement frequency and save money in the long run.
Here’s how to ensure you make the most quality purchases moving forward.
Assess your needs.
Consider the longevity and functionality of the item you want to buy. Does it truly provide value to your life? Will you need to purchase a replacement within the next year or two? Ask yourself these questions to avoid impulse buys and determine if you should buy the item in the first place.
Create a budget.
Higher-quality products can come with a heftier price tag. Creating a separate category in your budget for durable, long-lasting items can make sustainable choices less straining on your wallet.
Do your research.
Research consumer reviews and testimonials to gauge how well a particular item withstands regular use. Look for information on material quality and construction to ensure that you’re investing in a lasting product.
Adopt a minimalist mindset.
While minimalism isn’t for everyone, adopting the “less is more” mindset can naturally lead to prioritizing quality over quantity. Focus on owning fewer, high-quality items that bring genuine joy and functionality to your life.
3. Make Mindful Food Choices
Opting for environmentally friendly foods is a commendable step towards learning how to live a sustainable lifestyle, but it can strain your wallet if not approached wisely. Here are some practical tips to help you shop for food sustainably on a budget:
Plan your meals.
Planning meals ahead of each week can reduce food waste and help you make more informed choices about what to buy. Create a shopping list based on your planned meals, and stick to it to avoid unnecessary purchases.
Buy in bulk.
Consider buying non-perishable items in bulk to save money in the long run and reduce packaging waste. You might also want to look for bulk bins at grocery stores to access discounted prices on staples like grains, legumes, and dried fruits.
Choose seasonal and local produce.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are not only fresher but also tend to be more affordable. Visit local farmers’ markets or join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program to support local farmers and reduce the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation.
Opt for plant-based proteins.
Plant-based proteins, such as beans, lentils, and tofu, are often more affordable than meat and put less strain on the environment. Incorporating these protein sources into your meals helps the ecosystem and supports a more budget-friendly shopping list.
Embrace imperfect foods.
Over 30% of food in the United States goes unsold or uneaten each year, so don’t shy away from fruits and vegetables that look “imperfect” or “ugly.” These items are usually just as nutritious and tasty as their more aesthetically pleasing counterparts. Plus, some grocery stores offer produce at a lower cost.
Minimize processed foods.
Processed foods often come with excessive packaging and a higher environmental impact. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods that contribute to a healthier lifestyle and reduce your diet’s ecological footprint.
Be mindful of packaging.
Opt for products with minimal or recyclable packaging. Bring your own reusable bags and containers to the store to further reduce single-use plastic waste. Additionally, consider purchasing in larger quantities to reduce packaging per serving.
Start your own garden.
One of the most rewarding and cost-effective ways to embrace sustainable living is by growing your own food. Whether you have a spacious backyard or a small balcony, cultivating a garden can be a fulfilling and budget-friendly endeavor. And don’t forget to compost for an even more eco-friendly kitchen!
Minimize food waste and maximize your scraps!
Sustainability isn’t just about sourcing but also about using what you’ve got. Even when you’re eating plenty of fresh, local veggies, you’re going to end up with little scraps that don’t make the cut for your meal. Don’t toss those quite yet, you can make vegetable stock with them!
Grab a large freezer bag or storage container, and drop those scraps in (just be sure to leave out veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower – they’ll make your stock bitter). You can put them in your freezer and keep adding to it as you cut more vegetables. Once your bag is full, you can make a simple vegetable stock that’s even better than what you’d buy at the store.
Reusing your vegetable scraps helps prolong their life and is a budget-friendly way to ensure you always have stock on hand for any meal you make! If you find that you don’t have enough space in your refrigerator or freezer to store scraps and broth, consider investing in a mini fridge to free up space.
4. Embrace Second-Hand Shopping
Sustainable living doesn’t mean exclusively buying brand-new items. So, when learning how to shop sustainably on a budget, embrace the idea of purchasing second-hand goods. Explore local thrift stores, second-hand shops, and online platforms for pre-loved items. And consider clothing swaps or organize one with friends to refresh your wardrobe sustainably.
CORT Furniture Outlet is an excellent example of a brand that allows you to invest in high-quality items without breaking the bank. By choosing previously rented furniture, you save money while extending the life of these items. In effect, you help reduce the demand for new production and minimize your ecological footprint.
5. Opt for Reusable Items
Shopping for reusable products may seem like a blow to your wallet initially, but you’re likely spending more on single-use items over time. Plus, single-use products like bags, bottles, straws, and packaging, have a detrimental impact on the environment. From manufacturing to disposal, the picture isn’t pretty.
There are numerous opportunities to make easy, sustainable swaps from single-use items to reusable products. Here are a few to get you started.
- Switch to reusable water bottles, coffee cups, straws, and shopping bags to save money while reducing plastic waste.
- Consider purchasing reusable utensils and dishes made from materials like bamboo or stainless steel. These items are cost-effective and more durable.
- Opt for glass or stainless steel containers. They’re durable and provide a safe space for storing food without the environmental impact of single-use plastics.
- Household cleaning products often come in single-use plastic packaging and contain harmful chemicals. Create your own cleaning solutions in reusable containers using simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils.
Where Budget Meets Sustainable Choices: CORT Furniture Outlet
Many of the big steps toward living sustainably may feel unattainable in your current situation, and that’s okay! Sustainable living isn’t just about huge purchases and radical lifestyle shifts. What may seem like mundane, routine choices, such as which soap to buy or which brand to purchase from, can make an impact.
Even the way you furnish your home can be done in a sustainable fashion! By choosing used furniture, for example, you extend the lifespan of high-quality items with plenty of use left in them. That’s where CORT Furniture Outlet comes in!
Furniture from CORT Furniture Outlet begins its life as part of CORT’s rental program. Products are typically rented two to six times (or about four years), with meticulous cleaning and maintenance in between each rental cycle. Once items reach the end of their rental life, they’re inspected and certified clean by our experts. Then, they become available for purchase at great prices through CORT Furniture Outlet!
When you shop at CORT Furniture Outlet, you become a part of our sustainability story. That means you can put your hard-earned money towards worthwhile, sustainable items that help make your house feel like home. Shop online or in-store today!