If you’re like most people, you want to make the best financial decisions for yourself and your family but you also don’t want to sacrifice the health of the planet. In fact, a recent IBM Consumer survey found that 57% of consumers are willing to change their buying habits to help the environment.
Thankfully you can do it all. There are plenty of simple choices and changes you can make that will not just protect your economic well-being but the world at large. Here is how to build a personal budget that can not just save you money with minimal effort, but can contribute to a healthier planet.
Slash personal food waste
According to a 2022 RTS report, the United States discards more food than any other country in the world — nearly 40 million tons every year. Now think about how much food you throw away because it has spoiled before you had a chance to use it. That’s not just cash that should be back in your bank account but it amounts to food production waste. Consider this your opportunity to refine your grocery spending to only what you need and will really use. Sometimes buying in bulk makes sense, other times it doesn’t. Be mindful about what you will truly consume.
Borrow rather than buy
Do you really need to own everything you want? In many cases, the answer will be no. Instead of going to the store or popping on an e-commerce site and hitting the “buy” button, ask friends and family members if they have what you’re looking for. Maybe you can use it for a period of time. When you’re done, give it back. Not only have you spent nothing, you’ve saved energy and haven’t thrown anything away.
Get your home in shape
The less you spend on utility costs, the better for your budget and for the environment. So, keep the blinds lowered in hot weather, and plug up all air gaps in the winter months so the heat doesn’t escape windows and doors. Set your thermostat to an eco-friendly schedule. Take shorter showers to conserve water. Pack the dishwasher and washing machines and only run them when they’re full.
Lower transportation costs
Unless you have an electric vehicle, the fuel you fill your tank with contributes to air pollution. Gas is also increasingly expensive. Now is the time to reevaluate gas consumption and pinpoint ways to reduce it. Look for any opportunity to use alternative transportation, such as buses, bicycles, and walking. And whenever it’s practical, make the effort to drive less or share rides with other people.
Purchase pre-owned products
Manufacturing requires energy, so you can do your part to reduce it by purchasing pre-owned goods. Many of those stationary bikes that people invested in during the pandemic are just sitting in their apartments, waiting for you to snap and then up at a deep discount. Or maybe you want to start playing tennis or some other sport. Check the “free” or “for sale” sections of social media platforms to see if they’re available. There’s a good chance you can score nearly-new items that won’t put stress on the environment or your budget.
Having everything delivered to your door is a great convenience. However, it is also hard on the environment. A McKinsey & Company report found that as the number of delivery vehicles increases, so too do carbon dioxide emissions – which make up the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions. You can do your part to reduce those emissions by ordering as much as possible in a single delivery as you can. It will also reduce the packaging waste that comes with individual deliveries.
Buy and dispose mindfully
Consumers in developed countries have adopted the throw-away culture. Now is the time to reject that mindset. Only buy what you will need and use. That includes anything in plastic, such as single-use water bottles, plastic bags, and other items in excessive packaging. Also, concentrate on purchasing durable items. They may be a little more expensive in the short term, but you won’t have to toss them prematurely because they’ve fallen apart. It will save you money and it won’t contribute to landfill. Also, try to give items you’re done with a second life. Somebody else may want it, so donate to nonprofit organizations like Goodwill or local homeless shelters.
In the end, almost everybody can make smart and simple budgetary adjustments that are good for the environment. Just keep an eye on your spending. Analyze each purchase before you make it for whether it is something you really need, and if it will have a negative impact on the planet. Ultimately even small changes can have a major effect.
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