Sustainable living: How to be eco-frugal to reach Financial Independence

Sustainability and sustainable living are popular buzzwords, however, with a growing worldwide population it might be necessary to reduce our waste and preserve our resources for future generations. 

Eco-Frugal is not just a buzzword for people who want to live like hippies, it is for people who want to cut back on their spending by finding and replacing single-use items. These items can be expensive for our budget, as we are constantly having to replace items, but it can be expensive for our local governments as they have to hire and find ways manage waste.

Prior to my FIRE journey, I would say I was wasteful, I would often eat out and get take-away which meant that I was now the proud owner of food packaging that I now had to throw out. Over time I began to find way to cut back and not produce more garbage. Mainly because I hate garbage.

So what kind of replacements have I made that you can do too?

Protecting your clothing from Aunt Flo

Many women receive a monthly visitor, sometimes it is welcome, other times it might not be.

On average, women spend $6,380 on menstrual products during their lifetime. That is a lot of money, a massive tax we have to pay because of how we were born. However, we can cut that amount down by purchasing reusable replacements, ie. menstrual cups and pads, and padded underwear. 

A very popular option is THINX, which is underwear that absorbs your period. They are extremely comfortable and you can sleep with them and not have to worry. They are expensive because of the initial cost, however, their lifetime cost is much cheaper than the $6,380 that you would spend over a lifetime. 

Cycle your commute

Not feasible for everyone but it is becoming more and more of an ideal choice to ditch the car for using your legs.

The benefit of cycling is that it is a form of exercise, so you can either drop that pricey gym membership or the price tags associated with a car (payment, insurance, maintenance, etc. 

Grow your own

If you are regularly using fresh veggies in your cooking, you can save some of the seeds to grow your own plants. For instance I have replanted the ends of my romaine lettuce, planted some seeds from chili peppers. I am currently attempting the same from tomatoes.

The point is, you can use your kitchen scraps to build a mini-garden.

Ditch single-use plastic

While these items are convenient, meaning that once used you do not have to think about cleaning it or where it is headed, they increase waste in the landfills. Which are interesting from an archaeological point of view, but they are not very good for the climate. 

These disposable are not only expensive in the cost to the planet, but they can also be costly to your own budget. 

So see if you can find a replacement for these single-use plastics, for instance, I have replaced my straws with bamboo and my plastic food bags for waxed food wraps. Another thing is that some coffee shops will discount your order if you bring your own mug. Lowering the latte factor of your own budget.

Mend your clothes

I would write sew your own clothes but that takes a whole different skill set. 

So instead of throwing out your clothes, see if you can mend them. If they cannot, they can be used as rags.

The benefit of mending clothes is that it not only prolongs the life of the clothing, it also saves you money since you do not need to buy a replacement. 

Living in a capsule

Not literally but fast fashion is hurting our environment. We have gotten used to wearing an item a few times and when it begins to look raggedy, we toss it out. A massive problem is that many clothes are created with synthetic fibers, so it does not degrade in the landfill. Instead it just continues to exist. 

This is a massive industry, and it is not great for your own wallet. Especially if you continue to purchase items to replace the items you threw out. 

How can you combat this? Only buying items with natural fibers is one way, but another is creating a capsule wardrobe with only a few items. It does take time to create, so do not worry if it is terrible the first round. You do have to be honest with yourself about your personal style and the feasibility of wearing certain items. 

The easiest way to create a sustainable capsule wardrobe is to look at the fabrics itself. The best ones are, organic cotton,  linen, hemp, and recycled wardrobe. These types are durable and will cost you less in the long run so you are not constantly replacing clothing.

Mask up!

Are masks our new normal? Maybe. Regardless they have been a welcome addition to my wardrobe since I have always thought those in many Asian countries looked chic with their masks. 

A good way to be frugal and sustainable is to purchase reusable masks, just be sure to wash after every wear. The benefit of purchasing reusable is that you are creating less waste as the medical masks  should only be used once. It is also cost-effective to only buy a few reusable masks instead of always purchasing new single-use masks.

Invest Ethically

This is becoming fairly popular amongst investor who focus on sustainable living. This type of investing focuses on companies that actually have sustainable practices. However, many of the ETFs that tout themselves as being ethical are not actually, as they have some blue-chip stocks within them that do have have these type of practices. 

Here is a video from Acorns to tell you more about it. You can start investing using Acorns here and choose from one of their 3 plans. 

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