17 Ways to Living More Sustainably and Saving Money

This photo was taken on our road trip to Virginia around Christmas

Going sustainable is very cost efficient, will save you lots of money, and help the earth. I didn’t just wake up one day and say hey I want to live more sustainably. Actually it came about because I was getting married and knew we were going to have to learn to save money. So out of my cheapness wanting to be more frugal I learned to be more sustainable.

17 Ways To Live More Sustainably

1. Use cloth napkins instead of paper. You can make them yourself very simply with left over fabric or find a really cute fabric at your local craft store.

2. Use reusable sponges for dish cleaning. Once they get nasty you can throw them in the dishwasher!

3. Stop using coffee filters. You are probably thinking what? How could I not use coffee filters? Well you can get yourself a french press. I have one of these and its awesome. All I do is put coffee in the french press, than boil water in a kettle or in the microwave then and pour it over the grounds. Wait a few minutes, push the little metal mesh filter thing down and wa la you have coffee without a filter.

4. Use a E-reader or your computer for reading books rather than buying them. I need to get better at this one. I don’t usually buy books unless its a gift to my husband, but I do buy textbooks (used ones for the most part) for school and a lot of them are available as an e-reader.

5. Don’t buy commercial cleaning products. These products usually contain harsh chemicals, perfumes, dyes, but also all those containers you purchase and just throw them away. You can buy reusable spray bottles to refill and make your own cleaning products. We make all our cleaning products (check out the recipes I use for laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, all purpose cleaner (coming soon), liquid hand soap, and dish soap (coming soon))

7. Ditch the paper towels and just use rags. Saves you a bunch of money and the environment.

8. Join a Community Supported Agriculture- usually these CSAs try to practice sustainable farming without pesticides. You’re also helping out your local community.

9. Eat organic as much as possible. I understand it can be expensive trust me! But it can also be reasonable if you shop sales and use coupons (you can find digital coupons too)

10. Cook your own meals! This might sound weird, but just think about it. If you are buying processed foods just think about where they came from. Most of them probably come from big manufactures that produce lots of waste and put smog into the air. If you make your own food you are avoiding that.

11. Start a garden. I’m working on this one because I don’t have a green thumb by any means.  It is always way cheaper and healthier than buying from the store.

12. Buy less new clothes and start shopping at thrift stores. This one has been new to me this year and Im still trying to get my husband to do this more.

13. Try not to use disposable cups and plates. Adds extra trash and you could just use normal plates and wash them. Plus they are so expensive!

14. Use microfiber dusters instead of a swiffers. When it gets dirty you can just throw it in the wash

15. Use reusable bags! Not just at the grocery store but anywhere you might take a bag with you.

16. Take a no trash lunch with you to work or school. Not only is this good for the environment it good for your wallet. Use a lunchbox, bring utensils from home, and use containers or jars, or a reusable sandwich bags.

17. Make your own personal care products. I make my own deodorant, lip balm, and soap! Thanks to a reader Abbi I added this one!

There you have it, 17 ways to become more sustainable and save some money. How are some ways you’re living more sustainable and saving money?


  1. Some additional things that I do are with personal care products- I have now learned how to make my own deoderant, lip balm, lotion bars and hair cleaners. I also used reusable things for my menstrual cycle. All of those things add up quite a bit for sustainable living.

    1. Totally agree! I should have put that in there, because I make my own deodorant, lip balm, and soap too! ! Thanks for the idea! I want to try to the hair cleaner. Do you have a post on what you use on your blog?

    1. No problem! You can find them pretty much anywhere I think. We got ours on clearance from Bed Bath and Beyond. They are a little bit more expensive but in the long run will save you lots of money!

  2. I am going to add cloth toilet paper to the list ๐Ÿ™‚ We cloth diaper, which also included using cloth wipes, and then I figured we might as well use them too. My husband was not entirely excited about it, but the first time he use them with the wipe solution I make, he was hooked. We are all home every day (i stay at home with my babes and my husband telecommutes to his out of state job the majority of the time), so we would go through A LOT of toilet paper. You can find my wipe solution recipe here http://www.townsend-house.com/2012/02/cloth-wipes-and-wipe-solution-recipe.html

    1. You could always install a bidet sprayer to your toilet. You can spray and then use cloth to dry. My husband isn’t up for cloth wipes, but he loved the idea of a bidet sprayer. It’s very easy to add and then remove when you move to a new apartment.

  3. This is a really great post! This was my first visit to your blog, but it certainly won’t be the last! I do many of these things already (as much as my family will tolerate… I’m working on them!) A few spins on your ideas that I use –

    2. I personally hate sponges, whether disposable or reusable. Even if it is sterilized, little bits of food and gunk still get stuck deep in the sponge and I don’t know of any way to get it out. So instead, I use a dish brush. Very reusable, long lasting (I’ve had mine for about 2 years and it’s going strong) and there is no place for yucky bits to get stuck in it like happens with sponges!
    3. My family is an absolute no-go with changing their coffee routine, so while I love French press coffee, it isn’t something that is going to be the usual at our house. Instead, I purchased a reusable coffee filter for the existing machine. They come in all several of materials so you can choose what’s best for you and your family, and many are under $10.

    1. Thanks Luckie these are some great ideas. I have one of those brushes too. Im not a huge fan of it. Usually all the food comes off the sponges in the dishwasher of me. I love the reusable coffee filter idea. I know they have those for the single serve coffee machines which is great since those cups are so darn expensive (not that I own one)! Thanks again for the ideas. Come back soon!

  4. I do almost all of these, they were easy enough to switch to when I first started my journey to live a more sustainable life. I also use a dish brush in addition to sponges. I put my dish brush in dishwasher and run my sponges through washer with dishtowels and cloth napkins. I rarely buy paper towels because I use dishtowels. Hubby will request I spend $1.49 once in a great while for three rolls of cheap paper towels and I will for him. But they will last him 3 or 4 months because I won’t let anyone else use them. I just started making our bath soap. The first batch should be cured long enough in a couple more weeks. I save all my cereal and bread bags and reuse them also.

    Thanks for a great post, I found you through the Barn Hop.

    1. Thats funny my husband request paper towels too just in case. It takes us forever to go through them! I love love love my homemade soap it feels so nice! Thanks for commenting! Come back again!

  5. Nice article! I feel that doing things like this is very fulfilling because of the sense of taking care of myself, my family, and the environment instead of just spending my money on a bunch of stuff that quickly becomes garbage.

    Another option for dishwashing is cotton dishcloths. You can get 6 or more for $1 at many discount stores, or knit/crochet them if you know how. (I don’t, but I have a crocheted one from a farmer’s market that works really well!) I get a clean one every time I wash dishes and then use it as the cloth for wiping the counters. We have enough to do a separate laundry load of dishcloths, kitchen towels, cloth napkins, placemats, etc. so we’re not soaking them in the same water with our dirty socks!

    Another option for coffee is a percolator. The filter basket is stainless steel and reusable. I have one at home and one at work, and they make really good coffee–less gritty than French press coffee (although I know some people like that!) and it’s hotter because the water is heated in the same container where the coffee is made.

    About using cloth instead of toilet paper as Heather mentioned: You might try using it just for pee. Then you don’t have the sanitation and odor issues you would if it had poop on it, and you are still cutting your TP use by half. I cut up my worn-out cotton knit clothes (so soft!) and put the squares in a small basket on the bathroom shelf. I have a zippered mesh bag with a twist-tie through the corner twisted around one bracket of the TP holder, and I put the used cloths in there so they dry quickly and don’t smell. When I’m doing laundry I just zip the bag and drop it in with the clothes.

    Here are my thrifty tips!

    1. Thanks Becca for sharing all those awesome tips! We (I mean my husband) used cotton dish clothes all the time to wash the dishes. He feels that it is more sanitary than a sponge which is so true! My grandparents swear by using a percolator! Also, a great tip for the toilet paper! All these tips were really smart! Thanks again!

  6. What great ideas! I love cloth napkins–my best thrift shop score of the month was last week, when I found 18 large red cotton cloth napkins on clearance–for $1.20 total! Can’t even buy fabric for that!
    Thanks for the links-I’m checking them out!

  7. Great ideas ๐Ÿ™‚ I do all of them except for the books. I love the feel of a nicely made book in my hand and don’t think I can ever forego that experienceโ€ฆ However, buying used books is a way to improve in that area ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a wonderful week!

  8. We have been using flannel squares instead of TP for almost a year now and I wouldn’t go back! I bought some small cute foot pedal garbage cans from Target; one for each bathroom. They come with removable pails with handles. We just put our used flannel squares in them and when they are full I do a small wash load of just the flannel. We keep a couple of baskets of flannel on a handy shelf. I also cut the flannel in different sizes and colors so everyone can choose which size they need. Just thought I would pass on our method.

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