When I made the decision to change the way I live and purchase to be more environmentally conscious, people always had the same question: “how are you going to afford that?” Honestly, when I started this journey, I had the same question. I thought everything was going to be really expensive and that all my money would go to expensive food and the shampoo I use. When I read Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, she stated that she has saved 60% of her money by going Zero Waste. I was mind blown. How????
After reading many books and being far along in my own sustainable journey, I can definitely say that I have saved money becoming a conscious consumer. I didn't realize this when I started this journey, but wow, I wasted a lot of my own money. When I started my journey, I had a closet I couldn't shut and a closet full at my parent's house, too. All of those clothes and I swear- I wore the same 6 things and I always wanted to go shopping to buy new clothes.
It took me forever to realize this, but buying new clothes would never fix my problem of not being happy with what I owned. I had to change my perspective. I had to learn how to love what I owned in order to stop spending so much money. I wanted to be a conscious consumer, but I didn't know how- and I was afraid it would cost me a fortune. But just like Bea Johnson, I have saved a ton of money by limiting my waste.
This blog is not about the products I use and the links go to to so you can purchase sustainable products. This blog post is about limiting your waste and saving your money all by doing one thing- learning how to become a conscious consumer. The Network for Business Sustainability states that:
"Socially conscious consumerism happens when consumers purchase products or services produced with social and environmental considerations in mind. It can be described as consumers “voting with their dollars,” by purchasing products and services produced responsibly."
There are a TON of ways to be a conscious consumer, but the most important is to learn how to limit what you buy. Learn to not always want the newest thing, learn to use what you have, and learn to love what you already own to decrease buying new things in the future.If you want to learn about my passion behind limiting purchases, watch StoryOfStuff (21 minutes long).
How Conscious Consuming Saves Me Money:
I don’t follow companies on Instagram
My Instagram feed looks a lot different now than it did this past July. I used to follow brands like Madewell, Anthropologie, Free People, along with influencers who wear these brands. I followed tons of influencers who had the picture-perfect house with the most beautiful decor I could imagine. Turns out, I was always unhappy with the things I owned because I was always looking at the next new thing. I've learned I don't need the next new thing to be happy. So in order to protect myself from wasting away my money on something that I won't like in a couple of months, I don't follow a lot of brands. Learn more about my minimalist wardrobe here.
I cut out mindless shopping
This is something I used to do weekly. With my mom, with my friends, with my fiancé, basically anyone who would walk into a Target with me. I spent a lot of extra money buying things that looked pretty on the shelf, but that I didn't need. If I'm with my friends and they want to shop, I will happily go, but I don't go into stores unless I have a reason.
I don’t have shopping apps on my phone
Not only did I shop mindlessly at retail stores, but I shopped mindlessly on online stores as well. Constantly. I deleted all shopping apps on my phone which has cut down on my spending a ton. I no longer look at Urban Outfitters' 2 for $40 sale just because I'm bored in class.
I buy quality over quantity
I talked to my grandma about my wedding registry and what I should register for that lasts. She talked about her kitchen pans she got for her wedding and said they are still in good condition- she's 80! My grandma got her pans when she was in her early 20s. Those are the purchases I want to make. I pay attention to quality and make sure that it will last. When something will last a long time, there is no need to go out and replace it every couple of years.
I cook at home instead of going out
As much as I love eating out, learning to cook at home instead has saved me a lot of money. I'm a poor college student, so cooking at home goes a long way for me. Plus I eat a lot healthier when I eat in which is a huge plus!
I make my latte at my house instead of buying to-go
I used to go to Starbucks everyday before my 10:00 when I was a Sophomore. It hurts my brain to think about how much money that cost me and how much plastic I used that year of college. Making my own coffee every morning saves me $4.15 a day which is over $1,000 a year not counting weekends. That's a lot of money saved just by making my own coffee!
I buy second hand
This is something I used to hateeeee doing, but I am learning to really appreciate it. I lost my glasses last semester- bought the same ones on eBay. My bridesmaid dresses? Bought on Poshmark. Buying second hand means you are purchasing a product that already exists, instead of supporting the production of a new product. Plus, it is sooooo much cheaper. For Christmas I wanted a pair of Reformation black jeans for Christmas. They were $198 and I didn't get them from anybody. Turns out I found a pair that looks exactly the same at a thrift store in Tucson for $12. Think of how much I saved from buying second hand instead!
I base my clothing purchases off my closet, not trends or ads
My style has gotten more unique since I have stopped following fast fashion. What I do now is I go to my closet and look at my clothes as a whole. At one point I thought a long black cardigan would go great with everything I owned. So I set out to find it. Since I knew exactly what I wanted, other clothes didn't even distract me because I knew what would work with my closet. This saves me money because not all clothes are an option to me. I have something specific in mind that I want for my wardrobe.
I buy in bulk whenever possible
Buying bulk is always more cost effective, so I do it as much as possible. I buy the biggest bag of cat food, the larger cardboard box of rice- anything that can be bought in large quantities I buy in bulk. It saves me money and cuts out some packaging!
I (try) to not make impulse purchases, I wait instead
If I find something I reallyyyyy want, I don't buy it immediately. Some people I follow have a 30-day rule where they wait a month before making the purchase decision. I don't know if I have that type of will power, but I definitely try to not impulse buy anything.
I use up what I have before buying sustainable products
This is so so so so important. Being a conscious consumer does NOT mean throw out everything you own and replace it with environmentally friendly items. My first minimalist wardrobe didn't have one sustainable item in it. Not one! As much as I would like to have all sustainable products, the most environmentally conscious purchase you can make is using what you already have.
I make my own products
For those who like the idea of saving money by making your own products, go to WellnessMama for all the best natural recipes! As of now, I make my own cleaners, laundry detergent, and face scrub. But it is possible for you to make your own deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, dishwashing detergent, toilet cleaner, lip balm, and SO much more. The possibilities are endless! This is an AMAZING way to save money and saves so much single use plastic.
Thanks for reading and I hope this helps those who want to shop responsibly on a tight budget. :) Learn to use what you have and I promise it will make all the difference.
Thank you for making a difference,
Impact for Good