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Save the Earth and Save Your Money

by Bella Leon 24 days ago in Sustainability

6 products that helped me reduce my carbon footprint and save money at the same time!

Save the Earth and Save Your Money
Photo by Thomas Vimare on Unsplash

In January of 2021, I had made the decision to move-out of my parents home and struggle on my own. While living on my own, there were many moments when I tried to find the best way to remain financially stable. With the pandemic, my funds were reduced and my savings thinned. I had lost my job (due to Covid-19) and struggled to find a way to keep myself afloat without having to juggle three jobs. With bills to pay, loans to pay back, and daily necessities, it seemed impossible to live on my own and without the aid of my helpful parents. But I was determined, and I still am.

People like to use coupons or find the best deals at the store to help their finances. Others enter their names in contests and buy lottery tickets, hoping for the best. And while those small discounted items have helped me save money, I have found that the best way to save money is by also saving the planet. Truly, it's a win-win. For me, I saved hundreds of dollars. And the planet got to sleep soundly, knowing that at least one person was positively contributing to Mother Nature's future.

Before I was laid-off from my job, I worked at a conversation agency. We helped keep the oceans clean, made plans to improve the conditions of coral reefs, and contributed to helping improve the lives of certain species that are vital to the ecosystem of our planet. While sitting in rooms with intelligent biologist and strategic planners, I learned a lot about how to help the planet and how our system and the people in it contribute to the demise of our sacred ecosystem. With the knowledge I gained from my previous job, and a deep desire to also save money, I found the best products to reduce my carbon footprint and save me money at the same time. They're all compiled here for you, informing you on how much you can save and how it helps improve the world around you.

SAVE THE EARTH AND SAVE MONEY:

By ActionVance on Unsplash

1. Q-Tips

By David Clode on Unsplash

Despite the fact that q-tips are made from sustainable materials, these little guys litter the ocean and hurt seahorses that roam the ocean for food. They're different from straws, yes. They're not getting stuck in the throat of sea turtles. Instead, seahorses will mistake the q-tips for grass and carry them across the sea to safety and to consume. To reduce this problem, you have two options.

LastSwab

I'd encourage people to use reusable object before picking single-use eco-friendly products. It can be reused many times, and you avoid tossing out q-tips that could potentially hurt the creatures of the sea. It's made from non-toxic material, and it comes with a convenient biodegradable case! The only aspect regarding this product that many reviews have expressed is that LastSwab cannot absorb moisture. Personally, I think if it gets the job done, then don't fix what ain't broke!

SAVING MONEY:

You can buy a 500 pack of q-tips (please don't), and it could last you an entire year. That's around $5.00 per year. Unless, of course, you have a large family. Then, you'd be buying a few packs a year. With LastSwab, you'd buy a $12.00 basic q-tip that will last you a few years. Just -- and I can't stress this enough -- wash your product after using it. I know, it's a given. But I'm noting this for people who need to know how to keep this product clean for reuse. You will need to wash it. It sucks, but image how many seahorses you will save!

If you use q-tips for removing make-up, then there's an option to grab something from LastSwab for that as well. It's not a bad product. In fact, it's very convenient and saved me the five bucks I really didn't want to spend per year or a few times a year. It's a small amount, but it goes a long way.

Bamboo Q-Tips

If reusable products isn't your thing, then I'd encourage you to look into something that's biodegradable. It's not just biodegradable but also made from plants! It's plastic-free and and packaged by an eco-friendly product. Save the seahorses and buy something sustainable.

SAVING MONEY:

Each pack has about 100 q-tips that cost about $2.99. It will last a single person for a few months. This product might be a little more costly than a single-use product, but it is sustainable and viable options for those who would disregard LastSwab.

You could also save tons of money by not buying these at all! It has been said that if used incorrectly, q-tips could potentially harm your ears. There is no scientific proof that we need q-tips. In fact, q-tips weren't made for cleaning ears but for baby care.

2. Plastic Straws

By Randall Ruiz on Unsplash

While everyone might already be aware that plastic straws hurt the creatures of the sea, it's important to emphasis why it's so harmful beyond injuring innocent animals.

Plastic straws do not break-down completely. It is reported that over 500 billion plastic straws are used everyday. That's far too many non-biodegradable products floating the sea and littering the land. To make things worse, plastic straws turn into micro-plastic. And just so you know, micro-plastic is consumed by the fish of the sea. Human beings eat fish. Therefore, humans are consuming products that are not only bad for the planet but bad for their bodies. There's only one way to reduce this use for each person: reusable straws.

Bamboo Straws

The cheapest reusable straw I can find is on Public Good's site. It's about $5.00. But you can find bamboo straws literally anywhere now. These products, particularly made from bamboo, is really great for the planet. Take it with you on the go, and reject the offer of a straw from your nearby coffee shop, resturants, and fast-food places. If you do actually buy plastic straws for whatever reason, you'd save so much money by just buying a reusable straw (most straw kits come with cleaning tools too). While this product didn't exactly save me money, as I do not buy plastic straws ever, it did allow me to sleep soundly at night, knowing I did my best to help preserve our bodies from consuming micro-plastic and help the sea turtles just minding their own business.

3. Plastic Tupperware and Ziploc bags

By veeterzy on Unsplash

While companies claim that the material they use to create tupperware is free of BPA products (BPA is known for seeping into food and causing health problems to consumers), plastic is non-biodegradable. This means, it does not break-down upon being thrown out, which is not good for the ecosystem and pose dangerous threats to animal's safety. While reusing plastic tupperware is better than using Ziploc bags, it still does not eliminate the possibility of people losing their plastic tupperware or having to throw them out. It still does not eleminate the fact that there are reckless ways people dispose of plastic products. If you need another reason why plastic is so bad, almost all plastic products are made from chemicals that warm the planet. And burning plastic releases toxic gasses, causing air-polution. But there are a few ways to package your food without using plastic tupperware or Ziploc bags.

Compostable Food Storage Bags

First of all, it's compostable. You can get about 100 of these eco-friendly products for almost $10.00. Here's the thing though: it's washable, reusable (resealable!), and and made with plant-based materials. You can use this product for $10.00 a year!

SAVING MONEY:

Depending on size, Ziploc bags cost about $5.00 to $10.00 each time you buy a pack. I'd say most people buy this guy about 2 or 3 times a year. This depends on how many people are living at home and how many places they need to go with Ziploc'd food. In essence, though, you'd be saving about $10.00 to $30.00 a year. For me, I saved about $40.00 a year because I use Ziploc bags for literally everything. From storing products to storing food, I have used so many of these horrible bags a year until recently.

Silicone Bags

Though compostable products are better than metal, glass, or silicone, these bags are far more friendly than plastic products. It's highly durable and more ocean-friendly than plastic or metals. The products used to make silicone-based products are made from sand, and silicone products do a lot better in nature than plastic tupperware. This brand claims that these silicone bags can replace the use of 5,000 plastic bags.

SAVING MONEY

It is estimated that most people should throw-out plastic tupperware after 5 years of use. With silicone bags though, you can use them for 10 to 20 years. Despite the price tag being high at around $50.00, depending on the brand and how many you buy, plastic tupperware only lasts 5 years at around $10.00 per pack of tupperware you buy. In essence, plastic tupperware would be bought for $40.00+ over the course of 20 years while silicone products can be bought at one time for $50.00, and it last over the course of 20 years. Then again, if this product is too expensive, you can still find cheaper options like:

Then, you'd be paying $20.00 for 20 years while plastic tupperware is about $40.00+ over the course of 20 years. Personally, I like to use the 3 pack from Zero Waste Outlet. It's cheaper and it can be washed in a dishwasher, heated, and frozen.

Bento Box

Bento boxes are a great alternative to tupperware and Ziplock bags. If you would rather have a box than flimsy reusable bags and silicone, then bento boxes is a great way to go. It can be used for many years and made from eco-friendly products! Most of these objects can be found on Etsy, a notoriously cheap site to shop. Plus, you'd be supporting a small business!

SAVING MONEY

Bento boxes are about $17.00, while tupperware is $20.00. You won't save as much with this product, but it can be reused for many years. But more importantly, it's a safer option than plastic.

4. Menstruation Products

By Antoine GIRET on Unsplash

Most menstruation products are made from plastic. These objects leave a HUGE carbon footprint. For those of you who menstruate, billions of these products litter landfill and affect our oceans. After people flush these products down the toilet, they make it's way to the beach, potentially harming animals and the environment, as these products do not break-down fast enough over time.

Reusable Products

The June Cup is among my favorite. Other brands only allow a few months of use: Flex or XO Flo. That isn't a bad alternative though. Both products are biodegradable and made form eco-friendly products. But the June Cup can be used for up to 5 years. Its regular price is $30.00. But as of right now, it cost about $6.00. It can be worn for up to 12 hours, it's FDA approved, and toxin-free!

SAVING MONEY

Tampons cost about $7.00 per pack. You'll probably have to buy a pack about 6 times a year, totaling to $48.00 a year. Then, you'll probably also buy pads for about $7.00, depending on brand and use. This will probably be bought about about once every 3 months depending, totaling to about $28.00 per year. Together, which most people buy both, it cost about $76.00, and this is a conservative number. With reusable products like the June Cup, you'd buy it one time per year for about $30.00. Holy savings!

5. Paper Towels

By Sharad Bhat on Unsplash

Paper towels are a big hit in every country and in every place. From homes to businesses, paper towels are hot commodity. Though we don't think about it as much, obviously, paper towels are incredibly bad for the enviroment; And it racks up a huge bill for every household, business, or office-space. While paper towels have a relatively small carbon footprint, it does contribute to deforestation, global warming, and waste-problems. It's been reported that on a nationwide scale, people collectively use about 13 billion pounds of towels annually. This means, 270 million trees are cut down for this purpose. After the pandemic hit America, it was reported that paper towel sales soared, increasing more than 200% compared to the years before the pandemic. After disposing of these paper products, many of the products end-up in landfills where they generate a gas that is 23 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. That gas is called "methane." How do we counter this atrocity, you ask? Reusable products!

Sponge Cloths

The Zero Waste Store claims that their sponge cloth replaces the use of up to 17 rolls of paper towels. It can be washed in the dishwasher or in the washer. It lasts about 2-3 months, depending on use. But it could also withstand about 6 months to a year. This helpful product reduces the need for power towels, which contribute to plastic waste, landfill waste, and emitted greenhouse gasses. The greatest thing about this product to me: it doesn't have a lingering smell that some cloths can obtain. It's also naturally anti-bacterial with a low cost of about $7.00 per cloth.

SAVING MONEY

Paper towels are about $10.00 to $30.00 depending on the brand. But the catch is: these cheap products are typically bought 3-4 times per month for an entire household! That's about $40.00 per month. And ultimately, it's about $480.00 per year. And that's only if you buy the smaller packs! I've cut my losses with the use of sponge cloths that only cost about $28.00 per year for 3 month uses and $14.00 per year for 6 month uses. I can't stress how important it is to reduce the use of paper towels. It could help save the trees, save water (from creating the pulp), and reduce our carbon footprints as a species.

6. Dryer Sheets & Fabric Softeners

By Maxim Tolchinskiy on Unsplash

There's been a recent online debate about the health hazards of using dryer sheets. As of yet, there isn't enough research to confirm the potentially dangerous effects of using dryer sheets. But there is substantial research offering an avenue of understanding when it comes to the environment and dryer sheets or fabric softeners. It has been reported that dryer sheets are non-biodegradable and pose hazards for aquatic creatures. This is due to the fact that these products interact with our water system. In fact, many of the chemicals from dryer sheets can be found in air emissions from dryer vents. But most obviously, these products are horrible because they are single-use objects that pollute the earth. The alternative to such toxic material can be found in small, reusable pieces of wool.

Wool Dryer Balls

There's so many cheap options for this product online. From Etsy to Public Goods, wool dryer balls are extremly accessible! Personally, I have only used Public Good's product (I can't speak to other product's value). It can be used up to 1,000 times (typically and depending on how many loads your wash and dry a year). You just have to replace it when the wool ball begins to unravel. They're also made from 100% wool. But in particular, the great thing about this product is that the wool circulates evenly throughout a load; thus shortening dryer time and saving energy! In addition, the bag that these products come in is made from 100% cotton. It all costs about $6.50 for 4 dryer balls.

SAVING MONEY

Dryer sheets cost about $5.00 to $10.00 per pack of 250 or 80 sheets. An average family use the $10.00 option. They also typically wash and dry clothes about 8 times a week. This means that people are purchasing $10.00 dryer sheets that last about 6 months (or sooner!). Two packs a year for $20.00 seems like a sweet deal but wool balls cost about $6.50 and will last for 1 to 2 years, depending on use. In essence, you'd save about $13.00. It's not a large amount, but it adds up in the end!

How Much Money Did She Save?

By Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Let's count it up! Eco-friendly products can last for years. They'll be counted as something that is bought-once and reused throughout 1 year, whereas our single-use products will be counted up for multiple purchases a year.

Reusable Q-tips: $12.00

Reusable straws: $5.00

Reusable/compostable bags: $10.00

Reusable silicone bags: $20.00

Reusable menstration product: $30.00

Reusable cloth towels: $14.00 (2x a year at $7.00 per)

Wool dryer balls: $6.50

= $97.50

VERSUS:

Q-tips: $5.00

Ziploc bags: $15.00 (3x a year at $5.00)

Plastic Tupperware: $10.00

Pads/Tampons: $76.00 (pads and tampons bought at multiple times a year)

Paper towels: $480 (bought multiple times a year)

Hamper sheets: $20.00 (2x a year at $10.00)

= $606.00 (or $530.00 without menstruation products)

In essence, I've saved about $508.50 per year by using these environmentally-save products!

In Conclusion

By Matt Hardy on Unsplash

I have saved so much money from using these products. It started out with wanting to save money and lessen my use of searching for great deals and coupons (but please, by all means, don't stop doing that). Buying these products not only helped me financially, but it contributed to my deep desire to restore the ecosystem, despite not having any scientific ability to do so on my own.

Of course, though, these costs depend on each person and their situation. For others (and especially those with big families), this might not work so well. But, I'd encourage people to try their best for the sake of the environment! For me, this process has worked wonders. It's worked so well that it is my goal to continue using products that are reusable and safe for the enviroment.

Conglomerates want you to buy their low-cost products. It gives them clout and so much money they don't know what to do with it. But if people did the research, they'd find that buying reusable, enviromentally-friendly products are cheaper. It doesn't hurt to know that it also helps the environment. Don't buy into these mammoth-size companies' cheap prices. It's cheap right now, but image the large price we'll have to pay to fix the earth that we NEED to live on. Again, it's cheap right now, but how many times will you have to buy these products for your day-to-day activities? It all adds up, and the bill and burden might be too much for our children and their children to pay for.

Shipping These Products Hurt the Environment

By Brandable Box on Unsplash

It's true. Shipping products is seriously harmful to the environment. The list of negative effects of shipping products include: air pollution, water pollution, and oil pollution. This also includes the emmission of greenhouse gasses, which is harmful to the ocean, causing a rise in sea level and more.

Unfortunately, everything we do now -- post and pre-pandemic -- involves shipping products to friends, family, and to our front doors. It's hard to try to be a good person in this modern time. We try to help the enviroment by purchasing these helpful products but shipping them also hurts the planet. What in the mother nature is up with that? To counter this, I'd encourage you to donate, sponsor creatures of anti-poaching organizations, or call on your local government to reduce the use of single-use products and more. Other ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by purchasing E-books rather than paperback, compost your food, drive less and use a bike or take the bus, buy LED lightbulbs, unplug your devices from sockets to avoid phantom electricity from being consumed, buy recycle-free toilet paper, shop at your local farmer's market, or host a clean-up event!

My Goal:

I've used all these different ways to cut-down on my carbon footprint but also to help save some money. And I'll continue to use these products for the unforeseeable future. My hope is to find more products that could be reused throughout my life. Here are some products I'm looking to replace with eco-friendly or reusable products and ways I need to reform in the upcoming year:

1. Hanging clothes more than drying in a machine (save on your electric bill!)

2. Reusable bags to bring to grocery stores (buy one time and reuse until it breaks!)

3. Use safety razors that last longer than plastic disposable razors (save money by reusing razors rather than throwing out plastic ones every so often)

4. Toss out aluminum or foils and use silicone mats (save more money and reuse this product as many times as possible!)

5. Swap all sponges for reusable compostable sponges

6. Shop at thrift shops (cheaper clothes and you'll avoid contributing to air pollution)

It's not easy being a "good" person. We can't stop climate change with a drop of a hat. We can't even convince everyone it's real. But we can try our best by participating in rallies, protests, donating, and reducing our use of harmful products. I'd also like to stress that you should feel obligated to help improve the earth beyond financial reasons. But like a typical struggling individual of society, it's difficult to donate when you don't exactly have the money (like me!). So I wanted to compile a comprehensive defense for turning to environmentally-safe products. You should know, though, that I'm passionate about conservation. I love this planet and the land that feeds me. It is worth saving and not just because we are on it and live off of its land. It is also because it was here first, and it will be here long after we have departed.

By AJ Colores on Unsplash

Sources:

https://clarifygreen.com/how-to-buy-q-tips-and-be-environmentally-friendly/

https://www.aza.org/connect-stories/stories/how-do-straws-hurt-the-environment?locale=en

https://greenerideal.com/news/environment/0613-how-do-plastic-bags-affect-our-environment/

https://www.homestratosphere.com/glass-vs-plastic-tupperware/

https://stanfordmag.org/contents/planet-friendly-periods

https://www.terrapass.com/carbon-footprint-of-paper-towels

https://www.healthline.com/health/dryer-sheets-toxicity

https://www.peacefuldumpling.com/fabric-softeners-dryer-sheets-bad-earth

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As always, thank you for reading. Any and all tips are deeply appreciated :)

Sustainability
Bella Leon
Bella Leon
Read next: WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY
Bella Leon

Editor by day, Vocal writer by night.

I like to write about nearly anything as long as it's sincere but preferably, I like to talk about film!

Follow my film curating instagram page :) @thinkingnimages

Storyteller / poet / cinephile

she/her

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