Green living is something that we all (hopefully) strive for but I can understand how some of us become less sustainable in our living in order to enjoy the fellowship on a stipend. Often, all the sustainable alternatives seem to be very expensive, and this is often because they present investment in something that you will use for years to come. Good example – menstrual cups – made of silicon and last decades (!), of course they cost more than a pack of tampons but in the long run, $30-40 cup vs $10-20 every month on menstrual hygiene products.. Do math yourself 🙂

Thanks to living in California, one the most eco-friendly states, I continue mastering sustainable living even with a small student budget, and I am about to tell you how you can do this too!

Groceries: I never package my produce. Who needs five lemons in a plastic bag or bunch of bananas that already hold on to each other, ditch the plastic! Yes, even potatoes and wet greens, there is absolutely no need in suffocating your veggies and fruits in plastic. I have never ever had any issues with cashiers, produce without plastic is easier to count at the end of the day 🙂

Additionally, try to buy from local farmers at markets, this way you avoid all the unnecessary stickers and other plastic tags. Another option is order online from such companies as Imperfect Foods – they send you all ugly produce that does not go on store’s shelves and get wasted, I personally use this service and absolutely love my ugly avocados.

Bags: This is a short talk. You don’t need to buy single use bags, just buy a cloth bag that you can roll into your pocket. I personally use a backpack and a basket that gets attached to my bicycle 🙂

Body Care & Cleaning: Invest once in long-use bottles and just get refills for your soaps and cleaners. Also, invest in a good safety razor and as I mentioned earlier for ladies – menstrual cup. Another tip is to switch to bamboo toothbrushes and sponges from biodegradable materials.

There are plenty of companies that will offer you non-toxic sustainable options for your body care and for home cleaning. I personally use Grove, as someone with eczema I am highly appreciative of their non-scented options, never had any issues, and as a bonus, I have been using their non-plastic bottles for over a year now. For toilet paper, my roommates and I use Who Gives a Crap – recycled toilet paper and napkins! Oh yes 🙂

Transport: Get a bike! At least if you are in DC and San Francisco – from my experience – these two cities are absolutely suitable for biking almost all year long. Use Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to find used bicycles. I got mine for $25!!! A Cruise bike with a basket! I’ve had the most magical bike ride through the whole San Francisco from ocean and Sunset district to the Ferry terminal in the Financial District.

Clothes & furniture: Please don’t buy this cheap fashioned clothes at H&M or whatever other stores are. You can get amazing quality clothes for extremely low prices online or through second-hand stores. I got a badass jean-jacket with cute pearls for $12. If you are like me and prefer trying things on, pay a visit to Salvation Army, Buffalo Exchange and Goodwill. Also, I am sure there is plenty of other local thrift shops to explore. They are so fun!

If you don’t shy away from online – look up Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, ThredUp, Swap and others.

And in general, turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth or scrubbing your body in a shower, turn off lights if you are not using them, and don’t wash your clothes too often – this is not only saving power and the planet but also cuts your utility bill. 

Stay green! It is fun!