LIVE SUSTAINABLY ON A BUDGET – my 8 tips for an eco-friendly lifestyle when you’re broke


I’ve been asked to share my tips to live more sustainably and plastic free while having a limited budget. I myself am a student and cannot afford to live completely waste free and sustainable but there are so many things you can do that either don’t cost you anything at all, saves you money in the long run or just cost a tiny bit more and have a huge positive impact on the environment! Here are some of the things that I do to live more sustainable:

1. Bamboo toothbrush

I’ve been using bamboo toothbrushes for over a year now and I love it. They are doing the exact same job as plastic toothbrushes but without the plastic waste. Did you know that you have to change your toothbrush every 3 months? So a pack of 4 toothbrushes will last you a whole year! There are a lot of different bamboo toothbrush labels out there and I have tried 2 different brands so far. my favourite is the Panda brush Bamboo toothbrushes are usually a bit pricier than the plastic ones but it’s just a matter of a few pounds/ euros/ dollars/… a YEAR and it makes such a difference!
-Panda bamboo toothbrush (pack of 4) $12
-bamboo toothbrushes in different colours and children’s brushes (from €3.55)
-Save some Green toothbrushes from £2.75
-Bamboo toothbrush subscription from €4.99
-Brush with bamboo (pack of 4) $20
-wowe bamboo brushes (pack of 4) $11

2. “No straw, please” or straw alternatives

If you go to a bar, café or restaurant simply say “no straw, please” when ordering a drink. I know that some places have paper straws now which is fine but saying those magic words will open up a conversation and show the restaurant/ bar/ café that people care about such things. Don’t forget to say “thank you for not using a straw” when the waiter/ waitress gives you your straw-free drink! This sustainable hack doesn’t cost a thing! But if you want to step up your game and love drinking from a straw I recommend investing in a plastic straw alternative. Nowadays there are straws made from paper, bamboo (or here), stainless steel and glass (for example here and here)! I myself own stainless steel and glass straws and I use them at home. Simply rinse them after using them or use a straw cleaning brush which often comes with the straws. The stainless steel straws should last a lifetime and the glass straws too if you don’t break them (guilty). But I use my glass straws every single day so one broken straw is not a big deal. You’ll also save a lot of money in the long run!

3. Plastic-free dishwashing brush

I’ve been using wooden dishwashing brushes (here or here) for over a year now as well and I love them. I don’t see any negatives about them and they are plastic free! Plus, you can buy the brush heads individually and put a new brush head on the handle once in a while when you feel like the brush needs an update.

4. Reusable tote bag

I think everyone has a reusable tote bag nowadays but if you don’t go and buy one! They are everywhere! I suggest buying one from an e.g. cotton fabric rather than buying a plastic one but honestly, you even get tote bags for free e.g. when buying something or as a PR gift. I have a huge collection of tote bags now. I got them from my university, PR events, when I bought a fair fashion item, etc. I always keep a tote bag in my purse so that I have one when I spontaneously go grocery shopping. Nowadays you have to pay for plastic bags in a lot of places (which is great because it encourages people to bring their own bag) so you’re saving a lot of money using your own bag. It’s such an easy switch and it saves the environment a lot! Don’t be that dick that uses unsexy plastic bags that end up killing animals in our oceans.

5. Good old bar of soap


One of the most stupid and environmentally harming developments is that humans invented shower gel and everyone is using it. It has become mainstream. Remember what humans used before shower gels in plastic bottles? A bar of soap. You can find them everywhere and they mostly even contain fewer chemicals than shower gels. I love buying natural & vegan bars of soap when I’m out and about in the city and see soaps that are ideally unpackaged or packaged in paper. But think about it: even if the soap is wrapped in a tiny plastic film it’s better than those huge plastic bottles. Plus, bars of soap are so much easier to travel with. Invest in a soap tin (here) if you travel a lot and want your soap to be neatly packaged. I’ve been using bars of soaps instead of shower gels for years now because it’s such an easy change. I’ve been buying soaps from all around the world too! It’s also a great souvenir.

6. Reusable water bottle

It feels weird including this but use a reusable water bottle and have it with you! I think everyone has a reusable water bottle and if you don’t – get one, they are everywhere. A plastic free (made from stainless steel or glass) one is ideal for the environment and your health but I myself even keep a little reusable plastic bottle with me that I got gifted from a PR event. Single-use plastic bottles are so bad for your health, the planet, and the animals and are just so unnecessary.

7. Reusable coffee cup

Same as for the water bottle. If you drink tea or coffee regularly then you should have your own reusable coffee cup with you. You can buy them online, in stores and even in coffee shops so it’s an easy change. I do understand though that it’s not that easy if you don’t go to the coffee shop regularly and don’t know what to do if you do go one time. This is my situation. I either ask if they can serve the drink in a ceramic cup (old school style) when I know that I’m staying at the coffee shop or I ask for no lid. Then the beverage is served in a paper cup and is not as bad for the environment as with the plastic lid. And again, this doesn’t cost you anything.

8. Waste-free period

I know a lot of people will either know this already or think that I’m crazy but let me tell you one of my favourite sustainable products ever that changed my life: the menstrual cup. It is a tiny silicone cup that you use instead of tampons. The menstrual cup can be bought in a lot of drug stores, health food shops and online and it lasts between 3-5 years. I was skeptical and confused when I first heard of it but I love it so much now so just try to be open to it! Here are the advantages: it is damn cheap when thinking about you’re using it for up to 5 years – there is no cheaper period product! Think about the money you are saving (I’m still mind blown about this part)! It is super convenient – buy one for your home and one that you always carry around in your purse and you are safe – completely worry-free. It is basically waste-free. Imagine the waste tampons and pads create in 5 years vs a tiny menstrual cup. It is insane. It is probably the healthiest and safest period product out there. Tampons and pads contain a lot of chemicals like bleaches and tampons are known to be highering the chances of getting toxic shock syndrome. I myself looked for tampon alternatives when I experienced cramps everytime I used tampons vs a pad. It still freaks me out a little that I get cramps from tampons – probably because of the chemicals – yuck. Pads are messy and produce waste and also contain chemicals and bleaches. Menstrual cups are also easy to use. You simply empty it in the toilet and wipe it with toilet paper (when on the go) or rinse it in the sink and boil it in hot water (to kill all bacteria and make it safe to use the next month) when your period is done. It is super hygienic compared to pads and tampons that are not hygienic at all. It takes a little practice and I recommend using small pads when using it the first times so that you feel safe but once you get the hang of it it will change your life!
-OrganiCup £21
– Lunette cup $40
-Mooncup different sizes £20
-more menstrual cups 

I hope you consider implementing these tips in your life and become a more environmentally conscious person! Here are some more sites and links that show you how to live plastic-free and have a lower (negative) impact on the planet:

Trash is for tossers website 
Zero Waste Home 
Girl Gone Green Youtube

Author: liviavanheerde

My name is Livia and I blog about a sustainable, ethical and vegan lifestyle. I live in Vienna and London where I study Environmental ScienceI. I am especially passionate about fair, eco-friendly and vegan fashion and you'll find lots of outfit ideas on this blog and my Instagram page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.