When the word “sustainable” is said, thoughts like “too expensive”, “exclusive”, and “unrealistic” sometimes pop up too. There is truth to this; organic and ‘bio’ foodstuffs, locally produced items, and ‘green’ household items often come at a much higher cost than less sustainable items. Solar panels and electric cars remain out of reach to the average person.

This article intends to offer affordable alternatives to sustainable habits; ways to adapt and shape the way you integrate sustainability into your life. By not just accepting what is said to be ‘green’, you can create your own individual system that works for you, works for your wallet, and leads to a healthier earth.

The big one! Organics:
Misconception: To be sustainable, you need to eat organic all the time.


  • Instead of organic, check out local food. Farmers markets and food boxes are ubiquitous these days, and locally produced often means there are higher environmental and social standards (because they aren’t shipped from across the world from countries with substandard working conditions).
  • If organic and local costs too much right now, accept that eating lots of vegetables and fruit in itself is a sustainable thing. Move away from meat and dairy and towards living foods; they reduce the amount of resources you consume and are healthier for you! In most grocery stores you can find a discount produce section with lots of veg and fruit that still have some days left.
  • GROW. YOUR. OWN. FOOD. If you have the time and resources for this, start the gratifying, fruitful (heehee), and rewarding process of food production in your life. Backyard garden plots, vertical gardens, roof gardens, and pot veggies offer many options for you. If you don’t have space, check out local community gardens that you can become a part of which also help you engage in the community. Local, organic, and cheap.
  • Mix it up! Create a healthy balance of these options. Use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen guide to help you pick and choose which items to buy organic (if any), see what food you can grow, buy local, or buy discount.
  • In general: plan ahead, buy in bulk (avoiding plastics at the same time!), cook at home, make lots and FREEZE the leftovers.

Next up: Transportation
Misconception: Using fossil fuels for driving is bad, but clean energy and electric cars are too expensive and there are no other options.


  • If you can- and if you feel safe- BIKE! Free, no emissions, and a great work out.
  • Public transit. Cheaper than cars, safer, and much less emissions.
  • Organize with friends or co-workers to drive together, or get on board with ridesharing apps that are all around the world. Half the cost and half the emissions.
  • When filling up, decide to buy green energy once in a while. Or once a week. Find the happy medium between your wallet and your mind.
  • Stay up to date with technology on electric cars and get excited that electric vehicles take majority share of new car sales! As production rises, cost will fall, so maybe you can consider one in the future.
  • Again, mix it up. Have rideshare Mondays, or bike to work Fridays. Slowly adapt to realistically integrate changes into your life!

Local and ‘eco’ clothes, gifts, household items, etc
No misconception here.


  • Thrift stores! Whether you call them opshops, second hand stores, or thriftshops, they are likely in abundance wherever you reside and are home to pre-loved clothing, housewares, nicnacs, gift options, and more. While many people are unsure about the use of once-owned items, you will find clean, organized, and treasure-filled shops that make you wonder why you never tried them before. Do some research on high quality materials such as cotton and wool and get excited about what you can find.
  • Get involved with- or build on of your own- sharing economies! You can find tool libraries, seed libraries, and many more ways to borrow items instead of buying them yourself.
  • Learn to sow and build your skills to make your own unique and fashionable clothing.
  • Don’t want to buy expensive cleaning products? Get into the magic of baking soda and vinegar

A final note…

Instead of complying with the sustainability that is put forth by popular culture, design your own. Etch away the meaning of sustainability into your lives starting with less and looking for reasons to use old things for new needs. Be dedicated to not spend money and find innovative ways to meet your needs.

By Claire Stevenson- Blythe

For the month of September, the Environment articles will themed around our monthly event: The Sustainable Life: A How-To Series. These articles are intended to offer a guideline- a 101 of sorts- to help people integrate sustainability into their lives.

Please note that opinions expressed are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and values of The Blank Page.