Published: Feb. 12, 2020 By

Living sustainably often comes with an added bonus—saving money! Here are five ways to lower your costs by living green.

Person cutting up cilantro in kitchenSave money on food

Reducing food waste is ranked third on Project Drawdown’s comprehensive list of global solutions to climate change. Cooking food at home can help you save money and cut down on food waste. Save time and money by making meals in bulk to eat as leftovers for several days in a row.

To help use up food you already have, check out the SuperCook app. After adding what ingredients you have on hand, SuperCook finds recipes with those ingredients from popular cooking websites.

Before heading to the grocery store, take note of what you already have in your kitchen to avoid stocking up on things that may expire before they can be used. Try out a food inventory app to keep track of what you have. 

Review these tips to help you save more money at the grocery store.

Rent, borrow or shop secondhand

Sometimes there are items we buy but don’t always use long-term. Maybe it’s books, luggage, outdoor gear, tools or a new outfit for a special event. While these things are sometimes necessary to have, they can also sit around and take up space.

Before purchasing new items, consider renting or borrowing instead. This can be more cost-effective and help you accumulate less stuff. There are many websites and services with items available for rent. You could also ask friends or family members if they have items you can borrow.

If there’s an item you’d prefer to own, thrift stores and consignment shops are great for saving money. Some secondhand shops have special sales and deals where you can get items even cheaper. Check out some of the best shops in Boulder.

And with the rise of online marketplaces, you may not even need to visit a thrift store to find great deals. If you’re purchasing used items online to pick up locally, be sure to use the Online Safe Exchange Zone on campus.

Get crafty with repairs

It can be a huge bummer when a favorite item is damaged. Before tossing it out and spending money to replace it, do some research to see if you can fix it. Between gaming consoles, smart phones, broken zippers and more, there are tons of YouTube tutorials for DIY repairs.

If you need special equipment or help with a repair, check out the free Makerspace at the Boulder Public Library. Among other tools, they have sewing machines and U-Fix-It clinics for technical assistance with repairs.

There are also innovative yet affordable products that can help extend the life of some more expensive items:

  • Sugru moldable glue has endless repair uses, and can be especially helpful with electrical cords.
  • Check out No So patches to fix tears in your technical clothing or outdoor gear.

Air-dry your clothes

Electric clothes dryers use a lot of energy, affecting the environment and your wallet. Fortunately, we live in a dry climate where clothes can air-dry quickly—even indoors in cooler weather. Consider hanging your clothes to dry to save your quarters and cut down on your energy bill. Try a retractable clothesline, or put clothes on hangers on your shower rod.

Adjust your thermostat

If you pay your own energy bill, you’ve probably seen how costs can rise when you turn up the heat. Save money by turning down your thermostat when you aren’t home and when you go to sleep. A programmable thermostat can make this process simple—check with your property manager about installing one.

For more tips to conserve energy and save money, set up an ECO-Visit. CU student technicians will visit your home and install energy- and money-saving upgrades free of charge. If you live on campus, sign up for the Green Home Certification to learn more ways to save energy and get free swag.

Sustainable Buffs is a series brought to you by the Environmental Center. Learn more sustainability tips and ways to get involved at