16 Tips For Saving Money While Switching to Safer Products
This week over in my Instagram stories I held a Q+A during which one question out-paced them all: How can I live a healthier or more nontoxic life without breaking the bank!? I get it. It’s not fair (or even acceptable) how difficult it can be to access safer products. From government subsidies, to cheap processed foods and the explosion of food deserts in our country, there are a lot of people who can’t even afford or access produce let alone organic. There is a lot of work to be done at the individual, local, state, federal and global levels to create positive change in the area. And while I’m not tackling that issue today specifically, my hope is that some of the tips below can help anyone no matter where you live or where you are on your journey to find local or online resources that will help you access safer products at a savings.
Get into a progress over perfection mindset.
As you begin to pull back the curtain on industries, brands and products you’ve been using for years, it is easy to feel completely overwhelmed and paralyzed by the sheer amount of stuff in your life that might not be great for you - or not as great as the marketing lead you to believe. No matter where you are on your journey to living a nontoxic life, I really encourage you to resist the urge to bring diet culture or “credit card mentality” into this process. What I mean by that is this: don’t be short-sighted and don’t put all of this pressure on yourself to transform your life and swap out every item in your home over night. Don’t go maxing out credit cards or putting yourself into financial stress because you’re now scared of everything in your home. Stop. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Listen: I’ve been at this for six years and am still making swaps regularly. We know things now we didn’t know six years ago. We will know things six years from now that we don’t know today. Find comfort in that. Do your best. Use the tips below to create a manageable and impactful path forward for yourself and/or your family and just know that with every swap big or small you’ve reduce your exposure points and lessened your toxic burden. And give yourself grace at every step along the way!
Priorities. Priorities. Priorities.
The second most important factor in living a nontoxic life within your budget is having your priorities straight. Let me say right up front: this does, will and should look different for everyone. I prioritize things that I know my friends or family members don’t. That doesn’t mean the other is wrong. But where this becomes a problem or something to be aware of is when someone says that can’t find an extra fifty dollars a month for a few more pieces of produce each week but chooses to spend twenty dollars a week getting their nails done or their car washed. This person is not wrong but their priorities are not aligning with their goals. They are trying to eat more produce but they are prioritizing their nails or their car. What do I personally do? I choose groceries over clothes. I choose fitness over other wants. I choose functional medical care, safer skincare and my own education over bar tabs, nail salons, wine bottles, botox or whatever else people spend their money on. I have my priorities and I’m willing to wait longer for or go without something that isn’t one. So be honest with yourself about YOUR priorities and how they align with your goals, then use the next several tips to save a little along the way.
Focus on the things you eat and use the most each day, week or month.
It may be number three on this list, but this remains my #1 tips ALWAYS for reducing your toxic exposure within your means. Start with what you use the most each day, week or month and tackle accordingly. Why I love this tip so much is because IT WORKS and not only for food but also for reducing your environmental footprint and waste contribution! If you only eat beef twice a month but eat spinach daily - skip the grass fed organic steak and focus your dollars on keeping those greens organic. Do you clean your kitchen daily and your bathrooms less often? Start with your kitchen cleaning supplies. Do you rarely buy bottles water but grab a coffee every morning on the way to work? Invest in a plastic free to-go cup to cut down on your plastic use and exposure. Progress over perfection!
Use EWG’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen as your guide to produce.
When it comes to produce, there is no better tool for knowing when to choose organic and when its okay to go convention than the Environmental Working Group’s annual list of the Dirty Dozen most pesticide laden fruits and veggies and Clean Fifteen least chemically covered produce. Save the 2019 list to your phone for each reference while shopping!
Replace items as they run out
This tip is pretty straight forward. Unless it is something more severe like a Teflon pan, Febreze, or makeup that could be contaminated with asbestos, don’t pressure yourself to run out and replace it right this second. Wasted product can feel like wasted money so if you need to, just wait until that item runs out and if it is something you need, take the opportunity then to choose a safer item (since you’d be spending the money anyway) or if it isn’t an essential item, maybe choose not to replace it at all! For lots of great safer swap ideas check out my Amazon Favorites Lists here.
Be okay with “better” if “best” is out of the budget.
People sometimes get a little frustrated with me over this one. “You mean you’re telling me NOT to buy the absolute safest, most perfect option?!” If it’s not in your budget, that’s correct. In almost every case I can find you a MUCH better option than what you are be using now that will be within or close to within your budget. And that “better” option will still reduce your toxic burden even if it isn’t squeaky clean perfect. Don’t let your quest for perfection keep you from taking even the tiniest baby steps forward because every chemical, every ingredient we can remove (even if it isn’t all of them) is still one less thing for your body to try to deal with.
Join rewards programs.
Joining rewards programs can help you save a lot of money on your nontoxic products over time. Some examples of rewards programs I use regularly are:
Band of Beauty Beautycounter’s rewards program called Band of Beauty gives you a free full size product upon joining, 10% product credit back on every purchase (meaning if you spend $150 today you’ll have $15 waiting for you to spend next time), free shipping on orders over $100 (only members receive this great perk!) and early access to certain offers for just $29 a year. It is an incredibly deal (especially given the free product at signup is usually worth around $25 or more). I have personally saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars as a Member before becoming a consultant and now watch my clients save hundreds on safer skincare and makeup each month!
Honey I’m really surprised more people don’t use Honey. I have been using it for YEARS and before I even tell you what it is let me say this: it literally costs nothing to use, saves your money AND I just cashed in on my second $150 Amazon card. Just typing this I feel like one of those bad actors in a too-good-to-be-true commercial but Honey is for real. Here’s how Honey works: Sign up for a free account. Install the extension to your browser. Whenever you are at checkout while shopping online it will prompt you to have it search for coupon codes. Yep, it literally scans the interwebs for coupon codes you don’t know about and tries them for you and then keeps the one in your cart that saved you the most money. it does this for free guys. And even if it doesn’t have a code for you, just by enabling Honey you can earn Honey Gold on any online purchase. I was about a year and a half in when I realized for the first time I had amassed so many free points that I could get a $150 Amazon gift card with them. And just cashed in on my second one a few weeks ago. It’s just plain silly not to have Honey installed on your browser.
Earthfare (and other grocery store rewards programs) I’m just using Earthfare as an example because we shop there so much. They have a great rewards program that you can track on an app on your phone. You earn points for shopping and bringing your own bag (love!) and can earn $5 rewards certificates for things like buying Earthfare brand products (of which many are organic), shopping at their juice and smoothie bar, buying supplements, and more. Every time I shop I have some sort of reward to use! So don’t overlook your store’s programs!
Credo Rewards I have been shopping online with Credo for a long time. They are a safer beauty boutique with both brick and mortar and online presences. They carry some of my favorite foundation, hair care, under eye masks and deodorant and have a really great rewards program that earns you travel size and sample size product to try just for doing things like reviewing products, recycling product packaging, following them on instagram, etc.
Credit Card Points This one is not recommended for everyone. If you don’t feel like you have a good relationship with credit, skip this. But, if you do and you can responsibly leverage the points game, theres a lot of savings to be had. Every card and program is different but some ways we maximize our savings include using it for groceries when that is a double or triple point item for the period or transferring the points we have amassed to our amazon account as money to shop with or to gift cards for grocery stores.
Shop sales and use codes!
Pretty self explanatory. If you know a brand you love always has a sale in the spring, try to plan your purchases around then to save yourself as much as possible. I’m NOT all about shopping sales for things you don’t need though. I truly believe that if we stop buying junk and things we feel pressured to buy to keep up with the proverbial Joneses, we can find more flexibility to use our funds strategically to stock up the things we need during sale periods. Honey (above) is a great tool for finding codes online. I have MANY discount codes linked in my link roll here. For example: did you know anyone in the pop of health community can save 15% off every purchase they make with SQUEAK (my favorite safer cleaning supplies company) using code POPOFHEALTH? She ships her handmade products nationwide and has generously offered this discount for our community to more easily access some of the best cleaning products on the market!
Shop local to reduce shipping costs.
And you keep your money local and vote with your dollar in support of small business! Win-win-win. Don’t be afraid to ask small businesses to price match. Sometimes they just can’t but sometimes they will!
The Non Tox Box™
I can’t talk about saving on safer products without mentioning The Non Tox Box™. Afterall, I created The Non Tox Box specifically for this reason - to help you access stylishly curated, Emily-approved items at a savings! On average, each of our boxes saves you 25-50% off buying each item individually. That’s A LOT of savings! You can view current boxes here and sign up for our newsletter to stay in the know as future boxes drop!
Planning ahead will always cut down on unexpected costs. I find this especially true in our home. Weeks when we haven’t put together a clear picture of what we want to make and a succinct list to go with it, we end up buying a lot of random food we don’t REALLY need or more than we can actually eat. I’ve linked to some of our favorite cookbooks here that we like to use to meal plan!
De-prioritize convenience. Or do convenience more strategically.
Do-prioritize - is that a word? You know what I mean: we live in a convenience loving world. But with that “time savings” often comes a reduction in quality and an increase in plastic use and exposure to harmful chemicals. My simple advice: Don’t buy things like water or coffee while out. Invest in a great water bottle or coffee cup, and when you need a drink while out and about, patron places that offer you a discount for using them. (Even Starbucks offers a discount when you bring your own cup!) Save money and cut down on your use of and exposure to plastics! Use the Tap app to find water refill stations for your own water bottle. Wake up ten minutes earlier to make your own juice or smoothie (fav blender here). When possible, buy fresh produce to cut and steam yourself instead of buying it in plastic bags. (Costs you nothing to do this and keeps plastic out of landfills and away from your veggies.)
Shop later at the farmers market and be okay with bruises on your produce.
This advice is often shared and rarely heeded. Try it next time you hit up your local market. (If you’re not shopping at farmers markets, insert tip 13B: start shopping at farmers markets. By cutting out the middle man and shopping directly with farmers you can save significantly and get to know the actual humans growing your food!!!!)
Go in on CSAs or meat shares with family, friends or neighbors.
CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture programs are really fantastic ways to save money on local seasonal produce while directly supporting local farmers. Typically how it works is you locate a CSA which offers a certain number of “shares” for purchase. Each tends to have its own schedule - some weekly, biweekly, monthly. You receive your share of that period’s local in-season product direct from your farmers - no middle man means no up charge! This is also an incredible way to be exposed to new fruits and veggies and get back to eating truly local to your environment. EatWild is a great site to use to find ranchers and farmers near you that may offer meat shares on wild, grass-fed, pasture-raised and organic meats, cheeses and eggs.
We use Thrive Market to save A TON on pantry items like coconut turmeric wraps, spices, teas, collagen protein, olive oil, crackers, chips, cleaning supplies, stasher bags, coconut flour, chia seeds, coconut milk and more. How it works: Sign up for your free trial using this link to receive an addition 25% off your first purchase! Choose your preferences like gluten-free, dairy free, paleo, keto or vegan. Shop their GIGANTIC assortment of healthy options priced at 25-50% below retail. (In the past few months we have saved $201.43 and are projected to save over $800 this year using Thrive). If you enjoy your trial, it is only $59.99 a year to be a member. Every order over $49 ships free which is amazing. And they are constantly giving away free product to members to try out. We’ve received free stainless steel water bottles, bags of Siete chips, coconut oil and chocolate in the last few months. Give it a try and see how much you can be saving.
And finally, some things just aren’t absolutely necessary. Can’t afford safer candles? Go without candles! If my choice were between breathing in harmful chemicals from candles or having no candles at all I’m going no candle all day long. This sort of brings things full circle though to your priorities - if candles are a priority for you, you will find a way using one of the tips above to make them work within your budget. (Some safer budget friendlier candle options here for you candle lovers)
That’s all, folks! I hope at least one (but hopefully more!) of these tips help you on your journey to living a low tox life without breaking the bank! If you got value out of this post I would be honored if you’d share it with those in your life who may also be looking for ways to save a little here and there or who maybe have been too intimidated to even begin. Tag me @popofhealth on Instagram and I’ll share and give you a shoutout for being a #changemaker!