Sustainable products are often more expensive than their non-organic, non-fair trade counterparts. Do you need a lot of money to live sustainably and is this something only for high earners?? No, says our sustainability expert Shia Su, and she has a few tips for us.
Every Sunday, around 12:30 p.m. on COSMO, you’ll hear from me about sustainability! COSMO is the cosmopolitan radio program of WDR, Radio Bremen and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandendenburg (RBB).
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► COSMO Livestream
Shia, you only buy organic food now?
Yes, I only shop in small organic stores or at the organic stand at the weekly market. And yes, I spend significantly more money on food compared to when I used to shop at discount stores or supermarkets. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that I spend less than I used to. The expenses of my husband Hanno and me together are not much above the Hartz IV level.
But how do you do that, if the organic food is more expensive than the products from the discounter??
We are very careful not to waste food. According to a study by the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, each person in Germany throws an average of €235 worth of food into the garbage can in one year. For a family of four, this adds up to 940€ in one year. For me and my husband, on the other hand, leftovers don’t end up in the garbage. We just eat them with the next meal. We spend about 300€ a month on organic food – I think that’s actually okay. In addition, you can cut costs even further by using food rescued through foodsharing, for example – it’s very environmentally friendly and costs nothing.
Besides food, you also need other things, such as shampoo, shower gel or cleaning products – these products as eco-versions are usually expensive, too. How do you save at this point?
It is important not to simply replace everything with a more expensive eco-product, for example cleaning products and cosmetics. We have completely switched to home remedies. For the household, you only need five basic ingredients that you can use to clean anything: Baking soda, washing soda, a palm oil-free olive oil soap, citric acid and vinegar. These products, in turn, cost only a fraction of what cleaning products would otherwise cost. From a pack of citric acid that costs approx. three euros, you can make, for example, 37 liters of all-purpose cleaner.
I use organic oils from the kitchen cupboard and also coffee grounds as peeling, which is very caring by the way. I also save money by sewing my own makeup remover pads, and since then I no longer have to buy cotton pads.
What about other things you need in everyday life, like clothes or electronics. How do you buy them cheaply and sustainably?
We rarely buy something new, only when something is irretrievably broken. This way we save a lot of money. Instead of looking for new goods, we always look for second-hand goods first. For example, there are Facebook groups for every city, where you can find clothes etc. exchange or give away. This is a way to conserve already scarce resources, because nothing new has to be produced.
But when you buy something new, what do you look for? ?
I make sure I spend the money in the "right" place Place to spend: for example, I invest in more expensive, but long-lasting products. My husband Hanno and I have gradually replaced things that we used to have to buy again and again. We once invested in expensive drinking bottles, but we will still use them in many years because they are indestructible. We always have them with us and since then we don’t buy the expensive apple spritzer at the train station. This is how you cut down on spending on small livestock, because: Small livestock makes a lot of crap.