3 Tips for Eating More Sustainably and Saving Money

One of the hang-ups that many people have about changing their habits to live more sustainably is that there is sometimes a financial cost. Indeed, boosting your sustainability sometimes means paying a little more up front, and this seems especially true when you are trying to eat in a way that is more sustainable and healthy.

The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to eat more sustainably. Here are 3 tips that can help you reduce the impact your food has on the environment and save money to boot:

1. Look for Community Supported Agriculture

If possible, find out if there is a community program for local farms. It might be possible to buy shares in a local farm, or buy into a program that delivers local produce right to your door, or you pick it up at a local drop-off. In some cases, you get this produce for less than you would pay at the grocery store — and you know that it comes from a local source, so it wasn’t trucked across continents to get to your dinner table.

This option also works for meat (if you can’t quite make yourself go vegetarian). Find out if there is a local source for meat. You can go in with friends or family on beef. My parents did this successfully for years, splitting the cost of a whole cow with neighbors. Everyone got beef for less per-pound, overall, than they could at the store. This works for fish, poultry and other meat products.

2. Grow Your Own Food

The ultimate way to save money while eating local is to grow food in your own backyard. We have a garden that provides us with fresh, low-cost produce all summer. And, since we use sustainable practices with our gardening, we know that we are keeping the carbon footprint relatively low. It’s also possible for us to preserve the excess for winter months. We often turn our apples into applesauce, and dry our herbs for use year-round. Many vegetables can be efficiently bottled for eating during the winter months. If you have the time and the inclination, this is a great way to save money and eat more sustainably.

3. Reduce Your Consumption of Processed Foods

Processed foods require resources to prepare, as well as to package. By reducing your consumption of processed foods, you can improve your health, help the environment, and possibly save money. You can get bulk nuts, peanut butter (fresh), dried fruits, legumes, and other items relatively inexpensively, and you don’t have to worry about the packaging and processing. You might be surprised at what you can get in bulk. My son recently learned how to make his own granola trail mix, and he loves visiting the bulk aisle for the ingredients. It costs less per ounce than buying pre-made and pre-packaged trail mix, it’s fun to make, and it doesn’t harm the environment as much.

You don’t have to pay a lot to eat healthy and reduce your food-related carbon footprint. A little extra thought, and a willingness to prepare some of your food is likely to do the trick.

What are your tips for saving money while eating sustainably?

Paying for College in Canada

As every job seeker knows, having a fulfilling career starts with the right education. The job market is incredibly competitive, and it’s becoming more difficult than ever to find a good job without some form of post-secondary education. Depending on the type of education and program you choose, the cost of your education can really add up. The expenses start with tuition and textbooks, but can include special materials or tools, transportation, housing, food, those unexpected expenses that always seem to come up. So how can a would-be student pay for all these things? In Canada, you have several options.

RESPs

If your parents or family members were able to set up and contribute to a Registered Education Savings Plan, or RESP, you are already one step ahead. An RESP is a special savings account that can be set up on your behalf when you are still a baby! The Federal government, and some provinces, may contribute to the account as well. The best part of an RESP? You don’t have to pay it back! If you’re a parent saving for your child’s education, you can also benefit through tax breaks.

Student Loans

If you are applying to an approved education institution, you can apply for government student loans. These can be both federal and provincial, and are granted based on your income, your family’s income, and other factors. You must start to repay these loans 6 months after you leave school. Government loans may also allow you to apply for repayment assistance after you leave school, if you find that you are unable to make your minimum payments. Private student loans are also available from banks and credit unions, but these may have different rules about repayment, interest rates, and eligibility. It’s important to ask a lot of questions and understand what you are agreeing to when you apply for a private student loan.

Student Lines of Credit

Student lines of credit are another option available from banks and credit unions. Lines of credit are different from student loans. A line of credit gives you access to credit whenever you need it, rather than paying you a lump sum to be repaid later. One benefit of using a line of credit is that you generally only pay for what you have used. That means that if you keep your spending to a minimum, your monthly payments will be less and you will have less to pay back when you graduate. Again, each financial institution has its own rules, so it’s important to do your research and ask questions before opening a line of credit.

Grants, Bursaries, and Scholarships

Grants, bursaries, and scholarships are another way of funding all or part of your education. These are usually lump-sum payments, made to you, directly to your school, or applied against your government student loans. There are many different types of awards available, and they are awarded on many different types of criteria. Grants, bursaries, and scholarships might be awarded based on academic standing, financial need, or even as contest prizes. The best plan when it comes to finding this type of assistance is to do a lot of reading to find different awards, and apply for as many as you can. With awards like this, it is important to spend time applying for whatever you are eligible for. If you don’t ask (or in this case, apply), you can’t receive!

There are many options out there to pay for a post-secondary education in Canada. Some students might choose to work part-time while in school to keep their student debt as low as possible, or go to school part-time while working. Others might receive more assistance from their families, or be able to continue living at home during their studies. No matter what your personal situation, what is important is to do your research, and come up with a plan that best fits your financial needs and goals.