We love saving money here at My Green Australia but we also love to help our wonderful planet and country too, so we have rounded up some of our favourite top 15 tips to save the planet and save your wallet!
Before we start and you get bored – we aren’t going to tell you to go out and buy a brand new hybrid car, or spend your money on expensive sustainably grown, organic coffee (but you should since it tastes better than freeze dried).
We want to talk about the little things you can do every day which make big differences over a year.
I don’t live in the belief that being green is expensive, actually quite the opposite! Being environmentally friendly can end up being the most cost effective option! Time to get cashed up!
- Eliminate meat at least once a week. This means fish and chicken too, no cheating! The cost of meat is a big part of most families weekly food budget.I consider meat to be a big ticket item when it comes to eating. You can easily replace the protein gained from meat from other sources such as legumes (think Red Kidney Bean Chilli, just not with added beef mince with a big crunchy salad and some rice), tofu (have you tried garlic, vegetable and tofu stir fry?! It is AMAZING!) and even nuts (pecan nut pie, not a dinner but as dessert! WIN!). Trust me, you aren’t going to fall over dead if you don’t eat meat once a week.
- Cook your own food at home. Yes this is commonsense stuff – but do we always do this?Try it, I dare you! Try for 1 monthof no take away or restaurant food. Check your budget and get back to me when you feel like you have won the lottery.This applies to lunch time as well – no sneaking out of it. We all work in offices (some boring, others are great) but we always head outside for lunch times for a break. Don’t use this as an excuse to buy a sandwich or some bad Chinese food. Take your own, eat it outside with your lunch buddies. No one cares, just you who has to make it, so do that the night before.
- Do some bulk cooking and use your freezer. Time to move that bottle of vodka out of the freezer and use it properly – I mean the freezer but you should use your vodka too. Try a few glasses of vodka and soda while you bulk cook!By bulk cooking meals such as pasta sauces, curries, stews even roasts you are saving energy by not having to cook every night plus you are eliminating the old “we have nothing in the fridge, let’s get takeout” conversation. When you get home tired from work, put your dinner in the microwave and by the time you are in your tracksuit pants your dinner will be ready. Trust me, I have timed this!
- Composting and Worm Farms – time to love them.Yes, I love my worm farm (even though some red-back spiders have moved in) and by composting and using my worm farm I am cutting back on landfill. Also the cost benefits of buying real food as opposed to pricier pre-cooked, pre-packaged food really does outway the negatives of having to go outside and put the skins in for the worms. If you’re a gardener, you are also saving the expense of having to purchase compost and mulch as you already have made it yourself.
- Swear off all individually wrapped food items. Time to use your head and find alternatives!We are talking about things like individually wrapped cheeses, little sultana boxes, little nut packs, instant oatmeals, soup in a cup, noodles in cup, little cereal tubs, fun size chip packets, tuna with a few crackers, cheese with a few crackers, anything that says “snack pack”. These are all usually expensive, not good for you and wasteful. You end up hungry after your snack pack, so you end up eating three of them. Don’t lie to me, we have all done this. Think buying in a bulk pack and then divvy them up into reusable containers such as tuppaware, left over take away boxes (from your old life when you did buy takeaway, see point 2!) or Pyrex containers.
- Reuse food containers and jar before hitting the shops to buy reusable containers.You don’t need to have the fanciest reusable container on the block, just use what you already have first! Wash and reuse empty food jars and plastic containers instead of buying newplastic containers.I use a jar that was a large jam jar once upon a time and fill it with Greek yoghurt (from a jumbo sized tub) and sprinkle oats and mixed berries for a home made parfait. I carry that bad boy to work and eat it at my desk while staring out the window. It is a total win for 2pm, when time drags so very slowly. Do I care what others think – no way, since I have a parfait and they don’t.
- Reusable coffee cup. Do I have to mention this one again?Bored of this one yet? Well, if you are bored of it, that means you HAVE ONE and you know this already. If you don’t have one, get one. Once you are armed with your coffee cup, ask your local coffee places to give you a discount since you care about the environment. If they say no, ask another coffee shop and find one who will. This may look like a total ballsy and tight-ass move but hey, if you save $200 a year just from finding a discount coffee then who are you to complain.
- No bottled water,end of story.This is the scourge of our planet, along with plastic bags and, some might even say, Justin Bieber.The water in Australia is drinkable, some might not like the taste, so filter it. But do not buy bottled water. You just need to remember to take your own reusable bottle or big jam jar filled with water when you go out OR just drink the water from your tap at home. Add lemon slices if you are fussy.If you are at the shops and super thirsty find a restaurant or takeaway place that has water with glasses and just fill up a cup. No one is going to get mad at you so just do it. If they get mad, tell them to email me and I will deal with them for you.
- Expensive household cleaners? How about you just skip them.We still want you to clean your house, but there is no need to spend money on expensive household cleaners. Just refill an old spray bottle with homemade cleaners using vinegar, baking soda, lemon and water. Recipes are everywhere on the internet, even here at My Green Australia we have Low Toxic Household Cleaner Recipes. Saving money, reusing old plastic bottles and helping our waterways and marine animals. WIN.
- Put on a jumper or take it off!Captain Obvious is in the house and he is telling you that if you are cold put on your jumper, maybe wear a scarf, grab some wooly socks and slippers. Do what you can to rug up before you crank your heater up to 30°C and sit around in your undies.And this works the other way around, if you are hot take off your jumper, take off your thermal wool winter socks, try wearing shorts or a skirt and give your jeans a miss and how about you wear undies and a singlet sip a cold drink before you decide to sit under your air conditioning and set it for below freezing.
- Buy (don’t build) a smaller home. You may think you need 4 bedrooms, a rumpus room, a living room, a cinema room and 3 toilets but if there are only 2 of you, then no. Stop. Don’t.Building a new home is a dream (according to TV commercials, but from what I have heard, it can be a total nightmare and stress-fest), but we don’t need new homes if we live within our means. Living within our means not just means financially but physically. There are 2 people living in my 2 bedroom unit and it is more than enough for us. Yes, I dream of mansion with all glass windows over looking the ocean with a lap pool, 5 bedrooms, a craft room, and hey why not chuck in a butler but honestly I don’t need it. It would cost to much to run both financially and environmentally – think of the construction, the heating bills, the cooling bills, the maintenance required…. unless you have your whole family and extended family living with you, it is time to be realistic about what you actually needversus what you want.
- Invest in high quality and classic items. We are talking about fashion, furniture and other high priced items.Don’t waste your money and the earths limited resources on fashion trends that you are constantly donating at the end of each season, that is wasteful as much you may think otherwise. Donations are great, but shopping for fleeting trends is not great. Buy classic fashionthat have stood the test of time. Buy clothing that is good quality, fits you and that you look great in so it lasts many years.Furniture is the same, avoid furniture that doesn’t have classic standards. You would be happy to know that classic furniture hold their value and can be sold (sometimes a lot more than the original purchase price!) or your kids might actually want it later in their life. I can tell you, if my parents had kept all of their original Featherstone chairs, I would be laughing all the way to the bank.
- Use services such as eBay, Second Hand Stores, Garage Sales.Used items are environmentally and financially cheaper than new goods. You want a pressure cooker? No worries as I bet there are a heap of people on eBay selling one right now. How about new laptop bag? Done – check out a garage sale and I bet you will find one, golf clubs, sports equipment, books, DVDs, lamps, coffee tables I could go on and on! Also – try selling your second hand goods to make some extra cash. This just makes everyone happy!
- Library and Video Cards are the new black.A library, what is that?! KIDDING. Libraries are very cool, as not only do they have books (the whole harry potter and twilight set too) but magazines, DVDs, newspapers. Head to a library, pop those headphones in and read away. Costs you nothing but walking in and signing up.You have a game console? Well hit the video library and borrow games. Normally once you have played it for a week, you will be sick of it and want something else. So return it, and hire something new! Considering new games retail around $100 this is a HUGE saving! If your kids harass you non stop for games, take them to the video store, give them $10 and tell them to pick something. Smiles all around, just make sure you RUN past the individually wrapped lollies at the counter on the way out.
- Last but not least, designate at least 1 day a week of green commuting!Abandon the car for the day, yes the WHOLE day(night included) and use public transport, bike, walk or carpool. Send the kids to school in a carpool with their classmates, use the train to get to work then get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way. Head home via bus and again, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way. Grab the dog when you’re home and go for a walk around your neighbourhood, or walk to your nearest store if you are out of groceries. If you have a night out planned, try and carpool with your friends. If you are living inner city, grab your bike and go for a ride after dinner. Avoiding the car is easy when you think about the cost of petrol!
These things are very easy to do, simple to implement and make into a habit. I can tell you ALL of this stuff works to help you keep a budget, save money and cut back on environmental damage because I following these tips every day and they have added up to a huge saving over the year.
So what do you think, no BS now… tell me if you can do it or not!