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Small & surprising ways to save money & the planet

Saving the planet and saving money go hand in hand.

22 November 2018
3 minute read

Father and son putting money into piggy bank

Many of the things that you can do to save the planet have the added bonus of saving you money. As soon as you look at it this way, the argument for going green becomes even stronger and it is easier to take environmentally friendly steps in your day-to-day life.

Here are some of the top planet friendly activities that are wallet friendly as well:

1. Don’t recycle plastics – find replacementsOnly a very small portion of the plastic produced globally is recycled, and recycled plastic is usually made into things we don’t really need, like park benches or desks. More effective than recycling, is using less plastic, says Lorraine Jenks, a climate reality leader. Instead of buying into the recycling ideal, she recommends using materials like glass containers or hemp bags, which can be composted, reused or truly recycled.

Replacing disposable plastic with alternatives that won’t end up in landfill sites is hugely beneficial to the environment, and it also saves you money. Bringing water to work in a glass bottle from home instead of buying a bottle of water or taking a wax-paper-wrapped sandwich from home instead of takeaway or store-bought food in plastic containers will do wonders for your budget.

2. Make a real effort to cut back on water and electricity consumptionWater and electricity, the utilities that we use every day, place a strain on the planet’s resources. Electricity is produced in coal-burning power plants, which add even more carbon into our atmosphere. And if there’s anything the recent droughts have taught us, is that it is possible for our taps to run dry (they nearly did!), with devastating consequences for nature, agriculture and society.

We all know that we should be cutting back on consumption in many little ways every day, but there are a few ways that make a really big difference to your water and electricity usage. Turn your geyser off when not in use to save electricity, and to save water, install an efficient showerhead. Using less water and electricity naturally costs you less as well.

3. Get in on the Meatless Monday actionA study published this year in the journal Science once again reminded us that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet. The research showed that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland could be reduced by more than 76% and still feed the world. Loss of habitats to agriculture is the single greatest threat to global wildlife populations, and animal agriculture is a huge producer of greenhouse gases. Meat is also generally more expensive than vegetables and pulses.

While giving up meat and dairy completely is a big step, you can help to save the world’s wildlife population by simply reducing your meat consumption. The best way to do this is to go meet-free a day (or two) of the week - and reap the rewards on your wallet at the same time.

4. Grow your own vegetablesWhile we’re on the subject of agriculture, a large part of what you are paying for – and what harms the planet – when you buy vegetables from the shop is refrigeration and transportation. Refrigeration uses power, transportation guzzles fuel and both produce greenhouse gases. Growing your own vegetables is a great way to limit these harmful factors and cut your own costs. And of course, your homegrown veg doesn’t come in plastic!

Not every person has the ability or time to transform their backyard into a vegetable patch, but again, every little bit counts. Start with easy-growers like beans or swiss chard or little pots of lettuce, and when your thumbs start turning green, take the next step.

And aside from the benefits to the planet and your wallet, home-grown vegetables are also excellent for your health!

5. Use rechargeable batteriesWhen they end up in landfills, exposed to the elements, batteries start to release toxic chemicals and harmful gases that make their way into the broader environment. And it’s expensive to replace them every time your TV remote or radio needs a new set. Although rechargeable batteries are more expensive than their disposable counterparts, they pay for themselves in a couple of uses, and if used correctly, can continue to be reused dozens of times.

Rechargeable batteries offer you a huge cost saving over regular batteries, and they reduce your harm to the planet significantly as well.

Save money, save the planetEveryone wants to save money and saving the planet should be a priority as well. Start with these five points and then consider other ways to cut back on consumption and resource wastage. If we become conscious consumers, buyers and eaters, we will leave a better environmental and financial legacy for our children.

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