I’ve heard it before and I’m sure you have aswell; “I can’t afford to be green“, “being green doesn’t suit my lifestyle“, “I haven’t got time to be green“…. To all this I say, “rubbish” (no pun intended). Being green (to clarify, I mean environmentally friendly, rather than painting yourself) is easy and can save you an absolute tonne of money. Here’s how;
Did you know that in the US, they throw away a third of the food they buy? Think about that for a second; that’s like throwing away an entire weekly shop (and an extra basket load) each month…. Mental! Not only is that a huge, huge waste of money, but it’s also incredibly bad for the environment, not to mention the guilt they should feel by tossing away so much food when people in other parts of the world have nothing. It gets my goat, that’s for sure. Before you get smug about these US figures, bear in mind that in the UK we’re hardly any better, in fact we throw away about a quarter of the food we buy (Source: WRAP). So here’s some easy ways to reduce all that senseless waste;
- Only cook what you will eat – if you find it hard to gauge portion sizes then once the meal is cooked, only serve a smaller amount on each plate. If you still want more, then go back to the pan/pot/whatever and grab some more. Otherwise you can freeze the remaining and have it for another meal. Less waste and less time scraping plates into the bin!
- Only buy what you will eat – if you find that you are constantly throwing food away that you have bought, then make a note of what you are throwing away and down scale your next shop. If you find you’re throwing away the same things each week, stop buying those things! If you’re throwing away different food then buy less or buy frozen versions (which take longer to perish than fresh).
- Freeze, Freeze, Freeze- if you see something in the fridge or cupboard that is about to go out of date, stuff it in the freezer. Ignore all that “freeze on the day of purchase” stuff, as long as it’s in date then it’s fine to freeze. You may be surprised to find that you can freeze all sorts (I was), it’s best to defrost food slowly and make sure you re-heat meals well:
- Doughnuts, cookies and bakery goods (just defrost and eat)
- Bananas (You can defrost and use in smoothies or on desserts)
- Fresh goods, such as pizza, pasta and fridge meals (Just follow the “cook from frozen” instructions when you want to use them)
- Milk (Yep that’s right, although the fat will freeze separately so it may change colour. Don’t worry, it will re-mix once thawed)
- Most other things – There’s a good list here. Anything which isn’t freezable should say so on the packet.
- Know the difference between “Use By” and “Best Before” – Anything that stipulates a “Use By” date must be eaten by the date indicated. Anything that has a “Best Before” date can safely be eaten after the date indicated. So stop throwing away things you can still eat!
Use Less Electricity
Here’s another really easy one to fix. We all waste electricity in one way or another, whether it’s leaving lights on in vacant rooms to leaving items on standby. What is the point in having light rill a room that no one can see or leaving a DVD whirring around when the TV is off?! No point what-so-ever. It costs you money and it burns fossil fuels (whether you are on a so-called “green” energy plan or not). So put these suggestions into practice and you’ll soon notice the cost saving and hopefully feel smug that you’re minimising your damage on the planet;
- Turn lights off in rooms you are not using – In counties like Russia this is almost standard practice. How difficult is it really to press a switch on the wall as you leave and then press it again when you enter?
- Turn off Standby – In many appliances (such as TVs) standby uses almost the same amount of energy as having it on, this is because the appliance is just waiting for you to re-activate it, so most of its functions are powered on in anticipation. Do you really need to leave your DVD player on all the time when you probably use it a few times a month? Turn it off. Same goes for anything else. At the very least, it’s worth turning things off at the wall at night when no one will be using them.
- Install an energy monitor – These cost about £30, but the cost saving you will make will be many times that. They are easy to set up and you’ll soon realise how much energy you are wasting. It’s easier to get a feel for what a difference turning a light off makes when you can see the difference with your eyes. Most will also tell you how much you are spending so you get a real idea (Owl do a good range)
- Buy Energy Saving Bulbs – When you next buy lightbulbs, try to make sure they are energy-efficient ones (most are now days). You can still buy the extremely inefficient filament bulbs – these eat significantly more energy and have a much shorter lifespan than energy-efficient bulbs.
Drive Less/Walk More
It’s all to easy to leap into your car even when you need to go a short distance, however it’s also an expensive, unhealthy and carbon rich way to travel. If you often use your car to travel to the shops which are only a mile down the road then why not try walking instead? I guarantee you that walking is not as bad as it may sound; it’s often a relaxing and de-stressing way to get about, plus it’ll keep you in shape a lot better than sitting in a seat and moving your hands around a wheel will ever do. Try the following to help;
- Use a pedometer – We’re often better at sticking to something if we are aiming for a target. Why not set yourself a target for the amount of steps you do in a day? First wear the pedometer on a normal day and see how many steps you do, then perhaps say try to achieve twice that number of steps the next day by driving less.
- Consider alternative transport – Buses and Trains aren’t always practical, but when they are, use one! You don’t even need to be awake to travel in a bus or train – isn’t that a better way to travel than by getting stressed out driving amongst a sea of differing ability drivers?
- Make a conscious effort – You may use the car so often, that it’s a habit to use it. Try and make a conscious effort to walk places for the next 30 days. The reason I specify 30 days is because that’s roughly how long it takes for a habit to take hold. Once the walking habit has taken hold, you’ll use your car less as a matter of course.
You might be the sort of person who recycles religiously (in which case, well done). However, I know that there are many people out there who will throw cardboard into the standard rubbish bin willy nilly!! – stop that right now. If you find that your recycling bin is often barely full and your waste bin is overflowing before collection time, then start sorting your rubbish out properly;
- Keep another bin next to your waste bin for recyclables – Instead of throwing everything into one bin, make sure it’s easy to recycle by keeping a recycling bin next to the waste bin. Again, make a conscious effort to separate rubbish into the right bin for 30 days and get into a habit.
- Take bottles to a bottle bank - If your council, like mine, doesn’t collect glass, then find your nearest glass recycling bin. They’re usually scattered around parks, supermarkets or near pubs. Once you know where it is (I bet it’s not far), walk your jars and bottles down their on a regular basis to keep on top of any build up.
- Know what you can recycle - Different councils collect different things for recycling. If you aren’t sure what can be recycled in your area, then check out your Council’s website for further details. If it helps, ask them to send you a leaflet (or print one out) and stick it above your bins, so you know what needs to go in the recycling bin and what doesn’t.
If you think doing any of these things are hard, then I suggest you start being grateful for what you’ve got and imagine living in a third world county, in poverty and see what you think of that.
I apologise if I’ve gone on a bit of a rant in this post, but I certainly hope this article helps you lead a greener lifestyle whilst saving a lot of money. There are plenty of more things that you can do around the house to save, so please be sure to subscribe to the blog to keep updated with future ideas and posts.