10 Tips on How You Can Save Money While Protecting the Environment
We are currently at a crucial junction where we are somehow forced to choose among numerous ways on how we can contribute with protecting and saving our planet. Yes, it is indeed our responsibility to conserve the Earth and make sure that the future generations can still benefit from its resources long into the future. However, sometimes the choices that we have to make or the ones that are somehow shoved into our faces are the ones that do not really help us financially in the long term.
This article is not going to be about going vegan, buying organic products or completely adapting to an off-the-grid lifestyle. No. In fact, this article will be about more practical and realistically achievable lifestyle changes that you and our planet will benefit from in the long term. These tips will not only save you money and help the Earth but more importantly will make you feel good and proud about yourself. So here are ways on how you can reduce your environmental impact and save yourself some money at the same time...
1. Ensure that your home is properly insulated.
If you are a homeowner, it is extremely important and beneficial if your home is properly insulated. If you are building your dream home, investing in a good insulation gives many advantages. First, it keeps your home warm during the cold winter months, cool during the summer, and it keeps the noise outside giving you and your family more privacy and quality time. Secondly, properly insulated homes are energy-efficient homes and therefore, you save significantly on your energy bills and reduce the cost for heating and cooling your home. Third benefit of an insulated home is that it keeps outside moisture at bay. The moisture barrier keeps your possessions protected and reduce pollutants and allergens that thrive in moist environment. Lastly and most importantly, when you have an insulated home, you reduce your carbon footprint and because you won't have to use your AC units more often, you also contribute less to the amount of chemicals released into the atmosphere.
2. Walk, Bike More, Drive Less
Cars and public transports (like buses and taxis) are some of the biggest contributors to world pollution but I know that it is impossible to completely ditch them altogether. It doesn't mean however that we should depend on them every minute of our lives. So here is how we can reduce our need for them. First, if you have to go to a store and it is walking distance to your house, walk. Second, if it is farther but still doable on a bike, ride a bike. Third, if you cannot walk or cycle, use public transport like the metro or the trams. This will not only help you save money otherwise spent on gas, car insurance, parking and regular upkeep but by walking or cycling, you also get a decent daily workout thereby giving you a more reason not to spend on gym equipment or memberships. Imagine how much money you can save when you don't have to use your car all the time. Not to mention, the impact you have on the environment is reduced.
3. Conserve Water
"A leaking faucet is a hole in your pocket". This may sound too commonplace but it still proves to be true up to this day. Water, as a primary commodity, has now become something we easily take for granted because we know it is always there. But the truth is, with all the climate change stuff going on, today is the best time to conserve water. It is becoming more scarce and expensive as more and more countries fight to save what's left of their dams and freshwater source. Here are some steps on how you can save water:
1. Turn off taps when not in use like brushing teeth or shaving.
2. Use buckets for cleaning, washing and rinsing when you can.
3. Never run the washing machine when it is not full.
4. Take shorter showers and try not to use the bathtub too much. When you do, re-use the water by using it somewhere else like for cleaning or for flushing the toilets.
5. Collect rainwater and use it in the garden and irrigation.
4. Avoid one-time plastic usage if possible
The world is drowning in plastic pollution and we could all benefit if we could avoid one-time use plastic. Not only can we contribute in saving the environment but we can also save a great deal when we don't have to buy extra for things we don't really need. Here are ways on how we can reduce one-time plastic use in our lives.
1. Instead of using a plastic bag in the supermarket, bring your own reusable bag for your groceries.
2. When you buy fruits and veggies per piece there is no need to put them in a plastic bag. We always wash and peel them before eating anyway.
3. Ditch the straws and just drink straight from your glass or use metal straws and make sure to regularly clean them.
4. Ditch one-time plastic bottles altogether and just buy your own portable and refillable water bottle you can take anywhere. I, for one, bought my own portable water bottle and I carry it with me all the time. It saves me money because I don't have to buy mineral water from the stores and I help the environment at the same time. If you are traveling and couldn't avoid to buy mineral water because there are not a lot of potable water source options in the area, always buy the 1 liter bottles so you won't need to buy more and 1 liter plastic bottles can be recycled in the shops.
5. Always buy refills and use metal or glass containers for your liquids like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and hand soap.
6. When you get take-out food plastic containers from restaurants or ice cream containers, re-use them to store left-overs, for marinades, or for taking lunch to school or to work. These tubs are usually microwave-friendly so you can use them a long time for lunch foods for example.
7. Ditch all disposable plastic wares if possible like forks, spoon, cups, and knives. If you want to throw a party, try boodle fight. It is fun, it is good for the environment because you don't have to use disposable plastic wares and it is so easy to clean that you won't have to use the dish washer for cleaning the dishes afterwards.
5. Conserve Electricity
Right now, more and more countries are using renewable sources of energy to generate electricity and that's great. We can still further our contribution by conserving electricity at home. Just like water, electricity is something we always take for granted but when we do, our electric bills skyrocket so we only have ourselves to blame. To reduce our electric consumption, let us consciously do these things:
1. Turn off all lights and appliances when not in use and unplug from the outlets. Plugged appliances still use electricity even when not in use.
2. Do not keep the fridge/freezer door open for too long.
3. Use solar panels to power some of your electric appliances and reduce your electric costs in the process.
4. Install good home insulation so you don't have to use heating and cooling too much.
5. Reduce the usage of ovens, washing machine and flat iron at home.
6.Invest in energy-efficient appliances at home.
What do you think is the biggest environmental concern we need to focus on right now?
6. Buy Fresh Local Produce
It may be more convenient for us to buy processed goods but what we don't realize is that, in order to process and make those things, a tremendous amount of energy is used and wasted. Yes, these industries help generate more jobs for the local people especially in less-developed countries but if you have a chance to buy a locally made product in your area, support it. Buy fish and meat at your local wet market. Buy fruits and vegetables from your street vendor. Not only do you help the local economy, you also help save the planet (indirectly). Moreover, buying from your local store also ensures that you have fresh produce which are usually organic as well.
7. Stop throwing too much food away and learn what expiry and best before date means
So much food is wasted in supermarkets and especially in the homes. We tend to buy food and food products and we sometimes don't use them or don't prepare them right away that they go off and it's too late to salvage. Another situation is that we are so paranoid about expiry and best before dates. All too often, we immediately throw away food if it is past expiration and best before date in fear of getting sick of food poisoning. The truth is, there are a lot of food and products that can last longer than their expiry and best before date. What you really need to be careful of are: seafoods, some fruits like berries, tauge (bean sprouts), mushrooms, and soft cheese. Meat products, potatoes, bread and pre-packed veggies can still be used even after a few days past their consume by date. All you need to do is smell and check for discoloration, molds, etc. before preparing them. Foods like pasteurized milk, eggs, honey, dried fish/meat/veggies, hard cheese, nuts, dried grains, spices, oil. salt, processed pasta and canned goods can all last longer than their expiration dates.
Expiration Date Myth, Busted
8. Eat less meat
Meat is an excellent source of protein; it is tasty and it makes every home-cooked meal exciting. But, no matter how much we love bacon and steak, we should reduce our meat consumption because too much of it is not good for our body and for the environment. In addition, steak is always more expensive than say, fish or chicken. There is also a growing concern for animal farm practices like the use of antibiotics and other chemicals on farm animals which in turn, is served on our plates. The animal farm industry is also one of the biggest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions into the air as well as one of the biggest producers of green-house gases worldwide.
Let us make a conscious effort to eat a balanced diet every meal. Deciding to forego on meat once a week is good enough as a start. You don't have to adapt to a strict diet or lifestyle in order to make a difference. If you spare one day a week without any meat, that is good enough. I, too, would go crazy without a bit of meat once in a while but a bit of discipline and care for the environment is enough to go a long way.
9. Grow your own food
I am not saying to become a farmer or adopt an off-the-grid lifestyle. No. That will be too extreme especially in this modern day and age. What we can do however is something simple and low-key. If you have a small garden, you can start to grow a bit of your own vegetable garden. It is easy and it doesn't require a lot of your time. Do not throw away the seeds of some vegetables you have in the kitchen. You can dry the seeds and then plant them in a small plant box. At home, we use a small plant box for herbs and spices and we put it outside on the balcony close to the kitchen. That way, we can easily take some fresh herbs like basil and rosemary and use them for pasta and marinade. Other herbs are also easy to grow like thyme and mint. This way, if you are able to do that, you can cut on some herbs and spices and some veggies if you already have them in your garden. If you think you have more space for chickens, you can also choose to invest on some hens and build a small chicken coo. After some time you will be rewarded with fresh eggs for breakfast. How cool is that?
10. Observe proper waste disposal
The world is already drowning in our own waste and the least we can do is to properly separate and dispose our garbage. Let us not litter on the streets, in public places (inside public transportation, malls, restaurants, schools and hospitals). If there is no garbage bins around you, carry your trash and keep it with you inside your pockets or bags and throw it at home or when you see a garbage bin. When you smoke, always make sure to throw the cigarette butts properly and don't just leave it on the pavements. Never spit your gum on the ground. It is very rude and annoying.
At home, separate the biodegradables, glass, electronic wastes, batteries, paper and other non-biodegradables. Collect beer bottles and plastic bottles for they are recyclables and bring them to the shop. You don't only help the environment but you also get a bit of your money back.
© 2019 Jennifer Gonzales