Taking steps towards greener living is much easier than you might think, and besides doing your part to save Planet Earth, the second best part about it, is that you will save money. Here are a few practical ways to get started.
Adopt a minimalist attitude
Having many ‘things’ — clothes, electronics, furniture, games and so on — is not green. Each requires production, shipping, packaging and eventually a trip to the landfill. Plus, things cost money. Greener living starts with far reduced consumption of unnecessary things.
Not sure where to start to shift your mindset? I recommend purging (recycling, donating or selling). Pull all of your things out, one room at a time. Ask yourself whether you absolutely love that thing. Then purge it if you don’t need it, or don’t find joy in having it.
Change to digital bills and subscriptions
Still receiving paper statements and bills? You may be incurring a penalty of between $1 and $3 per item. Switch to digital bills and pocket that savings. And, if you require a record for your taxes, which is the case for me, file the digital bill in your cloud storage.
Reconsider traditional transportation
No, this is not the part where I recommend that you to buy an electric vehicle. Those are still out of financial reach for most households. Rather, consider how you get around. Could you walk, run, bike or hike instead of driving? Will public transit get you where you need to go, saving on fuel, wear and tear plus parking? Can you share your Uber or Lyft in a pool, or carpool with a colleague, rather than going solo? All of these options shave money off your household expenses while reducing your consumption of fossil fuels.
Avoid food waste
Canadians throw out a disgusting amount of food annually; over $30 billion worth (some of which occurs at the source of production). This is nearly half of the food produced. Reports suggest this boils down to over $1,000 per household annually in wasted money. If you’re throwing out food regularly, it’s time to change your shopping habits. Start with meal planning for the week ahead. Which recipes do you want to prepare at home, on which days and for how many people. Then make your shopping list. If you are using a meal preparation service like Chef’s Plate, Good Food or Hello Fresh, you need to work that into your shopping list so that you don’t overbuy. And no, meal preparation services aren’t un-frugal, as long as you eat everything and work the cost into your monthly food budget.
Say no to fast fashion, plastics and disposables
One of my best friends teases me about washing out my Ziploc bags. But, I do it so that I can get multiple uses out of each — sometimes 15 times in total. This method means I only buy one box of bags in each size once a year, and only when they’re on sale. Anything that is single-use, very low quality, and throw-away is typically bad for the environment and hard on your pocket book. Take a look at what you currently dispose of, or wear only once, that might have another use, or could potentially be recycled rather than disposed of.
Tap into secondhand goods
Since having my baby in August, I’m even more fascinated with the market for secondhand goods because our little guy is outgrowing just about everything we had for him for the newborn phase. So, I’m hunting for gently used goods, and selling what we don’t need. Tapping into the secondhand market prevents waste by giving new goods a useful afterlife.
Make your home energy efficient
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Seal doors and windows. Turn off your lights. Don’t waste water. Keep your furnace and water heater maintained. Bundle up rather than blasting the furnace during the winter, and strip down rather than cranking the AC in the summer. These tactics will significantly lower your utility bills.
The environmental challenges that we are currently facing are massive, and there is no one solution. But, by immediately taking small individual steps, we can start building positive momentum towards larger change, and your bank account will grow, too.