How being green can save you money

 

Ethical purchasing and reducing waste to help the environment is ultra-trendy, and it’s good for the planet too. But there are lots of eco-friendly changes you can make that will also save you heaps of cash.

1.      Reduce your food waste

Jenny Marshall, from Love Food Hate Waste, says huge savings can be made by reducing food waste at home.

Every year the average New Zealand family throws out NZ$560 worth of food items they’d bought intending to eat, she says.

So, think about how much you’re buying and use your freezer to make meat last longer.

“One simple change during the current humid weather is to put your bread in the fridge or freezer, to stop it going mouldy,” Marshall says.

2.      Think about mindful consumption

Do you really need that new item? Or maybe you could hire, lease, or share with friends? Changing your thinking around what items you really need to be buying can save you money.

Zero-waste blogger and environmentalist Amanda Chapman suggests using what you have, and then opting to buy quality items.

“If you have the money at the time, go a bit further and get that quality item – look after it, maintain it and repair it.”

This way, you’ll be spending less, and the things you do spend your money on will last longer.

Auckland Council’s senior WasteWise adviser Katie Buller recommends people follow what she called the ‘waste hierarchy’.

“They should try to reduce the plastic products they buy, then try to reuse what they’ve got and refill what they can, and then, when necessary, recycle.”

3.      Plant a vege garden

Big savings can come from growing your own salad greens and herbs in a vege garden, as these items can be expensive when they are bought fresh at a supermarket, Chapman says.

There’s an up-front cost of buying soil, plants and seeds, but great long-term savings to be made. And greens can be grown on balconies and windowsills if you’re short on space.

4.      Turn off your appliances

Turn off appliances, such as your television, at the wall when not in use to save money.

If you’re buying new appliances, look for energy-efficient models that will save you money long term on your power bills.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority says swapping to energy-efficient LED lightbulbs can save you $100 or more a year on electricity.

5.      Ditch disposable coffee cups

One easy way to save money on your morning coffee run is to buy a reusable ‘keep cup’. Many cafes – and the number is always growing – offer a discount if you bring your own coffee cup.

Marshall says this is also the most effective solution to the waste problem of disposable coffee cups.

Buller explains that disposable coffee cups can’t be recycled in New Zealand because they’re made from a mix of materials, including waxed or plastic-lined paper, or polystyrene. Even cups listed as compostable need a special facility to compost them.

6.      Make your own

Making your own hair and beauty products is a great way to save money, Marshall says.

These products can be made easily using simple, cheap ingredients such as bicarbonate of soda or lemon juice, she says.

Just head online and look for reputable recipes – you’ll save heaps of cash!

7.      Menstrual cups

The latest beauty trend, menstrual cups, provide a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to disposable sanitary items.

Chapman says the initial cost, between NZ$40 and NZ$80, might put a lot of people off purchasing a cup.

 “If you think how much you’re spending each month on disposal tampons and pads, it’s easily $5-$10 a month – minimum. So, it pays itself off pretty quickly,” she says.

“They’re daunting at first but they’re really easy to use. Especially if you’re into the outdoors and camping and tramping – it’s so much easier,” Chapman says.

By Claire Connell

First published March 2018

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