If you want to help the environment, but don’t have a lot of money to spend, don’t worry. There are many little things you can do that when combined, can make a big impact. Here are some earth-friendly ideas for living in a more sustainable way without breaking the bank.

1. Save Water

Using less water is not only good for the planet, but will help slash your water bill too. This is one area where making small changes can make a difference. For example:

  • When doing the dishes or laundry, wait until you have a full load before running the machine.
  • Support farmers and other sustainable producers who use eco-friendly production techniques that are designed to save water and minimise pollution.
  • When brushing your teeth, don’t leave the tap running. And when you turn it on to rinse, just turn it to a medium flow, rather than full – you’ll get all the water you need with less waste.
  • Spend a couple of minutes less in the shower each day.
  • Some people suggest flushing the toilet less often, which can be an effective water-saver if you’re not squeamish about these things. That’s a step too far for me – if you’re of the same mind you can still cut down on the amount of water used by your toilet by putting a water-saving device in the cistern. These may be available for free from your water supplier, but if not they only cost a few pounds. You can also make your own by filling a plastic bottle or tub with water or sand, and sealing well.

2. Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Obvious ways to use less energy include installing solar panels or switching to a hybrid car. These cost money, but there are other things you can do that have less impact on your pocket. Here are some simple ways to save energy:

  • Don’t leave chargers plugged in when they’re not in use. They’ll use power even when they’re not plugged into a device.
  • Appliances that use a remote (such as stereos, TVs, DVD players etc.) use power to run the remote receiver even when turned off. So save that power by switching them off when not in use.
    Green lightbulb
  • Use energy efficient appliances. You don’t have to rush out and replace all your existing appliances at once, but switching over to energy efficient versions gradually (or as they wear out) will pay dividends not only for the planet but in the form of lower energy bills too.
  • Buy locally produced food and other products if you can. You’ll be supporting your local economy, and also indirectly reducing your energy consumption because goods that have been transported across the country (or world) have a greater environmental impact.
  • For short trips, walk or cycle if possible, rather than taking the car – great for your health as well!
  • If you have kids, get them involved in saving water and energy too. They can make a game of it by competing to see who uses the least water and electricity, and they’ll probably be happy to help by pointing out when your own efforts get off track!

3. Reuse Your Resources

The ‘three Rs’ are pretty familiar to many these days – reduce, reuse, recycle. Reusing products is less common than it was in earlier decades, but there are ways to make the most of your everyday goods with a bit of thought and creativity.

  • Glass food jars and bottles can be kept and used for storing homemade drinks and foods, or repurposed into vases. Plastic containers can be cut into strips, and used to create labels for plants. A quick search online will reveal many other ways to reuse common household products, although you need to decide where to draw the line and what you’re comfortable with (I for one won’t be washing out Ziploc bags as I’ve seen some people suggest doing!)
  • Another thing you can do is make your own cleaning products from items you probably already have. Many commercial cleaners contain potentially harmful ingredients, so it’s great to use environmentally friendly, natural ingredient household products. However, they can be pricey, and aren’t always as ‘natural’ as they claim. Making your own can be very easy and you know they’re safe since you made them. For example, you could use vinegar to clean glass (everyone knows this, but how many have tried it?). Adding a bit of baking soda to your vinegar cleaning solution makes it into a good stain remover. These are just a couple of tips for DIY cleaning products – I’ll be writing about more in future articles, but there’s also a ton of great info online and in books.

Putting these green living tips into practice is a good idea not only for the environment, but for your bank balance and physical health too.

Filed under: Green Living

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