5 Ways To Be Nice To The Environment and Save Yourself Some Money

Going green doesn’t literally have to cost the earth. We can all reduce our environmental impact by taking small actions that require only a little effort – and reap cash rewards for both our short- and long-term financial futures. Now is the perfect time to put your money where your values are.

The way we consume our fashion, food, and everyday products is having an almighty impact on our environment – and our wallets. It’s becoming clear that our current pace is not sustainable. While Millennials have been groomed to understand that protecting the environment is important, few integrate their values into their daily routines.

But when being kinder to the environment can save you some cash, it might make that effort a little more appealing. Here are some easy ways to lessen your impact and fatten your wallet.

#1 Take your own lunch and always carry a re-usable bottle or cup

It’s no big secret that preparing your lunches at the start of each week saves you cash and is better for your health. $9.50 for a greasy ham and cheese sandwich? No thanks. Taking your own lunch each day not only saves you precious moolah, it also saves single-use takeaway plastics and napkins heading straight to landfill.

The same goes for your daily fluid intake. If you can’t go past your café-quality espresso fix, be sure to think ahead and pack your reusable coffee cup in your bag before work each day. Some coffee shops offer discounts to folk who BYO-KeepCup. Even if you go topless on your coffee, it makes a difference.

Carry your reusable water bottle as well. Did you know that bottled water is up-priced by 1000%? At $3 per unit, buying a bottle three times a week is $9 per week and $468 a year (and 156 bottles that wind up in landfill from just one person!) Get yourself a good-looking water bottle to use on the reg. Flat is the new round, according to Memobottle, a company that’s designed reusable bottles to fit compact in work satchels and handbags. But there are so many available now that are glass and cork, BPA-free and more.

#2 Shop in bulk

Shopping in bulk is what people did before everything was wrapped in bright, shiny plastic. Bulk food stores offer all the goodness of major grocery store chains in bulk bins that you use your own packaging for. With no packaging premium, buying bulk is substantially cheaper than buying products in single-use plastic wrappers and containers. You can skip out of the store knowing that you saved some plastic from going to landfill and kept extra cash in your wallet. Ca-ching!

“i buy in bulk” #mermaidpickuplines #plasticfreeforthesea A photo posted by kate nelson (@plasticfreemermaid) on

Ditch the plastic and up-cycle glass jars and cloth bags to buy wet and dry products that you would usually chuck in a plastic bag. Heading to the markets on the weekend or to your local greengrocer mid-week is a noticeably cheaper option for fresh produce and can significantly decrease weekly grocery bills. Plus, it gets you outside and absorbing some Vitamin D.

#4 Make your own products

OK, effort factor is higher here but keep an open mind. Making your own products with natural ingredients is easy, quick, without the hefty price tag to you or the environment. Remember reading about the magic of coconut oil?

Manufactured products are typically made in non-reusable and non-recyclable packaging that is cheap to make, expensive to buy, gets sold with a premium and is difficult to dispose. Not to mention they are packed full of chemicals and compounds that shouldn’t be in our bodies or on our skin.

Try to transition across to your own products slowly and only replace current products once they have been used up to ensure you don’t create unnecessary waste. You can create your own body butter and facial cleanser with versatile ingredients such as Shea butter, jojoba oil, essential oils, and even apple cider vinegar. These ingredients may at first appear to cost more up-front however each have multiple uses, in the bathroom and kitchen, that will stretch your dollars further way past the cost of one prepackaged item that get’s chucked when it’s finished.

Shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil. Whipped. #homemadebodybutter

A photo posted by ○○ c h y d i e ○○ (@_chydie_) on

If this idea doesn’t appeal, choose to support sustainable brands such as Eco-Store and Sukin that use plant-based materials in their products and manufacture with a reduced carbon footprint and less CO2 in their packaging. Although organic natural brands are often marginally more expensive than commercial products they are often found on special in discount chemists and pharmacies. Plus, they have none of the synthetic ingredients and toxins of commercial brands so you can cleanse easy knowing you are producing less greywater and supporting eco-friendly brands.

#5 Be inspired by timeless style, rather than fast-fashion trends

Take some time to re-evaluate your wardrobe and take inventory of what you have, what you need, and what you would like.

Assess what you have and donate anything that hasn’t been worn in the past year. Mend what you can, please don’t toss out a perfectly good shirt because it is missing a button. Head to your local secondhand store to find basic, classic items that will work with what you already have in your wardrobe without falling into the trap of buying lots of items because they are cheap. Maintain a minimalist mindset: look for quality and for key pieces that work well with what you already have. Secondhand bargains will cost you far less than the High Street fast-fashion chains. Plus, you get extra props for being charitable and preventing more items entering the waste stream.

If you have a bit of extra cash to spend it is worthwhile buying quality items that will last longer. Be a savvy consumer and enlist the help of the Good on You app that rates brands in accordance with their ethical and environmental impact. It may cost a little more short term, but if you look after your quality pieces the cost-per-wear will make them cheaper investments in the long run.

Small changes, positive impact

The weight of the world doesn’t literally rest on your shoulders. Reducing your impact in drastic ways does not happen overnight – instead, make small swaps gradually over time. That way, they’re more likely to stick and those small steps have great long-term effects and monetary rewards.

Claire Dalgleish woke up like this. She’s a freelance writer and art curator who currently lives in Sydney. You can read more on her blog art/writing/projects and follow her via@art.writing.projects

Want to start saving?

Open a Westpac savings account to take control of your money.

Find Out More