25 ways to protect the environment when you are on a budget
As you know, I started this blog, because I want to do something myself to help protect the environment. BUT, unless I win the lottery or pay off the mortgage and have money over, I won´t be able to do certain things, like buy a new ecofriendly car, buy only ecofriendly and bio products…
That´s why I decided to write this post on ways you can help the environment even if you are on a budget. So, what can you do?
1.) Go through your house/apartment and make sure, that all electrical appliances that are not needed are unplugged. Do not leave anything on standby as it is using unnecessary electric! Buy plug sockets you can switch off for your TV, computer etc., Same, don´t leave your phone, tablet etc. on charge longer than necessary, specially not over night. Apart from being a potential fire hazard, it also uses energy even though it´s fully charged.
2.) We all now use energy-saving light bulbs, but make sure lights are turned off when not needed, but do nt turn the light off, if you go back into the same room within a minute or two. I noticed that many energy-saving light bulbs don´t like to be turned on and off too frequent and therefore do not last as long as they could. This produces more unnecessary rubbish.
3.) Don´t boil the kettle again, if it just boiled a minute ago! The water is still hot enough for your tea/coffee…
4.) Your fridge: don´t leave the door open longer than needed as this let´s warmer air into it which needs to be cooled. Don´t turn your fridge colder than needed. A full fridge uses less energy than an empty fridge, but only if you don´t fill it up at one with warmer things. This does not mean: buy more food you won´t eat and then throw away, but fill it some water bottles, if it gets pretty empty… Another thing that helps keep your fridge cool and using less energy is defrosting food in the fridge. Take it out of the freezer on time and place it in the fridge. And lastly: make sure your fridge does not stand right next to the oven, nor in any other warm spot (too much sun, heater…).
5.) If you have a ceramic cooker field, turn it off before you finish cooking and use the rest-heat to finish the meal. It took me a few trials and errors years ago, but I now do it without even thinking about it anymore. One reason why I struggle cooking with gas as there is no rest heat to work with…
6.) Staying with the subject cooking: Did you know that it is actually more energy-efficient to boil the water in the kettle and then put it in the pot over the “fire”? Well, I didn´t… It was my son coming from school last week who told me!
7.) Find out if there is an energy supplier in your area using green and ecofriendly ways to supply you with energy and is competitive in price. Switching might even be cheaper than staying with your supplier, unless you are already with one of these.
8.) Let enough air into your living space. In winter, rather open your windows wide for a short period of time than not open them or leaving them open a little over a longer period of time. Fresh air heats up quicker, so you safe on heating. In summer open your windows to let a nice breeze cool the rooms instead of using the air con. Moving to a hot part of Spain, I have learned another thing for summer: our blinds are mostly closed during the day in summer to keep the rooms cool and we open them at night. Our summer curtains are thicker than our winter curtains, so we can close them instead of the blinds to keep the heat out…
9.) Most of our washing is not really dirty, so you can wash it on a short cycle and on a low temperature and they are still clean after. It does not only safe energy, but water as well and it is better for the fabric. When we had to buy a new washing machine, there were a few conditions I wanted the new one to have: obviously energy-saving, at least one short cycle and that it uses water accordingly to the load. I know you should fill the machine up, but life doesn´t always work like that and knowing that I am not wasting water, if I have to wash just a few things, was important to me.
10.) Do only use the tumble dryer if you have to. Drying your washing outside has actually got more bonuses than you think. Apart from saving energy, your clothes smell better and, if you hang your clothes up properly, you can safe on having to iron them after. I barely touch my iron now.
10.) If you have a dish washer, make sure it is full before you turn it on or use the 1/2 load if you need to.
11.) Washing up by hand: do not wash up under a running tap! Either fill up the sink with the amount of water you need using all the water coming out of your tap. Put a bowl into your sink, if you just quickly want to wash up a few things and use the water from the bowl to water your plants.
12.) We all love a bath every now and then, but we all know that it uses much more water than a shower… When having a bath, make sure that you close the drain as soon as you let water in, so you use all the water.
13.) Turn the shower off when you apply shower gel and shampoo and turn it back on when you need it. The neighbour of my mum in law goes even one step further in saving water while having a shower and always showers with a bucket next to her to catch some of the water. She then uses it to water her garden. Just a little note to the side as it saves water and your bill…
14.) Catch the rain water coming from your guttering and use it to water your garden.
Reduce plastic use:
15.) If you are living in an area with poor water quality, like me, install a filter system. That way you can use the tap water as drinking water instead of buying water in plastic bottles. Where I live, you can only get water in plastic bottles and this is not good for several reasons. First, it produces an unnecessary amount of rubbish and we get slowly poisoned by drinking micro-plastics…
16.) Buy your fruit and vegetables either on a farmers market or in a greengrocer´s. For one, it saves on packaging getting thrown away. And for the other, they mainly sell local products, which saves transport costs and therefore lowers emissions (no plane, ship etc. needed). Last point counts for any product you could get locally instead from further away.
17.) When buying, make sure to rather buy products with less packaging, rather than the one´s which overdo it.
18.) It´s not exactly plastic, but I decided to include it under this point. Avoid using silver foil! Producing silver foil uses up a lot of energy and: Guess how long it takes to decompose? I don´t think you gotten close… It takes up to 700 YEARS!!! So, use containers with a lid instead or, if you can´t avoid it, cling-film.
Car share or use your car less
19.) You might have neighbours with kids/a kid going to the same school as yours, so why not share the journey? You take them and pick them up one week and your neighbour the other week. That´s if they don´t take the school bus… But this way, you both safe one week of petrol and it´s one less car on the road on total for school runs… Same applies, for other activities, like football, dancing…
20.) Walk or take the bike whenever you can instead of the car. I am not a bike person, so my option is number 1… I promised my son that we would walk to school together the days that I don´t have to go anywhere straight from school… When he was a baby, I used to walk to the supermarket, load up his pram and walk back… There are so many options to not take the car. And it has got several benefits: you save petrol, you do something for your health and you are looking after our environment!
21.) I would recommend to use the bus instead, if you can. But seeing the busses that drive past my house often leaving a trail of black cloud behind them… Well, still, if your busses are more modern, they are definitely the better option.
Reuse, repurpose and recycle
22.) Recycle correctly whatever you cannot avoid to buy. In most parts of the world recycling is now mandatory. Here in Spain, you can recycle… The only thing mandatory is to put your rubbish into a bag and then into the bin…
23.) Old clothes and shoes that are still fine you could give to a local charity shop instead of throwing them away.
24.) Reuse everything that you can use again. Most things here are pretty obvious. Plastic bags can be used again to go shopping, packaging and boxes can be used again to pack something else…
25.) If you can´t reuse, then try to repurpose. As a few examples: turn old clothes that cannot be given to anyone else into cleaning cloths, boxes can be used to store things…
The internet is full with ideas and examples.
Most of the above mentioned suggestions are not only good for our environment, but save you money at the same time.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and have found some new ideas you can implement.
If you have, please share it with your friends.