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Sometimes budgets don’t always stretch to shopping ethically all of the time or buying organic food all of the time. Thankfully, there are lots of easy ways to help the environment that will save you money. Here are six for starters:
1. Turn the brightness down on your television
My first tip is a nice easy one that could help you to save around £96 a year just by pressing a few buttons. Yup, to save a heap of money and energy all you have to do is turn down the brightness on your television, particularly if you have recently bought a new television.
When TV sets are packaged for sale or display, they are set at much higher levels of brightness and contrast than really necessary. Manufacturers do this bit of trickery so the screens look all bright and jazzy in illuminated shop displays, but actually, the settings are too bright for most living rooms so turning down the brightness will optimise your viewing experience and save money.
2. Catch Unused Water
I have a combi boiler which I think is the bee’s knees. My daughter recently had to write a sentence at school with the word boiler in it and wrote: “My mummy loves the boiler”, and it’s true, mummy loves the boiler very very much.
It’s not 100% true love though. The one thing I don’t love about my combi boiler is that when I want hot water I have to run the tap for a little while to allow the water to heat up. Rather than wasting this precious resource down the drain, it’s a good idea to catch this water to use for making tea, watering plants and any other water-based needs. It’s a much better use of fresh clean water that would otherwise go down the drain, and a good way of saving money if you have a water meter.
3. Try to get out of the habit of charging appliances overnight
As well as being a fire risk, and a drain on battery life, charging appliances, such as phones, tablets, laptops and electric toothbrushes overnight could be costing you a pretty penny. Admittedly, I am trying to get out of the bad habit of charging my phone overnight, so I’d be happy to form a support group for those of you also struggling with this affliction!
4. Use What You Have
I’m a huge fan of getting creative and using what I have rather than spending money unnecessarily. For example, instead of cling film, I use plates on top of bowls, saucepan lids on top of bowls or upturned plates on top of plates to keep my food fresh in the fridge. Instead of Tupperware or fancy storage systems, I try and use glass jars. Before buying something, especially something disposable or single use, I try to ask myself could I use something that I already have, and nine times out of ten I could just use something I already own.
5. Ditch the Tumble Dryer where possible
I live in Scotland, I have two kids, and I use reusable nappies, so I know only too well that sometimes the weather doesn’t always play ball, and you just have to reach for the tumble dryer to avoid a mountain of dirty laundry. It happens.
Where I can though, I always aim to hang my washing up outside to dry. Whatever you use to dry your clothes on: be it a piece of washing line strung up between two trees, a rotary dryer or a clothes horse – ditching the tumble dryer costs nothing, saves a ton of energy, and nothing beats the smell of freshly dried on the line laundry.
Our cottage isn’t blessed with acres of land – instead, we have a tiny concrete yard, which means drying space is at a premium. A rotary dryer would take up too much precious playing space, and a line laden with laundry takes up the whole garden. To maximise playing space for my girls, I have a Brabantia clothes horse which I use to dry my laundry on.
Offering 23 metres of flexible drying space, I pop it up in a sunny corner of the yard, and it holds one whole load of washing (and a little bit more) in one compact 1 metre squared footprint. Even when fully laden, it’s incredibly sturdy.
Thanks to its adjustable racks you can even dry delicates, like wool, or dry longer items, like trousers, easily.
On wet days I bring it inside – as it has such a small footprint, it doesn’t feel as cumbersome as some drying racks. Once the laundry is dry it folds flat for easy storage until the next load – which, let’s face it, is never far away.
Of course, use what you already have to dry your laundry, but if you happen to be in the market for something new either now or in the future then do bear in mind that Brabantia have teamed up with WeForest, and so for every rotary dryer or drying rack sold they will plant a tree in Africa’s Great Green Wall. The Great Green Wall is an African-led project which aims to grow an 8,000 km forest across the entire width of Africa. Its goal is to provide food, jobs and a future for the millions of people who live in a region on the frontline of climate change, so it’s a great cause to support in the name of dry laundry.
6. Learn How to Store Food Correctly
Minimising food waste is one of the best ways to save money and help the environment. One of the best ways you can help to minimise food waste is to learn to store food correctly to ensure produce lasts for as long as it possibly can.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Store vegetables like spring onions, celery, and asparagus in a glass of water on your windowsill to keep them fresh for a couple of weeks.
- Store potatoes in a cool dark cupboard or drawer.
- Keep mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge.
Do also share your best tips in the comments!