There are small changes we can all make to reduce our impact on the environment. Being green can be easy and fun – and it will almost certainly save you money.
Below are a few tips to give you inspiration.
For eco-friendly products which help save you cash and the environment, look no further than the Eco Friendly Shop. This website stores everything from groceries and household objects to tea and books on green living. Get clicking and see what takes your fancy, whether it’s paper straws (£2.59 for 150) or bamboo fibre plasters (£6.99 for 25).
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Another alternative is the Eco Shop UK, which sells a wider range of green and eco-friendly items, including makeup, bathroom products and gym essentials such as yoga mats.
It’s also worth doing your food shop online. One van can drive around with several people’s shopping rather than lots of shoppers driving around town, helping cut CO2 emissions. Doing a bulk food shop will also save you money rather than buying in store little and often.
Save energy in the home
Use energy-saving light bulbs. They’re a lot more glamorous than they used to be and generally give a decent level of light. Switching over to energy-saving light bulbs means using less electricity, therefore saving money on energy bills.
The bulbs themselves are roughly the same price as conventional ones, but they last much longer and are cheaper to run.
Avoid tumble dryers. These sap energy quicker than daytime TV shows drain you of the will to live. A clothes line, if you have space, is still the most efficient option. If you don’t have outside space, invest in a heated airer. They cost around £130 from companies such as Lakeland and run for less than 6p an hour.
Heated airers, which work quickly, are kinder to your clothes than a tumble dryer and the bonus is they gently heat the room as well.
Make small changes
As a starter, use Ecoballs when washing clothes. They’re a much cheaper and often gentler alternative to washing powder. Just pop a couple of these refillable balls into your washing machine and your clothes will come out clean and soft. So soft in fact that there’s no need for conditioner, so you can skip the rinse cycle and save money and water. Normally a ball costs around £22, which will give you up to 1,000 washes, but Ecozonedirect.com currently has them on offer for £14.73.
Also, get thermal curtains. These curtains that make it virtually impossible for heat to escape, and start at around £30. You can make them yourself by simply lining your curtains with an insulating material. A really cheap way of doing this is to sew a cheap PVC shower curtain (these cost about £5) to your existing curtains, and then sew some lining over the top. For added insulation you can replace the shower curtain with foil insulation.
Get a bike
There are currently decent incentives for commuters looking to switch to cycling. The Government-led Cycle to Work scheme lets workers spread the cost of a new bike across the course of a year, interest free. An added bonus is that the cost comes out of pre-tax income, which means most people save at least 32 per cent compared to buying a bike upfront out of their own savings.
The Government also launched a Fix your Bike voucher scheme early this summer, giving away a voucher worth £50 towards the cost of repairing a bicycle. The scheme was hugely popular and the vouchers have now been withdrawn, but further vouchers are expected to be released at a later date.
If you are going to drive, then make your car as eco-friendly as possible. Get it serviced regularly and check the tyre pressure. As well as making the car safe for the road, the correct tyre pressure can cut fuel bills as under-inflated tyres means the car has to work harder. Make sure you’ve got the right level of oil and coolant and that the car’s air filter is clean – a clogged up filter can really hamper your car engine’s efficiency.
Make money through recycling
If you can’t get enough of the fizzy stuff go to Thinkcans.net to find your nearest recycling centre to dispose of your cans for cash. Centres will pay you a small amount (around 40p) per kilo, but it can add up. If you’re a business (say a restaurant) with a lot of cans they may well send a van round to collect the cans.
And should you have an old computer knocking around – even one that doesn’t work – your PC could be traded in for around £50, or for a discount on a new computer. Try your local independent electronic retailer (if they don’t take old computers, they’ll probably be able to give you details of a company that does).
Money can also be earned through recycling printer cartridges. Ink2u.co.uk pays up to £1 per empty cartridge, which can be put towards a further purchase from the site.
Jasmine Birtles is a TV personality, “money guru”, presenter, speaker, freelance journalist, author of 38 books and founder of consumer money website Money Magpie. Find more tips on going green at moneymagpie.com