These days most of us want to reduce our footprint on the planet and set a good example for our kids. It can be hard to know where to start especially when we have busy lives and limited budgets.
Here are 8 easy habits you can start doing right now to save the planet (and your wallet).
- BYO drink containers
Get your whole family into the habit of grabbing their drink bottles when leaving the house. Little ones will need extra help, but most kids over the age of 5 or 6 can refill their own water bottles and be in charge of helping everyone to remember theirs.
When you’re out, refill at taps, drinking fountains and even cafes so you can skip purchasing plastic bottles and save your money for stuff you actually want to buy.
- Be water-wise
Keep a jug or container next to your kitchen sink for collecting clean wastewater from drink bottles, rinsing grapes or just to capture water while you wait for the hot tap to kick in.
Use it to water your garden, lawn and indoor plants. Leftover water from cooking veggies will add extra nutrients too (just leave out the salt).
Clean drinking water is a scarce resource worldwide which is why it’s a great reason to rethink what goes down the sink and into our oceans.
Set your dishwasher and washing machine to a water-saving mode and remember to turn the tap off while brushing teeth. Placing a timer in your bathroom is a great way to encourage everyone in the house to take shorter showers.
- Skip individually packaged snacks
Kids snack foods are absolutely packed with plastic!
Instead of buying individually wrapped single portion snacks, purchase the largest bag/packet you can find and portion it out into small reusable containers.
This one action cuts out so much unnecessary plastic, will help keep your child’s school litter free and saves on your weekly grocery bill.
Next time you’re at the supermarket, compare the costs of your regular snacks individually packaged and bulk packaged. You’ll be surprised how much extra you are paying.
- Try green cleaning
Making a few swaps to green cleaning alternatives around the home saves serious dollars and you’ll be reducing chemicals too. Vinegar and bi-carb soda are very effective for replacing a number of commercial products.
Sprinkle Bi-carb soda in your sink, shower and bathtub to remove soap build-up, grime and coffee stains. Gently scrub and rinse with water.
Vinegar can be used to clean glass, mirrors, benchtops, tiles, floors and even toilets. The acidity makes it a great germ killer and a brilliant eco option.
Don’t like the smell of vinegar? Make infused cleaning vinegar with your leftover lemon or citrus peels.
- Visit libraries
These days libraries are a hive of activity and very kid-friendly. It’s a great place to borrow (rather than buy) books, magazines, DVDs, music, video games, jigsaws, toys, sporting equipment and more.
Borrowing rather than owning has a lower environmental impact because resources can be shared amongst many. The sharing economy is gaining momentum, from community-run tool libraries to bike-sharing and little street libraries.
Dedicated toy libraries are a fantastic way for kids to play with new stuff every few weeks without making purchases or adding to household clutter. Some are free to join, while others may charge a nominal fee.
- Reuse containers and jars
Plastic, glass and tin containers can be repurposed for so many things. Reusing useful items instead of recycling is a more eco-friendly action.
Takeaway and food containers can be washed and reused for storing leftovers, packing a picnic lunch or sorting craft supplies and junk drawers.
Tin cans make great pen and pencil holders, or fill with a little potting soil and plant some seeds on your windowsill.
Glass jars are handy for food storage, in the pantry, fridge and freezer. A great budget option if you want to avoid plastic touching food.
- Reduce food waste
Uneaten and over date foods can cost us a significant amount of money each week, not to mention the waste. Australians throw out one in five shopping bags of food!
Make a rough plan of what you’ll eat for the week and stick to your shopping list to avoid buying things that won’t be eaten in time.
Freeze meat, bread, milk and other foods before their due date.
Most fruit and vegetables last longer when stored in the crisper compartment.
Celery, spring onions, herbs and asparagus can last for up to 2 weeks when stored in water. Simply place them in a vase or jar and change the water every few days.
- Wash at 30 degrees
Laundry can be a major drain on time, energy and bills. Next time you put on a load of washing, choose a cooler setting for your load. Not only will your colours stay brighter, clothing lasts longer but you’ll be saving on power bills too.
Most of us wash our clothes too often and overuse laundry products. Try substituting ¼ cup of vinegar instead of fabric softener. It’s grey water safe, budget-friendly, better for the environment and will make your towels soft.
Amy French blogs about simple, practical ways anyone can reduce waste and live a more sustainable eco-friendly lifestyle at The Good Life with Amy French. She lives in Adelaide with her family and is passionate about saving the planet and saving money. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram or check out her zero-waste Etsy store.