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8 Top Tips for an Eco Thrifty 2020
Apart from ditching the tampons and switching to the Mooncup®, what other small conscientious changes can we make in our lives that save us pennies and are good for the environment too? We spoke to Zoe Morrison, blogger and author of the book Eco Thrifty Living. We think you will be pleased to hear just how simple those changes that have an impact can be!
1. Reduce food waste
Cutting down on food waste is one of my favourite ways of saving money and helping the planet. To do this, make sure you only buy what you need and use what you buy.
Weekly food planner
Before you go shopping, check the cupboards and make a list. Write a meal plan for the week ahead and make sure you incorporate anything that has loitered in your cupboard, fruit bowl, fridge or freezer for too long, or that is about to go off.
Ways to reduce food waste
There are many ways of reducing your food waste. Do you regularly bin a chunk of your bread? Freeze half of the loaf and defrost when needed. Use overripe bananas to make a milkshake or chop them up and spread them on buttered toast. Delicious!
Meals with leftovers
Take things to the next level by setting yourself a challenge to live off your leftovers for a week. Can the contents of your cupboards, fridge and freezer feed you for a week without the need to go shopping?
2. Get fit for less
You don’t need to spend a fortune if you are looking to get fit in January. Joining a gym is a great option if you know you’ll make full use of it. However, if you know your enthusiasm will wane a few weeks after joining, you can end up paying for a service that you aren’t using.
Try a pay as you go sport first. Or make the most of the free resources available. There are many free fitness and weight loss apps available which help you track your progress and keep you motivated. Or if you would like to exercise in a group, look up a free organised run, such as Parkrun, near you.
3. Try free and fun eco-friendly activities
Make the most of what you already have and what your local area has to offer. Enjoy nature and go for a winter walk, visit the local library or invite a few friends over for board games or a movie night.
Community volunteer work
Consider volunteering and giving back to your community. You could help at an animal rescue centre, befriend an older person in need of company or take part in a beach clean. Doing something good for wildlife or for other people can make you feel good and doesn’t need to cost anything!
4. New Year’s reflections
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they often focus on negative things in life, without appreciating what you already have. I believe this can fuel spending on unnecessary products that either promise to fix the problem or that comfort us.
For quite a while now, I have stopped making New Year’s resolutions and choose to do reflections instead. New Year’s reflections involve looking back over the previous year for what went well. What did you achieve and what are you proud of? Even in the worst of years, there will still be some positives and they are worth celebrating!
New Year goal setting
If you do choose to set yourself goals for the New Year, make sure they are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. An example of a SMART, eco-friendly and money saving goal I have taken on this year is Veganuary . Going vegan for life starting this January might have been an overwhelming leap to take. However, going vegan for a month is a great opportunity to trial it out before making a long-term commitment.
5. Plan your eco-friendly holidays
There’s nothing to cheer you up in January like planning ahead for your summer holidays. To keep the cost and your carbon impact low, look for holiday destinations you can get to without flying. The more time you give yourself to organise your holiday, the cheaper it gets.
Live like a local and consider doing a house swap or even pet sit for someone. Sites like Trusted House Sitters or Normador match pet owners with potential sitters who, in exchange for their pet and house sitting services, get free accommodation. If you own your place, renting it out on Airbnb may pay part of your holiday.
6. Make do and mend or upcycle
If you find yourself spending a lot of nights in, find something productive to do. Mending and upcycling are great ways of prolonging your clothes’ lives. I always seem to have a giant mending pile and it is so satisfying when I get around to tackling it.
7. Reduce energy use
Energy costs can skyrocket in the winter months, but there are a few simple energy-saving tricks for keeping the heat in and the cold out. If you have a drafty, unused chimney, stop the draught with a chimney balloon . A lot of heat is also lost through windows and adding some thermal curtains can really make a difference. Shutting doors is an easy way to retain the heat in a room. Make sure to turn off radiators in rooms that aren’t used.
There is no need to spend a fortune on heat saving products: I have bought most of our curtains from charity shops; making a draught excluder could be a fun craft project and we made our own DIY chimney balloon.
30 degree wash
Doing laundry can have a big impact on our planet. To reduce your energy consumption and carbon footprint, simple swaps like washing at 30°C instead of 40°C and hanging out your washing instead of tumble drying it is a good start.
8. Declutter, recycle and rethink your relationship with stuff
Avoid the temptation of the January sales. Consider whether you really need new clothes and if you do, buy only what you need. If you buy new, go for ethical brands and products. Buying second-hand gives a new life to a garment that might have otherwise ended up in landfill. Take a look on Freecycle, Freegle or pop over to a local charity shop to look for things you need.
If you are looking to sell any unwanted presents, it may be worth waiting a bit and selling at a time of the year when people have more money to spend. Or donate them to charity and give them a second life too.
Zoe Morrison writes the award winning blog www.ecothriftyliving.com all about saving money and the environment.