Feature

Save $40 a week, and the planet too

G Magazine

Ever heard someone say they can’t afford to go green? We out this claim to the test by totting up the figures on some simple lifestyle changes. The result? Living green can actually plump your pockets.

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GO VEGO ON WEEKDAYS: Save $17.04 per week

Australians eat more than double the recommended intake of meat, fish and poultry. Eating less meat doesn’t mean compromising your protein intake. Dairy, eggs, soy products, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds all pack a protein punch. For more info on becoming a weekday vegetarian, click here.

Personal savings

Cutting down to just two meat-eating days a week could save you a whopping $17.04 a week.

Environmental savings

Land used to grow beans and vegetables yields ten times more protein than land used to raise cattle. Studies conducted by the University of NSW and CSIRO in 2005 indicate that current trends in meat eating are responsible for a third of our ecological footprint.
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REDUCE FOOD WASTE: Save $11.85 per week

As much as 20 per cent of food bought by Australians ends up in the bin. Make a shopping list to avoid doubling up on items, keep an eye on expiry dates, and pull older items to the front of your fridge and pantry regularly.

Personal savings

Based on figures from a November 2009 report from The Australia Institute, kicking the habit of throwing away leftovers, and cooking up food before it goes feral, could save the average household $11.85 each week.

Environmental savings

When your kitchen scraps break down in landfill, they release methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Plus, consider the resources that go into producing, packaging, transporting and refrigerating food. Reducing food waste could save the equivalent of 11.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Added to this are water savings. According to CSIRO research, throwing away a 250 g steak is equivalent to wasting 25,000 L of water.
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TURN OFF THE SECOND FRIDGE: Save $3.65 per week

While it might seem handy to have a spare fridge, it’s hard to justify when they’re such energy-hungry appliances. Most second fridges are models older than 10 years, which can use up to three times the energy of new fridges. Almost a third of Sydney households have a second fridge, that’s why there’s a $35 buy-back scheme; see www.fridgebuyback.com.au for more information.

Personal savings

To run your extra fridge, electricity costs average at $190 a year, so you’ll save $3.65 per week by switching it off.

Environmental savings

By getting rid of the second fridge, your household will be saving eight tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere each year. Disposing of your old fridge responsibly with a recycling program.
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SWITCH OFF AT THE WALL: Save $2.10 per week

Standby power is responsible for up to 10 per cent of the electricity used in an average Australian household. Some devices – such as mobile phone chargers – will continue drawing power as long as they’re plugged in, even if the appliance is no longer attached or has finished charging. If you can’t reach the wall switch easily, try an energy-saving powerboard with a remote to switch all the power off.

Personal savings

The average Australian household uses just over 134 kilowatt hours of energy per week. At 17 cents per kilowatt hour, you can save up to $2.10 per week by turning off standby power.

Environmental savings

Most appliances use between 1 and 30 watts on standby, which might not seem like much. But think about all the appliances in all the households across Australia: switching them off at the wall could stop five million tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere each year.
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DRY ON THE LINE: Save $2 per week

A big energy vampire in the laundry is the electric dryer. When the weather’s fine opt for the solar-powered dryer in your backyard – the sun! On rainy days, set up a line in a covered area or use a clotheshorse indoors.

Personal savings

Using the dryer three times a week can add nearly $2 a week to your energy bill. Plus, the less time in the dryer, the longer the lifespan of your clothes.

Environmental savings

Ditching your dryer dependency will save 500 kg of greenhouse gases a year. If you can’t do without it, make sure your dryer has a high energy-efficiency rating and good airflow, and keep the lint tray clean for maximum operating efficiency.
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TAKE SHORTER SHOWERS: Save $1.69 per week

While we may be girt by sea, water conservation has always been a particularly Australian concern, and reducing your shower time is about as straightforward a solution as you can get. Also, it’s worth remembering that a bath is not a green option, with even a 10-minute shower using less water than a full bath.

Personal savings

Based on a household of four people who each have one shower a day, cutting your 10-minute showers to three minutes will save 560 L of water, taking $0.56 per week off your water bill. When it comes to energy costs, taking three-minute showers will save $1.13 per week. All up, that’s a maximum saving of $1.69 a week.

Environmental savings

By reducing the length of your shower from 10 to three minutes, and installing a water-efficient showerhead, you can individually save approximately 170 L of water per shower. Save nearly one tonne (0.8) of CO2 from entering the atmosphere per year.
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OPT FOR A GREEN CLEAN: Save $1.49 per week

Do your skin, airways, the environment, and your wallet a favour, and switch to simple cleaning products such as vinegar, lemon, bicarb soda, eucalyptus and teatree oils, and plain water. Here, we compared the use of bicarb soda and a reuseable microfibre cloth, to Ajax Spray n Wipe Multipurpose with a disposable cloth.

Personal savings

A 500 g box of McKenzie’s Bicarbonate Soda costs $2.17 and a 500 mL pump-pack of Ajax Spray n Wipe Multipurpose costs $4.17. If you clean the kitchen and bathroom once a week, we estimate you would get through these products in four months. A washable Chux Microfibre Cloth costs $4.35 and will last you all year. Handee Ultra Paper Towels are $2.92 per roll, which should last for two weeks. The bicarb/microfibre combo saves $1.49 per week.

Environmental savings

Less than five per cent of the 75,000 cleaning chemicals used in the developed world have been tested for toxicity. Commercial cleaning products are packed full of combinations of substances that, when washed down our drains, have the potential to damage life in our fragile waterways. Biodegradable, naturally derived cleaners are far less harmful to the environment. When G put paper towels and resuseable cloths (Versus, G25, Mar/Apr 2010) head to head, reuseable cloths had a far smaller eco-impact overall because they long outlive their paper counterparts.

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WASH CLOTHES IN COLD WATER: Save $0.58 per week

It’s estimated that 15 to 20 per cent of water used at home is in the laundry. Washing your clothes with cold instead of hot water reduces energy usage by up to four times.

Personal savings

Using the cold wash will shave $0.58 off your power bill per week ($30 per year). Plus your clothes are less likely to shrink and fade.

Environmental savings

Switching to a cold wash will stop 400 kg of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere each year.

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In total, G found that you could save over $40 per week by making these few, simple, green changes to your lifestyle.