Green is the new gold, because going green can actually help you save (or even make) money! When you adopt the 3Rs and less-is-more lifestyle, you not only improve your own life but contribute to Mother Earth in your own little way. Here are some tips on how to get started:
Cycle or walk to work. It’s a good cardiovascular workout and helps ward off obesity risks. Plus, it’s also more economical and gas-saving. If you don’t fancy arriving for work hot and sweaty, choose a workplace closer to home to cut down on petrol and other costs.
Create a recycling corner in your office and home and train everyone to separate their waste. It need not be fancy- just a box that states ‘recycled paper’, ‘plastics’ or ‘cans’ is a good start.
D.I.Y your own cleaning products. You just need some basic simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice or even salt to produce time-saving, economical and environmentally-friendly detergents.
Invest in a good water filter and purify your own tap water. Bottled water is expensive and generates huge container wastage.
Grow your own vegetables. Local vegetables like tomatoes, kailan, ladies fingers and choy sum are easy to grow in pots even for high-rise building residents.Besides, having your own herbs like chillies, mint, coriander or rosemary can also add a touch of green to your life.
Collect pull-tabs from aluminium drink. Apart from collecting drink or food cans for recycling, pull-tabs collection can be donated to helps the less fortunate enjoy a new lease on life. Thailand-based Prosthesis Foundation uses pull-tabs to make affordable artificial limbs for the less fortunate in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Malaysia.
Reuse coffee grinds and brewed tea bags or leaves as odour neutralizers. Freshen up your refrigerator or stinky socks with used coffee grinds or brewed tea leaves which are excellent natural odour absorbers. Soak your socks in warm water topped with used tea leaves.
Dry your clothes the conventional way. Use a laundry line instead of clothes dryers which are the third-largest energy consumers at home after refrigerator and washing machine.
Compost the leftovers. Setting up a compost bin is easy and an inexpensive method of turning food or yard wastes into nutrient-rich fertilizers for your plants.
Reuse your water. Collect rainwater which is relatively free of contaminants and can be utilised for various household chores – cleaning corridor or bathroom, watering plants or washing the car. Used water from laundry washing can also be collected to flush the toilet.
Transform old T-shirts into grocery bags. Just turn your favourite concert or cartoon T-shirts inside out and place a few stitches along the hem to get awe-inspiring bags for No Plastic Saturdays!
Support local farmers. Buy directly from your local grower helps to boost your local economy. Plus, food that does not travel great distances to their destination are often fresher.
Reduce the petrol and amount of time spent driving from point A to point B by combining all your errands in one go. Plan your route carefully before leaving.
Choose your gifts wisely. Buy gifts that are practical and have as little packaging as possible.
Start a battery collection and get your friends and family to give you their old batteries which is sent for proper disposal.
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Have a garden? Share your plants or your knowledge with other gardeners to spread the green movement.
Start your day with a homemade smoothie. Mix and match different choices of fruits and vegetables to produce deliciously cheap yet nutrient-packed smoothies. Get great smoothie recipes from http://www.simplyrawrecipes.com.
Work from home. Zero commuting to work cuts down on your carbon output and reduces disposable lunch container usage.
Reduce meat intake. Every pound of beef for instance takes up 12,000 gallons of water to produce. Meat production is a resource-intensive process that involves huge amounts of grain, water, land and antibiotics. Cutting down one or two servings of meat weekly will do a huge difference to our environment in the long term.
Choose cloth diapers for babies. Disposable napkins clog waterways when not thrown in a responsible way and are a big contributor to landfills.
Befriend recycling associations. Know the nearest recycling centre or the telephone number of the old newspaper man.
Invest in the best solar chargers on the market. Power all your gadgets with solar charger which is an easy and cost-effective easy task that does not take 5 or 20 hours to fill up a battery.
Green your haircut. Shorter hair styles are much easier to maintain and uses less hair care products that pollute our water ways.
Give cast-off shoes or clothes a second life. From designers’ dresses to vintage denim, one man’s trash can be other man’s treasure. Visit your nearest flea market or bazaar to source for interesting pieces.
Go back to basics. Use homemade natural skin care – vinegar water to tighten pores or oatmeal mask for nourishing the skin. It saves you loads of money, not to mention reduce the risk of absorbing secret toxins from commercial skin care products.
Save your vegetable stems. Vegetable stalks are usually packed with wonderful nutrients such as calcium, vitamins A, C, E and K. Shred or chop them to make delicious coleslaw, salads or stews.
Detox your home. Keep your windows open to allow better air circulation. Use live plants as natural air detoxifiers. When they flower, the fragrance is a bonus!
Repel bugs naturally with herbs. Basil, mint and rosemary don’t just add a hint of extra kick to your favourite dishes. Grow them for food or use them as bug repellents.
Forget expensive child enrichment centres and create your own children’s toys. Collect some rocks and paint them with pictures of animals, vegetables or food. It is a cost-saving and fun learning experience for both parents and children. Can’t draw? Just do handprints on T-shirts for a fresh, new and personalised look!
Car pool or use public public transportation whenever possible to reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the environment.
Bathe instead of shower to control water usage. Better yet, shower standing in a bucket and save the water for flushing the toilet or cleaning the bathroom.
Reduce paper wastage. Make your own notebook with used printed paper by cutting them into desirable sizes and binding them together.
Use fans instead of air conditioners. Experts believe that you could save at least 1,230 kilowatts per hour or more if you stop using the air conditioner.
Eliminate the paper trail. Go online for banking, news, communications and others.
Green your shopping habits. Paying with credit cards may be more convenient but can lead to impulsive shopping. Paying with cash is ‘psychologically more daunting or painful’, hence helping you shop smart.
Stick to land lines. Cell phones are definitely one of man’s greatest creations. But old models are replaced fast enough to contribute to a huge amount of resource and energy wastage. Free calls that come with the subscription of internet service is cost-saving.
Be creative with recycling. Turn shoeboxes or pretty packaging into stationeries holders or book holders.
Make your own eco-friendly cat litter. Check out http://thegreenists.com/pets on how 30 minutes of effort can help you save three weeks supply of costly and possibly toxic commercial litter.
Adopt instead of buying pets. Visit your local animal shelter centre to adopt a new family instead of supporting your local pet shop for a purebred.
Connect with eco-minded people. Learn new tips on living green or share your own experience with the likeminded through social network networks or local support groups like Centre for Environment, Technology & Development Malaysia (CETDEM).
Hand wash your clothes. Washing your clothes with cold water can help save up to 80 percent of the energy required to wash clothes with the washing machine. If you really have to use the machine, use it a full load instead of washing more times at half loads.
Use a laptop instead of a desktop PC. Laptop uses only 50 percent of the energy consumed by any typical desktop pc.
Choose suppliers who practise the 3Rs, such as suppliers who retrieve their recyclable containers for proper disposal or remanufacturing.
Make your own dumbbells for exercise. Unused plastic bottles can be refilled with water or sand and used as arm weights.
Upcycle discarded wooden boxes. Wine crates made of wood can be upcycled or given a new lease of life by restacking them into simple bookshelves or rack for storing kitchen products.
Turn boring glass jar into chic décor. Cleaned used jar can be reused as storage for stationeries, coins or cookies. You may even wrap it with a personalised knitted cover to make it more chic-looking.
Make scented sachets with wilted herbs. Wilted herbs like rosemary, mints, lavender, thyme or sage can be wrapped in small pieces of fabric and turned into gifts for special occasions.
Do your own landscaping with rocks and driftwood as garden decor. Plant your own grass and trees to gain a sense of ownership and breathe real (not commercial!) life into your garden.
Add the 4th R into your life: Repair. Make an effort to repair any household items which are still usable instead of buying new ones.