Want to be more eco-friendly – and save money?

Worries about the environment have taken a back seat to the Covid crisis. But pollution, global warming and caring for our planet remain problems we need to answer.

The good news is that saving the planet could mean saving the scarcest resource of all – our money.

So how can we make our money do more for us and the planet at the same time?

Cut down on meat

Most of us enjoy a good roast, but the animal industry has huge carbon emissions. Raising an animal means using huge quantities of water and feed. Good quality meat is expensive, and any other kind might have you asking whether it is healthy enough for your family.

So, cutting down meat consumption could be at the top of your list. You don’t have to go vegan overnight. Instead, introduce a meatless meal once a week – and as you and your family start to discover how good they can be, you can find that you are all looking forward to meatless dinners.

You can find some tasty vegetarian dishes on the BBC food website, while many supermarkets like Tesco not only have vegetarian recipes, they let you order the ingredients too.

Say no to plastic

Plastic is everywhere. It’s in packaging, in gadgets and even cosmetics. If it doesn’t end up as landfill or being incinerated where it can release dangerous compounds into the atmosphere, it can end up in the oceans.

We’ve all seen the damage to marine wildlife cause by plastic bags – which animals mistake for jellyfish, and eat. Cutting down plastic bag use is simple. Just take a shopping bag along when you go to the supermarket, and you avoid paying the governments plastic bag tax as well as help the planet. The tax is only 5p a bag, but you might use three or four bags on your weekly shop, and some stores have put the cost up higher still.

But it is not just the bags that use plastic. If you buy bottled water you are contributing to a mountain of plastic waste. If you really can’t drink the water out of your tap, consider a water filter in your kitchen. Instead of paying 50p a litre or more for your water, the actual cost falls so low it’s almost impossible to calculate, and the only thing you will pay is for the filter pads.

If you like to carry water with you, get a reusable water bottle and get into the habit of filling it up and taking it with you before you leave the house.

Other ways to cut plastic use include buying fruit and vegetables loose instead of in pre-packaged bags. You can check for damage and freshness and get exactly the quantity you need – and pay less too.

Look at the refill shops that are springing up across the country. You take in an empty container, and get it refilled with everything from coffee and groceries to cleaning products.

Cut down on water

There should never be a shortage of water in the UK – we live on a rainy island after all. But water has to be pumped and purified, and very often heated, taking energy and money. Cutting down use of cold and hot water can mean smaller bills and a reduced carbon footprint.

All you need is a conscious effort to do things like take shorter showers (don’t even think about baths) not leaving the tap running when cleaning your teeth and filling a washing up bowl instead of just running the tap.

Don’t use a hose to water your garden. Use a water butt to store rainwater, and a watering can on any special plants. Your lawn and most ordinary plants will manage very well by themselves.

Mind how you go

We love the convenience of our cars, but the cost of fuel, insurance and parking is bad for our budgets, while the pollution is bad for our health and our environment.

Walking, cycling, or using public transport to get around saves money, congestion and pollution. But if they are not practical you could also look into whether your company has a carpooling scheme or look at car sharing clubs.

This is not a complete list – but remember, whenever you grow your own vegetables, repair rather than replace an appliance or remodel your old clothes, you are doing your bit for the planet as well as your budget!

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