Save Money By Being Green!

Updated on 16 December 2008 | 1 Comment

Doing your bit for the environment can mean saving cash, too -- why not try these tips?

It would be hard to have missed the recent report in the news from the Local Government Association (LGA) that has branded Britain the dustbin of Europe.

According to its figures, we dump around 27m tonnes of household waste into landfill each year, 7m tonnes more than any other EU country, and the equivalent of almost half a tonne for every home in the country. In contrast, Germany (with a population 25% bigger than the UK) disposes of 10m tonnes of waste in this way, each year.

As a result, the LGA has launched a War on Waste campaign, with the aim of highlighting the fact that there needs to be a radical overhaul of the way rubbish is thrown away in the UK.

Of course, we can all do our bit by reducing waste, re-using where possible and recycling what we can as well as trying to be energy efficient. However, did you realise that by doing so, you could save yourself a few quid, too? Here are five tips to try:

1. Nappies

Figures from reveal that we throw away a whopping 3 billion disposable nappies in the UK each year, 90% of which end up in landfill. However, according to the Women's Environmental network, you can kit out a baby in washable nappies for as little as £50, and save, on average, £500 on the cost of keeping a baby in nappies -- this takes into account initial costs, washing and detergent. Check out their cost comparison figures here.

On top of that, many local councils promote the use of washable nappies by offering subsidies worth up to £50 towards the cost.

Once you've bought the nappies and wraps, they can be used for any subsequent children very cheaply. And if you don't fancy the extra washing, there are a number of companies offering nappy laundering services. If you're interested in switching but concerned your origami skills aren't up to much, don't worry -- modern washable nappies are shaped and very easy to use (I should know as we use them on our daughter!). Find out more from the Real Nappy Campaign, and The Nappy Lady websites.

2. Travel

Although many of us complain that our cars cost us a fortune, very few of us take the trouble to lift/car share. According to motor insurer Zurich, two thirds (68%) of parents admitted never sharing school run lifts with other parents, with just one in twenty (5%) doing so on a regular basis. And more than half of commuters (59%) admitted driving otherwise empty cars to work each day, with just five per cent regularly lift sharing.

However, lift sharing can potentially save hundreds of pounds each year. Sharing your driving requirements on the commute or school run can significantly cut petrol costs, reduce wear and tear on your car, and, by helping to keep your mileage down you can save money on your motor insurance, too.

What's more, if you pay to park at your workplace you'll be saving money here, too. Plus car sharing reduces congestion and is more environmentally friendly. If you don't know anyone locally to share with, check out sites as to get in touch with other drivers and passengers.

Car Rental

If, like a large number of UK households, you have two cars, could you give one up? Try adding up all of the costs involved in owning that second car: insurance, tax, MOT, garage bills etc. Now, if you work this out as a weekly/monthly cost, are you getting your money's worth -- especially when you consider depreciation?

Could even the occasional taxi trip cover your needs much more cheaply? Occasional car rental can be a good alternative and comes with the flexibility of being able to use a larger vehicle, should the need arise.

Alternatively, why not consider using a car club? These schemes allow you to rent vehicles on an hourly basis and can save a fortune when compared to the price of owning a car.

If your travel needs are regular trips to shops or to see friends, why not consider sharing journeys with friends and neighbours or using public transport? And if you can get to where you want to go by walking or cycling you'll be getting exercise, too -- so you could save even more money by cancelling that gym membership!

3. Energy Saving

An easy way to save money is to reduce your energy usage. Some top tips from Friends of the Earth include:

  1. Turn down your thermostat by 1ºC to save up to £30/year
  2. Turn down the thermostat on your hot water tank to 60ºC to save up to £10/year.
  3. Switching off appliances rather than leaving them on standby can save up to £11/year.
  4. Unplug equipment when fully charged or it will continue to draw electricity.
  5. Put a lid on saucepans so that the contents heat more quickly, and you use less energy.
  6. Washing at 30ºC rather than normal temperature means you use around 40% less electricity.
  7. Only boil as much water as you need. According to Scottish Power, overfilling kettles wastes enough energy in a week to light a house for a day, or run a TV set for 26 hours.

Energy Saving Lightbulbs

And don't forget to use energy saving light bulbs, where possible. They cost a bit more but, according to the Energy Saving Trust, changing just one bulb can reduce your lighting costs by up to £9/year (£100 over the lifetime of the bulb) and they last up to 12 times longer, too. In fact, Scottish Power reckons that, if every household in the UK fitted just one of these light bulbs, enough electricity would be saved to power lighting in three million homes for a year!

What's more, they now come in all shapes and sizes so you're bound to find one that suits your needs. Check out mkneen's post on the Money Saving Tips board to find out how much he's calculated he'll save in a year from swapping the bulbs in his home.

4. Books

Instead of buying that book you have your eye on, why not re-discover the library and borrow it, instead? Not only will you save the money, you'll reduce your storage requirements at home, too. And while you're at it, check out the DVDs and computer games stocked, too -- you can usually borrow these for a nominal fee, saving a fortune on buying them new; fantastic if you'd only watch the film or play the game once, anyway.

If getting to the library is more trouble than it's worth, check out sites such as ReadItSwapIt -- it allows you to swap the books you've already read for others; all you pay is the postage.

And if your children have books they no longer read, drop them off at your local Early Learning Centre before the end of January - the books will be given to local children that need them, and you'll be given a 20% off voucher to be used against toy and game purchases in February.

5. Miscellaneous

And there is a wealth of other ways to re-use and recycle objects around the home that can make you money, too:

Mobile Phones

Old working mobile phones can be sold to companies to be used elsewhere. Envirofone, for example, will offer a cash value (depending on the make and model of your phone) or alternatively you can opt for slightly more in the form of Argos credit -- plus it will make a donation to charity. My old Motorola V600 is worth £8.46, for example, or £9.72 in Argos credit, but some newer phones can be worth up to £100.

Once you've agreed a deal you will be sent a postage paid jiffy bag to send the phone and charger to them in. Other companies offering a similar service include Mopay and Mobile2Cash.

Green Clubcard points

If you shop regularly at Tesco, you'll earn one green Clubcard point for every bag you re-use.


If you regularly buy bags of compost from garden centres, you can save a fortune by making your own.

Compost bins can often be purchased from your local council at a highly subsidised price, or even for free (my council offers a £30 compost bin for £5, for example). Simply fill it with those vegetable peelings, grass cuttings, leaves and tea bags and before you know it you'll have ready made compost - find out more at the GardenOrganic site. At around £2.50 for a bag at the garden centre, you could save a fair amount of cash!

So there you have it, a number of ways to be greener that can save you money, too. If you have more ideas, why not post them on our Money Saving Tips or Environmental Living-Green Fools boards?

More: Two Gas And Electric Shocks!


Be the first to comment

Do you want to comment on this article? You need to be signed in for this feature

Copyright © All rights reserved.