Mean and Green: saving money with an eco-friendly lifestyle

Cutting back on meat

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I intend to eat a lot less meat this year. This makes financial sense and brings certain health benefits, but my main reason for doing it is that meat production is really bad for the environment. I found this on Wikipedia:

The 2006 report Livestock’s Long Shadow, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, states that “the livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, while in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution.”

Being green saves money

Thinking about this has made me reconsider how many other activities that save money are also greener, and vice versa. These are some that we already do:

Growing ourown fruit and veg, mainly organically (I have given into the odd slug pellet in a rage at having my efforts decimated by the little blighters)
Making ourown compost
Turning off lights and electrical appliances when not in use
Wearing an extra jumper rather than turning on the heating
Insulating the house
Driving carefully – boy/girl racers use more fuel and wear their vehicles out more quickly
Not buying bottled water – when this happens (very occasionally), we reuse the bottles for months before recycling
Not wasting food, including leftovers. Food production doesn’t just cost money – think of the transportation, packaging, water and chemicals used during production, etc.
Buying second hand – clothes, furniture, tools. Whatever we can find – this saves so much money and these items should be reused.
It is rare for us to buy new electrical appliances, but when we do we make sure they are triple A rated for energy and water use. This saves money in the long run.
Collecting water in water butts for the garden. We are not on a meter yet but as our household reduces in size I think it may save money and make us think about the water we use.
Reusing envelopes and wrapping paper
Reusing old bread bags to pack sandwiches
Using cereal boxes and scrap paper from work to write shopping lists on
Repairing rather than replacing clothes and household items

Eco-friendly lifestyle

I am so far from perfect when it comes to living an eco-friendly lifestyle though. I would love to only buy organic but unfortunately my budget doesn’t allow for this. I do it when I can. I would also like to only buy fruit and veg in season and try to do this when I can but sometimes will go for a bargain whatever. I try to buy food with fewer food miles, but my restricted budget means that most of the time I shop in Aldi and their produce is often imported.

This year I will be changing my car and going for a much smaller one that is more economical and greener to run as it will use a lot less fuel. In an ideal world I would walk/cycle/use public transport to get to work, but in the real one I live too far to walk and cycle and would have to get two buses, which would add hours to my working day. I want an eco-friendly lifestyle but still have time to enjoy it.

We also want to look again at whether we can get solar panels on the roof without it costing us anything. There are various schemes about that allow you to pay for the panels with the money you make from selling your excess power back to the grid but we want to research the best deal. There are some charlatans out there!!

I expect a lot of you do all this and more. What are your eco-friendly tips that also save money?

13 thoughts on “Mean and Green: saving money with an eco-friendly lifestyle

  1. I am aiming, not resolving, to do some of the things you have listed. I find if you write things down it can make them more real and possible so I think I will do the same. Yes thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Living in coastal CA, we’ve done nearly all of what you do for quite a number of years. The drought meant no garden in 2015 and I had to let my beds sit with the established herbs only (water restrictions). We had to buy bottled water along with everyone else in the community when our water lines got algae in them making the water undrinkable, but we refilled them from a machine outside of the grocers for months. Most folks don’t know that the components used in smart phones, tablets, laptops and such have some of the most toxic and polluting manufacturing processes in the world. Electronic fabrication uses heavy metals and organic solvents that are seriously dangerous… far worse than other industries like food or even plastics. In CA, all electronics no longer in use must be disposed of at “hazardous waste” sites that are part of the refuse handling. We have huge bins for yard waste, large bins for recyclable materials and small bins for trash that are picked up every week, but hazardous waste is up to the consumer to drop off and it includes everything from dead batteries to electronics and appliances. My goal is to NOT own more of those things than we actually need.

  3. P.S. Use care with store bought, organically grown produce, especially greens or anything you won’t be peeling. Soak/wash the produce in water with added salt or vinegar to help kill bacteria. Organic farmers use a lot of manures as fertilizer and e coli contamination happens. While watching Downton Abbey on Sunday night, I was hit with some of the worst food poisoning I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was a long, awful night and we weren’t sure if I’d have to go to the hospital. I probably should have. Still on only clear liquids today.

  4. We gave up red meat two years ago and eat only poultry and fish which we eat sparingly. We save tons of money, are healthier, and as you stated, have had (hopefully) a positive impact on the environment. We would like to become vegetarians, but every time we try it we get tired from the lack of protein. Maybe one day.

  5. If you have netflix (or just have a look online), watch a film called cowpiracy! It’s about eating less meat and how animal farming affects the environment. Very enlightening!

    best of luck with your plans

  6. Well, we grow our own vegetables (as many as we can) and cook meals based on what we have grown. A water tank collects our water that is piped throughout the house, except the kitchen and bathroom sink. Panels on the roof generate power, which feeds into grid and gives us a little passive income plus own power during daylight. We have one electric bike that transports my husband to and from work daily (yes, even in inclement weather), a 55km round trip. My car is a little thing that uses little petrol. We recycle, re-use, re-purpose where possible and do our best not waste. Shopping is now only for essentials and what is purchased is used to its fullest. Don’t own a flat screen TV — the old ones are still work. With all this, we could still do more and I am always on the look out for ideas.

  7. I think you may have missed the boat on solar panels! 🙁 Didn’t the government just take away the tariff subsidies which now makes it not worth the cost of getting them? We got ours in August as the announcement was ‘imminent’ back then.
    I plan my meals on a monthly basis (just repeat the same plan each month) and barring any impromptu trips to Burger King or Fish & Chips (usually once a month for each) I only have 4 meat meals a month!! Another 9 are made with Quorn and 3 with veggie sausages! The rest are pizza/pasta dishes, veggie burgers (for me anyway), omelettes and quiches. 🙂

  8. Certain Sainsburys basic lines are fairtrade whereas Tesco everyday isn’t. It’s a small but budget friendly change I’ve implemented

  9. If you live in a house with the same number or more bedrooms as residents, it should save you money to have a water meter.

  10. As a beef producer I say buy local from farmers and producers. You’d be better cutting down the air miles on imported fruit and veg than avoiding British beef and poultry etc. But each their own though and please don’t take offence, just giving my slant on it as an family run beef farmer, rearing cattle on natural grass.Laura x

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