Save Money, Save The Planet: How You Can Do Both At Once

Most of the time, you hear that being 'green' and 'eco-friendly' has to cost more, that it's a lifestyle just for people who have extra money to throw around. Which can definitely be true, but not always. Here are the things you can be doing that are both planet loving AND help your bank account, whether that's in the short or long term.

Buy quality over quantity

Let me just flag right here right now that this tip is in the Barefoot Investor. As in that finance guy who wrote a finance book that's become like a religion for some Australians. If you've ever heard someone yelling at their friend as they transfer money on a Saturday night in front of the bar - "don't worry, I'm just transferring from my splurge account!", they're part of the Barefoot Investor cult.

So this guy, in the chapter of the book where he calls himself an environmentalist, recommends that you stop buying stuff that you don't really need. Did you know that on average, an item will last only 6 months after the time that it's bought before it ends up in landfill? Not only is that hurting the environment, it's hurting us. Think of all the things you could've been doing instead of working to pay for that top you never wore. Maybe you could have had lunch with your Mum, or spent more time with a friend visiting from overseas.

Spend on the things that are good quality, that you know you're going to love forever, that will last almost forever too. If you can't see yourself moving overseas in the next few years and you're in the market for a new mattress, don't settle on the $100 one you'll have to replace with a $900 one when your back goes bad. Buy the good one, and invest in that mattress protector that will help it last for the next two decades, and save yourself hundreds on a mattress in the long run. I did. And I know that even if I ever do move away, I could tell my friends and fam that I was leaving and people would have dibs on that mattress in seconds.

If you're looking at clothes, don't buy anything that looks like it could have a hole in it after the first wash. Spend on quality items that have been carefully made, and even better, made by people who are being properly paid. And make sure you love them with every fibre of your being, not just for the wedding on Saturday. (Borrow something for that!).

Look in unexpected places

Okay I hear you, we can't all afford to have a wardrobe full of ethically and sustainably made $300 dresses. I find a lot of my things in opshops. For the same amount of money you'd spend in H&M buying a jumper that's going to pill after the first wash, you could probably buy something that's 100% wool from the opshop. In fact, one of our content creator's success rate doing this is so high that the saying "it's wool, from the opshop!" has become a thing in the 1 Million Women office.

And you're also never too old for hand-me-downs! Make it clear to people that if they're sick of their clothes, you'll probably love them. One of my favourite tops, and a favourite dress of mine is from my partner's mum, who got it from her friend. I've even scored clothes by going through the piles my friends were planning to throw out.

And that's just clothes.

Need pots and pans, or an entire outdoor dining set? You can get them for free. If you're in Australia, find out when the next council clean up is happening near you, hire a van, grab a friend who owes you a favour and go hunting. Have an idea about what you really need so you don't end up picking up anything you'll never use or never fix that's just going to clutter up your space. You probably won't tick off every box doing this, so next step would be to check out Gumtree, Craigs List, Facebook Marketplace or similar. You can get quality couches for $20 - they might not fit your colour scheme exactly, but you can always tie your mismatched couch back in with a throw or sheet covering it. Just make sure you know what questions you need to ask, particularly when you're buying electronics, and test everything out before you hand over your cash.

And again - think about whether you even need that thing in your home! If it's not something you're going to be using at least weekly, it's probably something you could rent, saving yourself the money and the space, and saving the planet from having one less big piece of plastic that's sitting around gathering dust while it waits to go to landfill.

Superannuation, super important, super confusing.

Don't think you can just quit reading this blog now because 'eh super doesn't apply to me right now'. If you care about your money - and we all should - super is super important.

Super funds are investing OUR money into various industries. In fact, 55% of super funds invest in fossil fuels, while only 2% invest in renewable energy solutions. So check in with your super fund and ask them what their policy is when it comes to fossil fuels and other things you don't want your money going towards.

At 1 Million Women, we all have our super with Australian Ethical Super. They're proven to have competitive returns, and best of all, they invest in things we care about. We recently found out that one of the companies they invest in collects discarded fishing nets, that would otherwise damage our oceans and marine life, and turns it into carpet!

We can't depend on anyone but ourselves to provide the money for us to live the way we want to after we retire. On average, women need to make sure we'll have $40,000 per year, every year after we retire, or if we're in a couple, $60,000 between two. You can use this calculator to check if you're on track to having enough here.

DIY Till I Dye

So let's backtrack to the part where I was saying you should scour through things that have been thrown out at council cleanups. If you're crafty, this could be a great place to find the things you sort of want, but in the wrong colour. Or maybe it's an incredible old wardrobe that needs a little bit of sanding and oil? DIY turns the things you kinda want into the things you do want. Google and *cough* our blog *cough* are your friends here. So is your local Repair Cafe! Find out if you've got one nearby, they'll show you how to make that wardrobe beautiful again, and can maybe even help you fix your broken microwave while you're at it, for cheap!

You can also DIY a lot of your own cosmetics, as well as cleaning products. You'll find a lot of the time that a key ingredient in all of these is bicarb soda. You can use it in things like deodorant and toothpaste, or when you're cleaning. When you're making these things yourself, you're not only saving a ton of money because all you need is a jar of coconut oil, a $2 box of bicarb and a $3 bottle of vinegar, you're also saving the planet from the fancy plastic packaging that chemicals and cosmetics come in. Here's a video that lists all the different uses for bicarb and vinegar in your house, here's how to make your own dry shampoo from cornstarch for a fraction of the price of regular dry shampoo, and here's how to make your own deodorant. You could even reduce some of the waste in the world by using this recipe to make your own coffee scrub. It's a personal fave. And that's just the start!

So we get it, the bulk store prices might be getting you down, or maybe you can't afford to opt for renewable energy to power your house over coal fired power. But we can do all of these other things and still have a huge impact in curbing fast fashion and all of the negatives that come with it, and fighting the huge waste problems we have here in developed countries. Not to mention that you'll soon be able to power your house with renewable energy when all of our money is invested in that instead of fossil fuels! So get on it, look into that super, make the switch for the planet if you need to, and keep yourself financially winning all the while!

Read this next: Go For A Shopping Excursion In Your Friend's Wardrobe!

[Images: Shutterstock, Unsplash]


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