How to live green on a budget during pandemic

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Ask Phil Bradford
How to live green on a budget during pandemic
How to live green on a budget during pandemic

Multiple countries around the world are now taking measures to reduce the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic not only affected our natural life but also impacted the social and financial life. However, with severe negative effects on the world economy, the pandemic also has a positive effect on the environment. The reduced economic activity has triggered a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, the world has seen a notable drop in air pollution over the last few months.

Our environment was in a bad shape before the pandemic. But due to the pandemic, nature is regaining its former shape and becoming a little greener. But now as our normal life is about to start again, as well as the economic activities, there are possibilities that the pollution level may rise again and nature may start suffering again. So, apart from recycling waste, what more can you do to make the environment greener and safer for every living being

You may start living Green and spread Green living habits to your close ones by encouraging green sustainable things. But going green can be difficult if you’re on a tight budget as often saving money and buying sustainably can be a bit tricky. This confusion between the “green” option and the more affordable one isn’t limited to grocery shopping or buying clothes. There are multiple things where you may have to choose between the “green” option and the cheapest/easiest one.

Due to the pandemic, people do not have too much money in their wallets, as the increased prices of commodities and job loss made the situation vulnerable. So, before making any financial move you may have to think twice.

But do not worry! Living on a budget while promoting green smart living habits can be possible. There are a few ways to save money on a tight budget as well as encourage green living during this Pandemic situation.

Let’s check out these options below. I have divided them into 4 different categories.

  1. Saving money by saving energy at home
  2. Saving water bill at home
  3. Saving money from the household budget
  4. Reduce holiday debt by going green

Now let’s dig deep and know how to do this effectively.

1) Saving money by saving energy at home

Saving a good amount of money from your energy or utility bill can help you to achieve other financial goals, which you may postpone due to lack of money. Apart from that, saving energy also encourages Green living in a broader sense.

There are a few tricks to lower your energy consumption and initiate green smart living at your home.

a. Switch off your power strip before going outside - You can easily save energy and money from your power bill if you turn off your power strips every time you leave the house! It is a great trick to living green with good savings.
You may not be aware of Phantom load or Vampire Power, which is the consumption of power from outlets when the equipment is in sleep mode but still plugged in. It can consume at least 15% of your power bill. Many electronics and office equipment can consume power even if they are not in use, including computers, printers, phone chargers, etc.

So, to save power and money, you should unplug electronics and appliances when you are not using them. You can make your job easier by installing outlet/power strips. You can turn everything off by flipping a single switch. If you can save 15% of your power bills every month, it will be a great financial help to yourself. You may use that money to fulfill other financial needs such as making insurance premium payments, putting the money towards making payments to credit card debt, or save the money for emergency purposes, whatever is suitable for you.

b. Work mostly on a laptop than your desktop PC -It is simple but effective when you have both the devices at your home. Laptops use an average of 20 to 50 watts of electricity to run, and once fully charged, it can give you a good amount of time to work without plugging it into power. But desktop computers normally use an average of 60 to 200 watts of electricity every time you run them. The main reason for so much power consumption is that desktop PCs have lots of big components which require a lot of power to run, and it doesn't run on batteries.

So, use laptops more if possible, and make sure to unplug your laptop/desktop from the power source when you are away. Not only does this help reduce your energy usage, but also optimize your laptop's battery life.

c. Install outdoor solar lights - Instead of installing electric lighting, you may use solar lights to light the path to your doors. Solar lights can be charged during the day and light up all night. You can even install a solar-powered motion-detecting light for your security!

d. Avoid using a tumble dryer -A standard clothes dryer may consume as much power as a clothes washer, an energy-efficient refrigerator, and dishwasher combined. So, you can avoid that big power consumption just by using the line drying method. You may use lines outside your house and save money from power bills, as well as promote green living through energy conservation.

e. Switch to a renewable energy provider and use energy-efficient appliances-You can opt for power service providers in your neighborhood who are providing renewable and sustainable energy sources. You should also use energy-efficient appliances and equipment in your house that can save power and save your power bill. Energy-efficient lighting, heating, and cooling, may give you the maximum saving from power bills.

2) Saving money by saving water

Just like saving from an energy bill, you can save a lot by saving water and reducing your water bill. The average American water bill is $70.39 per month. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that an average American family uses 300 gallons of water per day. So, when you are living on a budget, reducing power and water bills are the prime things you should look out for.

Tricks to save water and reduce water bill for green living:

a. Wash your dishes with cold water -Try to avoid using hot water to wash your dishes. Coldwater not only cleans your stuff but also saves money in your wallet by saving energy. About 90% of the energy consumed by the dishwasher machine goes towards heating the water. Using cold water washes your dishes and may save you about $60 a year.

b. Turn off the tap while brushing -Turning off the water while brushing your teeth can save you up to 8 gallons of water every day. That’s almost 3,000 gallons a year! So, it's definitely a big step to live green as well as saving water bills.

c. Collect running cold water from your shower -Over 10% of the cold water, while showering, is wasted daily. It happens while people wait for hot water to arrive in the shower. If you collect that excess water in a bucket and use it for other purposes such as watering the plants, washing the car, cleaning the toilet, etc. This is one of the best ways to save money on a tight budget by reducing water consumption.

d. Save water while taking showers - If you want to save water while bathing, make sure you use a shower over a bath. The average 8-minute shower consumes only 60 liters of hot water per month.

e. Install a water meter -When you're paying your utility provider's water bill, you must know how much water you use on average every month. So, make sure you install a water meter at your place to get the exact calculation.

3) Saving money from the household budget

This is the most important part of post-pandemic green living on a budget. Due to job loss and many other related factors, people are having financial hardships and falling into debt. To maintain a decent lifestyle and to fulfill the necessities, they are taking out loans, using credit cards, and incurring debts in many other ways. As the economy is still weak and most of the people do not have a steady income, modifying the household budget can be the most useful way to manage this situation. People need to live green, pay off debts, and live their lives within a tight budget, properly.

How to make this happen? Let’s find out:

a. Use online banking -Online banking can help you to save time, stamps, and gas money. Online banking is a much secure process and eco-friendly because of less paper wastage.

b. Prepare a full grocery list and give time to set the meal plan -You must understand what you need for groceries and what food you want to prepare for the entire week. The more time you provide for shopping and meal preparation, the more green you can be, and along with saving more.

You may engage your five hours a week to shop, plan menu, freeze leftovers and consume them, along with cleaning your fridge. This way you can estimate what you have left, and how much you need to buy. Check online recipes for the best nutritious food that requires limited items to make.

Make your grocery list as specific as possible, by adding only ingredients for dishes you want to make. At the end of the month you may save at least 10% of your food cost, and also reduce waste, which is a good sign of money saving and green living!

c. Reduce your meat consumption - You should avoid buying meat for the time being and focus on other protein-rich plant options. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint!

If people around the world avoid meat or beef and consume other sources of protein (legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, etc.), global food-related greenhouse gas emissions would reduce by 25%. Apart from that buying meat regularly can be costlier than buying green veggies, and also not that good for your health.

d. Buy things second-hand -Avoid buying brand new products, and go for second-hand items. It can save a lot from your paycheck and also reduce wastage. Furniture, clothing, electronics, you can get almost everything second hand, and in good shape.

e. Buy local cheese -Local cheese is fresher and also cheaper than packaged cheese. Besides, local organic cheese is a natural source of highly bioavailable calcium and magnesium, with vitamins A, D3, and K2.

So, you should avoid buying expensive packaged cheese which is also not good for health.

f. Buy recycled paper products - You may use recycled toilet paper, computer paper, and other paper products instead of virgin paper reels. This way you may reduce tons of chlorine pollution from the bleaching process, and save millions of trees and gallons of water.

Another benefit of using recycled paper is you can buy them at a cheaper price. So, it can help save money from your household monthly budget.

g. Read your favorite newspaper or magazine online - A newspaper or magazine is an essential part of our daily life. But once read, those newspapers and magazines are normally thrown as waste. To stop that wastage you may try digital versions of the newspapers and magazines. Reading them online saves tons of trees, energy, and fuel.

Apart from that, you can save a good amount of money from your monthly budget if you stop buying physical copies of newspapers or magazines.

h. Drive less if possible -You should drive less as much as possible. This way not only you can reduce the cost of fuel, but also cut down on emissions, and reduce pollution. Try walking or biking to your workplaces and opt for carpooling when you need to go further.

i. Start your garden to reduce grocery cost - If you're looking for a money-saving tip from the grocery budget and to ensure that you are having organic food, without pesticides/other chemicals, you should start your garden. If you don't have the space for it, you may visit a local community garden where you can plant.

After using these methods you may have a decent saving from your monthly household budget. Use that money wisely! It is suggested that any good amount saved should be first used to consolidate debts, make payments to outstanding bills, or saved for emergencies.

4. Reduce holiday debt by going green

Holiday debt is one of the biggest reasons for which people experience financial difficulties at the very beginning of a new year! For paying off holiday debt, people opt for more debts such as payday loans, cash advances, etc. and fall deeper into that ever-growing debt trap.

During this holiday season 2020, it will be quite difficult for a common consumer to manage expenses. Due to the pandemic situation, the economy is in a vulnerable state, people are jobless, or have limited money in their hands. So, to manage the holiday expenses, people might depend on their credit cards, or take out short term cash loans/payday loans, and start spending. So, there’s a chance to increase the holiday debt for every consumer, more than the last year.

Green smart living isn’t directly related to holiday debt. But, by adapting some green living ideas you may be able to reduce holiday debt and celebrate holidays within a budget.

Check out these green gift and decoration ideas that can help you to reduce holiday debt:

a. Avoid big brands -While buying gifts for holidays, you should choose suitable gifts for your loved ones, not those with big branded shop tags. Try to avoid the supermarket and big brand stores while buying Christmas gifts. Remember cheap gifts are not always bad. You should buy as per your affordability.

b. Search for unique and durable gifts -You should choose gifts that are durable and unique. A good quality gift with good longevity can be the best gift for this holiday.

You can buy second-hand books, antiques, second-hand gadgets, solar-powered lamps, eco-friendly toys, old gramophone record players, or a money plant. Choose gifts that are unique and pocket-friendly. The more you can save, the less you have to pay as holiday debt.

c. Make DIY gift cards -Be creative and make gift cards for Christmas. DIY gift cards are cheaper than expensive cards from shops; so they can help you save you a good amounty. Your handmade cards will carry a personalized touch to your friends and relatives, making them feel special and happy. It will also help you to reduce the amount of holiday debt.

d. Call a potluck party instead of dining out -This is one of the best ways to save money from holiday debt. During Christmas, it is quite common that people invite their loved ones to a party. Mostly those parties are organized at expensive restaurants where everybody gathers. This is one of the biggest reasons for increasing holiday credit card debt.

Instead of spending time at a restaurant, you may call for a potluck party at home and enjoy a variety of food together with your friends. And guess what! It won’t make a hole in your wallet at all.

However, it is better to avoid large gatherings this time to stay safe.

e. Grow a Christmas tree on your own - For this you have to plan one year ahead. Plastic Christmas trees last for a long time, but they will also lose their color and glamor over time. Apart from that, the wastage of plastic is harmful to nature.

But buying a fully grown Christmas tree is also expensive. For that reason, it is better to plant a few Christmas trees in your garden and wait for a year. You can have one for yourself and can sell other well-grown trees for a handsome amount of money.

f. Use decorations from the previous year - No need to buy new decorations this year. This Christmas you can work on some Christmas budgeting and financial planning to reduce the costs. Use old decoration materials and finish the job. If required, prepare new decoration items from the waste materials by recycling them.

Once the holiday season is over, you may have to think about how to pay off holiday debt along with managing your finances. For that, you may use some DIY methods to pay off your bills and get out of debt faster. If you experience difficulties managing debts, you may opt for options like a debt consolidation program or debt settlement program to get out of holiday debts once and for all.

Last Updated on: Wed, 16 Dec 2020

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