Life Wellbeing How to save the planet (without really trying)
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How to save the planet (without really trying)

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1. Wash (less) and wear

Did you know up to 20% of water used in the home is used in the laundry? And, according to some researchers, that we are washing clothes much more than necessary? Sure, after those long, hot days spent outdoors, your clothes might get stinky, but if your idea of a summer holiday is more about lounging about with a good book (or you’re stuck behind a desk in an air-conditioned office), there’s probably no need to wash anything but your smalls after a single wear. Get into the habit of airing clothes before you put them back in the wardrobe rather than chucking them into the laundry basket after one outing and you’ll save water, detergent, electricity and money while extending the life of your clothes (washing and drying weakens textile fibres, so the less you do it, the better). Best of all, you win back the time you’d usually spend loading and unloading the washing machine, pegging things out on the line or throwing them into the drier, and then ironing and folding clothes once they’re dry.
You can find more water saving tips here.

2. Go meat-free once a week
If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of vegetarianism, going meat-free one day a week probably won’t be too tricky. But even if you’re a confirmed carnivore, why not try going veggie every seven days? There’s growing evidence that eating less meat is good for your health, and the staggering amount of resources needed to grow animals of all kinds (think about the water, fertiliser, pesticide, transport and land needed just to grow the grain that feeds livestock, then add the methane emissions associated with cows, along with the carbon emissions from processing and transporting meat and you’ll start to get the picture) also provide food for thought. Add that to the price of flesh, and you have a few very good reasons to turn to tofu occasionally.

3. Leave the car at home
A car was once a symbol of freedom, but with the increase of traffic on our roads and petrol prices heading ever skyward, these days it can often seem more like a trap. If you’ve noticed the time needed for your daily commute growing longer and longer, check out the public transport options in your area or research the bike trails – either option will save you money on petrol and car maintenance and cut carbon emissions. Getting on your bike will quite possibly lower your stress levels while making you fitter, so you can ditch the pricey gym membership too. But wait, there’s more when it comes to saving money – with the number of car share companies around these days, selling the car for good could be a possibility, meaning you only pay for a car when you really need it.

4. Recycle right
It’s not exactly sexy, but sorting out your rubbish can be quite rewarding – literally. Log your recycling efforts and get paid for it by signing up at Green Money, which offers a points scheme with various retailers. Before you do, though, get your recycling right – many items that previously went into landfill can now be used again, although it may depend where you live and what your council offers. In Victoria, visit Get It Right on Bin Night ; elsewhere try Recycling Near You or contact your council.

5. Buy super local
While it’s great being able to buy apples and avocados year-round at the supermarket, it’s not really what nature intended. Eating seasonally and locally – that is, eating only what’s being harvested in your local area at any given time – saves on transport and storage costs, with the added bonus of supporting local farmers and producers. Farmers’ markets are everywhere these days, so make them a part of your weekend, or sign up to have a fruit and veggie box delivered regularly to your door. Some suburbs have cooperatives that order in bulk, with members taking it in turns to sort and deliver orders – a great chance to save money, eat healthier and make friends with the people in your community: search “veggie delivery” in your local area for details.

Leeyong Soo is a freelance writer and blogger.

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