Monique Lloyd is the assistant branch manager at Bank Australia’s flagship branch in Kew, Melbourne. And when it comes to saving ethically, she’s something of an expert. Here, she shares her top tips for saving money and the environment at the same time.
When I started working with Bank Australia ten years ago, I would rarely get asked about where a customer’s money goes. Now it’s one of the main questions I field on a daily basis. I love it. It proves to me that there’s a collective shift going on, and that people are becoming more aware and concerned about where every dollar they spend (or don’t spend!) is going.
But there’s still a bit of a misconception that ‘doing good’ has to be expensive, or that it takes a lot of money to really make a meaningful impact, and that’s simply not the case. In fact, not only does doing good not have to cost a penny, it can – gasp! – actually save you money.
And while making changes can be a daunting prospect, there’s no need to feel like you need to do everything at once. Start small, change one thing at a time, and you’ll be saving dollars (and the planet!) in no time.
1. Make your coffee at home
If you make a conscious effort to make your coffee at home instead of buying out, there’s a saving right there. Not only that, but you can make sure you buy a quality, fair trade brand of coffee and you can cut down on all the wastage associated with getting takeaway coffees. And of course, if you just can’t face cutting down on your café-quality flat white, make sure you take a KeepCup. A lot of cafés now provide discounts for customers who use them, and you’ll still be helping cut down on unnecessary disposable cup wastage.
2. Go meat-free on Mondays (or any day)
Of course, you could always go full vegetarian or vegan, but for those who don’t want to or can’t, simply cutting out some meat from your diet and buying less meat is a positive step. I won’t dig into all the ways that cutting out meat is good for the environment, but there are a lot. Cutting out meat is a great way to save money on your grocery bill, and it gives you more money to put towards buying higher-quality meat products when you do buy meat too.
3. Don’t forget about the money you’re not spending
When it comes to ‘doing good’, most people tend to automatically think about where they’re spending their money. But the money you’re not spending can have a huge impact too. By way of completely random example*: if your money is sitting in the accounts of institutions that don’t invest in fossil fuels, then you know your money isn’t being used to invest in fossil fuels either. Every dollar you have in any account is supporting what those organisations are investing in.
*OK, not completely random.
4. Give your time
When it comes to giving to charity, one of the most effective things you can donate is your time. It doesn’t cost a penny, and there are hundreds of good causes out there who could use an extra pair of hands on any given day. If you can volunteer, do. You’ll be safe with the knowledge that your work is going directly towards making a difference. Lots of workplaces have volunteer programs and provide volunteer leave. If yours doesn’t, have that conversation with your boss, and try and get your colleagues on side. That’s how change happens.
5. Eat seasonally and locally
If you eat food that’s in season, you’ll generally get it for a much cheaper price and it’ll usually taste better too. Not only that, you’re also cutting out on the costs (monetary and environmental) associated with the transport and storage of out-of-season or important items.
6. Walk! Ride! Run!
It’s good for you, it’s going to save fuel, it’s going to save money, it’s going to save maintenance on your car – if you can walk, cycle, run or jog to work, then do! Sometimes it’s even faster than driving or public transport. It once took me 50 minutes to walk to work and an hour and a half to drive home the same day because I was sitting in traffic. Where’s the sense in that?
7. Get rid of your clothes dryer
Washing your clothes in cold water and drying on the line means amazing energy savings. You’ll be saving money on your electric bill, saving energy, and your clothes will last longer too.
8. Get a free energy audit
Most local councils and energy companies can come out and do a free energy audit for you. They’ll monitor your energy usage and let you know where you’re spending (or wasting) the most. In some cases, they’ll even be able to provide discounts for energy-saving devices, and they’ll be able to direct you to the best places to get good deals on higher-rated appliances. Local councils and utility companies can actually provide a heap of stuff to help save you money and reduce the amount energy you are consuming. You just have to ask.
9. Repair, don’t replace
Don’t just ditch something if it isn’t working quite right, has a tear, or appears to be broken. If it’s fixable, take the time to fix it! Fixing things rather than buying new is a great way to save money and extend the life of your belongings. The cost of repairing is usually far less than the cost of replacing, and repairing means you won’t be creating any unnecessary waste. Some sustainable companies, like Melbourne’s A.BCH clothing label, are now even offering classes on how their customers can help care for their purchases so they don’t ever wind up in landfill. And if an item really is a lost cause, give it to an op-shop, don’t throw it out. You never know who might be able to make use of it.
10. Borrow before you buy
Before you buy any material goods – whether clothes, household appliances or anything else – always consider whether or not you can rent or borrow something before you buy it. Renting often means you’ll be able to afford better or higher-quality items for less, and you won’t be contributing to unnecessary waste.
11. Take away with your own containers
Take away and food delivery apps are all the rage, but while they’re nice and convenient, they also create a not-so-nice-and-convenient amount of waste. If you’re able to order and pick-up in person, ask a business if you’re able to use your own container. This might not be a common practice yet, but it’s by taking the initiative and suggesting things like this that change begins to happen. If other customers see you using your own container, they may do the same next time, and the business owner might consider how they can incorporate reusable containers into their business. Every little bit really does help.