Do your part to save the earth, and you may just be saving money, too.
Save the earth and save money? If it sounds too good to be true, well, it really isn’t. Stephen Hawking had warned that our planet is going to be destroyed in the next millennia. Among causes of our downfall, climate change is high on the list.
For some perspective, let’s look right here in our backyard. According to a report by The Straits Times, Singapore’s only landfill, The Semakau Landfill, will run out of space at an even quicker pace if people continue to generate waste at the current rate.
You probably already know that Singapore’s integrated solid waste management system focuses on the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) – and you can definitely the same 3Rs into your daily life. Do your part, take better care of our environment — and save a few bucks while you’re at it. Win-win.
Reduce: Consume Less (and Share More)
This is the first and most basic step to saving the earth and money. The logic is simple: Less is more. The less you consume, the more you save.
Start by making a conscious effort to take stock of what you buy and use. From household products, clothes, food to energy and fuel – how can you reduce consumption and wastage?
Try to differentiate your needs from your wants, and hold off “want” purchases by thinking twice, or thrice. But wait, what are wants? Well, if you can live without it, it’s a want you don’t need. Simple, right?
Re-use (and Re-purpose Everything)
When it comes to re-using and re-purposing items, it’s a matter of creativity and thinking outside the box.
Studies have shown that the environmental payoff for re-purposing electronics is significant, and the monetary rewards could add up to a treat, like a latte or a nice meal. Your neighbourhood karang guni (rag-and-bone man) will thank you, too.
Another option is to take a look at what you already have and try to envision what it can be given a second life. For instance, you can fashion a jewellery organiser from a bulletin board, mirrors from old rackets, a storage unit from a mini fridge, wall hooks from utensils… the possibilities are endless!
The next time you’re about to purchase something, consider if it’s a single-use item or if there’s a reusable alternative.
For example, bring your own water bottle instead of buying bottled water. Bring your own takeout container if you buy food to go regularly. This could save you a little here and there. Every gesture and every cent counts.
Recycle Whatever You Can
The old adage goes: “It’s better to give than to receive”. Donating is a great way to give back while minimising wastage. It can also potentially bring a lot of joy to the less fortunate.
In 2016, Singapore generated 7.67 million tonnes of waste – which works out to 1,400kg per person, according to a report by National Environment Agency. So, if we could give new life to what we no longer want or need, we can reduce the damage done to Mother Nature.
There are a number of organisations that accept anything from furniture to clothes as donations. Depending on what you want to donate and where you live, you might want to Google the nearest one, or a particular one for its cause. Here are some:
- Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS)
- Pass It On
- Uplift Project Singapore
- The Food Bank
- Metta Welfare Association
- Room to Read
- Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations
Tips for donating to charity:
- Donate purposefully – if you are aware of the charity’s mission and the items that are needed by the recipients, chances are that your donations will be put to good use
- Don’t donate your trash – make sure the items you donate are still in good condition
- Organise your donations – putting in a few extra minutes to categorise and pack the things that go together can be a big help to volunteers or staff of that organisation
Drive Less (Use Public Transport, Cycle or Ditch Your Car)
Cars in Singapore do not come cheap at all, but that goes without saying. If you can forgo owning a car, that’s at least S$50,000 guaranteed in savings just for the COE alone.
Despite the occasional train breakdowns, our transport system is ranked in the top 10 of the transport systems of 100 cities globally, in the 2017 Sustainable Cities Mobility Index.
Besides serving as a way to cut down on your carbon footprint, using public transport also reduces your monthly expenses. However, if your commute is inconvenient via public transport, carpooling or taking a Grab Hitch could be an alternative option.
Better yet, cycle to work. The numerous bike-sharing companies that have entered Singapore’s market has made this possible with their cheap monthly bike passes. Bonus: research suggests that people who walk, bike or use public transit to get to work are generally happier.
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By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.