How to go green on a budget - and save $500/month

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It is time to flick the “green switch” and take small steps to tackle climate change. To help promote eco-friendly living, Singapore has doubled down on its '30 by 30' goal, an initiative to produce 30 per cent of the country's nutritional needs locally by 2030.

Given that the typical household in Singapore spends about $1,199 per month on food (more specifically, $350 to $475 per month on groceries), one easy way to go green and save on grocery expenses is by regrowing edibles from scrap parts.

Grow your own herb garden

You don't need a backyard to grow your own herbs, fruits, and veggies. All you need is a small corner of the balcony or kitchen. As long as you're able to fit shelves that can support potted plants and provide them with water and plenty of sunshine, it's relatively simple to grow herbs at home.

If you're serious about urban gardening, consider purchasing an indoor gardening kit which is space-efficient and also comes with smart features such as LED lights to help plants grow despite cloudy weather conditions.

These smart gardening sets cost between $100 to $300 but the investment pays off over time, especially if you enjoy cooking at home. What's more is that you can grow a range of food items, such as lemongrass, spring onion, basil, and more from food scraps. Here are seven food items that you can easily regrow at home to go green and save on your grocery bill.

ALSO READ: 5 urban vegetable farms to explore with the little ones

Transportation

Singapore’s policies are designed to encourage people to take public transportation and reduce car ownership. It's no surprise that owning, driving, and maintaining a car is expensive in Singapore. Besides the initial cost of buying the car, there are also road taxes, car insurance costs, the Certificate of Entitlement, and rising fuel prices.

While a new Toyota will cost you around $110,000, the additional costs will add up to around $6,000 a year - that’s $500 every month. Singapore is known to have one of the most efficient, clean, and affordable transportation networks in the world.

When it comes to transportation, there are several ways of going green including car sharing, public transport, or even getting your own bicycle. To save on monthly transportation costs, consider using an EZ-Link reload credit card .

Support Green Businesses

Supporting local businesses is good for the environment because they often have a smaller carbon footprint compared to larger companies. This is especially true if you account for the logistics of transporting products across borders. The good news is that there are many green and sustainable businesses right here in Singapore.

Whether it’s a mama shop or a clothing store that sources material locally, consider swapping the usual mainstream store with a local, eco-friendly brand instead.

While on the surface these shops might seem slightly more expensive, the quality of products and friendliness of staff is usually better. If you're concerned about costs, there's always a grocery credit card to earn cashback on this monthly expense.

Home improvements

If you live in an HDB flat, you may want to switch to eco-friendly appliances that are worth the money. These include energy-conscious fridges and eco-friendly washing machines. If you live in a landed property, it may be worth installing solar panels.

Unfortunately, there is a large upfront cost which depends on your house type, roof size, and size of your solar system. As an estimate, it can cost between $10,000 to $38,000 to install a solar panel in Singapore.

On the bright side, you'll save on your monthly electric bill. Additionally, the cost of solar energy has fallen 89 per cent in the last 10 years, and is now competitive to traditional energy generation sources.

ALSO READ: How to make your home more environmentally friendly

How much money can you save by going green?

Activity Green Alternative Savings
Transportation Car sharing and public transportation $250/month
Grocery shopping Aero waste grocery bulk food store, socially conscious multi-concept store $100/month
Clothes Eco-friendly clothing brands like Matter Prints or a clothing swap platform like The Fashion Pulpit $75/month
Home Eco-friendly appliances like a solar panel $100/month - $250/month
Herbs Grow your own herbs $25/month

Sustainable means also more cost-effective

There is a common misconception about sustainability and going green. It’s often considered to be an expensive undertaking. However, this is not true, as in most cases sustainable actions will actually help you save money. It’s only in the beginning that you may have to invest into going green.

But just like with any other investment, you need to put in some time, effort, and money in order to see the returns. So don’t shy away from going green - there are plenty of benefits to the environment and to your wallet.

ALSO READ: Can you save money with eco-friendly household products?

This article was first published in ValueChampion.

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