There are many motivations behind why one would go green. Some do it for the environment, others out of love and concern for the well-being of humanity. No matter your motivation for supporting conservation efforts, you can save money while also saving the planet.
Singapore has always been conscious of its impact on the environment. As such there are many environmental blueprints such as the Singapore Green Plan that aim to moderate the nation’s carbon emissions. Here’s how you can play your part to help the environment while saving money.
Is going green actually worth it?
One of the most common misconceptions about sustainability is that it is too expensive. On the contrary, not going green actually costs you more.
Most eco-friendly products and sustainability habits don’t actually save you money until a few months in. This leads to a false ideology that you are making the right choice when you pay the extra 20 cents for taking out instead of using a reusable lunch box that costs S$8.90.
Assuming you are taking out once a day during the week, you would only start to enjoy the cost benefits of the lunch box after two months of usage. However, the savings will continue to add up beyond the breakeven point as long as you are reusing it, potentially up to S$53 a year.
While green products cost more upfront, they allow you to enjoy cost savings over the long term. Hence, choosing to enjoy the convenience of short-term gratification is simply a form of ignorance of the potential long-term benefits.
With sustainable living being a nationwide movement for the next few years, here are some things that you can do that not only aligns with Singapore’s green goals but also helps in reducing your overall expenditure.
1. Go paperless
Using less paper would equate to fewer trees being cut which in turn helps to combat climate change.
For most households, consider using an old cotton shirt instead of paper towels to dry your hands or to clean up a spillage. A pack of six rolls of paper towels costs about S$5 which allows you to save S$60 a year assuming you use a pack a month.
If you are someone who reads often, going digital allows you to cut down on your spending. For instance, e-books or audiobooks cost a fraction of what you pay for a physical book. The same can be said for reading the news. A Straits Times digital plan only costs S$9.90, which is S$20 cheaper as compared to the bundle that includes physical prints which over the course of a year saves you S$240.
2. Grow your own greens
Growing your greens at home can be a fun hobby that cuts down on costs. If you are living in an HDB flat, you could grow your plants indoors or along the corridor if space allows. Alternatively, you can bid for allotment garden plots to nurture your green fingers for just S$57 a year.
According to the 2017/2018 Household Expenditure Survey, the average household expenditure on fruits and vegetables is S$96.60 a month. Even with low produce that only makes up 10% of the average spending, you would be able to save around S$60 after paying for the cost of the lease.
While gardening may not save you thousands, it will definitely help you save some grocery dollars. Moreover, in today’s fast-paced and hectic environment, this hobby could well be the much-needed therapy from work.
3. Consider second-hand items and thrifting
With the constant rising of prices as well as the GST hike, consumers have to be more creative when it comes to stretching every dollar.
Thrifting is the term used for buying used goods from second-hand stores. Many would associate second-hand items with poor quality and outdated. However, this is not true as most shops would screen the item before putting it up on their shelves.
An average household spends S$113 a month (S$1356 a year) on new clothes and shoes. If you are able to find similar items at a 30% discount, you would already save S$221 a year if half of your purchases are pre-loved items. That said, there is no upper ceiling to the discount in thrifting and it all depends on your patience to find the best deals.
Therefore, before you decide to splurge on your next purchase, do give thrifting a try and you’ll be surprised by what you can find.
4. Using energy-efficient appliances
COVID-19 has seen a rise in electricity bills in many households due to the increase in the number of hours spent at home. Hence, it is important to choose energy-efficient appliances to prevent unnecessary wastage of electricity that causes a higher bill at the end of the month.
You should choose your appliances based on the energy labels. The more ticks the appliance has, the lower the amount of electricity consumed. Based on Clean & Green Singapore, an air-conditioner with 4-ticks saves you S$450 a year as compared to a 1-tick model while a 4-tick refrigerator saves you S$70 a year as compared to a 2-tick model. Just changing these two household appliances can shave S$520 off your monthly bills.
1. Taking public transport instead of owning a car
In Singapore, there are multiple policies in place to discourage car ownership while providing citizens with affordable alternatives and public transport.
The cost of owning and maintaining a car in Singapore is around S$2,500 per month. On the other hand, if you were to get the adult monthly travel pass priced at S$128 where you have unlimited access to train and bus services within the validity period, you would be able to save S$2,372 a month.
For students and office workers, the Travel Early, Pay Less scheme allows you to enjoy 50 cents savings if you take public transport before 7.45 am. This would add up to a monthly savings of about S$11 which adds up to S$132 a year.
With Singapore aiming to triple cycling paths from 460km back in 2020 to 1320km in 2030, cycling would be a viable alternative for first and last-mile transit.
2. Consider an electric vehicle instead
If you are already looking to purchase a car, you should consider an electric vehicle instead. An electric vehicle may be more expensive than a conventional petrol-powered car but the cost savings from the lower cost of maintenance makes it an ideal choice.
Moreover, Singapore has plans to have 60,000 charging points nationwide by 2030 which will greatly reduce the hassle of charging an EV.
Compiling all the sustainable efforts mentioned above, we would derive the following savings:
|Sustainable actions||Savings (yearly)|
|Bringing along your own reusable boxes||~ S$53|
|Reduce usage of paper towels||~ S$60|
|Choosing paperless option for news subscription||~ S$240|
|Growing your own greens||~ $60|
|Second-hand shopping and thrifting||~ $221|
|Using energy efficient appliances||~ $520|
|Taking public transport||~ S$132|
While the figures are just a rough estimation, the aim here is to show that it pays to adopt a sustainable lifestyle and be environmentally friendly. Not only are you playing your part to contribute to the Singapore Green Plan, but you are also doing your wallet justice.
Remember that the points we have discussed here today are non-exhaustive and there are many other creative ways to save money while going green. Let the sky be your limit.
READ MORE: Eco-friendly personal finance: How you can make the switch too