Environmentally Independent

This is a blog about personal finance, particularly looking at financial independence. When you start cutting expensive waste out of your life, it’s impossible to not also notice that you’re being a lot kinder to the planet. Now, I don’t know that we’ll ever be what I suppose would be called “Environmentally Independent”, which would be a mixture of being zero waste and also having net personal greenhouse gas emissions of zero or less. But I can share some examples of how our journey towards financial independence has made us much less harsh on the environment.

The most obvious example is transport. Sadly, the hours of my job necessitate that I drive and where we live is about a 25 minute drive away. So we’re set up to be nasty polluters unfortunately. But the one saving grace is that our Honda Insight is a hybrid vehicle, so at around 5.2L per 100km (no idea what that is in mpg), we’re a lot less polluting than most commuters. We also save a lot of money on petrol! Running an electric lawnmower (as we do) has similar environment and bank account saving effects.

Another example is energy use. A couple of years ago now, we got a heat pump installed, along with underfloor insulation and double glazing. Our small 90sqm house is now very easy to heat, and drawing electricity from a national power grid that is 70-80% renewable on average is not only less polluting than running a gas or wood-burning fire, but also much cheaper!

The final area I’ll draw attention to is consumables. Once you start looking, you’ll realise how much stuff you buy as part of your weekly groceries for the express purpose of basically using it once and throwing it out. Here’s a quick list of some of the consumables we used to buy and what we’ve replaced them with. This has saved us money in our weekly grocery bill and reduced our wastage, which in turn has actually saved us more money as we buy fewer rubbish bags from our local council!

ConsumableReplaced with
Paper towelsFlannel cloths
Cling wrapReusable food containers/tupperware
Single use sanitary padsCloth sanitary pads
Facial tissuesHandkerchiefs

Now, we are by no means the best at this. We still use toilet paper. We tried buying a bidet, which turned out to be a lesson in why not to get cheap crap (pun intended) online. Turned out the product was a parallel-import with US fittings, we’ve given up trying to make it work with our NZ plumbing. We’ll probably revisit this issue with our newfound wisdom in the future with a bit more success.

Finally, we’ve raised two kids on disposable nappies and wipes. Honestly, we tried cloth nappies and using cloths instead of wipes. The nappies leaked and the cloths, well, maybe they just had too much ick factor. Perhaps if I volunteered to be the one washing them, Mrs R2A might be willing to have another crack at those! (pun not intended this time)

So we’ve got plenty of room for improvement! How about you? What are your tips for saving money and the planet at the same time?

Comment Policy: For this blog, I’ve implemented a Comment with Kindness policy. You can read more about it here, but the gist of it is: Follow what I call the “Grandma Rule”. If you wouldn’t take that tone with your grandma, your comment probably won’t make it through moderation.

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