Going Green: Eco-Friendly Measures That Save You Money

Ryan Ong

Despite my best attempts to convince the shark I was “here to save you”, I’m still typing this one-handed. You’ll have to forgive any typos; it’s hard to see the keyboard under all that blood. But has this diminished my desire to save the earth? You’re damn right it has. From now on I’m only going green to save money:



It's an alternative to fossil fuels. Hot air lifts balloons, so I'll just talk into it and we'll fly.


1. Make Your Own Cleaning Products

Before stocking up on Megableach X, or any cleaning product that claims to be the Bruce Willis of the anti-bacterial world, look at the composition. Their “proven” formula could be one of two things:

  • So toxic your eyes bleed just reading the label
  • Something you can concoct in the kitchen in 15 minutes

Patented cleaning products (the ones with labels that look like chemistry exams) tend to be high in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Those are airborne toxins that cause nausea, cancer, and skin problems. If you could trap an investment banker in a spray can, this would be it.

Simpler cleaning solutions, if you look closely, are just overpriced concoctions of soda, vinegar, or lemon juice. Some can be handmade with 10-15 minutes of effort. And if that link doesn’t produce the formula you want, mum or grandma probably knows one.


Chemistry model

My formula kills germs too. But my hubby's a property agent and I don't want him to die.


2. Don’t Buy Bottled Water

Ever read the labels on bottled water?

This water was extracted from 200 year old icebergs, via slow licking by Eskimo supermodels” or some such. Most of the time, it’s all bull. And if it isn’t, the problem is worse.

Say the water does come from some pristine, exotic locale. Well now it’s trampled by work boots, drilled by extractors, and polluted by on-site bottling. Then there’s the carbon footprint from the plane ride, as the water is shipped to the supermarket.

That’s a lot of money and damage for something you can get out a tap. One of Singapore’s most innovative industries is water filtration, but Singaporeans still buy imported water. That’s like flying in Chinese food from Canada.

So save yourself the $0.80 – $4.50 for a bottle of water. Forget drinking minerals to get healthy. If you want that, use the money you’ll save and go to a gym.


Rows of bottled water

Protect local water. Pollute foreign supplies instead.


3. Air Dry & Cold Wash Laundry

I’m no history expert,  but I’m sure people were washing clothes in (unheated) rivers for a few centuries. In fact, washing clothes in cold water is gentler on the fabric; your stuff will last longer, and you can save on power bills.

If you have super-nasty stains (wine, curry, Justin Beiber prints), warm water might be necessary. But for a routine clean, don’t flick the heater switch.

Once you’re done with the laundry, check the weather. If it isn’t raining, air dry your stuff. In Singapore this typically involves clothes pegs, wooden poles, and loud rows with the neighbour downstairs. So if the guy living upstairs from me is reading this, pay attention before I beat you to death with that pole: Don’t let your laundry drip on someone else’s.

Anyway, air drying trims your power bill. You can skip buying a dryer, which should save you a few hundred.


Laundry hanging from the flat

For some funny reason, all my neighbours know my underwear size.


4. Dodge Supermarket Promos

Despite their best efforts (I’m feeling generous), supermarkets are a source of major ecological damage. If Mother Nature had an abusive, wife-beating husband, it would be a supermarket chain.

In order to give you the best bang for your buck, supermarkets move things in bulk. This involves rearing and killing huge numbers of animals, and spraying enough pesticide to kill those things in Starship Troopers. And just for the record, the average bug is way tougher than you are. Anything capable of killing it is twice as capable of killing you.

So what can you do about it? Easy: Discourage the supermarket. Stop going for the mass-buy promotions. The sort where you get one-for-one purchases, or a 10% discount if you buy enough Cheetos to feed Tampines. Besides, these promotions are costing you money; they make you purchase more than you need, or purchase when you never intended to.

Make a grocery list and stick to it.


Melons in a market

There was a sale. We're having melon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner till next January.


5. Give a Lift

Strike a deal with friends or neighbours who go the same route as you. If they’ll pitch in for petrol, you’ll send (or fetch) them from work. Apart from lowering your carbon footprint, you’ll lower your petrol bills and get to socialize.

Some of you will think this is embarrassing. I mean, ask for money to give people a lift?

Well I don’t think so. Not just because the skin on my face is thicker than your MP’s wallet. It’s fine to request friends chip in if you’ve got three or more people with you. Likewise, you may need to go a little bit out of your way; that should help justify it. At the very least, you’ll get some free lunches and dinners out of this.

Or if more than one guy has a car, you can alternate. So today everyone uses your car, tomorrow you all use Bob’s car, etc. This way, only person pays the ERP and parking fees each time.


Cars in Singapore

Not much further. Just drop me off at Kota Tinggi okay?


Image Credits:
epSos.de, ARTS, stevendepolo, vincentfung.ca, Shiny Things, JASON ANFINSEN, greenpeace.italia

Do you have any tips for going green and saving money?

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