Simple money saving habits to protect Mother Earth

Many in pursuit of a better lifestyle forget the impact of our actions on the planet. People seek convenience in their daily activities not realising it is at the expense of our planet.

How can we play a role to protect Mother Earth for the future generations? Plenty! It starts with practicing the 3R lifestyle!

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

Here are some simple daily habits you can adopt that our planet and future generations will thank you for. Individually, the impact may seem immaterial but collectively it will be substantial and quantifiable.

1. Use less electricity/energy

  • Use air-conditioning only when necessary. This appliance consumes the most electricity. Adjust the temperature to a level that is comfortable and set it at “auto” or to turn off after the room is cool.
  • Unplug appliances not in use for long periods. Putting your TV on standby mode or switched-off but still plugged in will consume electricity i.e. “phantom loads”. This type of “unseen” consumption can set you back up to 10% of your electricity bill.
  • Change traditional incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient bulbs which consume up to 80% less energy and last 25 times longer.
  • Hang-dry clothes instead of using a dryer machine.
  • Wash dishes by hand.
  • Use energy-efficient appliances. Though the price is higher, you can save up to 25% electricity consumption which pays off in the long run.

2. Recycle

You can conserve energy by recycling existing materials into new things. You can also earn money by selling recyclable items to a recycling centre or mobile recycling trucks.

Separate your garbage to two categories – “Disposable waste” and “Recyclable”.

The following are some examples of items for recycling:

  • Metals: Aluminium cans, foil and bakeware, steel cans and tin cans.
  • Paper-based: Corrugated cardboard, magazines, office paper, newspaper, paper boards, phone books, juice cartons.
  • Plastic: There are seven types of plastic, but it’s only practical to recycle three types in Malaysia.
  • Batteries: Car battery, rechargeable battery, household/button batteries.
  • Electronics: (e-waste): Computers, office equipment (photocopiers, printers, fax machines), TVs, Consumer electronics, cell phones.
  • Do note that there is non-recyclable e-waste that must be properly disposed of. Contact your local municipality to find out more.

– Microwaves

– Smoke alarms/detectors

– Fire alarms/detectors

– Thermometers

– Large appliances i.e. refrigerators

*NOTE: When recycling batteries and electronics, check your local directories for recycling centres that accept such items.

3. Cycle and walk more, drive less

Instead of driving to nearby places, try cycling or even walking. Less driving will reduce the greenhouse effect that contributes to climate change, reduce smog that can cause various health issues, and save you money on petrol and vehicle maintenance.

Furthermore, you get to exercise for basically free. Other options include using public transportation, and carpooling.

4. Conserve water

Though two-thirds of Earth is covered in water, only 1% of the water is consumable i.e. fresh water. The rest is salt water not suitable for drinking.

With the world’s population continuing to increase, it is our responsibility to conserve water now for future generations. The following are some examples of actions we can take to conserve water.

  • Don’t let the tap run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Use a cup.
  • Wash your own car (and save up to RM10 per wash). Invest in a water container, hose nozzle or waterless car wash.
  • Collect and safely store rainwater for washing the car, watering plants, or cleaning the porch.

TIP: Be careful to avoid it being a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

  • Install a low flow shower head, aerator and low flow toilet flush.
  • •Reduce showering time (and sing outside the washroom).
  • Don’t use your toilet bowl as your garbage bin (and avoid potential costly unclogging fees).
  • Repair water leaks quickly (as your money is literally dripping away).
  • Wash clothes on a full load when using a washing machine.
  • When washing dishes, don’t leave the tap continuously running.
  • When having a hot bath, collect the cold running water while waiting for your water to heat up.

5. Shop wisely

Below are tips to conserve and reduce waste even while shopping.

  • Bring your own food container when buying take-away. Say no to non-biodegradable styrofoam and plastic.
  • Bring a reusable shopping bag instead of using plastic bags.
  • Go vegetarian or skip meat once a week. Meat production requires high resources in terms of grains and water to feed livestock just to produce a single serving.
  • Avoid buying plastic bottled water. Instead, use a reusable water container.
  • Buy second-hand or pre-loved items when possible saving you money and again reducing wastage on perfectly good items.
  • Use less tissue paper. Often half is enough or use a cotton towel instead.
  • Download music (legally) or stream instead of buying a piece of plastic.

6. Reuse and DIY

DIY using recyclable items

Many toys and home decorations are do-it-yourself (DIY) items using used materials (e.g. bottles, cans, toilet paper rolls).

Before throwing things away, check if it can be repurposed or used as a DIY project. YouTube has a wealth of ideas and simple tutorials.

Buy and selling pre-loved items

Online portals such as Mudah and Lelong are good platforms for selling and buying pre-loved items.

Often you can find great deals on products as good as new at a much lower price. You can also sell used items to brick and mortar secondhand goods dealers such as Cash Converter.

Get the most usage with items

Take care of your things so it lasts longer. For example, read clothes labels before you wash, regularly clean and maintain appliances, and send your car for regular scheduled maintenance.

Share usage with friends on seldom-used items such as barbecue sets, tents, and seasonal decorative items.

7. Give to charitable organisations

You may think your old fridge which hums and is no longer it’s original colour is ready for the rubbish dump. But think again!

Giving your pre-loved fridge or other useful items to an orphanage or charitable organisation is a true gift.

8. Volunteer

Participate, volunteer or even organise your community’s clean-up programme. Play a role in keeping your community clean and saving our planet for future generations.

It’s a good way to make your body move and sweat. And there’s the added benefit of making new friends and growing your network.

This article first appeared in