Getting frugal and staying green

by EcoStreet on July 13, 2009

in Sustainable Lifestyle

squeeze the toothpaste

The global recession has finally caught up with us here in South Africa and we are starting to feel the pinch. I’m putting some work into finding ways to cut our expenses, all the while staying green, and in some aspects, becoming even greener.

Here are some ideas I’ve had for cutting back spending that will directly influence our carbon footprint.

Using less electricity

We have beautiful intentions of taking our home in Claremont off-grid as far as electricity is concerned one of these years (i.e. when we can afford to), until then, Eskom is pushing the electricity price to the limit and we are going to have to cut electricity usage to keep our bills under control.

  1. Don’t use the tumble dryer.
  2. Remind the husband and children that chargers use electricity even when the device is not attached unless switched off at the wall.
  3. Close curtains and blinds at dusk to retain heat.
  4. Put on another layer before switching on the heaters.#
  5. Replace remainder of incandescent light bulbs with low energy bulbs.
  6. Switch from using the 30’C cycle on my washing machine to cold wash.
  7. Switch off the lights when there’s no-one in a room.
  8. Give all worn clothes a good look-over and sniff before despatching them to the laundry basket.

We already have a few good things going for us as far as energy usage goes.

  1. We have installed EconoHeat wall heaters in all bedrooms.
  2. We run low energy use oil heater on wheels for the rest of the house and the occasional fire in the fireplace.
  3. Our roof is very well insulated.
  4. The majority of our light bulbs are of the energy saving variety.

Growing food and not wasting any

Since I stopped working outside the home and am a full-time errant housewife and mother, I have more time to cook, garden and plan. For us this is a big plus while we’re looking at our income dropping.

  1. Get our home food garden in full swing. We’ve bought a whole bunch of fruit trees (apple, pear, plum, mango, naartjie (Clementine) and pomegranate) and I’ve sown spinach, chard, lettuce, carrots, onions and peas for winter growing. I will be putting some extra hours into the garden to boost food production and avoid shopping trips.
  2. Complete cut out convenience foods and cook from scratch, cooking up double batches and freezing half for easy ready-meals later.
  3. Eat meat only once a week.
  4. Make a packed lunch for Pete and the kids the evening before.
  5. Always take reusable bags to the shops to avoid paying for plastic bags that are bad for the environment.
  6. Make my own household cleaners out of bicarb. of soda and vinegar.
  7. Buy in bulk. I’m going to chat to a few friends and family about bulk buying and sharing non-perishables once I’ve been to Makro to check out what’s available and compare prices. Buying in bulk is better for the planet because there’s less packaging and fewer trips to the shops in a car.

Being clever while getting about

When we chose our family car, we decided to buy a car with both 2×4 and 4×4, and it’s a diesel too, making it quite economical on fuel. We only need to use the 4×4 when we’re visiting our holiday place in the mountains, or when we’re away on holiday having adventures.

  1. Cut back on trips out to save fuel. Plan shopping trips with collecting children from school and dropping the recycling off at the same time.
  2. Use my bicycle more for local trips, or walk.

And a few more ideas that don’t fit into the above categories:

  1. Sell our clutter. We moved into our new house a couple of months ago and have a store room full of stuff that we aren’t using. Some of this stuff will be despatched via Gumtree or the like.
  2. Buy secondhand clothes rather than new. This is something that I often did in England, but haven’t been doing here in SA. But I just came across this great resource for vintage and secondhand clothing shops in Cape Town, and I’m going to give it another bash.
  3. Use the library instead of buying books.

Photo credit: Birdieann

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda July 13, 2009 at 2:37 pm

These suggestions look great. All it takes is a little inspiration to start making sustainable choices. Here’s one of my favorite videos made by a group of kids called the Little MDG’s with even more ideas on how to green your lifestyle:


Patrick July 15, 2009 at 2:21 am

It’s great to see you writing about saving money will still going green. The more we can spread the word that going green doesn’t always have to cost more money the better.
.-= Patrick´s last blog ..Fort Meade Environment Cleanup by EPA =-.


memory foam mattress July 19, 2009 at 3:45 am

Thanks for all the good suggestions on being frugal and green. The one concerning always taking reusable bags to the shops to avoid using plastic bags has been widely adopted in Europe. I lived for about a year in Holland recently and everyone brings their own bag or container when they buy food. It’s easy to do and is very helpful for the environment.


Marlene Affeld July 27, 2009 at 12:42 am

Great suggestions. I am always heartened when I find posts that focus on green living and saving energy. Together we can make a difference.


Nick Petersen September 5, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Best way of going green I have found is to switch from high energy ways of doing things to low energy ways. Like you could switch from using a gas mower to a manual reel mower (and get some good exercise) or stop using the electric clothes dryer and use a good old fashioned clothes drying rack (and also not adding unwanted heat to your home in summer = less AC)


Caroline September 8, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Thank you for all these ideas! They prove living green is only a matter of common sense…


Willi Paul September 11, 2009 at 12:23 am

Very Good Article.

Wish I could put it on my refrig!

Barter is in, yes?

See here:


Will Johnston October 19, 2009 at 7:24 pm

I thought readers of this post might find my article on green laundry tips helpful. 13 tips to help save money, energy and reduce pollution when doing your laundry.


new cars for sale January 28, 2010 at 11:20 am

Diesel cars this year won the green car for 2010 award although a $2.6 billon grant was granted to produce hybrid cars. All this money that came from Obamas administrators should see some results soon but for now diesel cars are they was forward if you wish to help the environment and travel green.


bydrered October 31, 2011 at 8:49 am

Great suggestions. I am always heartened when I find posts that focus on green living and saving energy. Together we can make a difference.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: