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6 Surprising Ways To Save The World For Free

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6 Surprising Ways To Save The World For Free

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Adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle for the planet is easier and cheaper than you might think.

Author Natalie Fee tells us how to save the world for free.

Phoebe Young

Fri 1 Apr 2022

Author of How To Save The World For Free, Natalie Fee, outlines the small and simple ways in which ordinary people can take the power back into their own hands to help avoid climate catastrophe at no extra cost.

She is a big believer in the fact that, whilst a lot of the responsibility lies with governments and other powers that be, we cannot sit around and wait for them.

What you have in your bathroom, how you get to work and what you water your plants with all adds up to give you the capacity to create a greater positive impact than you think.

Here are a few of Natalie's top tips to help you save the world for free.

book cover next to woman smiling

"We all know that to really save the world, ideally in the next 11 years, we’re going to need our governments and big businesses to pull their fingers out and get cracking.

Stopping fossil fuel subsidies and putting a tax on carbon, allowing for subsidies for renewable energy, public transport and organic farming, which can help transition us to a mostly car-free, mostly meat-free world would be a great start.

But since there’s no indication from governments worldwide that this is going to happen any time soon, here are a few ways we can take the power back and be the change we need to see in the world," says Natalie.

Individual action is ultimately the most powerful tool you’ve got, from how you treat yourself, to how you treat others, to how you treat the earth.

We’re social creatures and we like to fit in, be accepted, be loved. And when we see that more and more of our peers are carrying reusable bottles, or growing veg, or choosing a staycation – we start to shift our behaviour too.

And that creates a trend, and trends drive demand, and demand drives investment or divestment. People power works!

Hands holding a bag of onions

Individual action is ultimately the most powerful tool you’ve got

6 Surprising Ways To Save The World For Free

1. Planet friendly pensions

Just a few clicks can show you which companies your pension fund is invested in. A few more will enable you to ensure your money is not involved with anyone who is contributing to the climate crisis.

Happily, a growing number of pension funds across the world are now divesting from companies that generate revenues from oil, gas and coal.

To check yours, login to your pension online and search for ‘fund choices’.

It could take you just one incredibly well-spent minute to make the switch to an ethical fund within your company pension scheme.

If you have, or are looking for a personal pension, look for terms such as ESG (which stands for environmental, social and governance) or SRI (socially responsible investment).

These forms of investment actively look for companies that are part of creating a better future.

glass jar and coins on table

It could take you just one incredibly well-spent minute to make the switch to an ethical fund

2. Good exercise

Saving the world requires energy, stamina and strong mental health.

Natalie identifies four ways that you can get your endorphin fix, whilst literally helping the planet at the same time:

  • Good Gym

"Good Gym is one of my hands-down favourite ways to save the world for free. Set up by a group of runners in the UK who believe gyms to be a waste of energy and human potential, Good Gym aims to redirect that energy towards neglected tasks and people in our communities.

Basically, you meet up with a bunch of people, typically lovely types who will enrich your life, run to a community project that needs some extra pairs of hands, do said mission for around 45 minutes, then run back."

  • Parkrun

Another free and fabulous way to get fit and stay active is to sign up to Parkrun. This organisation runs free, weekly, 5km (a little over 3 miles) timed runs all around the world.

  • Peddle Power

Ever thought that all those calories burned in a spin class could be harnessed? Well, some smart cookies around the world have worked it out and you may just have a ‘human-powered’ gym in your home town.

Instead of all that energy you’re generating in your workout just vanishing, it actually powers the very machines over which you’re working up a sweat and any excess energy is sold back to the grid.

  • Online Workouts

If you want to save money and don’t need the motivation of a gym membership to get you working out, try having a look online for free workout classes that fit into your schedule.

Read more about fitness hacks that help the planet here.

People running up a road

A free and fabulous way to get fit and stay active is to sign up to Parkrun

3. Save water at home

There are plenty of very simple switches you can make in your bathroom to ensure that the oceans are kept plastic free and that you also optimise the water you use at home.

  • Water saving shower heads

To give you an example, if every American installed WaterSense-labelled showerheads it would generate annual savings of over $1.5 billion (that’s about £1.15 billion) in water utility bills, more than 250 billion gallons (approx. 950 billion litres) of water and around $2.5 billion (£1.9 billion) in energy costs for heating water.

  • Find a bath buddy

Sharing a bath with someone you love, or at least like a lot, has got to be one of the most rewarding world-saving actions for marine life you could take.

  • Beat the beads

Microbeads and other microplastics – tiny particles of plastic from paint, car tyres and synthetic clothing – are forming a great toxic plastic soup in our oceans.

The simplest way to avoid microbeads in your bathroom products is to choose organic products using ingredients such as apricot kernels, or to make your own facial scrubs, like this fabulous coffee waste scrub one here.

  • Toothfairies

Enter the bamboo toothbrush! You can repurpose the bamboo handle afterwards when making homemade ice-lollies or as plant markers in your blossoming veggie patch.

Bamboo toothbrush on a white background

You can repurpose the bamboo handle afterwards when making homemade ice-lollies

4. Greywater is green

Using greywater is a great money saver as well as a way to help the world.

Your garden plants aren’t fussy about the type of water they drink. So, save the fresh stuff for yourself and use your perfectly good washing up and bathwater on the veg patch.

Aside from helping to prevent ocean pollution, water shortages and flooding, harnessing the rainwater from your roof and the greywater from your sinks, baths, showers, dishwashers and washing machines is a must for any world-saving wannabe.

Greywater makes up between 50–80% of a household’s wastewater and really doesn’t need to travel miles and miles to go through an expensive treatment process when it could, literally, work wonders in your garden or on your houseplants.

Unless you’re building a new eco-home it can get a bit complicated and expensive to replumb your house or apartment, so a simple solution is to throw your washing-up water or bath water in the garden.

Try to stick to natural cleaning products, since you don’t want a load of chemicals in your soil!

Hands holding jug watering plants

Throw your washing-up water or bathwater in the garden

5. Eco friendly driving

As Natalie explains elsewhere in the book, cycling, running and walking are far more eco-friendly transport options. Still, if you have to drive, there are several ways you can make your miles more planet-friendly.

  • Car pools

Car-pooling, car-sharing, or lift-sharing – essentially sharing your ride – is by far the most fun way to get about if a car is your only option.

You could even get there, on average, twice as fast, as many cities have HOV lanes (which is short for High Occupancy Vehicle, not High Octane Vroom as someone I know calls them). You get to meet people as extraordinary, or even more so than you are and you save money.

  • Car shares

Then there’s the other type of car-sharing: car clubs. The kind when you offer out your car for others to use, and get paid for it, or borrow someone else’s. Or you could join a city car club as an alternative to owning or renting a car. Car ownership is becoming old school.

  • Electric car-hire

Electric vehicles are surging in popularity these days, partly because of concern over greenhouse-gas emissions and partly because they’re cheap to run.

They’re thought to be far better for our air quality than traditional combustion-engine cars, since they emit minimal tailpipe pollutants, such as particulates and carbon monoxide.

People sitting in a car from behind

Car-pooling, car-sharing, or lift-sharing is by far the most fun way to get about if a car is your only option

6. Working from home

Working from home a few days a week cuts down your carbon footprint in more ways than just minimising your car miles.

A report by the Carbon Trust says that, by working from home two days a week for a year, an average UK employee can shave off just under 4% of their personal carbon footprint, save 50 hours’ commuting time and also save £450 per year in travel (almost US$600) and other costs!

Working from home is good for the oceans too, as you are more likely to whip up some leftovers for lunch and make your own coffee instead of buying on-the-go, over-packaged food and drink.

Laptop on a desk by a window

By working from home two days a week for a year, an average UK employee can shave off just under 4% of their personal carbon

What tips would you add below to save the world for free?

How To Save The World For Free by Natalie Fee is out now on Laurence Press.

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