Saving the earth needn’t cost the earth

By: Old Mutual

Wallet-friendly tips for the eco-conscious

  • Consumers are becoming increasingly health and eco conscious
  • It’s possible to align your money to your values
  • Tips to cut costs while protecting the planet

There was a time when you could sip your favourite strawberry smoothie without worrying about the straw. But that was before you and the world started becoming more aware of your impact on the environment.

According to Euromonitor International, the global market for health and wellness offerings reached $686 billion in 2016 and it is expected to grow to $815 billion by 2021. Among metropolitan South Africans there is a similar eco and health conscious lifestyle trend.

Whilst this is a positive shift, Priya Naicker, Advice Manager at Old Mutual Personal Finance, notes that many still perceive efforts to save the earth as an expensive endeavour.

Naicker says that on average, a vegan meal at a restaurant can cost approximately R95, while a bio-degradable straw at an eco-friendly restaurant costs at least R5 compared to a free plastic straw. A reusable glass straw can cost upwards of R250. On a larger scale, an electric car will set you back at least R400 000 in South Africa, compared to a regular passenger vehicle for under R130 000.

It may also be difficult and expensive to access eco-friendly products. Finding cruelty-free cosmetics could cost you a 45-minute trip to an eco-friendly market or a few extra rands at an online store.

Yet a commitment to living a life that is environmentally friendly need not cost the earth. As Naicker points out: “The ethos of eco-friendliness – using responsibly and saving more – is actually in sync with healthy financial habits.”

Naicker shares these wallet-friendly ways to align your money with your eco-conscious values:

  1. Get the right advice

Your consumption values determine your spending habits and this makes them as important to your financial plan as your goals. Talk to your financial adviser about aligning your money with businesses and investments that are sustainable and ethical in terms of their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices.

  1. DIY

The global frugal community prides itself on the double gift of their lifestyle – taking care of the environment while saving money. By engaging in DIY projects from renovations or gardening to homemade lifestyle pieces, you can effectively reduce your carbon foot-print and save money.

  1. Repurpose and reuse

Reusing items is both eco-friendly and wallet-friendly. There are a host of helpful online resources to get you started on everything from repurposing your clothes, to making your own soap out of leftover soap slivers or creating burger patties from juice pulp. The options are endless with a bit of creativity and the resolve to cut consumption. Plus, there is the added benefit of customised items!

  1. Recycle

Recycling in South Africa is a profitable industry that provides income to thousands of people. Collect-a-Can, for example, recycles 66% of all beverage cans in South Africa, and provides income to 37 000 people. By recycling up your trash, you could earn extra income or help create jobs for others.

  1. Earn rewards

Eco-conscious living has many health benefits which could earn you rewards. Participating in sporting events and marathons could earn you on-going discounts on your life policy premiums, and reward you with special events and benefits.