Sometimes being eco-friendly can mean spending more money on items than we’d like to.
Sometimes it’s simply too much effort.
But most of the time, saving money and the environment go hand-in-hand.
Many environmental goals involve reducing consumption, which just happens to complement with cutting back and saving some money.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to suggest you become a vegan. And this is not one of the posts that tell you to invest in stainless steel drinking straws or buy expensive organic food from Village Grocer.
Instead, we’ll show you 10 effective ways you can save money and reduce your environmental impact by making simple changes to your lifestyle.
1. Go meat-free on Mondays
A meat-based diet, in general, is bad news for the environment.
Beef is the biggest culprit, producing up to 15kg of greenhouse gas per serving.
To put in context, the amount of greenhouse gas produced by 1 serving of beef is equivalent to driving your car for 100km or from Kuala Lumpur to Port Dickson.
In comparison, tofu only produce 1kg of greenhouse gas per serving!
Avoiding meat, therefore, is the biggest way you can reduce your carbon emissions. You can start by going meat-free on Mondays or any day which is convenient for you.
Expect savings at the grocery stores as vegetables, beans and tofu are far less expensive than meat.
Tip: Pay your groceries and food with your BigPay card so you can track how much you save when you ditch meat.
Not to say, vegetarian meals are also extremely delicious.
Look at this tempeh goodness.
Who can say NO to banana leaf?
You can find many vegetarian recipes for your favourite Malaysian dish on the internet.
And if you don't cook, there are plenty of vegetarian dining options around. After all, Malaysia was ranked the 3rd most vegetarian-friendly country in the world after the Seychelles and Thailand for that reason.
Besides saving the environment, eating less meat lowers your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.
Not only are the benefits to your health significant, but eating more greens would also save you hundreds of thousands of your hard-earned cash in the long run.
Going meat-free on Mondays too easy for you? Challenge yourself to go meat-free for 3 days weekly or consider adopting a flexitarian diet.
2. Take public transport
Cars are harmful to the environment, they are also expensive to own and maintain, they take up too much space in cities and driving make you dumb too.
According to The Guardian, cars account for 71% of all transport-related carbon emissions globally while trains only contribute less than 1.8%.
Thankfully the public transport system in Malaysia has significantly improved over the years. With the extension of LRT lines and launch of the MRT in 2017, the Klang Valley is becoming more connected than ever.
It can get you to key places relatively quick and it’s affordable too.
For example, Mutiara Damansara MRT station and it will take you about 30 minutes to get you to Bukit Bintang for RM3.30.
The same journey with a car will be far more expensive and harmful to the environment.
Check out options for public transport for your destination here.
TIP: Get the My100 pass if you take the public transport often. For RM100 a month, you’ll be able to enjoy unlimited rides on the LRT, MRT and RapidKL buses.
3. Drive efficiently
We get it. It's impossible to completely ditch the car. The public transport system in Malaysia is improving but it’s not ideal.
However, if you do drive, take note of these petrol saving tips.
i) Drive within the speed limit
Driving at a slower speed will not only help you save money by consuming less petrol but also significantly reduce carbon emissions.
Driving at 80km/h consumes 15% less petrol than at 110km/h.
Driving at 90km/h consumes 40% less petrol than at 135km/h.
ii) Accelerate and decelerate slowly
Another easy way to consume less petrol is to be more gentle when you step on the accelerator and brake. This can reduce carbon emissions by 20%.
iii) Don’t let your car engine stay idle
Traffic jams in Malaysia can get quite bad especially during the festive season. If you think you’ll be at a standstill in traffic longer than 15 seconds, switch off your car’s engine to reduce petrol consumption.
Also, switch off your car engine if you’re going to wait in your car. According to iMoney, for every 2 minutes of idling, your car consumes 1.6km worth of fuel.
4. Take shorter showers
It's sad that Malaysians waste 135 litres of water daily per person when millions of people globally lack access to clean water.
Want to reduce water wastage? Stop taking long showers.
It takes less time than you think to get clean. Dermatologists claim that we only need 2 minutes of shower.
TIP: Set the water temperature to lukewarm or cold to reduce shower time.
But don’t just stop at taking shorter showers. Simple things like washing vegetables and fruits in a bowl, using water-efficient taps as well as wash your car with a bucket can all save you over RM400 a year too.
With water tariff expected to increase this year, it’s time to be more mindful with your water consumption.
5. Stop wasting food
Unfortunately, our wasteful habits don’t end with water. Malaysians throw away 16,688,000kg of food every day.
That is enough to feed 12 million people 3 times daily!
Our food ends up in landfills which produces a large amount of methane, a greenhouse gas more harmful than carbon dioxide to the environment.
When we waste food, we’re also wasting all the resources that went into producing it.
For instance, pouring 1 glass of milk down the sink is the same as wasting 1,000 litres of water that were used to produce it.
So what can you do to reduce your food waste?
Get into the habit of only buying the food you need. Plan your meals in advance and prepare a grocery list. It helps to reduce impulse buying.
Also, make sure you use up the ingredients you buy and get creative with your leftovers.
A typical inexpensive meal in Malaysia cost around RM10. That means eating your leftovers for 2 meals a week could easily save you RM1,040 annually.
6. Unplug your devices and electronics
No doubt switching your electronics off when you’re not using is important. But to further reduce your electricity consumption, unplug all your electronics as well.
Your electronics still consume power when you’re not using them if it’s plugged in.
According to MBPJ, the average home in an urban area spends about RM4,100 a year on electricity bills.
Homeowners could save up to 10% or RM410 on electricity annually on electricity by simply unplugging electronics that were otherwise plugged in throughout the day.
7. Sell your unwanted items
Malaysia is already becoming the new dumping ground for waste by many developed nations like the US and the UK.
The last thing we should be doing is adding more trash to landfills.
Selling our unwanted items to specialised recycling services, online marketplaces or at local second-hand stores can not only earn you a quick buck but ensure that your unwanted items get repurposed.
If you’ve got a huge pile of unwanted items, you should consider organising a garage sale. It’s hard work but you’ll be rewarded handsomely.
There are plenty of active Malaysian garage sale groups on Facebook that can help you get started on your garage sale.
8. Sleep without air conditioning
We totally understand. It is uncomfortable to sleep when the weather is hot and humid.
But your air conditioner is actually making the situation worse.
Your air conditioner pumps out heat straight into the atmosphere thus making cities hotter. Nighttime temperatures can rise up to 2 degree celsius because of this.
As a result, this elevates the need for more air conditioning otherwise known as the vicious cycle of air conditioning.
During the Monsoon season, however, temperatures stay cool throughout the night and we experience the amazing tropical breeze.
In those times, the fan is more than sufficient.
This is how much you can save by substituting your air conditioner for the fan:
Sleeping with a fan for 2 days a week will save you RM12.24 monthly
Sleeping with a fan for 5 days a week will save you RM30.6 monthly
Sleeping with a fan for 7 days a week will save you RM45.78 monthly
9. Set your air conditioner to the optimum temperature
To those who set their air conditioners to 16 or 18 degrees celsius, do you need your room to be that cold???
At 18 degrees celsius, your air conditioner increases electricity consumption by 20%.
To save more, set your air conditioner to 23-25 degree celsius.
If you don’t feel the cold air, clean the filter or get it serviced.
10. Borrow, don’t buy
Have you ever bought something only to find yourself underutilising it and finally being pushed to the deep corners of your storage?
We’ve all been there.
So instead of buying, why not borrow from your friends and families?
The benefits are obvious. First, you get to save money by not spending something you’ll rarely use. Second, you create no waste if you don’t consume.
But you shouldn’t just borrow everything. Only borrow if you intend to use the item once in a while.
If you keep borrowing the same item over and over, that’s an indication that you should own one for yourself.
What you should borrow not buy:
Winter clothes and accessories - coats, gloves, scarves and socks
Luggage and bags
As we've shown, it doesn't demand a significant change in your lifestyle nor is it costly to be eco-friendly.
By reducing waste and consumption, we can significantly help save our planet for the imminent threat of climate change and save more money to meet our financial goals at the same time.
For more money-saving tips, check out our article on
Out of the 10 ways to save money and the environment, which one have you found to be most useful? We'd love to hear them in the comment section below!