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NOW CLOSED: Post your tips on saving water, energy and waste for the Future Friendly 'Less Waste, More Reward' campaign and win £250 of vouchers and products.

(67 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 15-Jul-10 12:59:42

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EasilyConfusedIndith Thu 15-Jul-10 14:24:14


Menu plan and only buy what you need. Get good at only cooking what you need to rather than ending up with tiny scraps of leftovers that are no use.

Invest in a load of freezer and microwavable containers to use instead of cling film and freezer bags.

For water apart from the ones we all know we should do but don't like spending less time in the shower, when you wash up put a small amount of cold water int he sink and rinse all the mucky stuff, plates etc then do the washing up. You'll probably find you now only need one sink of hot water instead of 2 or more.

Bin most of your cleaning products. There is very little that cannot be done with vinegar, bicarb, tea tree oil and a microfibre cloth.

Switch lights off, take stuff off standby etc. We all know those. Actually we got sent an energy monitor by British Gas and I do find it useful as I know what the rate of consumption is during the day, I tend to glance at it when I pass through the kitchen so if I have done something daft like forgotten to turn the immersion heater off then I can tell instantly.

EasilyConfusedIndith Thu 15-Jul-10 14:25:43

Oh and erm take your children to the park instead of parking them in front of the TV while you MN, that'll be 2 power hungry appliances switched off and saving energy grin <drags self off arse and out of the door>

All leftovers go in a tupperware box in the freezer - the odd spoonful of peas, leftover pasta, etc etc. Then at the end of the week it all goes in a pot to make soup, along with any veggies that are past their best.

Fruit that's over ripe gets stewed and made in to crumble.

A dog is a good investment to prevent food waste! grin

mustrunmore Thu 15-Jul-10 15:34:30

I'm the most stingy person alive grin
Off the top of my head:

Use bath water to water the garden (our bath is right by the front door so its easy)

Compost all food waste; its bad for it to go in regular rubbish removal

I use every tea bag at least 3 times! (unless you're a guest wink)

Cut up old t shirts to make dishcloths

We filter all our tap water and them reuse any plastic bottle we have several times, so we dont have to buy water when out (freeze it, stays cold all day, and keeps packed lunch chilled too)

We dont flush the loo for wees in the night; used to be to keep babies asleep, but I guess its habit now!

Make envelopes from the junk mail that comes through the door; you onlt need a tiny plain bit of new paper then for the address

Kids bath together, or sometimes each in turn but with daddy

Old crap veg goes into stew, old crap fruit gets juiced!

Soap remnants get saved and remoulded into a new bar

ShatnersBassoon Thu 15-Jul-10 15:41:28

Reduce the spin speed on your washing machine if you're going to be putting the washing outside on the line and are in no hurry for it to dry.

Increase the spin speed as much as possible if you're going to tumble dry your washing; cheaper to spin more of the water out than tumble dry it out.

craftynclothy Thu 15-Jul-10 15:48:54

We use soapnuts for laundry and compost them after use. Saves money too.

We compost all our veg peelings, etc. Also have a bokashi bin.

We use washable stuff as much as possible - so washable san pro (sometimes mooncup), reusable nappies.

We don't menu plan as such but we have similar meals each week so have a good idea of what to buy. Sometimes it's impossible not to end up with too much veg left cos of the pack sizes (online shop with Ocado) but then I use that to make soup.

Use a slow cooker once or twice a week.

Don't iron grin

Try to buy stuff with minimal packaging.

mustrunmore Thu 15-Jul-10 15:51:32

Yep, I'd second soapnuts. altho ds1 has found that you can use them to make jewellery after theyve run out of soap, so thats xmas for grannies sorted grin

mustrunmore Thu 15-Jul-10 15:52:59

Ooo, and I now do my shopping weekyl rather than a monthly tescos delivery. This was primarily to save money, but it has also cut down on buying on impulse from a simple click; I can only buy what fits in my 75litre rucksack to carry home!

SwansEatQuince Thu 15-Jul-10 16:10:52

Almost every tin, cardboard box, carton that would be thrown out can be used to grow herbs or vegetables.
A cat food tin, washed out, grows one lettuce beautifully. Knock some holes in the bottom.
Mustard and cress can be grown in half eggshells then composted.

Thick cardboard and newspaper make excellent mulches in the garden.

whomovedmychocolate Thu 15-Jul-10 16:35:22

The cat does not need a radio to keep it company angry (that one is aimed at my parents).

Ensure you have too few sockets in the kitchen - it forces you to unplug things!

Also turn off your microwave when not in use, or you are paying quite a lot for an ugly white clock box.

Pavlov Thu 15-Jul-10 17:15:49

get rid of the microwave (if you have a gas cooker) we saved a huge amount in electricity doing that, and don't really miss it, apart from atm weaning - contraversial i know!

Cook lots of food at once and freeze, reduces the amount of electricity/gas used cooking food from scratch each time, as well as wasting less food with that little bit always left over.

Change those 3+tiered lampshades to ones with less, ideally just one lightshade. We also saved a fortune changing our hallway and front room from 3 to 1, that saved 4 bulbs, and with the hallway turned on lots (although now turned off lots too!) it made a huge difference to our bills.

Use the shower for 2 minutes less. DH loves long showers and I love baths, so we both agreed to have significantly less showers in the week, (he has gone from 10 min showers to 5 min showers), and while I have been on ML and not doing anything messy/smelly showered every other day, at every weekend DH has a longer shower, but still no more than 10 mins, and I have a long soapy bath every couple of weeks.

Dishwasher on every day, emptied every day so we can stack it, and minimal washing up of anything else, actually saves us water, as we have an economical dishwasher.

In the summer if your fridge is big enough, keep bottles/jugs of cold water in it so you don't have to wait for the tap to run cold before drinking it.

Give your children a torch if they are old enough to use one, but do not want to be in the dark, then you can turn the hallway light off at night.

Pavlov Thu 15-Jul-10 17:21:34

oh yes, DD has a shower bath. We put the plug in and she sits in the bath under the shower while it warms up and while we shower, then she sits in it and plays! Or she gets in my bath once I am done (if I am not using really bad smellies grin). Both the children share, although DS is a baby so needs a bath rarely.

We re-use bath water to water plants.

Go out a lot, have the tv on for a minimal amount of time.

Eat cereal instead of toast on most days.

Buy food from a variety of shops, easier while on ML. so veg from local shop, dried stuff/olive oil from lidl. Milk from coop (£1.10 for 4pints of semi)

Pavlov Thu 15-Jul-10 17:26:43

oh sorry, one more. I buy almost all my clothes from ebay, so secondhand, ie re-using, and I sell things I do not want anymore on ebay. I get rid of things on freecycle when I have a clear out before taking to the tip, although, it rarely gets tipped even then as they have staff making sure if it can be used, it is put elsewhere than the rubbish bit. I ask for things on freecycle if I think I can get it, rather than buy things new. It is not just about the money. For example, I got a fab plastic wendyhouse/outdoor playhouse for DD a couple of weeks ago. Instead of buying a new plastic item, which cost a fortune, i re-used one already made. saved it being put into our ground.

trice Thu 15-Jul-10 18:35:41

Try using half the recommended amount of washing powder/liquid. The clothes still come out clean nine times out of ten.

Wear a pinny and get the kids to use a napkin/ bib while they eat. This means clothes don't need to be washed as often. The clothes last longer that way.

Leave the car at home one day a week.

Have a couple of blankets on your sofa so that you can snuggle up under them rather than putting the heating on.

ProfYaffle Thu 15-Jul-10 18:47:59

Saving water in the garden:

Cut the bottom off a plastic bottle, 500ml Coke bottles work well. Sink it, neck down, into the soil next to your water hungry plant (pumpkin, courgette, tomatoes etc) Pour water directly into the bottle. This takes the water directly down to the roots and doesn't evaporate on the surface/run off etc.

Plant in a depression (a depression in the ground rather than an economic downturn) so that water collects around the plant and soaks into the soil instead of running off.

Sow bean seeds in cardboard tubes full of potting compost. Plant the tubes directly into the soil (the cardboard will eventually rot away). This encourages the beans to form very deep roots which can access water deep in the soil and drastically reduce the need for watering.

Don't water carrots. This encourages them to grown downwards, seeking deep water, and produces bigger carrots in the process.

Ange79 Thu 15-Jul-10 18:58:14

Save all wrapping paper, cards etc to be reused, or cut up to make new cards. Or buy a second hand scarf to use as wrapping which can then be worn.
I've had baby clothes given to me on hangers, no need for hangers, so gave them to the charity shop who said they always need them. Also, any spare plastic bags can go to the charity shop.

SuseB Thu 15-Jul-10 19:27:49

We do reusable everything: nappies, mooncup, breast pads, baby wipes... wash them with homemade washing gloop in very economical washing machine - currently looking at ways to recycle grey water from washing machine/dishwasher. Multiple water butts for garden watering, also reuse paddling pool water on the veggies.

Our chickens turn all our leftover food waste (except cooked chicken!) into scrummy free eggs... this is great as we have two pre-schoolers who leave crusts etc.

Rechargeable batteries for everything possible - all the children's electronic toys. Thing that turns off telly, digibox etc when you put them on standby.

Draft-proofing - heavy curtains across front door etc, reduces need for heating. Heat the space we're in (leave heating off in rest of house and just have gas fire on in lounge).

ilovemydogandMrObama Thu 15-Jul-10 20:00:00

After a big shop, depackage your items and dump utilize the store's recycling facilities. I enjoy leaving packaging at customer services smile

Sherbert37 Thu 15-Jul-10 22:37:36

Investigate loft insulation. There are grants to be had and it may even be free. My town has received money to top up free of charge. I am hoping this will lower my ridiculous heating bills (and make me clear out the loft).

down2earthwithabump Thu 15-Jul-10 22:44:16

Hmm, I think most things have been mentioned above, but here's what we have recently improved on to save energy, water and waste:

Compost: we compost most things (egg boxes, shredded paper, anything with our personal details on - to help prevent id theft) apart from meat/fish, but bones get used twice by creating home-made stock - see below! We even put toddler potty wees on the compost. shock

Garden recycling: Use broken egg-shells to prevent slugs from getting plants.

Grow your own (from seed - cheapest) and learn what you can get your own seeds from too so that you can even save on the price of a packet of seeds. Companion planting (planting plants that give off an odour to deter bugs or even can attract bugs away from veg - saves on pesticides).
Three sisters planting (grow corn, corguettes and beans together, the corn can provide the support for beans so you don't need canes, trellis or obelisks).

Crop rotation (even reusing earth in containers and changing crops each year means you can save on compost, dig in some home-made fresh compost and you've saved on earth and minimised disease to your crops).

Use any tins, packets, cut tops off of old sachets and pierce holes in bottom for drainage for seedlings, herbs and small plants.
Use loo-roll inners and kitchen roll inners for growing peas and beans seedlings and then plant whole thing in earth when ready.

Make your own fertiliser/plant feed by using nettles/comfrey or borage. (Borage is my new wonder-plant - the flowers can attract bees which then pollonate my beans and corguettes next the borage, its flowers can also be frozen in ice-cubes for summer drinks and its leaves can be soaked and used as plant feed - Fab! grin

Give plants/seedlings as presents for birthdays etc.

Buy whole chicken or duck (a gressingham duck can provide 4 good portions) and use bones and giblets for stock/soup. I think a whole bird can be 1/3 to 1/4 the price per kg of chicken/duck breasts.

Menu planning - to use seasonal local grown produce where possible / or to incorporate the sudden glut of the veg that you've grown your own. Only buy what you need and only buy what you know you will have time to prepare!

Slow cooking - great! Even in an oven - you can batch-cook and freeze any left overs and bake cakes/puddings roast veg at the same time. So oven is on longer but you are getting lots cooked.

Draught proofing - cover up disused fire-places within the regs for ventilation of course. A towel pinned over a draughty old letter box can help prevent cold air coming through. Use old clothes and make a sausage-dog/croc draught excluder (stuff with washed old holey tights/stockings/socks). Old sash windows can have newspaper stuffed in between in winter.

Use veg water on garden. Use old bath/washing water on lawn and some plants.

Water butt - these are often subsidised by councils. Collect rain-water. Ours is at the top of our sloping garden, we just put the hose on the butt tap and can use it to water garden.

Use old cardboard boxes for kids to make robots, towers, dens, toy houses, schools stations, walls etc.

Get a roll of lining paper for kids to draw/stick/paint on.

Use washable cloths for dish cloths and kitchen cleaning.

Use old PJ material for polishing shoes.

Use old sheets for oh so many things - fancy dress costumes, dens, bunting, cut and sew into smaller sheets for dolls, garden teepees.

Only heat one room during the day in the winter if at home (living room) if possible.

Only have responsibly sourced wooden/fabric/card/non-battery powered toys. Let the nursery and friends provide the loud plastic fantastic all singing and beeping toys! No need to keep replacing batteries then. Second hand even better.

Get rid of the tv esp if you have a computer as you can catch up on any dvds/tv through the internet now and it will make you more choosy as to what you watch.

Get rid of any clothes/books that you have not used for 1 year. Charity shop or clothes swaps or jumble sales/car boot sales/ebay can turn it into cash for you or a good cause or sometimes both!

Go camping instead of hotel - saves money, instant exercise, great fresh air, and you may even have had your holiday fill by day 3. hmm

Holiday in UK instead of abroad - can save on carbon footprint, save money for escaping our here island and puts into our own economy.

Well that's my attempt for now!

wetweekend Fri 16-Jul-10 06:38:12

Mooncups & washable sanpro

Use proper napkins/ cloths instead of kitchen towel. They are small enough to put in the wash with other things so you're not doing an extra load.

Use old t-shirts as cleaning cloths

Microfibre cloths & water to clean most things - no need for floor cleaner/ spraying everywhere.

Turn off everything that does not need to be left on standby (I can't think of anything that does need to be left on)

Go out - do stuff instead of sitting watching tv or MNing

Recycle clothes - I get my sister's hand-me-downs and so from friends too and I donate most of mine to the charity shop. Almost all of Ds's clothes belonged to other people first and he loves that he is wearing Nigel/ Barnaby/ Shaheed's old clothes.

Use rechargeable batteries.

Only boil as much water as you need.

Wolfcub Fri 16-Jul-10 09:07:02

Buy a whole chicken instead of chicken pieces - either joint it yourself raw (easy honest) and then use the carcass for stock or roast/poach it in the slowcooker and then take all the meat off - and use the carcass for stock. You'll get a lot more for your money than if you buy chicken portions.

When cooking veg use the kettle to boil the water first as it costs less than using the stove. Then bring veggies back to the boil in the pan, stick a tight fitting lid on and turn off the heat. Veggies will cook in the hot water quite adequately - you just may need to put them on a little sooner.

Try to plan use of the over or other appliances to limit the amount of time the oven is on or the amount of times you have to wash something. For example if you are using the food processor for several things try to plan it in an order so that you don't need to wash it in between - e.g bread for breadcrumbs, then onions, then meat etc. If using the oven try to use all the available space in it so if you are cooking lasagne on one shelf try to bake something on another shelf at the same time even if it just goes in the freezer for another day.

Second hand clothes for kids are great, they'll hardly have worn them anyway because they grow so fast.

Before turning the heating on try extra jumpers/socks or blankets first. Try to have a target month or date for turning the heating on and off each year. E.G. off by the end of march and not back on until mid November.

Wolfcub Fri 16-Jul-10 09:08:23

Forgot to add - see if your local library loans out energy meters so you can track your energy usage and see which appliances are costing you the most.

Get rid of the tumble drier. Line dry whenever it isn't raining and use an airer at other times.

nymphadora Fri 16-Jul-10 09:13:11

Grow your own and for those 2 weeks where you are over run with tomatos/ raspberries/ chillies ( my usual ones) make sauces / freeze/ make meals for the freezer to last over next few months.

We have just finished last years raspberries as the new season started

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