This year our focus is on helping the planet. Do you know, everything frugal that we do helps the planet? From growing your own food, buying less, using less, re-using items, fixing and mending, cooking efficiently - it all helps. Saving money and helping the planet go hand in hand.
I hope you are well and safe. The fires are scary and sad. When people are evacuated after the fires because towns lack food and water, it scares everyone because it shows how much we take for granted.
It is time to stop taking things for granted and do all we can to care for each other. At times like these, all the frugal knowledge we have, all the things we do not only help ourselves, they also help our neighbours. They even help people who haven't been born yet.
So let's make a difference in 2020. Let's do our best to be frugal and help the planet.
PS: Apologies for not getting this newsletter out at the start of January. Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed. I'll do my best to make sure February's newsletter is sent to you by February 1st.
This year, we have set a frugal challenge for every month. You will find the full challenges in the new 2020 calendar.
If you haven't downloaded your FREE Simple Savings calendar yet, you can do so here.
Here are the challenges for the year ahead. I'm looking forward to doing them all together!
- January: Conserve Water
- February: Decluttering
- March: Emergency Prep
- April: Waste Not, Want Not
- May: $21 Challenge
- June: Know Your Area
- July: Get Moving
- August: Tasty. No Skill Required.
- September: Grow Your Own
- October: Shopping Online
- November: Low Impact Gifts
- December: Take a Break
As you can see from the list above, this month's challenge is all about conserving water. It couldn't be more timely. To begin making a difference, we would like you to think about doing the following in your household. You can either start off gently, or throw yourself in at the deep end (yes, that pun was intended)!
Easy - Change one water wasting habit
Moderate - Change two water wasting habits
Difficult - Revamp your whole water usage
Before you get started saving every precious drop, we suggest you:
- Read this whole newsletter. It is filled with tips and tricks to help you reduce your water usage, some of which you may never have considered before.
Do your research. While we have great tips and information on conserving water in this newsletter and in our Vault, we are not the only place to look. There are a number of great sites around, like this one for example:
- Choose your challenge. Once you have sourced some ideas and had a think about some of the things you can do this month, set yourself some goals. Such as, do you want to change just one habit, or do you want to go all in?
- Make a plan. Choose the habits you want to change, write down the new habits you would like to replace them with, make your old habit hard to do, make your new habit easy to do and create yourself memory triggers to help you on your way.
- Take action. Get in there and do it! Be the change you wish to see in the world.
When was I was trying to work out how we could lower our water usage, I ran into a huge number of problems. For example, I didn't know things like:
How much water do we use?
What is normal?
How are we using all this water?
Am I frugal or wasteful with water?
In case you are also asking yourself the same questions, here is how you go about finding out:
There are two ways to work this out. If you get a water bill, it details how much water you use per day. Divide this number by the people in your household. This will give you your daily water consumption per person. If you don't receive a water bill, this website can help you work it out.
Our water consumption falls into two categories. 'At home' water usage and 'unseen' water usage. On average, Australians use 282 litres of water in the home every day. Across the country, this ranges from 100 litres in some coastal regions to 800 litres in dry inland areas. Most water used is not in the home. It is 'unseen' water which is used to grow food and in the workplace. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics we each consume 2520 litres per day.
To work out whether or not your household is above or below average for your area, Google the average usage for your water region with these search words:-
"(Your region name) average household water consumption"
For example, I live on the Sunshine Coast, where the average is 170 litres per person. So my Google search was 'Sunshine Coast average household water consumption'.
Let's look at how we are using all this water in our homes and elsewhere.
At home water use:
- Flushing the toilet (single flush cistern) = 12 litres
- Bath = 100 litres
- Shower (10 minutes) = 200 litres
- Dishwasher load = 50 litres
- Washing machine load = 150 litres
- Brushing teeth with tap running = 5 litres
- Drinking, cooking, cleaning per person per day = 10 litres
- Hand basin = 5 litres per use
- Garden sprinkler = 1000 litres per hour
- Garden dripper = 4 litres per hour
- Car washing with hose = 200 litres
- Hosing the driveway = 100 litres
- Total daily consumption per household = 900 litres
These numbers came from
- Unseen water use:
- An apple = 70 litres
- A glass of beer = 75 litres
- A glass of wine = 120 litres
- Bag of chips = 185 litres
- Slice of bread = 40 litres
- Cup of tea = 35 litres
- Cup of coffee = 140 litres
- A potato = 25 litres
- An egg = 135 litres
- Glass of milk = 200 litres
- Hamburger = 2400 litres
- Cotton t-shirt = 2000 litres
- Leather shoes = 8000 litres
- One kilo of beef = 16,000 litres
(This data came from Cool Australia)
In case you are wondering, 'What about me? Am I wasteful or frugal with water?', here is a little quiz our magnificent long time member Claire M put together:
Are you guilty of doing any of these?
- Running the tap while cleaning your teeth or washing your hands.
- Spending too long in the shower, or having a deep bath often.
- Washing up and rinsing dishes under a running tap with no plug or basin.
- Handwashing clothes under a running tap.
- Not fixing a leaking tap or cistern.
- Boiling more water than you really need for hot drink, or making stock then tipping out the rest down the sink.
- Using sprinklers and turning them on, then forgetting about it until next morning or hours later.
- Filling a child's wading pool with the hose, then forgetting to turn it off, or allowing children to play with the hose while filling.
- Allowing children to play under the hose, or using the hose to make a water slide in the backyard.
- Leaving the hose running while you wash the car
- Hosing the lawns to keep them green.
- Watering gardens every day, or just the leaves and not the root area.
This quiz has come from Claire's Water Saving Challenge thread in the Forum, where she and some other fantastic members are supporting each other to save. They have done an amazing job of collecting together all the hints and Forum threads which will help you with your challenge!
NB: To access the Forum, you need to be a Vault - or paid - member. To become a Vault member and unlock thousands of saving tips on every subject, click here!
In the Lippey household this month, we have been examining our water habits. In our house, we use 132 litres per person per day. While this is below the average for our region, it is not great. At the moment, the Southern Downs Regional Council are asking people to reduce their water usage to 100 litres per day.
To meet the desired target, our household needs to cut our use by 32 litres per person - 192 litres in total for our household - every day. This is going to be tough!
I thought the hardest part about reducing our at home water usage would be getting the kids on board. But they have been great. I'll tell you more about them later.
I have been looking at our water habits in this household and these are the changes we can make now.
Some of my children have this really annoying habit of only using their towel once, throwing it in the wash and then going to the cupboard in the hallway for a fresh towel. Part of the reason it has gone on for so long is we didn't have enough towel rails. There wasn't really anywhere for the kids to hang their towels, so they left them in a pile on the floor. The other part is they are being lazy and short of becoming a towel Nazi, I have no way of knowing who is or isn't re-using their towels.
The first step in my plan is to add more towel rails to the bathroom. I bought them months ago, now we just need to install them! A few months ago I also read a hint about buying different colour towels and assigning them to a child. This way, you know which child is hanging up their towel. It is a great idea, but buying new towels is excessive, so I'm going to sew coloured tags on our towels, assign each child with two towels, then remove the rest of the towels from circulation.
This way, each child will have to look after their towel, or they will either not have a clean towel or have to try and pinch their sibling's clean towel. This will be entertaining!
We used to have a similar problem with tea towels in the kitchen. Instead of hanging up the tea towel and re-using it, they would leave it in a soggy mess by the sink and get a fresh one from the drawer. To stop to problem with tea towels I removed all but two tea towels from the kitchen and hid the rest. It worked.
(I thought the kids would argue and whinge. But on the contrary, they are all on board. They really want to help.)
Some days we do three dishwasher loads and most of it is cups. My kids use a glass once and that is it. Part of the reason is our cups look the same, but mostly it is laziness and me allowing my kids to have wasteful habits. I'm taking the advice of one of the hints below and am going to put coloured elastics on each person's cup. That will be their cup for the day. Then I'll remove the rest of the cups from the kitchen.
(I thought this would be a battle. But, the kids are super keen on this idea too.)
When it comes to showers we are pretty decadent. It is probably our most wasteful water habit. The water is so lovely, we often forget that we are in the shower and only get out when someone bangs on the wall!
To curb this I have bought a waterproof clock and shower timer.
(I bought the timer from AliExpress. Which means it will take a bit of time to arrive. But already the kids have started reducing their shower times. Last night Tristan said to me, "Look how quick I was in the shower. Were you watching?" "No, I don't watch you in the shower." "Then were you listening? Were you? It was the quickest I've ever been!" I'll let you know how it goes with the timer!
At the moment, I water the garden with drinking water. Up until writing this newsletter I had never considered any other options. However, is time for that to change. It is time to be smarter and get a water tank. But, the problem is, I know very little about water tanks.
After researching tanks, their cost effectiveness, regulations and rebates. I have come to the conclusion. I still know nothing about tanks. Zip. Nada.
This means getting a rainwater tank to water my veggies and wicking bed will need to be a long term goal. If you are an expert on water tanks however, I would love to hear from you. Please send me an email to email@example.com
So already we have some solid and hopefully effective ways of reducing our at home water usage in place. But what about our unseen water usage? How can we lower that?
Lowering our unseen water usage is tricky because it is hard to measure. On the unseen water usage list above, it shows 16,000 litres of water is used to produce one kilo of meat. When we eat meat for dinner, our family of six has between 600g (bolognaise) to 1.8 kg (lamb roast). At the moment, we eat meat five or six nights a week. Reducing this to three to four nights a week will save an average 32,000 litres of water a week. It will also save a tonne of money.
Other ways we can reduce our unseen water use are:-
- Grow more of our own food
- Live a more minimalist lifestyle
- Limit purchases
- Buy second hand goods
- Eat less processed food
- Eat more vegetarian and vegan meals
If you would like some recipes for vegetarian and vegan meals, mobile minimalist Jackie Norman and her husband Gareth are giving away a free recipe ebook, called 'Easy Veganuary'. If you would like to download a copy, you can do it direct from here
Here is one of their latest recipes:
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side
This is our favourite salad right now! So quick to throw together, only a few ingredients and we love the zingy lemon-mayo dressing. Vegan mayonnaise is available readily from most supermarkets, however you can also use regular.
- 1 bunch slender asparagus spears
- 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 60g leafy greens, such as mesclun
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (one for cooking the asparagus, one for the dressing)
- 3 tbsp vegan mayonnaise (available from supermarkets, or you can use regular)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sunflower seeds, to garnish
First, prepare the asparagus by discarding the ends and cutting the rest into bite-size pieces. Put a splash of water in a frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat, along with one tablespoon of the lemon juice. Add in the asaparagus and cook gently for 6 - 8 minutes, until the stems are softened. Set aside and let it cool for five minutes.
Add the cooled asparagus to a large bowl, along with the celery, leafy greens, mayonnaise and the other tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix well and season with a good scrunch of salt and pepper. Serve, garnished with sunflower seeds.
For more delicious vegan and plant-based recipes, check out their Facebook page, 'Camper Van Kitchen'.
With so many fantastic water conserving hints in the Savings Vault, there is really no excuse for us all not to be doing our bit to help the planet right now! Here are some good ones to get you started.
Here's a great hint for saving water. It is especially helpful in water-restricted areas and with rising water costs. Buy a $2.00 wash basin that fits nicely into your kitchen sink and use it to wash dishes in. The basin holds less water than the sink so it saves on water usage. You use less detergent so that saves money also. Then you can pour the water on your garden plants outside, so you save three times over!
Despite a lengthy drought in Brisbane, I have saved over 35,000 litres of water in our pool and haven't had to use any tap water to water the garden in two years! Two years ago I attached a hose to the spouting of our house, so that I could fill the pool with rainwater as it fell and I could capture water for our pot plants and herb garden. This has saved us hundreds of dollars. Even a light sprinkle fills my 48 litre container, giving me two weeks of free water for the pot plants! Also, during the summer months I encourage my family to take 'Norwegian showers', which involves wetting yourself all over, then turning off the shower, lathering your body, and washing your hair, then turning the shower back on to rinse off. We have dropped our water consumption from one kilolitre per day to .65 kilolitres per day!
We saved over $100 on a new-fangled water saving device! Recently we saw a new type of garbage bin being advertised in the local paper. It had a tap screwed into the bottom of it and was being promoted as a water saving device for $140. We couldn't help chuckling at the hefty price tag as my handy hubby had made us one of these a long time before! He just went to Bunnings, bought an ordinary garden tap and fittings for around $15 and fitted the tap to our existing garbage bin. I just wheel it in the laundry when I do a load of washing and get 60 litres of grey water to use on the garden. The bin can still be used for the normal round of rubbish on a weekly basis. Much cheaper than paying $140 for the same thing. My dad even used to do this too, using an old metal drum tied to a golf cart buggy on wheels!
We implemented all these water saving methods and found it very easy to change our old habits with simple common sense.
Brushing teeth: One small glass of water, wet toothbrush in glass, after brushing rinse mouth with water from glass then rinse toothbrush in remaining water.
Showers: Purchase a large round bucket from Crazy Clarks or similar outlet, place in the shower and stand in it. Turn shower on, wet hair and body, turn shower off, shampoo hair, turn water on and rinse hair, turn water off, wash body all over with body washer and shower soap, turn water on and rinse. You will be amazed at the small amount of water used!
Bathing children: It is very easy to bathe a small child in the large round bucket under the shower - plus they think it is great fun!
Toilets: Transfer the water from large shower bucket into toilet cisterns, and use it to flush the toilet.
Night visits: Don't flush during the night after urination, one flush first thing in the morning is sufficient, or use saved bucket water.
Older dishwashers: Put an 'Out of Order' sign on the dishwasher and wash dishes
the old fashioned way! New models usually use less water than hand washing.
Taps: When running water from the hot tap from cold to hot, use the electric jug to save the cold water. Boil the jug and then transfer to vacuum flasks for tea/coffee during the day. When leftover water from the flask is cool, fill up water bottles and put in fridge for drinking.
Washing machine: Use the water from shower tubs for the first cycle wash and don't over use soap powder.
Don't you hate it when someone uses a clean glass out of the cupboard every time they have a drink? Me too. So I came up with this nifty water saving idea. Everyone in my family has a different coloured elastic band which they put around their drinking glass, so glasses don't get mixed up during the day. Each family member keeps the same glass all day and refills when necessary. Really cuts down on the number of glasses we wash each day. By doing this we save water and teach the kids a good lesson about waste.
My husband saved $500 - $1000 installing the plumbing for a rainwater tank with a friend. Although he is not a handyman, he has friends who are! One gave him four off-cut wooden planks (which would normally cost $130) at no charge, to make the base on which the tank stands and even trimmed them to the required size and supplied brackets. Used sump oil was painted on to protect the wood - again, no cost. Crusher dust for the base was $33 for a cubic metre. Piping to connect the tank up to the drain pipes was another $100. He and another friend spent a few hours over several evenings connecting it all up. In exchange for his time and use of his tools, my husband helped out at his friend's pizza stall at a local food and wine festival. So for the grand total of $133 our new tank is installed, saving a small fortune in plumber's fees and wood for the base. As my husband has always said, 'What goes around comes around!'
We have four kids, and found our first water bill after returning to Australia from living in New Zealand, was huge! One way we thought of reducing it was by buying a digital timer that the kids use when they have their showers. Normal shower - three minutes, which is plenty. Hairwashing nights - a bit longer! The timer beeps loudly when time is up, we can hear it in other parts of the house, so can also keep a check on whether they are using the timer properly! This is working well so far and it is amazing how much time they used to waste (and water and money!) standing under the shower.
Bonus quick links for Vault members:
Hopefully the ideas and information you have read so far has already got you well and truly inspired to conserve water. Perhaps you already do some of them - good on you! What other things do you and your household do to save water? What other brainwaves have you come up with, which have worked for you? We would love to hear! They can be as wacky or as innovative as you like, as long as they work.
Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 27th to be in the competition. The best five tips will win $20 each. Thank you for sharing your clever ideas and helping others.
In our last newsletter, we told you about our exciting new Leg Up program. This is where we give one Savings Vault membership away for every full price membership purchased, so that we can help even more people.
Hopefully, this program will be up and running to launch in February's newsletter. If you would like to apply early and be one of the first people to get a membership, fill in our early application form.
We hope you have enjoyed this month's newsletter and our focus on conserving water. I hope you have learned some useful tips and tricks. Now you are nearly at the end, have you made a plan for saving water? Do you have any questions? If you want to talk more on the subject, the best place to go is Claire's challenge thread in the Forum. Good luck!
Till next time