If you’ve noticed rising prices, you’re not alone. The global pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine have messed up food and fuel production around the world, and many experts are predicting that inflation will be more noticeable in the future. The good news is that there are a lot of ways you can save money at home – and you’ll help to reduce waste and global warming as well.
Singapore’s Green Plan 2030 is a “national sustainability movement” that aims to turn us into a more eco-friendly country. It includes things like planting trees, making the public sector greener, adding more solar power banks on HDB blocks, expanding the rail and cycling networks and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.
This plan can also save you money. Why? It’s partly because the government will be dangling carrots to encourage us all to adopt greener habits. Plus, by adopting eco-friendly habits you can save even more money.
Here are very do-able ways you can save money and the environment at the same time, and still enjoy your life.
Your home is consuming energy as you sleep, but switching to more energy-efficient appliances can reduce this footprint somewhat.
The NEA’s Climate-Friendly Household Package includes dishing out vouchers to households living in 1- to 3-room HDB flats. These vouchers include $150 worth of vouchers you can use on any energy-efficient refrigerator, $50 vouchers you can spend on water-efficient shower fittings and $25 in vouchers you can use to buy energy-efficient LED lights.
You can also use a smart app like Google Nest Hub to make your home more energy-efficient – you can programme your appliances to work more efficiently and use the app to optimize your air conditioning. The Nest savings calculator estimates you can save about 15 per cent on your cooling bill by using your Google Nest thermostat’s energy-efficient features.
Here’s how to redeem your Climate-Friendly Household Vouchers: The vouchers expire on 31 December 2023.
Even if you don’t qualify for the vouchers, it’s worth switching to energy-efficient and water-saving appliances. They might be slightly more expensive but they save you money in as little as two years thanks to lower utility bills.
And if you haven’t already, get PUB to send you a free water saving kit, which includes “thimbles” you can fit over your tap and shower head so you can better regulate their flow rates. They work by reducing splashing and adding a little more bubbly air to the water, so you don’t notice the difference in your shower, but you can cut water (and bills) use by up to 50 per cent.
On the government’s part, they will be aiming to green 80 per cent of Singapore’s buildings by 2030, and have 80 per cent of new buildings be Super Low Energy buildings. The greenest buildings will also be pushed towards an 80 per cent improvement in energy efficiency. So the next home you buy will probably be a more energy-efficient one.
Our national landfill Pulau Semakau is going to run out of space by 2035, so The Green Plan aims to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill by 20 per cent by 2026, and by 30 per cent by 2030.
It’s going to be tough to reduce single-use plastic for food delivery services. On the bright side, you have lots of control over how much waste you produce as an individual, and family.
For starters, if you haven’t started separating your trash, it’s not too late to start. Big blue Recycling bins can be found at the foot of every HDB and condo block, while landed property dwellers get their own private bins. The key is to find out what goes inside and what doesn’t, as placing contaminated or non-recyclable items in the bin can also ruin the recyclable materials. Here’s a list of what to put into your recycling bins.
Recycling is great, but reducing waste at the source is a lot better, since creating and recycling materials has a carbon footprint. Bring your own lunchbox or tingkat when taking away food, buy package-free produce at wet markets and zero waste shops using your own containers, buy secondhand rather than new, and refuse flyers and free tissue packets when you’re out and about.
For more ideas for reducing waste, check out local NGO Zero Waste SG’s website.
The Covid-19 pandemic showed us that food security cannot be taken for granted, which is why the aim is to produce at least 30 per cent of our food by 2030. This will be done by developing land to support agriculture, training workers, offering funding and promoting R&D.
You can support this plan – and save money – by buying local when you can. Fresh produce grown in Singapore now bears a red logo bearing the text “SG Choose Fresh Local Produce”, and the selection includes vegetables, eggs, plant-based proteins, and fish.
Look out for SG Farmers’ Markets (SGFM), which will be launched in various public spaces to sell local produce. You can also buy local produce via Lazada Redmart’s e-SG Farmers’ Market. You can also look here for where to buy local produce, including online deliveries.
By supporting the local food industry, you’re encouraging more local farmers to jump into the fray, which will make us less reliant on food that has to travel thousands of kilometres to us. And when you buy local, you know the vegetables are grown without harmful chemicals and pesticides.
Soaring COE prices and rising fuel prices around the world mean that transport costs are likely to go up in Singapore. But taking public transport will be a very easy way to save money. Plus, walking or cycling instead of driving or hopping into a Grab car reduces your carbon footprint and improves air quality.
To make cycling easier the cycling path network is growing steadily. It was 420km in 2020 and will be 1,320km by 2030.
The MRT network will also expand from 230km to 360km by the early 2030s, with the opening of new stations and the development of new lines such as the Thomson-East Coast Line, Jurong Region Line and Cross Island Lines.
Need your own set of wheels? Consider a shared car or an electric car when the COE on your current vehicle expires.
Electric cars are admittedly more expensive, but they let you save money on petrol and maintenance. The government intends to double the number of electric vehicle charging points by 2030 and has also introduced a few schemes and rebates to make electric vehicles more affordable.
Electric vehicles are still quite expensive and might not be for everyone, but those living in landed property who can charge the vehicles in their own yards are in a great position to consider making the switch.
Another way to save money on a car is to use a car-sharing scheme like GetGo, which has more than 1,000 cars in over 1,000 locations islandwide. Or try electric car sharing scheme BlueSG, which is often significantly cheaper than Grab or taxis if you need a car for half a day.
The number of volunteer opportunities for the environment has grown, whether on a long-term or ad-hoc basis. Here are some ways you can contribute:
- Zero Waste SG – This organisation promotes the reduction of food, plastic and organisational waste. They have volunteer opportunities for a wide range of profiles, from photographers and web or graphic designers to finance professionals and trainers.
- Plastic-Lite Singapore – This organisation aims to reduce plastic waste through initiatives like reusable bag sharing and No-Straw Tuesdays. They have both long-term and ad-hoc volunteer opportunities.
- Food From The Heart – This charity distributes leftover food to needy beneficiaries, tackling the problems of food waste and poverty at the same time. If you have a vehicle, you can help to deliver bread and food packs, otherwise you can help out with sorting and packing or participate in their events.
- The Food Bank Singapore – They run a Fresh Food Truck (FFT) project which salvages “ugly” fruits and vegetables, which would otherwise be wasted, and then distributes them to the needy. They are looking for groups of up to ten volunteers, which can be perfect for corporate volunteers or groups of friends and family.
- National Environment Agency – Get involved in organising cleanups, events to raise public awareness on sustainable living and dengue prevention checks.
- Singapore Environment Council – Their Earth Helpers programme organises a variety of environment-related activities.
- Beach clean-ups with various organisations – Before all that plastic waste makes its way into the ocean, participate in a friendly group clean-up with Trash Hero Singapore, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, Green Nudge, Seven Clean Seas and Ocean Purpose Project.
Bonus: By spending free time volunteering with social enterprises and NGOs — rather than cafe-hopping or splurging on staycations — you stand to save a save a lot of money. During the pandemic, the personal savings of Singaporeans hit a five-year high.
Having a job that actually benefits the earth might not be so impossible after all!
The $50 million SG Eco Fund is a government grant set up to support projects that advance environmental sustainability and involve the community. You can apply as an individual, a group or as a Singapore-registered organisation.
If your application is accepted, you can receive up to 80 per cent of your supportable costs (including venue rental, logistics and transportation) for up to three years, capped at $1 million.
Text: Joanne Poh/Moneysmart. Updated by Tara Barker, March 2022