5 ways taking part in the circular economy could help you save money

Tara McCabe

Wednesday 04 September 2019

Let’s face it, being eco-friendly sometimes feels like the more expensive option. Buying organic food, investing in renewables and choosing to buy ethical can set you back more than a few dollars. But being green doesn’t have to cost you the earth. In fact, there are lots of ways you can help make a difference to the planet and your savings account.

What is the circular economy?

Embracing a whole new approach to what you use and what you throw away, could just help you stash more cash for a rainy day. Taking part in the circular economy is a great way to stop wasting not only the earth’s resources, but also your own hard earned money.

But you might be wondering what the circular economy is? What does it entail? And how can it help save you money and help save the planet?

What is the circular economy?

Right now, like almost everyone else, you’re probably used to a more linear economy. In the linear economy items are made, used and then disposed of.

The circular economy tries to do better by eliminating waste; in a circular economy items are made, used, mended when they break, reused and recycled into something else, after which the whole process can start again.

It really is as simple as that, reusing, mending and recycling. Plus throw borrowing and sharing into the mix, and you’re that much closer to reaching your savings goals! 

Here’s a few tips on how you can live life in less of a straight line and start giving circles more love:

1. Borrow don’t buy

One simple way to join the circular economy and save money is by borrowing things you only use once. For example, instead of buying an expensive suit or dress to wear once at a wedding or other special occasion, why not think about hiring one. 

Hiring a one-off outfit isn’t just a great way to reduce waste, it’s also a pretty shrewd way for the financially savvy to keep on trend and save money. One website we looked at had the option to rent a $320 dress for $89, saving you $231 and space in your closet on an item of clothing that chances are you won’t wear again. 
Other ways to save money by borrowing is to join your local library. You can easily drop between $20 to $50 on a new book, whereas borrowing from the library shouldn’t cost you a cent. Plus the return deadline that comes with borrowing could spur you on to finish it! 

Of course borrowing isn’t just limited to books and clothing. Since 2013 tool libraries have been popping up in different states across Australia, to champion a more sustainable way of living. All you have to do is pay an annual membership fee and you can borrow anything from a set of spanners to a sewing machine.

2. Mend don’t spend!

Another way to cut your costs and contribute to the circular economy is to fix what you already own. If your favourite shirt starts coming away at the seams don’t give up on it! Mend what you have, you could even set aside one evening each week to take care of all your repairs, whether it be sewing a button back on or sewing up a hole in your pants seam. 

If you’re not too confident with sewing then check out a tutorial online or take your items in need of repair to your local alterations specialist. 

This goes for other household items too; if you have an appliance or piece of furniture that’s busted, don’t drop money on a new one! Find your nearest Repair Cafe and see if someone can help you bring it back to life for free. 

Repair Cafes are becoming more and more popular in Australia, they are run by volunteers and usually open a couple of times a month. Bring your broken item along for help fixing it, you could even gain some hands on knowledge for how to repair it next time!

3. Sell it on or swap it for something else

If you’re really not too keen on keeping an item of clothing or you have an old bicycle you no longer have space for then think about selling it on, instead of throwing it away.

Some good options for selling on your shirts, shoes, DVDs, kitchen appliances, white goods and other household items are:

  • eBay - you can list up to 40 items for free on eBay. The website does take a small cut if you sell something, but you’ll still make some cash.
  • Facebook Marketplace - Facebook’s digital marketplace is a great place to make a quick buck on furniture or appliances that you need to shift 
  • Gumtree - it’s a great site for listing larger items, such as fridges and vacuum cleaners with the option for the buyer to pick up, at no extra cost to you.
  • Try out the app Carousell - it’s simple to use and you can advertise anything from furniture to fashion accessories, and give the buyer the option to pick up.
  • Join your local buy, swap and sell page on Facebook. This way you can interact with people in your area who might be in need of that one piece of furniture you’re keen to get rid of. Or if there isn’t a buy, swap and sell page for your area, think about starting one yourself!
  • Find out about suitcase rummages near you and make some quick cash out of all the clothes, shoes and accessories you no longer want.

You often won’t get back what you paid for something, but you’ll free up space and make a little bit of cash in the process. Plus selling it on means another person can save money on a brand new item, and save the planet by giving your unwanted goods more love.

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4. Choose pre-loved!

While selling on can raise a bit of cash, buying pre-loved can also save you a lot of money. You can find some pretty unusual items in thrift stores or vintage shops, and remember if something doesn’t quite fit you could also have it altered by an alterations specialist. Not only will you have a totally unique item to wear, but you’ll most likely spend a lot less than you would on buying something first-hand.

Online marketplaces and buy, swap and sell websites are also a good place to save hundreds of dollars on white goods such as washing machines and fridges and necessary items such as vacuum cleaners. A good tip to remember is that sellers sometimes put larger items on for next-to-nothing if they are moving and have to get rid of them by a certain date.

If you acquire big ticket items such as these from online marketplaces, you’re not only saving yourself a lot of money, you’re also saving an item from being sent unnecessarily to landfill!

5. BYO!

Talking of rubbish sent to landfill, it’s common knowledge by now that disposable containers, such as throwaway coffee cups, plastic straws and cutlery are bad for the environment. They can’t be recycled and our landfills are overflowing with them!

Investing in a reusable cup will not only reduce your waste but might also get you a sweet discount. A number of cafes offer money off when you BYO cup. Just think you could be saving 50c on your daily morning coffee, which over the course of a week really adds up! Check out the Responsible Cafes website to find out what cafes offer a discount, or ask your regular if they give money off for bringing your own.

You could even think bigger! Think about bringing reusable containers for all your takeaway food. The website Trashless Takeaway lists cafes, restaurants, bulk whole food stores, delicatessens and butchers that accept reusable containers, it even tells you which ones give you a discount when you BYO. 

Or if you want to save money on takeaways full stop, think about preparing your weekly lunches at the weekend. Set aside some time on a Sunday to cook your meals for the week. Not only will you be saving the planet by reusing your own container, but you’ll also be saving a lot on pricey cafe food.

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Ready to start saving?

Now that you have all these great savings techniques under your belt, it might be time to think about whether your current savings account is really working hard enough for you. Or if you don’t have a savings account then think about opening one to stash away funds for a rainy day. 

Check out Mozo’s savings account comparison tool, to see how much interest you could be earning on your money.

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