How Being Green Can Actually Save You Time

It is a myth universally acknowledged, that a person who wishes to be kinder to our planet, must be in want of extra hours in the day. This expectation is so ingrained that when I asked my partner (and self-confessed hardcore Green Type) Ian for ideas for this blog post, he said he had none. To be green, he said, means you have to take the less convenient route. I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist.

Well, isn’t that a lame picture? To be kind to our planet, we have to make things harder for ourselves?! No wonder nobody’s doing it. But then I got to thinking. That can’t possibly be true. I know it’s not, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been inspired to write this blog post. Well, once I started, I found it difficult to stop. It turns out, there are lots of ways being kinder to our planet also simplifies and streamlines our lives.

Bloom And Nora Cloth Sanitary Towels In A Box

Less waste, less fuss

How much time do you spend changing bins and sorting recycling? Or cooking food that goes to waste? Or clearing gone off food out of the fridge? My guess is those little pockets of time are barely noticed. It would take me about 10 minutes to change all of the bins properly. I would do this 3-4 times a week, sometimes more pre-green. Another 5-10 minutes to change the food waste caddy. Another 5-10 minutes to sort the recycling. This has changed gradually over the last 4 years or so. I now change my kitchen bin every 4 weeks or less. I still have to do the food caddy for now, until I get my hot composter. The recycling takes a little more time (that’s my next battleground). And there’s still more I could do to reduce waste.

My saving: 30 minutes a week

Potential saving: 1 hour a week

Photo by Josh Wilburne on Unsplash

Use public transport

You can’t multitask while you’re driving without putting other people (and yourself) in danger. It’s been proven that even using your handsfree set or satnav takes vital attention from the road. If you’re using the train or bus for your commute, you can use that time to send emails, create invoices, adjust calendars or figure out your to-do list for the day. Or, you can sit back and relax, read a book or meditate. Maybe you can use the journey to call an elderly relative for a catch up or do other things you never find the time to do.

If you work full time, then using public transport can easily free up an hour a day or more. I work from home and tend not to travel far, so for the most part I don’t benefit from this unless I’m visiting my bestie or travelling to a meeting. A conservative estimate for me would be around an hour a month, or 15 minutes a week.

My saving: 15 minutes a week

Potential saving: 5 hours a week

vegan chilli with sweet potato butter bean quinoa and tortilla chips in a red cast iron pot

Batching tasks

The amount of time you can save by batching your tasks in general is huge, but I decided to focus only on the ones that are specifically green. I won’t lie, I struggled here: batching tasks isn’t “not green”, but it’s not a specifically green habit either. Preparing extra veg and freezing it cuts down on food waste, not to mention the takeaway you order when you don’t fancy cooking. Grouping tasks which need the computer together then shutting it down versus putting it to sleep repeatedly will save energy and time, but that’s hard to quantify. I reckon that batch cooking alone saves a good half an hour a week, with the potential for quite a bit more.

My saving: 30 minutes a week

Potential saving: 30 minutes a week

Meal planning

One of the best things you could do to reduce food waste is to meal plan, but what is often overlooked is the time it saves you each evening. I never have to spend more than a few moments deciding what to cook, because I’ve already made that choice. I don’t have to negotiate with the children, or make several meals, because we’ve already made sure that everyone’s needs are catered for. You do spend a bit of time planning in the first place, but once you’re a seasoned planner it only takes a few minutes.

My saving: 30 minutes a week

Potential saving: 30 minutes a week

going outside with the kids

Planning outings carefully

You don’t need to sit down and work out a proper plan for this, just a little forethought. If you usually run out of bread midweek and take a trip to the shop especially, plan to go home from school/work via a shop instead. If you need to head into town for something but it isn’t urgent, wait until you’re passing anyway, or need to do enough to warrant the trip. A weekly trip into town for bits and bobs easily wasted a whole post-school afternoon. Now we factor that in around nearby after school activities, and I save 2-3 hours a week.

My saving: 2.5 hours a week

Potential saving: 2.5 hours a week

Photo by Lauren Fleischmann on Unsplash
Photo by Lauren Fleischmann on Unsplash

Keep a capsule wardrobe/makeup bag/everything

Until I had a massive clearout, I probably spent a good 20 minutes a day wondering what I should wear, rummaging through my clothes to find what I want. And that’s without wearing makeup every day. Keeping a capsule wardrobe makes things much so much simpler – I know what everyday pieces I have and I never need to look for anything. It also saves me time when I’m clothes shopping, by tuning me out of fast fashion and directing me towards those key pieces. I have Mummy Style to thank for this epiphany – do go and check out her style experiences.

My saving: 30 minutes a week

Potential saving: 1 hour (or more) a week

Turn off the phone

Shut off social media notifications. Mute Whatsapp. Silence incoming calls. Most smartphones nowadays have what’s called a “Do Not Disturb” mode. You can silence your whole phone automatically between certain hours, choosing to allow a select few contacts to continue contacting you in the normal way. Ian, my parents, my daughter and the school can all call/text at regular volume in the evenings. Pretty much everyone else is silenced. I seriously need to extend this to my work day too, because while writing this blog post I have wasted 15 minutes getting distracted by Whatsapp messages and then defaulting to Facebook just because my phone is in my hand. I’d go as far as to say you should habitually keep your phone over the other side of the room just in case. That’s easily an extra hour a day to work properly for me, and I’m not rinsing my phone’s battery in the process.

My saving: 5 hours a week

Potential saving: 5 hours a week

fruit and vegetables
Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

Get an organic veg box delivered to your doorstep

Since I started getting Riverford veg box deliveries my weekly shop has got so much easier. Meal planning is a bit different to how I’m used to (you get your veg delivered on a set day) but I always know what vegetables I’m getting in advance. Almost all of the veg is UK grown and plastic free. Riverford do not use air freight, and of course all of their veg is completely organic. We get a great range of veg that my local supermarkets don’t offer. My weekly shop is at least half an hour (sometimes up to an hour) faster than before.

My saving: 30 minutes a week

Potential saving: 30 minutes a week

Carpool after school activities

Oh, how I would love to be able to do this. If you drive and have space in your car, then you can offer lifts to the same after school activities (or other activity of choice). Although that doesn’t save time, these arrangements are often reciprocal, and you will save time when someone else is doing the running round for you. If I had an arrangement like this, it would save me three hours of sitting in my local theatre once a fortnight. As it happens, I don’t drive, so sit in the theatre I must.

My saving: 0 hours per week

Potential saving: 1.5 hours a week

Photo by Andy Tootell on Unsplash

Say no/question more

This is another that’s difficult to quantify. Questioning whether or not you really need something and saying no to buying more stuff will save you time researching, buying, looking after and eventually disposing of all-of-the-things, but it’s pretty much impossible for me to say how much. Pre-green I wasn’t in a position to be doing loads of buying. If you do, let me know in the comments how much time you reckon you spend buying and looking after stuff you don’t actually need.

My saving: unknown

Potential saving: unknown

a gratitude journal on a white table with a glass of coffee in the background
Photo by Bookblock on Unsplash

Declutter

Where’s the hairbrush? I can’t find my keys! What do you mean you’ve lost your shoes? Sound familiar? Keeping a clutter free home saves us time searching for things we have lost, and it helps to save our planet by stopping us buying replacements for things lost under the sofa. I am most definitely still on the journey with this one, but I reckon I spend (a rather frantic) 5-10 minutes a day on average looking for things someone else has misplaced. And it usually is someone else misplacing, and me having to look for it because nobody else in this frickin’ house has eyes. </shade>

My saving: ha!

Potential saving: 1 hour a week

Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

Quick showers

How long do you spend in the bath? A normal bath, including running time, could easily take 40 minutes. A quick shower could take 10 and uses a lot less water. You could go even further and ask yourself if you need to shower every day at all. Do you need to wash your hair or shave every time you shower? I shave once a week (probably a bit less in winter tbh) and wash my hair 2-3 times a week, and that alone has saved me so much time.

My saving: 2 hours a week

Potential saving: 3 hours a week

Photo by Charles Deluvio 🇵🇭🇨🇦 on Unsplash

Wash and iron less

Most clothes can easily be worn for two days or more if you air them. School uniform gets washed midweek unless visibly dirty. I used to need to do a load of laundry daily, which by the time you wash, dry, iron, fold and put away, sucked away an hour of my life. At least. Well, now I’m down to 4 loads a week at most unless there’s a bug in the house or I’m deep cleaning. And I almost never iron. I have an iron somewhere in the house. I’m not exactly sure where. I haven’t touched it in months, and from memory I’m not sure I used it at all in 2018! So not only am I doing less laundry, but the loads are faster, too.

My saving: 3.5 hours per week

Potential saving: 3.5 hours per week

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Sorry, how much???

So how many hours a week have I saved by being green? By my rough estimates, I’ve saved 15.5 hours! And if you were able to action everything in this blog post, you could save a whopping 25 hours a week.

Yes, you read that right: you could be wasting the equivalent of a part time job by not taking the green option. Think of what that extra time could do for you! This is obviously an extreme figure – you are probably already doing some of these things already. Even if you aren’t, you might not be able to put all of them in place. You’d have to be especially wasteful with your time (or lacking a lot of sleep) to have room for 25 hours, if you sit down and estimate how much time these tasks take you, you’ll probably be surprised.

Now, it’s up to you to make good use of that time. Do you want to save that time, only to waste it all away in front of that telly box? Or do you want to give that time to your family? Or something else? Let me know – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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