Monday, February 06, 2012

the $21 challenge

I stumbled across the $21 spending challenge while blog browsing. The challenge is a great thing to do, to save money but especially for the benefits to the environment.

The challenge began when a member of Simple Savings , (a website designed to teach people ways to save money), Barbara asked her husband for some cash so she could do the weekly grocery shopping for their family of four. Her husband smiled and handed Barbara a $20 note. Barbara decided to take on the challenge her husband had jokingly set and work out how to feed their family for a week spending only $20. Barbara then found $1 in loose change and the $21 challenge was born.

Most people buy groceries each week by habit, not what they actually need. The $21 challenge forces you to delve into your fridge and pantry and REALLY see what’s in there and then be creative with what you have. The creators of the challenge estimate the average household of four spends $320 per week on food. By eating the food already in your pantry, fridge, freezer and garden for one week and spending only $21 you save almost $300. If you do this once a month, in one year you can save $3600.

The satisfaction of being thrifty is one thing; the aspect I love about this challenge is it forces consumers to be really conscious of their spending and undoubtedly reduces food waste. Food waste in Australia has embarrassingly high statistics attached to it. According to the FoodWise  website, New South Wales (NSW) government research shows that the average NSW household throws out $1,036 of food per year. This waste is not only a waste of money and food it is a huge waste of resources, the energy it took to grow, refrigerate and transport the food and then the increase in greenhouse gases generated by food rotting in landfill. FoodWise is a national campaign set up to get Australian’s to reduce the environmental impact of their food consumption.

Even if you make it the $50 challenge you are still saving money and honouring the labour and environmental resources that go into producing food. Being creative with cooking is part of the fun, and if anyone in your house whines when you cook pasta and create a sauce out of what you have, even if that is tinned tomatoes and tuna, once you finish reminding them to be grateful talk with them about the environmental reasons behind what you’re doing. Give it a go!

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