Opting to live sustainably doesn’t have to cost a fortune, in fact there are lots of ways to live sustainably on a budget. It’s a common misconception that choosing to live more sustainably means buying £300 sustainable knitwear and £30 natural face creams. Of course, these things are lovely if your budget will allow. However, there are some simple ways you can enjoy living more sustainably, even if your current budget is limited. Let’s take a look…
1. Wash Clothes Less Using Cold Water
One simple change you can make is washing your clothes less in cold water or on a cooler temperature. About 90% of the energy used by your washing machine during laundry goes towards heating the water. Using cold water to wash some of your clothes eliminates this energy, this simple change is kinder to your clothes and the planet. Decreasing your carbon footprint can be as easy as switching to washing your clothes in cool water.
2. Swap Clothes
It’s only natural to want a new dress from time to time. Find a clothes swap in your city or town and take your old clothes and exchange them for something new. You could even host your own clothes swap between friends and make a party of it. You can invite friends, enemies, colleagues or open it up to members of the public. The possibilities are endless. Register at Fashion Revolution to join in with their Great Fashion Revolution Clothes Swap to find out how they are taking swapping digital during lockdown.
3. Shop Secondhand
Support your local charity shops and buy secondhand clothing and homeware, this way you’re not only shopping sustainably but also donating your money to a good cause. Charity shops like Oxfam also sell online. You can buy other secondhand items online via Ebay, Gumtree, Depop. Maybe you could find your local car-boot sale and have a rummage.
4. Switch To Re-Usable Water Bottles
Invest in a water bottle that you can use over and over again. This could be a 2 litre glass bottle or a reusable stainless steel bottle. This small change will cut down on your plastic consumption and save you money in the long run.
5. Invest In Quality Over Quantity
Becoming a more conscious consumer means buying less. When you do decide to purchase an item, then invest in quality over quantity. Making conscious decisions and saving up to buy that thing you really love will save you money in the long term. Opt for quality pieces, that way you will use or wear again and again and can repair as necessary.
6. Ditch The Tumble Dryer
When it comes to energy consumption, the tumble dryer is in front of the washing machine. A household running a dryer 200 times a year could save nearly half a tonne of CO2e by switching to a clothes rack or washing line.
7. Resell Your Unwanted Items
One of the great things about consciously buying quality items is that when you are finished with them, you can resell them and recoup some of your money. Decluttering is also good for your mental health and wellbeing. Resell your unwanted items, think about each item you own. Maybe your old laptop has broken, sell it for parts on Ebay or your old mobile phone that stopped working, trade it in with one of the large phone companies recycling schemes. Repair, resell, donate or swap your items to avoid them ending up in a landfill.
8. Grow Your Own Food
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, then you can grow a percentage of your food for free. Alternatively, you can contact your local council and apply for an allotment or find your nearest gardening group. Food grown locally avoids the heavy carbon footprint that comes along with imported shop bought items.
9. Cook From Scratch
Food sold in plastic packaging is not great for the environment. Buy single fruit and veg items from your local market, this means you can buy only as much as you need. Using fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch is better for your bank balance, health and the environment.
10. Buy In Bulk
Although the initial outlay may seem expensive, buying in bulk will ultimately save you money and time. You could always split the cost with your housemates or friends to reduce the cost further. I’ve been sharing bulk toilet paper order from ‘Who Gives A Crap’ with my sister, this has worked out well. Buying in bulk means avoiding lots of unnecessary packaging, which is better for the planet.
11. Repair When Possible
There’s an old saying that ‘clothes worth wearing are worth repairing’ this is a mindset that has become lost in our disposable culture. If something is broken, torn or damaged, don’t immediately discard it, instead try and repair it.
12. Upcycle Furtniture
There are lots of aesthetically pleasing ways to up-cycle furniture, from painting old wooden pieces using an eco-friendly chalk paint to repurposing old boxes as bedside tables. Up-cycling old furniture means that you can buy worn secondhand items at a bargain price and turn them into something fabulous!
13. Take Care Of Your Clothes
Take care of the clothes that you own, that way you don’t need to replace them and can swap or resell them when you are finished wearing them. Washing them on a colder temperature will help to keep the fabric good for longer.
14. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Instead of buying cleaning products, instead opt to make your own natural alternatives. Chemicals used to make cleaning products are harmful to the environment and marine life. They may pollute streams and rivers and may take a long time to degrade plus the plastic packaging stays around forever. You can make a multi-purpose cleaning spray using simple and affordable ingredients that will be better for your health, budget and the planet.
15. Borrow Items
If you find yourself needing something, ask around and borrow an item from a friend before buying something new. You might have an event coming up in the future, think about borrowing a dress from a friend before buying one that you will only wear once. You will often find that asking around will result in you having lots of lovely options and help you to avoid spending your hard earned cash.
16. Rent Clothing
If you live in a new city or don’t have a close group of friends you feel comfortable borrowing items from, consider renting instead. Perhaps you have a graduation or wedding coming up and want a fabulous dress to wear. You can rent clothing which will allow you to wear a designer piece for an event and avoid buying any new items. Thus resulting is less waste.
17. Use Less Energy
There are lots of simple ways to make your home more energy efficient. These range from adding rugs to your floor, hanging heavy curtains to switching to green energy with Bulb or Good Energy. Lower your use of energy to reduce your carbon footprint.
18. Switch To Green Transport
Cycle or walk instead of driving. If you need to travel a long distance consider using the train instead of your car. If you are cycling invest in sustainable cycling gear to stay safe.
19. Stop Buying Single-Use Products
Discarded single-use plastics have created an international environmental crisis. They have turned up in the bellies of birds and fish, flooded pristine river and beaches in remote countries. These plastics have even been detected in microscopic quantities in rainwater. Plastic products designed to be used for a few minutes can take decades or longer to decompose. Plan ahead and buy separate loose items when possible.
20. Buy Food In Glass Jars
The great thing about buying food in glass jars is that you can reuse the jars. You can save the jars and make blackberry jam from forage berries in autumn or chutney from left over tomatoes. You could fill the jars with wax and make hand-poured candles as a budget -friendly birthday gift for a friend. The possibilities are endless.
Hopefully you enjoyed reading these simple ways to live sustainably on a budget. Small changes by many, make a big difference.