We are all very aware of how much prices are rising at the moment, and showing no signs of abating in the near future. It can be so difficult in the midst of all that is going on to still try to live a bit more sustainably too.
There's no getting away from the fact that eco alternatives are often more expensive than the standard alternatives - after all, they are made with ethics in mind, usually by smaller family firms, paying fair wages, and use eco packaging (which costs more than cheap single-use plastic).
Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to try to live in a more environmentally-friendly way, whilst also saving you money. Every little helps after all! Here are our top eco tips to save money, whilst taking sustainable steps.
1. Reduce your meat intake
You don't have to become entirely vegan to have an impact on the environment. Think about reducing the amount of meat in a recipe and bulking it out with vegetables or lentils to help the environment and save money.
2. Purchase pre-loved
Learn to love pre-loved. There are so many good options these days to buy clothing or other items on second-hand sites such as gumtree, ebay and Depop. And make some money yourself by selling your unwanted goods.
3. Bring your own
Never buy a bottle of water again by bringing your own water bottle. Many places now refill reusable water bottles for free, and the number of refill stations in our streets are increasing every day – check out the refill app. Think about taking lunch into work, rather than buying (plastic-wrapped) food every day - more delicious and saves lots. And don't get back into the habit of buying takeaway cups of coffee - bring your own (these cups retain the heat for ages) or at least save money (and the environment) by bringing a reusable cup. Many coffee shops offer discounts when you do.
4. Buy longer-lasting soap or shampoo bars
Many ‘eco’ products last far longer than the plastic alternatives e.g. shampoo bars and soap bars. Extend their life by letting them dry out between uses and using a soap saver bag or cut them in half, keeping one half completely dry until you need it.
5. Be more organised and buy only what you need
As we become more aware of the waste we produce, and the eco credentials of what we’re using, we often find that we buy far less 'stuff'. Shopping happens through necessity rather than a regular occurrence, reducing the volume of 'stuff' you have. When it comes to food, get friendly with your freezer - make batches of pancakes, muffins etc to avoid buying plastic packaging and save money (as well as avoiding all those additives). Plan your week's meals to avoid buying too much in the supermarket.
6. Reuse gift packaging
Never buy a new gift bag again by reusing (again and again!) the ones you receive. Or try the Japanese tradition of furoshiki wrapping in reusable fabric for a beautiful gift. We wrap all Ailsa's birthday gifts in scarves!
7. Don’t buy what you don't need
Sounds simple, but how many of us buy items we don't need when there are alternatives at home to use? Great examples include kitchen roll (cut up old t-shirts or holey pants and use these instead!) or storage boxes (use cardboard boxes from deliveries instead - you can even cover them in paper for a streamlined look).
8. Repair or borrow rather than buy
Get into the habit of mending rather than replacing. Fix-Its have a multitude of uses, only limited by your imagination! When clothes need fixing, and you're not good at sewing, take them to a local mender instead and save pounds on the cost of new clothes. Look into local lending libraries for tools or decorating items, for example, too.
9. Take your time
Remember that it makes sense to replace things over time, not just from a cost perspective but also from an eco point of view – it’s far worse to throw something away just because it’s packaged in plastic than to use it till done then replace with a more eco alternative
10. Look at the long-term savings if you can
There are lots of examples where buying something now will save lots in the long run, A safety razor, for example, is far cheaper than a plastic razor, with replacement blades costing just 25p. Reusable baby wipes and sanitary products don't take as long to get used to as you might think and can save lots of money in the long-term. And consider organic soapnut shells for your laundry – a zero waste and natural alternative, with a 1kg bag costing only £11.99 and lasting up to a whopping 480 loads of laundry.
Lastly, be kind to yourself. Small positive steps in the right direction absolutely help the environment, but not everyone can do everything, so give yourself a break and do what you can.