A common stereotype about green living is that it can be a very expensive way to live.
And while that’s not explicitly untrue (there are definitely ways to spend tons of money in an effort to be as "green" as possible) it really doesn’t have to cost you loads of cash. Budget friendly living can, and often does, go hand in hand with eco friendly living.
With all that in mind, here’s a little list of ways to save money and live a little greener!
As you’re probably aware, plastic bags aren’t free at any stores in the UK - and thank goodness for that! But generally you have the option to buy a “bag for life” at this till, which can be bought for anywhere from 10p to £1. Save your pennies by keep a few spare bags in your car or bag and avoid paying for bags you don't need! Plus, fewer plastic bags means less plastic confusing turtles in the ocean.
- Say NO to bottled water
I will never understand how we got to a point in human history where we bottled this, the most important of natural resources. Bottles of water are literally being sold from places where the native populations no longer have access to potable water! It’s expensive, it’s trash, and in most places, bottled water is no better tasting than the local tap water. Get yourself a reusable water bottle (I happen to sell those, cough cough) and also rid yourself of the idea that you cannot leave the house without having something to drink. Most plastic bottles do not get recycled in the end, meaning they go to landfill or end up in the ocean. Avoid all that, and save yourself some money in the process.
- Wash on cold
Hot water is no longer a necessity for clean clothes. Using a colder cycle can make the colours in your clothes last longer, will save you money on the electric or gas bill, and altogether saves on both money and resources.
- Two if by bike and two if by....feet
If the option is available to you, try cycling or walking to work or school instead of driving. You’ll save money but get a bit of time in nature as well, which has been proven to help more than just your waistline - we’re talking mental health and cardiac improvements as well. Over time you’ll save money on transport costs, petrol, train tickets and insurance, too!
- Eat less meat (or stop eating meat altogether)
Meat’s not cheap, and on top of that, loads of research shows that it isn’t good for the environment. Red meat is the worst culprit, so even cutting that out of your and your family’s diets will do a lot of good for your wallet as well as the planet, but radically reducing your consumption of all meat will dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. And unless you’re replacing that meat with out of season avocados shipped from halfway around the world (don’t do this), you’re going to be saving money.
- Hang up your clothes to dry
This is the norm in the UK, and it was also the norm in my family when I was growing up in Ohio. The biggest difference between the two countries in my experience is the fact that the drying rack everywhere I’ve lived in the UK has been a little one set up in the house somewhere, whereas in Ohio we had a clothesline in the back yard. Both options are better than their energy guzzling alternative, the tumble dryer. If you’ve already got a tumble dryer, avoid using it unless it’s truly necessary (perhaps saving it for bedding, towels, etc), and save some money when it comes to your energy bill.
- Buy secondhand
And I’m not just talking clothes, although they are without a doubt the easiest thing to find secondhand. Furniture, home goods, books, electronics, children’s toys...the list goes on and on! Host a swap with friends, frequent your local charity shops, and utilise online resources like Facebook Marketplace, Depop, Oxfam online, Gumtree, etc to find what you’re looking for.
- Pare down your cleaning products
At some point it became the new normal for most homes to have a closet full of cleaning products, many of them targeted at one specific job. But do we really need unique products for the kitchen, the bathroom, the shelves, the mirrors, the wood, the metal, and on and on and on? Really? I don’t think so. Streamline your cleaning cupboard with all-purpose cleaner, or go the DIY route with just a few cheaply bought ingredients (bicarb and vinegar, mostly). The pennies will add up, and your abode will be just as clean.
- Cook from scratch
Cooking from scratch can save SO much money, and it’s a topic that has been written about endlessly. The things that save the most money in my household include granola, nut milk, hummus and chickpea “tuna”, because I love it. Bonus: you’ll save on packaging and waste by making your own as well.
- Stop using paper towels
There’s just no reason for them, at all. Tea towels hold the same purpose, and have a much longer life span, as you can wash them over and over. Just say no to paper towels!
- Eat seasonally (and locally)
Food that is in season is more abundant, so simple supply and demand tells us that it’s going to be the cheapest option. If you’ve got the space and the time, freeze your bounty in the summer for the colder months - summer berries on winter porridge is a real treat! Level up by canning and jarring things like salsas, sauces, pickles, jams and chutneys, and you’ll find that you save money year round thanks to putting in the work during the summer. Bonus - everything is definitely tastiest at peak season.
- Enjoy your library
I almost feel like this is cheating because it’s SO EASY, but if you don’t have a library card, go get one immediately! Free books, hellooo. Plus, most libraries have so much more to offer than just books - DVDs, comics, video games and more can all be borrowed from your local community library. What a treasure.
And that’s an easy dozen to get you started! Making these changes to your every day consumption habits will certainly save money in the end, as well as helping out the environment in a variety of other ways. What other ways can you save money by choosing the greener option? Please share your tips and knowledge in the comments!