Many people do appreciate that reducing the amount of waste we produce and minimising the negative impact we have on our environment is important for our long-term survival and general well-being. However, when you have to choose between buying a more expensive product with green credentials or a cheaper version packaged in plastic, you may start wondering how you can be more eco-friendly when you are already on a tight budget.
Sustainable products tend to be more expensive and there are many reasons for that. We will not be looking at these here, but at how you can lower your negative impact without risking running out of money by the end of the month.
1. Buy less - being eco-friendly is not necessarily about green label products but about managing with less. If you look around your house, think really hard if there are things which you are buying on a regular basis but which you could do without. Do you really need yet another pair of shoes, kitchen paper towels and five different cleaning products? In our house baking paper, various cleaning wipes and cling film were to first to go. Surprisingly maybe, we do not miss them at all.
2. East less meat and more veggies – this is a great swap not just for the environment but also for your wallet. While giving up meat completely may be hard and a bit too much to ask, try to replace it with vegetarian options a few times a week. According to Thinkmoney, Brits spend on average £645 a year on meat alone, so you can make a significant saving if you replace meat with vegetarian options 3-4 times a week. Meat substitutes are expensive but you do not really need to buy them to create tasty and filling dishes, try instead experimenting with beans, pulses and seasonal vegetables.
3. Waste less – that includes cleaning, personal care products but also food. If you are using any products, make sure you follow the producer’s instructions as to how much you should use. To reduce food waste, plan your meals for the week ahead and prepare your shopping list accordingly, resist the supermarkets special offers to buy more. An average family in the UK wastes around £500 worth of food every year. Cut it by half and you will not only help reduce the strain agriculture production puts on the environment but also save yourself some hard-earned cash for those well-deserved guilty pleasures.
4. Make your own lunch – once you start planning your meals, there is no reason why you cannot plan for your lunch at work. You can simply cook more and have leftovers for lunch the next day or use leftovers to make a new dish. Take away lunches generate nearly 11bn items of packaging waste a year, a lot of which is not recycled at all. Take your lunch to work in your own container and you can make a small contribution to waste reduction while also helping your budget.
5. Brew your own coffee - the ‘coffee on the go’ habit is also a massive contributor to waste, generating around 2.5 billion single use coffee cups a year in the UK only. While I appreciate many of us are big fans of cappuccinos and macchiato, a lot of people buy coffee for caffeine and to get an energy boost. But there is no reason why you cannot make our own coffee at home or at work and take it in a flask with you. That way we will not only reduce the waste but save some of the £300 an average Brit spends on take away coffee a year.
Small changes when implemented by millions of people can have a huge positive effect on the environment and the quality of our life and lives of future generations. They do not cost much, quite opposite, many of them can actually help you to save money.