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Regular Mouthy Money blogger Shoestring Jane looks at ways you could be saving money and the environment at the same time.
Are you concerned about the environment, but think that living more sustainably is too expensive?
Well, I am here to tell you that the opposite is the case. By living a more frugal lifestyle, you will nearly always be having a lighter impact on the earth.
Here’s how to live green and save money.
1. Buy less but buy better
My initial motivation for buying less stuff was to reduce my spending. I deliberately became more mindful about my purchases, asking myself if I really needed the items and, most importantly, if I could afford them.
However, I soon realised that buying less of everything was good for the planet. If I didn’t buy it, there was no point in it being made to start with.
That meant that less energy was used to produce whatever pointless item I was drawn to, less fuel to transport the thing to the retailer and then onto me, less packaging and one less item to eventually, and inevitably, end up in landfill.
Buying less saves you money and saves resources. When you do need to buy something new, try to buy the best quality you can afford so that it lasts you longer.
2. Make do and mend
The next step on my journey to frugality that was also more eco-friendly was to adopt a make do and mend approach to the things I already owned. If something breaks, I will try to fix it.
This could be something simple like darning a hole in a favourite cardigan or getting some boots re-heeled. But you might also find yourself watching a YouTube video on how to unblock your sink or do a repair to your washing machine.
3. Look after your stuff and make things last longer
In our grandparents’ day, leather shoes were expensive. They polished them each week and took them to be repaired instead of tossing them in the bin and buying new ones.
Now shoes are mass produced and relatively cheap, we may not feel we need to make them last. But doing so helps you to live green and start saving money in the process.
You can apply this green and frugal ideology to all of your belongings. Look after them to make them last longer.
4. Reduce food waste
Food waste is a huge environmental issue. Throwing it away wastes the resources used to produce it and creates methane, which is much more harmful to the planet than carbon dioxide.
Simple measures like meal planning, shopping with a list and using your leftovers will reduce food waste and save you money in the process.
5. Learn to cook from scratch
Cooking from scratch as much as time allows is cheaper and healthier than buying a lot of convenience foods. It will also massively reduce the amount of packaging that comes into your home from ready meals and take outs.
However, when you use your oven, try to cook more than one thing. This will save you energy.
6. Buy second hand
If you want to live green and save money, embrace your local charity shops! Buying second hand wherever possible will be good for your budget. However, the environmental benefits are huge too.
You are potentially saving something from landfill, it will come with little or no packaging, and you are helping to create a circular economy, which aims to use and reuse things for as long as possible.
7. Reusables save money
Think about all of the single use items in your home. Which could you replace with reusables instead?
We have saved money and waste by switching to reusable water bottles, washable dishcloths, using a cut up towel instead of kitchen roll, buying a laundry egg and investing in washable makeup pads.
You could try a Moon Cup instead of disposable tampons, terry nappies, a reusable coffee cup, real glasses, plates and cutlery for parties and so on.
This way you buy once, which is good for your wallet and definitely beneficial for the planet.
8. Make your own cleaning products
Making simple cleaning products from vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, citric acid, etc, not only saves you money; it will also reduce the pollution in your home, with far fewer chemicals. Other benefits include less plastic and other packaging.
This recipe is an easy lemon and vinegar cleaning spray to get you started. It even uses up lemon peels that might otherwise end up immediately in the bin.
9. Drive less
So many of us have bicycles collecting cobwebs in the garage or shed. With fuel prices rocketing, it will make sense to dust off those bikes and inflate the tyres! And using less petrol or diesel has clear environmental benefits too.
If it is a short journey, consider leaving the car at home and using pedal power. Failing that, walk instead.
I used to park my car 15 minutes away from the office. It was too far to go on foot the whole way, but this saved a bit of petrol and cleared my head ready for the day.
With all the extra exercise, you could be saving money as well cancel your gym membership!
10. Pack a picnic
Another way to start saving money and waste is to pack a picnic when you have days out or long journeys.
Sandwiches and cakes made at home will reduce all the packaging involved in a take out lunch, not to mention the time saved queuing at the burger van.
A flask will save spending on coffee or tea and also mean you are less likely to have a disposable cup to deal with. And don’t forget your reusable water bottles!
11. Grow some of your own food
If you have a bit of garden, try growing some of your own fruit and vegetables. It is surprisingly easy.
You will find that seeds really want to grow and if you give them some good soil and regular water they will produce delicious, healthy and organic food for you and your family.
12. Save energy when you can
The rapidly rising cost of the average home energy bill is a hot topic right now. It makes sense for your bank balance and the environment to save on gas and electricity wherever you can.
Make sure your loft is fully insulated. For low income households there are grants available, and you can check your eligibility here.
There are also inexpensive steps you can take to reduce your energy consumption, such as:
- fitting insulating foil behind radiators
- lining your curtains (you can use old curtains from the charity shop for this)
- putting draft excluding tape around doors and windows
- turning your thermostat down a couple of degrees
- only boiling the water you require in the kettle
- taking a short shower rather than a long bath
- layering up at home before you give into the heating
I love when saving money makes me feel like an eco-warrior! It is possible to live green and save money.
Shoestring Jane is a full-time self-employed mum of three daughters. Her frugal partner in crime is handyman extraordinaire, Mr Shoestring. They are constantly on the look out for ways to save and make extra money. Read more on her blog, Shoestring Cottage.