27 Money-Saving Eco-Actions
There’s a common narrative peddled by the more right-wing media that an eco-friendly lifestyle costs money and is only accessible to the privileged middle classes. I suspect this myth is perpetuated by a global elite in whose interest it is to preserve the planet-destroying policy of “business as usual”. True, some aspects of sustainable living are costly; electric cars, solar panels, heat pumps, an exclusively organic diet all may be beyond the reach of many. However, there are lots of ways in which you can reduce your impact on the planet and save money at the same time. So, in no particular order, here are 27 eco-actions which will also save you money!
1. Drive less – every time you leave your car behind, you are reducing emissions and saving money! For more tips on how to reduce your car use, see our post 6 Ways to Reduce Your Car Use.
2. Eat less meat – according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of all human induced emissions. The good news is that not only is a plant-based diet better for you, it can also be cheaper. For example, using 2 chicken breasts in a curry could set you back £1.80 (cheap supermarket chicken), whereas 500g of red lentils will make far more than one meal and only costs £1.15 (prices from Tesco). And who doesn’t love a lentil curry?!
3. Buy fruit and veg in season – by eating locally or British-grown produce you can slash your food miles and your grocery bills. Seasonal food that hasn’t been flown halfway around the world to get to your table will usually be fresher, more nutritious and tastier too!
4. Take a packed lunch – you can save loads of money by making a packed lunch rather than buying takeaway food on the go, and you can avoid single-use packaging that often can’t be recycled or reused.
5. Make your own snacks – you can avoid single-use plastic packaging and reduce your food bills by making your own snacks, such as crisps, biscuits and yoghurt (see Adventures in Yoghurt).
6. Put a jumper on – apparently turning down your thermostat by just one degree can save you £60 a year. So layer up and watch the pennies turn to pounds.
7. Switch off standby – according to the Energy Saving Trust, you can save around £35 a year just by turning your appliances off standby mode.
8. Only boil what you need – only boiling the water you need in your kettle can save around £6 a year. Try filling your kettle from your mug; you’ll be surprised how little water you need for a cuppa. It also boils more quickly, saving you precious time!
9. Embrace the dark – switching off lights when you’re not using them can save around £15 a year. More energy saving tips can be found on the Energy Saving Trust’s website.
10. Wash clothes at 30 degrees – this could save the average household £13 a year when compared with washing at higher temperatures. Washing your clothes less often can also cut your electricity bills – try the whiff test before automatically chucking clothes in the wash after only one wear!
11. Meal plan – making a meal plan and shopping according to it should reduce food waste and save you money. As edible food waste from UK homes is responsible for 14 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, simply sticking to a shopping list could reduce emissions and spare your hard-earned cash. See our posts Eat It, Don’t Bin It and Your Freezer is Your Friend for more tips on reducing food waste and saving money.
12. Microwave more – instead of using the oven or hob. Microwaves are 60-80% more efficient than ovens and are great for reheating food. If you do need to use your oven, plan ahead to use it at its full capacity; bake a cake whilst batch cooking a stew, for example.
13. Buy less stuff – consider do you really need it? Could you use something you already have? Could you borrow it or rent it? Is it available second-hand?
14. Make do and mend – save a fortune and save your clothes from landfill by repairing and making things last longer. The Repair What You Wear website has easy to follow videos for common clothes repairs, whilst getting shoes re-soled can cost a fraction of the cost of a new pair.
15. Sell your stuff for cash – try selling sites like eBay, Gumtree and Preloved or local Facebook selling groups. For clothes and accessories, there are also specialist selling sites such as Depop and Vinted. Or have a yard sale or a car boot sale.
16. Sell you old mobile for cash – there are a number of companies which will buy old mobiles for cash. Check out the Money Saving Expert guide here.
17. Recycle for vouchers – take a bag of unwanted clothes or textiles to H&M and you’ll receive a £5 off a £25 spend voucher.
18. BYO – take your own drink in a reusable bottle when you’re out and about. And fill up with water for free. The Refill app lists places where you can refill your own bottle with free tap water and is expanding to include places you can eat or get takeaways without unnecessary packaging too.
19. Remember your reusable coffee cup – a lot of larger chains (Starbucks, Costa, Greggs etc.) will give you a discount for using your own cup (Covid restrictions may apply).
20. Use less water – get a water butt or use grey water to water your garden, take a shower instead of a bath and don’t leave the tap running when you clean your teeth. If you’re on a water meter, being thrifty with your water use can cut your bills and help conserve a precious resource.
21. Put a cup in it – switching to a menstrual cup for a cost of £10-£20 can save you £100s otherwise wasted on disposable period products over a lifetime. For more information, check out our post on Reusable Period Products.
22. Ditch freezer bags and cling film – by reusing bread bags or plastic tubs or even making your own beeswax wraps, you won’t need to buy new freezer bags or cling film.
23. Compost your food waste – save money by making your own compost for free and eliminating the need for bin bags. See our post on Eco-Friendly Gardening Tips for reasons to make your own compost and avoid buying peat-based compost.
24. Repurpose old clothes – turn worn out T-shirts (and boxer shorts!) into cloths for cleaning (or wee wipes!), reducing the need to buy cleaning cloths, wet wipes or kitchen paper (or toilet paper!).
25. Switch to bars of soap – using soap instead of handwash and shower gel cuts out plastic packaging and saves money, as bars of soap generally last longer and work out cheaper. See our Bathroom Babble post for thrifty tips on making soap last even longer!
26. Unsubscribe from marketing emails – as well as reducing your digital carbon footprint, removing yourself from marketing emails can save you money as you won’t be tempted to buy more stuff on a whim.
27. Use natural cleaning products – white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice are great natural cleaners and cost very little compared to branded chemical cleaning products.
We hope these money-saving eco-actions show you how easy it can be to save money and be kinder to the environment at the same time – a win-win for your bank balance and the planet!