9 ways to be more sustainable and save money

Conscious of your carbon footprint? It could be easier than you think to be more energy efficient.

Father and son picking vegetables from the ground

Making sustainable choices doesn’t have to be ground breaking. Lots of small changes can soon add up. Things like: using a toaster instead of the grill and letting your hair dry naturally – good for your hair and your electricity bill.

In fact, making green choices often will save you money. Try these nine easy ways to save money and be more sustainable:

 

1. Reuse and recycle

Did you know that one person throws away an average of 400kg of waste every year? That’s 7 times the average bodyweight of a human.

A lot of what we don’t want or need can be reused or recycled. It could be as simple as keeping your recycling box in a convenient place, so you don’t forget. Take a reusable bag to the shop and use your own takeaway cup for your morning coffee. Donate your unwanted clothes, books and toys to charity shops and take the more awkward objects, like laptops, batteries and electricals, to a local collection point.

2. Appreciate your food

You can help cut down on the 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is wasted every year. If you find you’re wasting food because it goes off or doesn’t get used in time, try making a meal plan for the week and buy accordingly. Check out misshapen veg. Often it comes at a cheaper price and with the option to buy individually.  

Read the sell-by dates as you go, so you know you’re buying what you can realistically use. Don’t forget you can still eat food past it’s sell-by-date. The sell-by is when the product is at its best on the shelf. A use-by date is when it will be best eaten by.

3. Get a green wardrobe

No, we don’t mean only buy green clothes. But by opting for greener, more sustainable fashion, you’ll not only look great, you’ll feel it too. Second-hand, vintage and charity shops are great places to pick up a bargain – and you could find designer treasures in them. If you buy from the high street, be sure to check out their sustainable clothing lines. Some companies use recycled materials. And, when you’ve had enough of your old clothes, pass them on to a friend or a charity shop.

4. Take the bus

Our cars are one of the biggest emitters of Carbon Dioxide. In the UK we make around 5.8 million car journeys a day. That’s a lot of energy and greenhouse gases. Perhaps walk or cycle for small trips or use public transport. Lift share to work, if you commute. If you only use your car occasionally, it could be cost-effective to use a car-hire scheme. Or you might even consider an electric vehicle.

5. Save water

When you reduce the amount of water you use, you save money and help to cut down on the energy processes needed to get it you. The first and simplest way to reduce water wastage is to never leave a tap running. Just brushing your teeth with the water flowing can waste around 25 litres of water.

You could also try timing your shower to be one minute less. A shower that is one minute shorter every day could save you up to £60 a year.

Small savings, big impact

  • Switch your lights off when you’re not in the room and use energy efficient lightbulbs.
    Saving: Using LEDs could save you over £60 a year
  • How many cups of tea do you have a day? Only boil what you need in the kettle.
    Savings: If you only boil the kettle twice a day you could save £14 a year.
  • Dry your clothes outside when the weather’s fine and give your tumble dryer a rest.
    Savings: On average a tumble dryer costs £50-£60 a year to run.

6. Switch it off

Did you know that your phone charger is still using energy even if it’s not charging your phone? Lots of electrical equipment still draws energy if it’s plugged in at the socket – even when the equipment has been switched off. So switch it off at the wall, or get yourself some smart plugs. These let you set timers to switch on and off, and track your energy usage.

7. Don’t pre-wash your dishes

If you pre-wash your dishes before they go into the dishwasher, you could be wasting around 6,000 gallons of water every year. To save on water and on your energy bills, wait until the dishwasher is full and then wash everything in one go. If you have an eco-cycle, make use of it. It could save you money.

8. Eat local food

Eating produce that’s grown and made close to home supports your community, reduces food mileage and is good for you. Even better, try growing your own food. Tomatoes, potatoes and herbs are also easy to grow – and you can grow them inside if you don’t have a garden.

9. Avoid single-use

Anything that is single-use is unsustainable. It means it’s destined for the bin after one use. About 40% of the plastic we create is single-use plastic. But there is hope. When the charges for plastic bags in supermarkets came in, we reduced single-use plastic bags by 1 billion.

You can avoid single-use products by carrying your own keep cup or water bottle. Try beeswax wraps instead of cling film and buy food that is unwrapped (if possible).

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