There are plenty of great ways to save money and the planet. Some are better than others; I think we all know to make our own coffee and carry a water bottle at this point. Others, such as extreme couponing, making your own soap, or raising your own farm animals, can be intimidating or expensive. Luckily there are plenty of accessible ways to save a few quid and the planet, to boot.
1) Meatless Mondays
While going fully vegetarian can sound intimidating, even one meatless day a week can save roughly £209 a year. It also really helps to cut CO2 emissions, as well as reducing water use and deforestation. Bloomberg found that skipping a single quarter-pound hamburger can save more than 400 gallons of water and the energy it takes to power a smartphone for six months.
The Meatless Monday concept originated in World War One. American citizens were encouraged to skip meat once a week to help the war effort. This was picked up during World War 2 in the UK, when meat became scarce. The Home Front were encouraged to cook meals based on vegetables, which were largely unrationed.
2) Buy Second Hand Clothes
Buying second hand comes in at a fraction of the cost of new and often yields better quality finds. Even high-end stores like Selfridges have explored selling vintage couture alongside their new pieces. And a third of 16-24 year olds use reselling app Depop to refresh their wardrobes.
You can try charity shops, vintage markets and consignment boutiques (who typically stock carefully curated designer pieces at lower cost). Buying second hand also helps prevent fashion waste – 350,000 tonnes of usable clothing goes into landfill every year. Your retro threads can help reduce waste, pollution, energy and water use.
3) Store Food Properly
The average household loses £470 a year on wasted food, and 34% of the food thrown away in households consists of fresh fruit and vegetables. When added to landfill, this produce generates harmful methane gas. If we stopped wasting this much food, we’d save the equivalent of 17m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. We previously wrote about ways to reduce food waste, using proper storage, composting, meal planning and creative shopping.
Our Sym Fresh bags can extend the life of the fruit and veg up to 40% – helping to make a healthy dent in the 6.6 million tonnes of food wasted annually in the UK, helping you save money and the planet.
4) Join Your Library
You can join your local library for free, for access to free books, CD rental, computers and free internet, and fun events. Some libraries also offer toy libraries and swap meets. You’ll save so much money compared to buying your books. And the environmental benefits are clear – borrowing instead of buying reduces your carbon footprint. If you want to borrow specific books, even if they’re at other libraries in your county, you can reserve novels for a nominal fee.
If you prefer e-books or audiobooks, the Borrowbox app can be accessed on your phone or tablet – all for free!
5) Buy Reusable Products
There are so many reusable products that can help you save money and go greener. Both the bathroom and kitchen are hot spots for disposable and single use products. Luckily there are also some fantastic replacements. Some of the best include reusable makeup removal pads, reusable coffee pods and silicone baking products! Not to mention SYM Fresh bags, which can be reused multiple times. Just rinse the used bag, let it dry and fill it again with new produce!
If you replace these disposables with multi-use, recyclable and compostable products you and the planet will be so much better off.
6) Grow Your Own Food
Growing your own food can have enormous benefits for the environment and your wallet. It reduces transportation, excessive plastic, pesticides and supermarket storage. It also cuts back on waste, as you can simply harvest what you need and use as necessary. Unwanted produce can be frozen, swapped or given away.
Space, skills and time can all be challenges. But you can start by simply re-growing some spring onion bulbs in a glass of water, or a couple of pots on an indoor windowsill. You can also save money and the planet by asking your community for second hand supplies – plant pots and cuttings are always being posted on Freecycle.
7) Join the Sharing Economy
The sharing economy is a fantastic way to meet new people, offload your clutter and prevent food waste. This is often handled through websites and apps. You can use Olio to swap food; the ever popular Freegle for home goods; and others which allow you to swap lifts, homes, clothes and tasks. Borrow My Doggy helps to connect dog owners and people who want to ramble with a pup for a few hours.
‘Little Free Libraries’ have popped up, allowing people to borrow books. They’ve also been adapted to give and take models for other items such as sewing materials, seeds and pet supplies. Other groups have set up tool libraries, skill swap classes or time banks. These are where you help your neighbours and bank points that you can ‘spend’ when you need something in return.