Many people think that living a sustainable life is costly. In some cases this may be true. Things such as driving an electric car or fitting solar panels are indeed expensive. But it might come as a surprise that being sustainable can be a cheaper way of life too. In this article we’ve compiled 10 tips that’ll help you live a more sustainable life as well as saving you money!
10 tips to save money and be sustainable
- Repair or alter your clothes, or let a tailor do it for you
- Buy second hand
- Don’t waste food
- Review your spending
- Buy local and seasonal produce
- Eat less meat
- Buy refurbished appliances
- Change the way you travel
- Share your possessions with others
- Save money with your garden
We’ve all bought or been gifted clothing that we hardly ever wear. The fit isn’t right, the buttons aren’t quite how you like them or the hem is frayed. These items end up at the back of your wardrobe, where they remain for some time before you decide to part with them. What a waste! We forget that clothing can be altered. Either by those of us who know their way around a sewing machine or by a professional tailor. Ask yourself for every item of clothing: “Why do I not wear this?” Might as well try and make something out of an item that you were going to bin anyway right?
We’ve realised by now that we’re buying way too much stuff. Stuff that’s mass produced in countries miles away, such as China. Apart from the detrimental production process, the transport of all these products is impacting the environment. The upside of all of this purchasing is that a lot of stuff can now be bought second hand! It might take some digging but you might just find a gem for a bargain.
The production of food has a negative impact on our environment, but on top of that a third of all the world’s food is then also wasted! Be wary of how much you buy in the supermarket. Are you going to eat everything in your basket? And don’t forget your leftovers either. Those couple of falafel balls are a great addition to your salad for lunch tomorrow.
The food you throw out is not the only food being wasted, restaurants, hotels and supermarkets aren’t doing a great job either. A great app to combat food waste is ‘too good to go’. Restaurants, cafes and lunch spots list the foods they haven’t sold at the end of the day, for you to pick up at a fraction of the original price. You’ll be enjoying a fancy meal for a steal whilst combating food waste at the same time!
Spending less is, obviously, good for your bank balance. The environment also profits when you start spending less money on unneeded items. The easiest tip we have for you: buy less. A good way to start is by reviewing what you spend your money on. If you receive a newspaper daily, it might be an option to switch to the cheaper and more environmentally friendly online version.
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Due to globalisation we’re used to eating certain products all year round, even though they’re originally seasonal in the Netherlands. Many products cross several oceans before we’re able to buy them in our local supermarket. Another massive waste of power caused by food production comes from the greenhouses in which we grow our food during Dutch winters. If you’d like to save money, a good way to do so is by buying local, seasonal products. They grow without using as much power as imported products and due to the absence of transport costs, they’re way cheaper too! Try it yourself and see how your food bill will decrease when you start buying local and seasonal produce.
It might not be what you want to hear, but this tip might be easier to stomach when you find out how much you can save. Consuming less meat has an enormous beneficial impact on the environment, as well as saving you a lot of money! The meat industry is detrimental to the environment, not solely because animal farming takes up a lot of space, but also because all these animals need to be fed (with soybeans for instance). It’s more sustainable to eat the soybeans yourself, than feeding them to the animals you intend to eat.
Refurbished appliances are second hand items, such as phones, laptops and fridges, that have been restored. They might have been repaired or returned to the manufacturer due to faulty packaging. This means that the appliances are usually in very good condition, and most of the time the newest models are also available refurbished. And most important of course: buying refurbished is way cheaper than buying a new product.
Travelling is amazing, we know, but unfortunately not good for the environment. Planes are responsible for two percent of the total global CO2 emissions. Usually, flying to your destination is the easiest way to get somewhere. This is especially true for trips around the globe. However, frequent but short flights do the most damage and they are easy to avoid! As of yet travelling by train is often not a cheaper alternative, but luckily there are other options. Options such as FlixBus, a bus service between large European cities. Or platforms such as BlaBlaCar, on which you can contact people heading in the same direction as you so you can carpool. All you need to do is pay for part of the fuel (usually not a lot). If you’re feeling very adventurous you could try to hitchhike; a massive money saver. Take the plunge and try to get as far as possible without spending money or taking a plane.
In recent years sharing has become hugely popular. Owning stuff used to be cool but now sharing is the way to go. App developers noticed this trend and developed apps such as Peerby. You can list your possessions that you don’t use often on there. An example might be a drill, a ladder or picnic table. Before buying things you might use once, check out the app to see if a neighbour might have what you need. You can rent these items for a day, instead of storing them for a lifetime.
Are you a garden owner that waters their plants with tap water? You’ll probably have noticed how many liters of water you need to keep your garden healthy. An easy way to cut back on costs and water, whilst keeping the environment in mind, is by purchasing a rain barrel. The barrel will collect rainwater, which you can use to water your plants instead of liters of tap water.
Of course there are many more ways to live a more sustainable life, whilst saving money at the same time. Read our blog on how to save energy in your home.