Living sustainably without breaking the bank

Posted on: 9 November, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the cost-of-living crisis are affecting us all in different ways. Everything seems to be getting more expensive and those of us based in the northern regions of the world are heading into winter during an energy crisis. 



“If we can all use one less item or reuse something instead of buying new, we will be helping to reduce waste and potentially save ourselves some money in the process.”

To inspire you, our Sustainability Education and Engagement Officer, Jessica Gordon-Calvert, has pulled together some top tips to help save money and live more sustainably.

Now, these actions will not stop climate change. Much bigger and more drastic changes led by governments, businesses and institutions are needed to mitigate and adapt to the crisis at hand. However, if we can all use one less item or reuse something instead of buying new, we will be helping to reduce waste and potentially save ourselves some money in the process.


  1. Use up what you already have

It can be tempting to buy the next best thing or a product that is more sustainable but the best action you can take is to use up and reuse what you already own first.

Meal planning is a great way to reduce food waste and also the need to buy more food. BBC Good Food and Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) have got some yummy recipe inspiration for using up leftover food, LFHW have also got handy meal planning tips!


  1. Reuse items and/or invest in reusables

Once you have used up what you already own, it’s a good idea to invest in reusables. The upfront cost of reusable items can be a bit pricey but can often save you money in the long-term.

If you’re looking at buying some reusables, have a think about the most common single-use items you currently use and go from there.

Products with a reusable alternative include nappies, period products, refillable soap dispensers and reusable water bottles (if you’re based in the UK there’s an app that shows you where refill stations are).


  1. If you need to purchase something, try second hand or pre-loved items

Buying secondhand is often cheaper than buying new.

Vinted and Facebook Market Place are great for clothes and toys and there are lots of items that have been barely used for a bargain. They’re also good for selling your own items and making some extra pennies!

Have a conversation with your friends and family who you typically buy presents for about cutting down on gift giving, buying experiences or buying pre-loved. If you’re a big lover of books you can try WoB for new and second-hand finds.


  1. Build a sharing community

Why not create a ‘swap shop’ for lending, borrowing or giving away items such as excess food, clothes, tools or party decorations.

If you would like more ideas about saving money and being more sustainable, there’s a brilliant guide for UK readers on Money Saving Expert.


Today is Finance Day at COP27, so there will probably be a lot of talk around ethical investments and banking. This is one of the more complex aspects of sustainability to tackle as an individual. If you are able to do so, have a look into the ethical and sustainability standards for the organisation you bank with and if you can, switch, challenge and champion the options that are out there which benefit people and the planet.