How to Live More Sustainably on the Cheap


How to Live More Sustainably on the Cheap

We all know how important it is to live more sustainably. You might think that sustainable living comes with a price tag, requiring you to buy expensive, plastic-free or organic items. You might believe that it’s not possible to reduce your carbon footprint if you don’t have the budget.

However, being more eco-friendly just involves three R’s - reduce, reuse, recycle. With these three concepts as a basis, it’s easy to live more sustainably on a budget, allowing you to make simple changes to reduce your carbon footprint.

Below are some eco-friendly ideas for your home and cheap ways to be more sustainable.

Use What You Have

One of the best ways to live sustainably is to use what you have instead of buying new things. Lots of resources are needed to make, market, package, and ship items. The more you buy, the more you’re contributing to this cycle. Plus, replacing usable items means they go to waste and likely end up in landfill, which will have a further negative impact on the environment.

It can be easy to get carried away when a new sustainable version of something comes out – but it would be better for the environment to keep using what you already have. For example, bamboo kitchen utensils might be sustainable, but if you already own plastic ones then you shouldn’t buy new ones until they absolutely need replacing.

Only when items have come to the end of their life cycle should you look to replace them. When you are looking for new equipment, try to source sustainable items, such as our eco-friendly stationery that is climate neutral, 100% recyclable and made from a high percentage of recycled material. Being more aware of what you’re buying when it’s time to buy new equipment will help to reduce your carbon footprint.   

Buy Reusable Instead of Disposable

Regularly buying disposable items, such as paper towels, paper plates, and single-use water bottles all have an impact on the environment due to the consistent waste. It will also cost you money, as you’ll need to keep replacing the items after each use. Instead, you should switch to reusable alternatives, such as an insulated water bottle, cotton cloths and towels, or ceramic kitchenware.

Buying reusable items will usually require more upfront investment than buying single-use items. However, you will save money in the long run as you won’t have to replace the items as quickly.

Sell or Donate Unwanted Items

When you’re updating your furniture, throwing away your old items should be a last resort. Instead, you should sell them or donate them to charity. This will be much better for the environment and prevent the item from going to landfill, at no cost for yourself.

Even items that you might think are past their best can be of value to someone else. Many people enjoy upcycling old furniture, repairing and improving something that may have seen better days. When you’re selling this type of item, just be clear about any faults or issues, so people know what to expect when they pick it up.

Buy Second-hand

Buying items second-hand will be just as good for the environment as buying sustainable items. It can also sometimes save you money, as you can get items cheaper than buying brand new. Look online at social media marketplaces for furniture to see what people are selling for cheap – sometimes you can even find items being given away for free.

You could also look in charity shops and at markets to find cheap second-hand furniture, clothing, books, and other items. Often you can find a special or unique item that you wouldn’t be able to buy brand new. Other times you might find something that you can upcycle or adapt to fit your tastes and style. 

Switch Off to Save Energy

Leaving electrical equipment on standby, leaving lights on in rooms that aren’t being used and even leaving equipment plugged in will all waste energy. Wasted energy not only has a negative impact on the environment, but it will also cost you money. Taking some time to properly switch off items and unplug them when they’re not in use will help to save you money and also live more sustainably.

You can also reduce your energy usage to save money and be more eco-friendly. Washing your clothes at a lower temperature, having shorter showers, and air drying your clothes outside instead of using the tumble dryer are all cheap and easy ways to live sustainably.

Walk or Cycle

It might not be realistic for you to get rid of your car completely, but even reducing how much you use it can lessen your impact on the environment. Just having one day a week where you aim to walk or cycle places instead of using your car can lessen your carbon footprint. It will also save you money, as you won’t have to fill up your petrol tank as often and it can also save you maintenance costs with less wear and tear on the car.

Before you take a journey in your car, think about whether it’s possible to walk or cycle instead. Or perhaps you can take public transport or even ride share to work if the other choices aren’t possible.

Grow Your Own Fruits and Vegetables

Growing your own fruits and vegetables will require some investment of your time but will save you a lot of money in the long run. Research shows that growing your own tomatoes could save you up to £1.98 per kg compared to buying them in the supermarket and growing your own mangetout can save you a huge £7.17 per kg. Growing your own produce will be better for the environment as there will be minimal carbon footprint – the food won’t have to travel from the farm to the shop, and to your home.

You can buy seeds or plants to start growing your own produce, or you can grow from scraps of vegetables that you buy in-store. You can grow new plants from the stems of vegetables such as lettuce, celery, and spring onions by placing them in water until they grow roots and then planting them.

If growing your own produce isn’t an option for you, you should try to buy your groceries locally, as this will have less impact on the environment. You should also look for fruits and vegetables with minimal packaging and take your own produce bags shopping to reduce waste.

Plan Meals to Prevent Food Wastage

Planning your meals and what food you’ll need before you go shopping can save you money and also prevent food waste from going to landfill. When you know exactly what food you’ll be using in a week, you can make sure you only buy what you need. You’ll also be less likely to have to go back to the shop to top up on food mid-week, so you’ll save money on travel costs and reduce your impact on the environment.

Switch to Paperless Correspondence

Wherever possible, you should switch to paperless billing and e-mail correspondence only. This will reduce the amount of paper that has to get produced and, ultimately, wasted. Switching to paperless billing will also save you money on stamps and envelopes, as you’ll be able to make payments online instead.

If you receive junk mail, take the time to contact the company and request to be removed from their mailing list. When you sign up to a new company, take notice of what you’re agreeing to with regards to them contacting you, and make sure you’re not signing up to receive any physical mail. 

Repair and Repurpose

When things break, you should look at what will be involved in fixing the fault, rather than getting rid of it and buying something new. For example, clothes can often be repaired easily by sewing on buttons that have come off or mending holes. This will often be a much cheaper solution and will be better for the environment. The same can also apply to bigger items, such as cars and washing machines. Before you buy something new, find out what is wrong and see what the cost will be involved in fixing it.

You can also sometimes find a new role for something that can no longer fulfil its original function. For example, an old t-shirt that is beyond repair can be used as a rag or cloth for cleaning. You can wash out glass jars that have been packaging for food and reuse them to store items or for other food storage. Any plastic bags that you have can be reused over and over again. Before you throw something out, think about whether it can serve another purpose.

Leitz has a range of eco-friendly office equipment so you can live more sustainably.

Read more about ways to go green at work and at home: 

How to Work More Sustainably in the Office and at Home

Could Creating a Greener Home Office Also Save You Money?

10 Sustainable Swaps for Your Home Office

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