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Sustainability on a Budget


In order to prevent climate change, there is a massive push on sustainable swaps and how they reduce your impact on the environment. However, the products advertised are often high in price and it's always things you can buy to improve and not what you can do with what you already have or how people with less money can help the environment.

sumermarket shop with zero waste bulk brought items to buy

How to make a difference

First of all, there are the obvious things such as recycling. However, recycling in ways other than in bins could too make a massive difference. Reusing single-use items such as poking holes in the bottom of plastic tubs and reusing those as plant pots or saving jars and tubs from takeaways to refill is great.

Similarly, growing a fully edible garden can cost an awful lot of money but there are some small swaps that you can make to still make an impact on a budget. Buying planted herbs like mint rather than a bag of mint leaves which will cost you about the same price and keeping that alive by watering it and potentially reporting it in a recycled container will both prevent plastic waste and get you more mint for your money, even if it dies after a month or two. You can also replant your supermarket spring onions by cutting off the bottoms and putting them in the water you can then transfer them to soil however this isn't necessary and you can just keep dropping the tops off to use of your cooking and they'll keep growing.

Likewise, second-hand clothing makes a massive difference; whether that's buying pieces from a charity shop, eBay, Depop or simply swapping things with friends greatly reduces your impact. Equally, upcycling and repairing clothes makes a huge difference too! For the same reason, you don't have to be the best seamstress or reconstruct entire pieces but just re-sewing a button or patching up a hole is still significant. Try to cut the sleeves from a top you don't wear anymore, so you will; crop that t-shirt that just isn't quite the right length or swap that dress that doesn't quite fit with a friend.

Another thing you can do and may do already is simply walking as much as you can. Similarly taking public transport where it is possible such as a bus or a train will end up cheaper than an Uber and more environmentally friendly. Obviously, this can't be possible everywhere but just making that swap to walking 5 minutes around the corner to the local shop rather than driving can help reduce pollution significantly.

Is anything worth buying?

There are some products worth investing in such as a reusable water bottle as you'll use that every day and will save both the cost and plastic pollution from many single use bottles - however, adverts that tell you the best thing you can do is buy a new product are not always right. The best thing you actually can do is use up what you already have such as buying reusable beeswax wraps rather than cling film. This is a great alternative and may be a worthwhile investment over time; however using up that roll of cling film you already had in the draw first is just as important. Similarly, even if you cannot completely swap something out like kitchen roll, if you have both kitchen roll and a reusable cloth, even if 50% of the time you use that cloth that's still 50% less single-use paper that is now going to waste.

Also, don't rule supermarkets out, we all know that going and buying things like rice or pasta in bulk and taking your own jars will massively reduce your single-use plastic, however even if you just choose to buy one big bag of pasta that will last you a month or maybe two months depending on how many people you're feeding is still going to reduce your single-use plastic considerably as you only have to buy the bag once.

Overall, the most important thing is looking at what you already have and thinking about how you can reuse before purchasing anything new. Even making the tiniest swaps you can is still worthwhile.

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