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Whenever I start getting into a discussion with someone about living a more sustainable lifestyle the one thing that constantly gets brought up is..
‘But I can’t afford to live a more sustainable lifestyle’
‘sustainable living is only for people that have money.’
The reality is that this just isn’t true.
I mean don’t get me wrong if you wanted to start buying only organic food then yes that will cost you more. If you wanted to buy an electric car then yes that would cost you more than your conventional petrol or diesel cars. However, that is not the whole picture with sustainable living. Contrary to popular belief it’s not all about solar panels and carbon offsetting.
There are so many things that you can do to live a more sustainable lifestyle that won’t cost you a penny. Below are just some of the changes you can make.
But first have you got your FREE copy of my latest eBook yet? Click the image to get yours today!
18 Sustainable Lifestyle Changes That Don’t Cost Money
The first step you should always take before you want to make changes in your life is to have a rethink, start to refuse and then start to reduce. The first of the 9 R’s of living a sustainable lifestyle. All of which doesn’t cost you a penny to do.
What changes would you like to make? What parts of your life are you happy with? What parts would you like to change? What areas of your life currently generate a lot of waste and how could you change that?
1. Complete a Waste Audit
Whenever anyone comes to me asking for advice on where, to begin with living a more sustainable lifestyle I always suggest that they start by doing a waste audit.
A waste audit is not as scary as it sounds. It simply involves keeping track of what you are throwing away for a certain period of time. A week is normally a good amount of time to start with.
You’ll need a sheet of paper and a pen next to your bin so you can then write down every single thing that goes into your bin during that week. At the end of the week, you then need to take a look and see what you’re throwing away.
Once you’ve worked out what is going into your bin you can then start to look into sustainable alternatives or ways you can reduce that amount of waste.
Do you currently know what’s in your bin?
Check out my post: How To Do A Waste Audit for Your Home
2. Turn off Your Lights & Appliances
A big part of the rethink stage is to, funnily enough, ‘rethink’ everything you do. That can include remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room and not leaving your appliances on standby.
3. Do A Regular Litter Pick
More and more local litter picking groups are popping up all over the country now. We have one in our town that’s organised by the local environmental group.
If you go to the website called Litter Action you should be able to find a group in your area. If there isn’t one already set up could you start one up yourself? The Litter Action website also has lots of litter picking tips and resources.
4. Air Dry Your Clothes
A tumble dryer burns on average 2,400 watts with an average cost per year of £85.80. (This is based on one person using one appliance).
A free solution to this is to line dry your clothes. It’s better for the environment, your wallet and your clothes.
So once you’ve started to rethink your daily habits the next step is to start to refuse…
Refuse – Just Say NO
5. Say No To Junk Mail
Junk mail is not only annoying but it’s also a complete waste. It’s the bane of my life, I didn’t ask for it and I don’t want it in my house. Whenever we get any unsolicited mail it always goes straight into the bin. A lot of it cannot even be recycled as it’s coated in a plastic lining.
However, it’s not all bad news as there are measures that you can take to stop the junk mail from getting to your home. In fact, there are 6 things you can do.
- Royal Mail door-to-door opt out
- Register with the mailing preference service
- Contact the Your Choice Preference Service for unaddressed mail
- Return the unwanted mail to the sender
- Contact the sender
- Put a sign up on your door
All of the above options are free and if you’d like to find out more about any of the options I’ve listed above then check out this post: How To Opt-Out of Junk Mail in the UK
6. Say No To Plastic Bags
Most stores in the UK now charge for plastic bags. So not only will you be saving money by taking your own you’ll also reduce the amount of plastic you use. Say goodbye to the overflowing plastic bag drawer and hello to jute bags. Or, alternatively, if you don’t already have a jute bag use a rucksack.
7. Say No To Plastic Straws
Plastic straws are another issue when it comes to plastic waste. Just remember to say no straw please when the bar staff are making your drink.
Say no to anything that doesn’t add value to your life.
8. Use Up Your Leftovers
By using up your leftovers you’re not only saving yourself money but also reducing the amount of food that is wasted.
9. Host A Clothes Swap Night with Friends
If you’re friends also have clothes that they no longer want why not host a clothes swap evening. Everyone brings along their unwanted items and you exchange your clothes with your friends. Lay out all of the clothes in your living room and get swapping.
If you and your friends have a lot of clothing to swap you may need to find a larger venue to host. TIP: Pubs often have a back room that they are willing to let you borrow for free if you pay for drinks at the bar.
10. Host A Book Swap Event
If you and your friends are more into books than clothes then host a book swap event instead. In fact, swap events can work for pretty much anything from clothing to appliances.
Not only are you saving yourself money but not buying more products, you’re also stopping unwanted products from being thrown away.
11. Reduce your Paper Clutter
An easy way to reduce your paper clutter is to contact your bank and switch to paperless bills and statements. Most big banks have apps which you can download for free so you can stay on top of your finances.
12. Reduce All Your Clutter
Don’t just stop at paper clutter, why not sort through all of your clutter? Find out here how I finally won the war on clutter in our home.
You’ll probably find that you can sell on a lot of your unwanted items which means you’ll also make some cash in the process. Do try to find suitable homes for your items though. Don’t just throw it away if it can be reused by someone else.
13. Turn Your Thermostat Down
Most houses these days are kept too warm. By lowering the temperature in your home by just 1 degree, you can save up to 10% on your yearly heating bill.
It’s also worth contacting your energy provider to see if they’ll give you a free energy monitor. There are quite a few companies that offer them these days.
14. Switch Off the Tap While You Brush Your Teeth
This one is such a simple thing to do which not only saves water but can also reduce your water bill.
15. Reduce Your Car Travel
If you have a car could you start to use it less often than you currently do?
A good way to start is by walking any journey that would take you 30 minutes or less by foot. Not only are you going to save money on fuel but you’ll also be reducing your carbon footprint and getting fitter at the same time. It’s a win-win situation. If you find that you can actually walk most of your journeys maybe consider giving up your car altogether.
If it’s not possible for you to walk could you get public transport instead?
16. Don’t Buy Anything New For A Year
Not buying anything new for a year has become quite a popular trend in recent years. In fact, one woman saved £22,000 by not buying anything new for a year. Imagine what you could do with that money!!
Talking about saving money have you grabbed my FREE eBook yet?
Number 8 of the 9 R’s of living a sustainable lifestyle is Recycle. This is yet another thing that you can start doing if you don’t already, that doesn’t cost you any money. Most councils now have curbside recycling systems in place, although they do vary from area to area. Websites such as Recycle Now are great for finding out what you can and can’t recycle near to you.
The reason recycling is so far down on the list is because it should be used as a last resort if you haven’t been able to complete the other R’s first.
18. Start Making Eco Bricks
If you end up with plastic in your home that cannot be recycled in your curbside collection then you could consider starting to make Eco Bricks. I won’t cover the whole process of this here as it’s quite involved but if you’d like to find out more visit the EcoBricks UK Facebook page.
So that’s it! That’s 18 Sustainable Lifestyle Changes That Don’t Cost Money. Anything there that you could start doing in your home or do you have an ideas that I haven’t included?
Let me know in the comments below.
About Gina Caro
Gina is a content creator and award-winning blogger. Her aim is to help you live a more sustainable & simple life. Her blog covers zero waste, minimalism, wellbeing & thrift. She currently lives in Cornwall with her partner, two kids and Charles the dog.