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8 Ways to Live Sustainably that Cost Nothing

Updated: Jan 13

an organised litter pick

A recent poll of UK adults found that 64% want to be more eco-friendly but worry about the challenges of doing so, particularly in the current climate. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to live more sustainably that cost nothing and are easy to factor into everyday life - even saving money in many cases! In this post, we've brought together a eight ideas for living more sustainably at no extra cost.

1. PICK UP LITTER - While you can join a local litter pick organised by groups like Surfers Against Sewage or Keep Britain Tidy, picking up litter can also be done spontaneously and solo! If it's safe to do so, picking up the odd bit of litter each time you're out and about can really add up across a year (and even prevent an animal from being injured by it down the line).

2. TIDY YOUR INBOX - A 2020 study found that promotional emails received by the average UK resident had a carbon footprint of 42 kilograms of carbon dioxide (the same as 350 kilometres driven on a Mini). If your emails are chock full of unread messages, an unsubbing session might be in order!

3. UNPLUG - Chargers continuously draw power from an outlet (approx 25 watts), even if your device is not connected. Known as passive energy consumption, imagine this mutiplied over a year, and across multiple phones, laptops and tablets 😲 And if you often leave your device plugged in fully charged, you can consume up to ten times more passive energy with no benefit!

4. JUST SAY NO! - Once you start noticing it, you realise that single-use plastic is everywhere (and often gets foisted upon you) particularly when eating and drinking out, or shopping. Getting into the habit of refusing it can take a little preparation (like bringing your own bag or coffee cup). If you have a favourite brand or business that still uses single-use plastic (when a more eco-friendly option is available) why not send them a message to let them know!

5. REDUCE, REUSE... REPAIR - 45 million tonnes of electronic goods are thrown away each year. Cleaning and maintaining these items in line with manufacturer instructions can help them last longer, but there's a growing movement pushing back against electrical waste. Visit @repaircafefoundation to find your nearest REPAIR CAFE - a free meeting place with tools, materials and local experts who can teach you to make the repairs you need.

6. GET SWAPPING - Whether it's clothes, books or something else, swapping is a win-win - responsibly get rid of something that you don't want (and give it a second life with someone else), and get something "new" in return! Search eventbrite for your nearest swapping event, or arrange your own between friends, at work, or on your school or university campus.

second hand clothing

7. TAP OUT - If you leave the tap running while brushing your teeth, that's water and money going down the drain! Some scientists estimate that switching the tap off while brushing can save up to three or four gallons of water per person per day. That's more than 1,000 gallons of water per year - enough for almost 100 four-minute showers.

8. PLAN AHEAD - Each year, 1.6bn tonnes of food worth approximately $1.2tn, goes to waste – about one third of the food produced globally (while 690 million people are undernourished worldwide). Food waste and loss also accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Love Food Hate Waste can help you to plan meals, use up scraps, reduce food waste and save money.

Do you have any more tips for thrifty sustainable living? Please share them below in the comments.

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