How to be green on a budget

Washing machine

Washing clothes at 30C rather than hotter could save around 40% energy each year, says Energy Saving Trust

More than two-thirds of people feel ‘very or slightly concerned’ about climate change, according to the latest UK census.

But for those on a budget, climate-friendly choices can be harder to afford.

The average initial cost of buying an electric car is around £10,000 more than buying a petrol car, according to price comparison service Uswitch.

Dr Michelle Deininger, from Cardiff University, said rising costs could be a barrier to living sustainably.

“When you’re on zero-hour contracts or surviving on benefits, it can often feel like you don’t have much agency over the choices you make or the things you buy,” the humanities professor said.

So how can you make affordable green choices?

Reduce your food waste

Approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year, ending up in landfills and producing methane which contributes to the climate crisis.

Meal planning can be an inexpensive way to deal with this problem.

Postgraduate student Rubie Barker, 22, said she plans her meals for the week.

“It makes sure I get the most out of the food I buy, but it also keeps costs down,” said the Cardiff University student.

“We have limited budgets at a time when everything is getting more expensive. We have to prioritize cost over anything else right now.”

There are also a number of food waste apps to allow households and businesses to give away excess food, free or at a reduced cost.

Buy second hand

Darwin Alford, a young entrepreneur and content creator, said charity shops and online marketplaces are another convenient way to make a difference.

The 22-year-old, from Grangetown in Cardiff, has built an audience of 14,700 TikTok followers by teaching people how to live more sustainably.

“I grew up on a low income. Something I talk about a lot on TikTok is learning to let go of the guilt and not overconsume,” Alford said.

“You can shop more intentionally by listing what you specifically need so you’re not tempted to overconsume,” she added.

“Make every item you buy last. Fix it when it’s broken.”

Ms Alford said secondhand fashion apps can also be a great alternative to charity shops.

“The beauty of Vinted, Depop and eBay is that you can shop intentionally. It’s more accessible for people who can’t access charity shops, and it offers more size options,” she said.

Keep calm

Research by Which UK found that washing your laundry with 40°C cotton four times a week emits the same amount of CO2 as driving 230 miles (370 kilometres).

Washing clothes at a lower temperature can reduce environmental damage and save money at the same time, the consumer body said.

But how low can you go? According to the Energy Saving Trust, 30°C is the ideal temperature.

Washing clothes at 30C rather than the hotter temperatures could save around 40% of your energy each year and modern washing powders and detergents are just as effective at this temperature, said the Energy Saving Trust.

The Welsh Government has said it is working to build a ‘greener’ Wales by ‘supporting a range of ways we can lead healthier, greener lives whilst living on a budget’.

“Everyone can be part of the fight against climate change,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *