TOP 5: Ways To Help The Environment (And Save Money!)

Everyone knows that you can recycle, turn off light switches, and take public transport to help the environment. But beyond that being environmentally friendly can seem a little bewildering and daunting, with many websites and articles advocating total lifestyle overhauls. Similarly, there seems to be a myth that helping the environment is often more expensive than carrying on your life as normal. However, this is just not the case. Sure, installing solar panels on your house or buying an electric car is pricey, but there are many, many easy and inexpensive changes you can make on a student budget. And they all have a small but positive impact on the environment.

Invest in reusable items

A change that I have recently been making is slowly replacing many disposable or one-use items with reusable versions. Whilst reusable items might be more expensive initially they are a one-off purchase, so they easily save you money in the long-run. Reusable versions of every day products help to reduce the many uses of single-use plastic. For example, mesh grocery bags replace the flimsy vegetable bags you get in supermarkets, or reusable sanitary pads and menstrual cups eliminate all the plastic wrapping that comes with traditional period products. A few more of my favourite reusable products include make-up remover pads to replace disposable cotton pads and cotton handkerchiefs to replace paper tissues, which can both be easily washed and reused once dirty. What makes things even easier is that lots of these reusable items are available cheap on Amazon – super simple and super affordable!

Bring your own water and lunch

Along similar lines to cutting out waste with reusable items is bringing your own packed lunch and water for those long days at Billy B. I am particularly guilty for forgetting about this and succumbing to the lure of the Tesco meal deal. However, not only does packing your own food save on packaging waste, but it also saves you a lot of money. Also, it really doesn’t take that much time, especially if you prepare meals such as pasta or salads at the weekend that you can use throughout the week. For bonus environment points you could also use a stainless-steel lunchbox to further cut down on your plastic use!

Buy more second hand

A great way to help the environment and save money is to buy second-hand, cutting down on the use of resources, packaging, and transport that would be involved in new goods. I’ve recently decided to no longer buy new clothes or new books – two small changes that have actually been very easy to make with the help of websites like eBay, Depop, and Abebooks, as well as second-hand shops. You can also find lots of second-hand goodies on websites such as Gumtree, Freecyle, and even Facebook marketplace, meaning that you can even get furniture and electrical items second-hand (however always check for safety of electrical items!). Furthermore, holding clothes or book swap evenings with your friends is a way to have fun and get more people interested in second-hand living, especially if you feel weird about using a stranger’s old things.

Use more natural laundry and cleaning products

Another thing that I have recently started looking into is more environmentally friendly cleaning and laundry products. This means products with either recycled packaging, plant-derived ingredients, or just less harsh ingredients which means less harsh chemicals end up in the environment. Whilst some environmentally conscious brands, such as Method and Ecover, are more expensive than regular products, Tesco has recently released their own line of eco cleaning products which are comparable to their other own-brand products. Additionally, you can go even more natural by using just plain white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to clean the vast majority of household items, which also happens to be a super cheap and widely available alternative to traditional cleaning products.

Meatless/dairy-less days or meals

This last idea is something which has garnered a lot of attention recently. However, that’s because it’s a really fantastic way to help the environment, as well as save money. Whilst it’s well documented that eating less meat and/or dairy can help reduce your carbon footprint I think it is often misunderstood that eating less animal products is more expensive with the need for pricey meat and dairy replacements. However, the staples of a plant-based diet, such as vegetables, carbs, and pulses, tend to be the cheapest items at the supermarket, and therefore giving up animal products has actually been monumentally cheaper than I had imagined. A simple way to integrate more animal-free meals is to pledge to have certain days, or certain meals, that you always keep plant-based. Through integrating it into your routine it becomes a simple habit to keep up!