How to live sustainably on a budget!

Tips for saving money and carbon!

Amelia Lucas
Megan Potts
How to live sustainably on a budget!
Repurpose what you can

Who said living more sustainably had to be expensive?

There is a common misconception that living sustainably is expensive. But, there are many ways to live sustainably on a budget, especially when you focus on limiting consumption and the longevity of items.

A poll of 2,000 adults found 64 per cent want to be eco-friendly but are fearful the increasing cost of living will make such a thing impossible. (1)

What percentage of people want to be eco-friendly but are fearful this may be impossible with the increasing cost of living?

Here are 5 ways to live sustainably whilst on a budget…

1. Repurpose

The definition of repurpose is to give new use to something for a different purpose than the one for which it was originally intended (2). Repurposing items not only saves you money by reducing the amount of things you need to buy new, but also keeps the pressure of landfills and disposal areas.

Take a t-shirt for example- us Brits send more than 30% of our unwanted clothing to landfill (3). Instead of throwing away clothing like old t-shirts, repurpose them! By cutting the fabric into squares, you can make reusable cleaning wipes and dryer sheets. But t-shirts are just the beginning, there are many other ways to repurpose what you already have into things you’ll use all the time!

2. Plan your meals

To eat more sustainably whilst on a budget it is super important to sit down at the beginning of the week to plan your meals. Start by looking at what you already have in the cupboards and work from there- this will help you reduce the cost of your weekly shop and cut down on food waste.

Changing your dietary habits is one of the most significant ways to lower your carbon footprint, assuming an average diet footprint, reducing your level of food waste from the UK average of 40% down to 10% could save around 660kg CO2e per year!

Download the Greenr app to track your foodprint, allowing you to eat more sustainably!

3. Reduce water usage

Currently, the average household in the UK uses around 330 litres of water a day, that’s 140 litres per head, every day. (4) According to Waterwise, 85% of people don’t know how much we use per day, but they generally estimate between 50 and 100 litres per day (5).

Reducing your water usage is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint whilst also saving money at the same time. For example, reducing your showers from 6 minutes to 3 minutes could save 541kg CO2 and £183 per year on average. As well as this, cutting your weekly washing from 7 loads to 4 can save on average 62kg CO2e and £63 annually (6). To help preserve water, commit to taking shorter showers, fix any leaks you may have, only run the dishwasher and washing machine when necessary and make sure to collect rainwater to water your plants. Water-conscious behaviours not only help to save the precious resource, but also reduce bills.

4. Purchase items second-hand

Shopping second-hand will always be the most eco-friendly way to shop. It is surprising how quickly the carbon cost of buying new items can add up. Smaller items such as a single pair of cotton jeans has an estimated footprint of 33.4 kilograms CO2e (7) whilst bigger purchases like a new sofa’s estimated footprint is 90 kilograms carbon dioxide equivalent (8). Even if you only buy from organic or sustainable shops- the second hand option will always be better for the environment as it promotes the circular economy. A circular economy means an economy that prioritises the longevity of goods e.g. by sharing or recycling them (9). Purchasing used items is also usually a fraction of the price of the newer version! Not only is it better for both the planet and your pocket, vintage items can give your wardrobe and home a unique flare.

5. Learn how to recycle!

Recycling may seem like an obvious way to live more sustainably- but many fall victim to wish-cycling; the act of placing something in a recycling bin with the hopes it will be recycled. By improving your recycling habits you can easily reduce your carbon footprint by 95kg CO2e per year.

So, here are some recycling rules of thumb:

  1. Before putting something in the recycling bin, think, can it be reused in any way?

  2. Some items like Aluminium, metal and glass can be recycled infinitely so make sure to always recycle these items!

  3. Putting anything wet, greasy or dirty into recycling bins can contaminate the waste and prevent other items from being recycled.

  4. Each region in the UK has different recycling rules so make sure to check the guidelines in your area:

Check out a useful infographic below:


Eco doesn’t have to be extortionate!


[1] UK adults think sustainable living is too expensive

[2] Cambridge Dictionary

[3] Facts on clothes recycling

[4] Environment Agency calls for action on water efficiency

[5] Waterwise

[6] Waterwise

[7] Levis Strauss Lifecycle

[8] The importance of upcycling

[9] Collins Dictionary