Tag Archives: eco

Being Green on a Budget

Heya. In this post I’m going to give some tips for people who want to lower their ecological footprint but are on low incomes and simply don’t have extra cash to splash on being green. So if you can’t invest in insulation or solar panels and can’t fork out for organic, fairtrade and or whatever, don’t worry – there’s plenty of ways you can be green on a small budget!

FOOD

  • Seek out your local market. This way local farmers can sell you their produce for a much cheaper price than what you’d see in the shops because the middle man of the shop is cut out. You can get fresh organic fruit and vegetables that’ll boost your health and your local economy while being very cheap – seasonal things will often be cheaper than a supermarket!
  • Use your local food-waste collection service or if you like gardening, even make your own compost heap! Cost is very minimal as you can just nail together pieces of scrap wood to make two compartments.
  • Growing food in your garden is something that you can make as cheap or expensive as you like really. It’ll cost less if you grow from seeds rather than baby plants, research on the internet or in library books, buy manure from a local farm rather than a garden centre and just be inventive… Also check out Land Share if you don’t have a garden. Allotments don’t cost that much but the waiting lists are usually about as long as it takes to worm a cat.
  • Don’t waste food! Obvious, but it’s crazy how much most people do it. Plan your meals, try new combinations and use leftovers in meals the next day. This will clearly save money and waste really is such a problem as it releases CH4 (methane) while in landfill – a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than CO2.

TRANSPORT & HOLIDAYS

  • I would say use public transport rather than a car but in many places it’s just so ridiculously expensive… Always book train fares as far in advance as possible as it makes a huge difference. Like half the price kind of difference. (Check out Trainline). Other than that, try and car-share with people to cut carbon and offer lifts to others if you are driving. (Check Liftshare) Lastly, where are you going? Can you actually just walk? If it’s 2 miles away or less it’s perfectly reasonable to walk it. Or ride a bike, for a speedier alternative.
  • When going on holiday, try and refrain from flying. Planes emit a huge amount of CO2. I was once told that a plane just launching into the sky emits as much carbon as most cars do in a whole year. I can’t say if that’s exactly accurate but it’s certainly very high. So take a holiday somewhere in your own country, or even take to the sea if you’re feeling the wander-lust. I personally think until a greener aviation fuel is developed, flying should be reserved for emergencies.

SHOPPING

  • Just don’t buy it if you don’t adore it or really need it. The best way to be green on a low budget is simply to buy as little as possible. Every item uses up energy and resources to produce and distribute and the super-cheap price is not a true reflection of all the ignored costs. So just think hard before every purchase.
  • Buy second hand things! I buy almost all of my clothes second hand. It’s so so so much cheaper and it doubles the lifespan of items and reduces the demand for new stuff to be made. Scour local charity shops, seek out flea markets and jumble sales and get click happy over ebay.

CLOTHES

  • Hold a Swish. I think these are a fantastic idea. You get together with your friends, all bring some clothes you no longer want and throw them in a pile. You try lots of things on and take home whatever you like. It’s so simple and so much fun.
  • Learn to mend your clothes. Getting thrifty with your needle and thread can turn that cardigan from kicking-around-waiting-to-be-got-rid-of-clutter to yay-my favourite-cardigan-has-buttons-again-hooray! in minutes.

HOME

  • Put a sheet of tinfoil behind your radiators to help them radiate the heat away from the wall and into the room. Saves carbon and money in one fell swoop..
  • Don’t waste water! I’m always shocked at how much people waste this precious resource. All the time I see people getting a glass of water, taking one sip and throwing the rest away or wandering around the hallway leisurely brushing their teeth while litre after litre of sweet H2O hurtles down the sink. It’s more a habit than anything but do try and break it because the water purification process is pretty energy intensive. Collect excess water in a watering can and quench your garden’s thirst without any tap-turning. Another good idea is to put your water on a meter – if you’re charged for how much you use rather than a flat rate you’ll have a financial incentive to use less.
  • When feeling chilly, go to your wardrobe and put on another layer rather than turning the heating up a notch. It sounds silly but you’ll be surprised how often people do the latter without even thinking about it. You could even go and cuddle someone to keep warm!

Hope this little list helped – I’ll be sure to post more ideas when I think of them. Do you have a tip you’d like to share that’s friendly to both purse and planet? If so then hit up the comment section right away!

xx

Why must “green” clothes be different?

Eco fashion has come a long way. I quite want to make a timeline, and some day I will, but for now I’ll just say that I remember when all it meant was oatmeal coloured sack-dresses made out of hemp. Now there’s all sorts of high-end shenanigans involving vegetarian silk, elegant poses and lots of $$$. Celebrities like to rock up to red-carpet events and wax lyrical about their ethical dresses.  Topshop and New Look even sell organic cotton ranges. Most environmentally and socially friendly clothes are still a fair amount more expensive than their conventional counterparts, which means I don’t really bother with them and buy most of my clothes second hand. But there’s no use denying there’s gallons of progress afoot.

So what, then, am I complaining about? It’s this. They look different.

Ethically produced clothes don’t just differ in material and production method, they differ in style too. And maybe, for you, this is all part of the charm. “It’s not just a run-of-the-mill jacket, it’s an eco jacket! Look, you can tell!” I’m not convinced. I think making all these great garments in hippie, ethnic, shabby chic, indie or just “different” styles is unfair on the environment. What about the millions of people who want to dress fashionably? May they not reduce their carbon footprint without looking like a different person? Don’t they deserve the chance to endorse fair working wages AND YET not become a hippie?

Basically I think there’s no reason while the same mainstream trends can’t be produced ethically. I do’t even like the phrase “eco fashion”. “Eco” isn’t a trend or a look, it should just be normal practise. But as long as it distinguishes itself in this way, it will only reach a niche market. Fashion is a powerful force. People follow it. It’s much easier to work with it than against it.

All this is on my mind because in my town a new “eco fashion” shop has just opened and I went inside to take a look. Their clothes are actually very nice. It was a little expensive but not unreasonable. You can get a lovely soft stripy jumper for £30. Pretty good. And they’re style was cool, I liked it. The fact that it wasn’t trendy New Look-ey stuff didn’t bother me because I personally don’t like that stuff. But it does both me in the more general sense that I’ve just been discussing. All fashion needs to get progressively greener, regardless of what it looks like. Skaters, housewives, gothic teenagers, fashionable girly girls and business men should all have the equal opportunity to choose more environmentally friendly ways of dressing. Diversify!

This would have been the best you could do a few year's ago.

And now this. You wouldn't know by looking that it's 100% organic cotton, made by people with a fair wage in a factory run by wind power.

The above tee-shirt, by Ascension, is an example of what I’m saying we should have more of. Perfectly “normal” looking clothes that just happen to have great green credentials.