Eco-friendly options that can save you money

A man is holding a drill and Chung is holding electrical wires

Guy and Chung volunteer at the Repair Café in Cambridge

The cost of living is driving people to buy cheaper, less environmentally friendly goods, according to new data. But there are ways you can save money and help the planet at the same time.

“I recently repaired an electric bike battery for someone, saving me £800,” says Guy Jones.

“The part to fix it was £10.”

Guy volunteers at the Repair Café in Cambridge – part of a network where volunteers repair people’s stuff for free.

Everyday household items such as lamps, toasters and laptops are regularly brought in and left in fully working condition.

Speaking to BBC Newsbeat, he points to a clock worth £40, which won’t turn on.

The owner was about to throw it away, but it turns out to be just a minor problem.

“The connector you plug in has a loose connection. All we need is a £2 replacement and solder it on,” says Guy.

Returning to the bike battery story, he adds, “It’s a good idea if you can do it, because the savings potential is huge.”

Computer with the front cover removed and the wires exposed

Computers are just one of the items repaired by volunteers at the Repair Café in Cambridge

But in addition to saving your wallet, the Repair Café also wants to contribute to saving the planet.

“The idea is to reduce the amount of stuff that goes to the landfill,” says Guy.

“And try to reduce people’s carbon footprint by having them repaired instead of replaced.”

The cafes are not only concerned with electrical items. Ellie Colling bought a pair of felt shoes for £90 a year ago. Then the buckle broke, making them unwearable.

Woman with her fixed felt shoes next to a man with tools

Ellie Colling in her fixed shoes with Mark, a Cambridge Repair Café volunteer

“They weren’t cheap and I didn’t want to throw them away. I love them,” says Ellie.

She says the manufacturer offered to send a new pair because they couldn’t be made in the UK, “so these would just go in the bin”.

After some delicate bending of metal at the café, the buckle was secured and now they fit “perfectly,” she says.

Elsewhere, the cost of living is leading people to buy cheaper, less environmentally friendly goods, according to new data.

Amy Meek stands for pasta and rice dispensers

Amy Meek, climate activist and founder of Kids Against Plastic

A Zurich UK survey shows that 70% of people say they cannot afford items such as sustainable beauty products.

University student Amy Meek says she tries to buy plastic-free and sustainable goods, but rising costs have made it difficult for her to do so.

A majority (61%) of the 2,000 people aged 18-34 surveyed for the Youth Against Carbon campaign in Zurich say they are more concerned about the cost of living than climate change.

The 19-year-old, who studies at the University of Nottingham, is the co-founder of Kids Against Plastic and says rising costs have made her think about whether “we can afford to keep buying [sustainably] Or should we look at alternatives?”

And she’s not alone.

Research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that fewer people are changing our lifestyles to combat climate change this year.

In the UK, according to the ONS survey, 75% of adults have made changes to help the environment this year, compared to 81% in 2021, citing cost as one of the main reasons.

Shop owner behind a table full of eco-friendly products

Sarah Molloy, the owner of Shop Zero in Nottingham

Shops that sell environmentally friendly goods also notice fewer customers.

Sarah Molloy runs Shop Zero in Nottingham, which trades in plastic-free products and unpackaged food.

“The amount people put in their baskets has definitely gone down. We’ve also seen our costs go up and unfortunately we sometimes have to pass that on to customers.”

The choice between saving money and being sustainable is a decision Amy would rather not have to make.

“The top priority for most of us is the cost of living.

“What needs to happen now is that business and government need to do something to address the rising cost of living, and that goes hand in hand with climate action.”

But at the same time, Sarah and Amy think eco-sustainable living can actually help save money.

“It is a matter of thinking carefully, because you are going to encounter so many overpriced products when it comes to sustainability.

“All you need is a container — it’s that simple,” says Amy.

Jars of oats, broth mix and sugar

Jars of oats, stock mix and sugar at Shop Zero in Nottingham

Sarah has seen more customers bring their own containers and fill them with loose food because it is cheaper than the supermarket and because less packaging material is needed.

“Loose dry chickpeas are something I notice people are buying more of. If you soak them in water yourself, it’s a lot cheaper.”

The environmental costs of throwing things away

  • According to the UK Environment Agency, 491,212 tonnes of household waste from electrical and electronic equipment were collected in the UK in 2021

  • It takes a lot of energy to make these things, which in turn causes CO2 emissions

  • Each year, the average household spends about £1170 on clothes and shoes and £1768 on household goods and services such as furniture and appliances, according to the ONS

Newsbeat logo

Newsbeat logo

Follow Newsbeat Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 5:45 p.m. weekdays – or listen back here.

Leave a Reply

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