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9 Free or Money-Saving Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

You needn’t set aside your concern for the planet in the face of rising living costs. You can still do your bit for the environment and it not cost you a penny. In this post, we'll show you how.

Beds SU Sustainability Team

By Beds SU Sustainability Team

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

In this post, we aim to show that you needn’t set aside your concern for the planet in the face of rising living costs. You can still do your bit for the environment and it not cost you a penny. Better still, you can integrate both of these concerns - you can take positive steps to reduce your carbon footprint and actually save money.

Let’s show you how.

Start by measuring your carbon footprint

Before you begin on your journey to reducing your carbon footprint, it’s a good idea to get an estimate as to how large your footprint is. WWF’s Carbon Calculator is a great tool for doing this. The short questionnaire asks you about your everyday lifestyle and uses your answers to calculate your likely carbon footprint.

You can then use your result to measure the positive impact of the changes that you make.

Free or money saving ways to tackle the climate crisis

Let's now get into the 9 ways that you can save the planet for free or the ways that will actually save you money.

Use Tree app daily

Tree app (for iOS and android) is a fantastic way for you to plant some trees and it doesn’t cost a penny. Once you’ve downloaded the free app, you can plant one tree a day in exchange for watching an advert from one of the company’s ethical and sustainable partners.

You can even input your result from the WWF Carbon Calculator so that you can track your progress. Clever stuff!

Search for stuff using Ecosia

Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees whenever you search for something. Similarly to Google, discrete ads appear in your search results. While Google makes money from its ads, Ecosia uses its advertising income to fund tree planting projects.

There are plugins for your web browsers so that you can easily set Ecosia as your default search engine and you can keep track of how many trees you’ve planted on each of your devices without having to signup for an account.

So far, users of the platform have planted nearly 150 million trees, with a new tree planted every second.

Invest in good quality clothing

In 2019, a report suggested that the production of clothing and footwear accounts of 8.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions and that this figure is rising. The rise is likely due to the increase of ‘fast fashion’, the mass production of clothing sold at low prices and designed to be purchased on a whim.

While low cost clothing is very attractive on the face of it, the cost to low-paid factory workers, unethical business practices and environmental impact is far greater.

The impact on you personally is not great either. Low cost clothing is often of very low quality. This is particularly the case with footwear. Low cost clothing tends to wear out very quickly, meaning you have to replace things quite frequently. While the cost of individual items is low, once you start considering how many items you’re buying and how often you’re having to replace them, the cost starts to build very quickly over a longer time period.

A far better way to buy clothing and footwear is to invest in higher quality stuff. This kind of apparel tends to last much longer, which means you save money in the long run. You’re also more likely to reduce your carbon footprint.

Pro tip: If you’re someone who needs to change their look frequently but are conscious of the negative effects of ‘fast fashion’, consider buying second hand.

Switch your devices off

On the day of publishing this article (27 Apr 2022), the BBC reported on how ‘vampire devices’ are wasting both energy and money. Devices like televisions, games consoles and even microwaves have been found to use a surprisingly high amount of power when they’re left in standby mode. For the average household, it costs a staggering £147 a year!

Make an instant saving to your energy bills and simultaneously reduce your energy consumption by switching things off at the wall when you’re not using them. Really simple and really effective!

Use a reusable bag

A good quality reusable bag is always a great investment. Avoid plastic bag charges and the completely unnecessary use of plastic by getting yourself one and keeping it in your handbag or backpack.

The initial cost of your reusable bag will always eventually be offset by the savings you make by avoiding the cost of single-use bags.

Walk more

With so many convenient ways to get around, it’s often easy to forget that walking is an option.

Assuming you’re fit and able, if your destination is easily accessible and it's safe for you to do so, always consider getting there on foot. It’s great for your fitness, awesome for your mental health, it’s carbon neutral and of course, it’s entirely free of charge.

Pro tip: As a rule of thumb, if you can get to your destination on foot in 30 minutes, you should always consider walking.

Eat Less Meat (or go entirely plant-based)

The meat production industry is one of the top contributors to global greenhouse gases. With meat prices on the rise, it’s never been a better time to significantly cut down on your meat consumption.

While the cost of all food is rising, the general cost of veggies is still low compared with meat. In fact, an Oxford University study revealed that going vegan, veggie or flexi could slash your food bills by up to a third!

So better for your wallet, better for the planet and better for your health too! Wins all round!

Pro tip: The Vegan Society website is packed full of great advice on changing your diet, including an article on going vegan on a budget. A quick search online also reveals loads of great resources on reducing your meat consumption.

Order fewer takeaways

Ordering takeaways has never been more convenient. But have you ever considered the impact that delivery firms like Deliveroo and Just Eat have on the planet and your wallet?

While many takeaways and restaurants now utilise biodegradable packing, many still don’t. Add on the carbon footprint from the vehicle that delivers the food to you and you have a real problem.

Cutting down on takeaways has many benefits. Firstly, cooking at home is generally healthier for you. You’ll also save a heck of a lot of money. Lastly, you’ll make quite a dent in your carbon footprint. 

The odd takeaway every now and then is okay, but if you’re someone who’s regularly ordering from the apps, it’s time to start thinking about whether this is such a good idea.

Buy less new stuff

Similarly to takeaways, it’s now so easy to buy stuff and have it delivered to you quickly. Whenever a need for a new product arises, we’re now almost programmed to go to Amazon or another online store and get it ordered in a few clicks.

Consider the carbon emissions from the delivery vehicles and the raw materials that have gone into making and packaging all this stuff and you begin to wonder how much this is impacting the planet.

Next time you think you might need or want to buy something new, try to catch yourself before you jump online. Give it a day’s thought and really ask yourself whether it’s necessary to make another purchase for something brand new. Is there another way you can scratch that retail itch? Can you get something second hand or can you reuse/repair/transform something you already own?

Really thinking about your purchasing decisions will not only impact your carbon footprint, but it’ll also help you to save money.

Read Next

Now that you've read this post, why not read our post on 10 Things You Can Do Today to Combat Climate Change. We also recommend you check to our Sustainability page for more posts and information on sustainability topics.