Since moving into my little flat in Southampton last year I’ve found that I’m having to be much savvier as to how I manage my money. My outgoings are a lot more significant than I’ve had to budget for in the past, or than I anticipated when I moved in (my parking permit alone is £85 a month – ouch!) and so I have to be fairly cautious with what’s left over once all of my bills are paid. Added to this is the fact that I’m saving for my Australia trip in November, and trying to save to buy a house when my lease is up here… things are looking a bit tight.
I’m also trying to be savvier with the environmental impact of the products I consume – upping my recycling and taking a long, hard look at all of the things I routinely use that are ‘single use’. I thought I would share some of the changes I’ve made over the last few months that are helping me save money, and save the planet (which I think you’ll agree, is a pretty awesome combination).
001. Water bottles and filtered water
Buying a re-usable water bottle is one of the easiest things to do to start eliminating single-use plastic. I picked up a glass bottle from TK Maxx (glass bottles do not leach chemicals into the water and have much less environmental impact in terms of their production) and have it in my backpack at all times. I use a Brita Filter Jug at home to fill it up – you can also use the Refill App to find places to fill up your bottle.
002. Find hard-working skincare
Rather than buying multiple skincare and haircare products for every different eventuality, I’m now trying to use natural products that will offer lots of different uses. Hemp Seed Oil is a favourite of mine – you can use it as a cleanser, eye make-up remover, moisturiser, as a hair mask, and you can even use it in cooking. Coconut Oil is another well-reputed multi-use product that can be used in cooking, as a mouthwash, in the bath, as sunscreen (it is SPF4) or as a shaving cream. That saves lots of different bottles in the bathroom cabinet!
003. Make your own products
It’s easy to make your own products at home with just a few base ingredients. I buy Melt And Pour Soap Bases and make my own soaps – it’s so easy to melt them down in the microwave or on the hob and then add essential oils or natural oils, and it saves the cost and packaging of buying from a shop.
004. Use essential oils
I use essential oils for almost everything in the home – I have a few essential oil ‘bibles’ and you can always pick up books in The Works to help learn more about their various uses – the Neal’s Yard books are always in my local store for around £7. You can make a Pillow Spray or Linen Spray using witch hazel and lavender essential oil, or a Disinfectant Spray using witch hazel, white vinegar and tea-tree oil. I buy my essential oils from Doterra as they are 100% Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade – I would encourage if you are buying essential oils to ensure that they are organic, pure and undiluted so you get the maximum efficacy. You can use them in so many different ways, they really are amazing!
005. Buy second-hand
I had to buy a lot of new furniture and appliances when I moved into the flat but I’ve been trying to do it as ethically and cheaply as possible by buying second-hand. One amazing solution I’ve come across is to buy ex show-home furniture from Emblem Furniture – they’re significantly reduced but always in pristine condition, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer if you’re buying for a new home.
006. Identify the things you’re always re-buying
I did a bit of an ‘audit’ of the items I use most days and find myself re-buying recently to see where I could economise. One of the items I immediately thought of was that I take my make-up off with cleansing pads and micellar water. The cleansing pads obviously go in the bin and the cleanser is another plastic item I could live without. Instead, I did some research and picked up some washable face cloths by Erase Your Face. You simply rinse them in warm water and then they will remove all types of make-up. You can bung them in the washing machine after a few uses to keep them fresh. I also make sure I buy re-usable kitchen cloths (I use e-cloths and wash them in the machine once a week).
007. Tote bags and supermarket shops
A tote bag is a must for cutting down on plastic and saving the 5p carrier bag fee. I’ve got tote bags stuffed in all of my backpacks for when I go to the supermarket – nowadays many supermarkets are cutting down in packaging and in Morrisons you can take away items from the Butcher and Fishmonger in your own containers. I spotted on my good friend Emma’s mamagoinggreen instagram page that she buys cloth produce bags on Etsy to save putting loose fruit and vegetables in plastic bags.
008. The mooncup
I thought I’d save you all the sight of my mooncup and so I haven’t included it in the image above but it’s probably the product I recommend the most to all of my friends. Using a menstrual cup instead of tampons or other sanitary products is better for you and for the environment. Did you know that the ingredients in tampons have barely any regulations and the cotton is often farmed using pesticides and chemicals which can then be absorbed into your body? Not besides anything else, in just a couple of months you’ll have already saved the money you spent on a mooncup by not buying sanitary products, so over your lifetime that’s a pretty amazing saving.
Some other ways I try and save money or help the planet are by:
009. Planning meals and writing a list before I go to the supermarket (or shopping online) so I don’t get distracted by offers or temptations. I also try and batch cook so I don’t spend money on buying sandwiches in the Coop every day.
010. Using cashback sites like Top Cashback or Quidco when I do shop online, so that I get money back from purchases
011. Clearing out my wardrobes and putting items on Depop or giving them to a charity shop.
012. I’m having a Smart Meter installed at home so I can monitor my electricity usage (I also have post-it notes all over the flat reminding me to turn the lights off!) I also use Octopus Energy as they offer 100% renewable, green energy.
013. Cancelling unused memberships and Direct Debits. I recently reviewed all of my Direct Debits and either cancelled or tried to renegotiate them (I got RAC down from £23 a month to £7 a month).
014. I try and buy things in bulk when I can, such as toilet rolls and washing powder. I also use the Amazon Subscribe and Save option and have items delivered on a monthly basis to save money (and I am lazy).
This post contains a collaborative link.