How easy is it to be green on a budget?

time:2023-06-04 16:13:06 source:Al Jazeera

More than two thirds of people feel "very or somewhat worried" about climate change, according to the latest UK census.

But for those on a budget, climate-friendly choices can be harder to afford.

The average upfront cost of buying an electric car is about £10,000 more than buying a petrol car, according to price comparison service Uswitch.

Dr Michelle Deininger, from Cardiff University, said growing costs could be a barrier to living sustainably.

"When you're on zero-hours contracts or surviving on benefits, it can often feel like you don't have much agency over the choices you make or the things you buy," the humanities lecturer said.

So how can you make affordable green choices?

Around 1.3 billion tonnes of food gets wasted each year, flowing into landfill and producing methane which contributes to the climate crisis.

Meal planning can be an affordable way to tackle this.

Postgraduate student Rubie Barker, 22, said she plans her meals for the week.

"It makes sure I am making the most of the food I buy, but it also keeps costs down," the Cardiff University student said.

"We're on limited budgets in a time when everything is getting more expensive. We have to prioritise cost over anything else right now."

A range of food waste apps also exist to allow households and businesses to give away surplus food, either for free or at a reduced cost.

Darwin Alford, a young entrepreneur and content creator, said charity shops and online marketplaces were another affordable way to make a difference.

The 22-year-old, from Grangetown in Cardiff, has built an audience of 14,700 TikTok followers by teaching people how to live more sustainably.

"I grew up on a low income. Something that I talk a lot about on TikTok is learning how to un-strip guilt and not overly consume," Ms Alford said.

"You can shop more intentionally by listing what you specifically need so you're not tempted to over consume," she added.

"Make each item you buy last. Repair it when it's broken."

Miss Alford said second-hand fashion apps can also make a great alternative to charity shops.

"The beauty of Vinted, Depop and eBay is that you can shop intentionally. It's more accessible for people who can't get to charity shops, and provides more size options," she said.

Research by Which UK found washing your laundry on a 40C cotton wash four times a week emitted the same amount of CO2 as driving 230 miles (370 kilometres).

Washing your clothes at a lower temperature can reduce environmental damage whilst also saving you money, the consumer body said.

But how low can you go? According to the Energy Saving Trust, 30C is the ideal temperature.

Washing your clothes at 30C rather than higher temperatures could save about 40% of your energy each year and modern washing powders and detergents are just as effective at this temperature, the Energy Saving Trust said.

The Welsh government said it was working to build a "greener" Wales by "supporting a number of ways we can lead healthier and greener lives while living on a budget."

"Everyone can be a part of tackling climate change," it said.

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