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Sustainable living has the misconception of being expensive. I will admit that there are some items that can be a lot more expensive, but there are easy ways to get around that. Even if you can’t put 100% into being eco-friendly, everyone wants to save money! I’m going to be sharing a few ways that I have saved some money.

What is sustainable living?

Sustainable living is a lifestyle where we try and reduce our carbon footprint and therefore greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable living can sometimes be called zero-waste living as well. Personally, I think that a zero-waste lifestyle is impossible and creates the false idea that you have to be perfect to be eco-friendly. You definitely don’t, any action will help!

Ways to being eco-friendly can save you money

Charity shops & buying second hand

I talk a lot about charity shops and buying second hand, but it is because you can get such a bargain! Charity shopping is one of my favourite things to do. When it comes to charity shopping, a lot of people just look for books and I used to be guilty of this too. For a while, there was some stigma surrounding buying second-hand clothes or crockery.

Since then, thrift shopping has become much more popular! I have got so many good things from charity shops lately. My friend got all her uni plates & bowls for like £3 which is so good.


When I go into a charity shop, 8 times out of 10, I will walk out with some clothes. If I’m with friends or family, they ask how I find such good clothes. It’s simple.

  1. Find your size. You need to consider that there are a whole variety of clothing shops and therefore, you will fit into more than one size. I like to look in the small, medium, 8 and 10 sections
  2. Look on all the rails. I like to look in every single section to make sure I don’t miss anything.
  3. Double-check the size. One time a dress tag said 8, but it was actually a 4 on the inside. I was completely devastated when it obviously didn’t fit! It was a waste of £5 so I always check the size on the inside before buying.

Due to covid, not all charity shops have their dressing rooms open again. This can mean that it is a bit risky buying clothes that you haven’t tried on. Once you get home, try it on – if it doesn’t fit, you can always return it. If there is an item of clothing that I really like, and it is under £5 then I usually buy it.

Related post: How to have a sustainable wardrobe


Charity shops seem to have so many candles! I saw a big Yankee candle for only £3 – can you believe it? Last week I saw a cat wax melt burner, and I was a bit gutted that I already have one haha.

There also seems to be a lot of furniture charity shops in Bournemouth – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many sofas!


I always walk out with a book, quite often it is more than one! Most books are between 50p-£1.50 which is ridiculously cheap when you see their original price. I really like looking for nature books as they are quite expensive elsewhere.

My main tip about buying second-hand is to not buy things just because they are cheap. If you aren’t going to use it, don’t buy it. It isn’t sustainable to buy lots and it can create a false sense of security.

Click here to learn how to budget.

Renting clothes

Usually, on special occasions, we buy a special outfit. However, this tends to only be worn once or twice. What use is that outfit sitting and gathering dust in your wardrobe? There’s a solution to that. Renting clothes is the current popular method of reducing your fast fashion consumption. When you graduate you rent a gown, so why not for other occasions too?

Reasons you should rent an outfit instead of buying one:

  • Save money
  • The outfit will get multiple uses from different people
  • Wear high-quality clothes
  • You don’t need to give up any room in your wardrobe
  • Reduce your carbon footprint

Read more about renting clothes.

Meal planning & reducing food waste

Meal planning is essential for sustainable living and saving money. I meal plan every Sunday and then I try to buy my weekly shop the same day or Monday morning. To make sure that you don’t make any impulsive buys, write a shopping list as you write your meal plan. Try to include the same ingredients in different dishes to reduce wasting food. For example, on Wednesday I’m planning on having mushroom, garlic and feta pasta. To ensure that I eat all the mushrooms and feta, I will be having them in my rice noodles & veg dinner on Thursday. Another way is to batch cook your meals and freeze them. Personally, I’ve found that mushrooms don’t taste as nice when you reheat them so I like to eat them raw if they are getting old.

To receive a free meal planner and a food expiry template, subscribe to my email newsletter:

Related post: Too Good To Go review by Millennial Saves

My most worthwhile eco-friendly purchases

It’s all very well reading my tips on how being eco-friendly can save you money, but how about hearing some of my eco purchases?

  1. My absolute favourite worthwhile purchase is my eco sponge. Did you know that sponges are made from plastic? My plastic-free sponge costs £7.95 from Green Pear Eco. They are made from organic cotton and plant-based core which means they can be composted at the end of their life! On top of this, they are machine washable. I definitely recommend this 🙌
  1. If you haven’t already bought any make-up remover pads, you need to! It was one of my first sustainable swaps. I have been using the same ones for almost 2 years now and they are still in brilliant condition. I’m not entirely sure, but I think 5 make-up pads cost about £5. They are very affordable considering you just throw them in with your usual wash.

Related post: How to cut down on plastic beauty products

  1. Another amazing eco-friendly purchase was the Ocean Saver antibacterial cleaning pod. It costs only £1.50 from Green Pear Eco and you get to reuse the plastic spray bottles that you already have! I made a reel on how to set it up (P.S it’s really simple). If that hasn’t already enticed you, it’s a coloured liquid, much better than boring clear liquid aha.

If you are interested in reading about general money-saving tips, click here.

I hope this post has shown you how being eco-friendly can save you money. Let me know which is your favourite way in the comments!

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  1. Always great ideas! I need to explore renting an outfit next time I have an occasion. Love your eco-friendly awareness raising.

    1. Thank you Jamie!

  2. These are awesome tips. I’m trying not to be as wasteful but I’m on a slow journey to that. I have been wearing reusable pads on my period and it has saved me money

    1. Oh that’s amazing!

  3. Excellent post Caroline! It’s a common misconception that being eco-friendly costs more money. I have found the biggest way it has saved me money is how it has shifted my mindset to focus on using what I have and buying only what I really need.

    1. Thank you! That’s so true 🙂

  4. I’ve never thought about this before, I always presumed being sustainable would be more costly, but I’ve always shopped in charity shops and I recently received some hand-me-downs for the first time in years- and it reminded me that there are so many small ways that we are all sustainable without realising x

  5. Mind Beauty Simplicity says:

    i love that not only is eco living great for the environment – but it can also save money. i think those who are still learning about being eco friendly can find the benefit of saving money to be an incentive to start.

    1. Definitely! x

  6. Great tips! I definitely think meal planning is a really easy way to reduce food waste.

  7. Great post! I like how you take the time to dismantle some myths and I’ll definitely be applying the practical advice myself.

    1. Thank you x

  8. Love these tips! I’m still learning how to be eco-friendly and educate my family to do it too! Thanks for sharing this, Caroline 🙂

    1. Thank you Merry x

  9. These are all great tips Caroline! I will share books I receive with others as I really believe in spreading the joy of books and staying as environmentally friendly as possible.

    1. Definitely! x

  10. I’ve found that I’ve saved so much money by making sustainable choices. Sometimes they might appear more expensive but in the longrun, they really aren’t.

    1. So true x

  11. This is so wonderful to read – and like you said little things are just as wonderful and there’s no need to feel perfect with making more sustainable switches. One of my biggest sustainable swaps was an erasable notebook, the number of post-its and scrap paper I went through before was wild! I also love meal planning as there’s a lot less waste now.

    1. Thank you! I love the idea of an erasable notebook – very cool x

  12. I have definitely found that I have saved so much money by making sustainable changes, especially with my beauty and skincare! x

    Lucy |

    1. I’m glad! xx

  13. Absolutely love the sounds of the cleaning pod! Easy and reusable is a win for me.
    Renting out things like fancy party dresses is a great idea to avoid buying an expensive item that will only be worn once. I also feel ya on the furniture shops; there is never a shortage of sofas and chairs it seems. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Definitely 🙂

  14. I really have to look into renting clothes for special occasions. I have spent so much money buying something special every time which is always way to expensive and hardly ever wear it more than 2-3 times. I have started planning my meals lately and it is saving time, money and food.

    1. I relate x

  15. Great post Caroline! I love renting clothes for special occasions. It means that you can wear something different every time without accumulating too many clothes. I must get those make up remover pads! My favourite eco-friendly swap has been my Laundry Egg 🙂

    1. Definitely! I’ve heard such great things about a laundry egg 🙂

  16. I know going eco-friendly can be off-putting for some people as sustainable clothing can be expensive but it’s great to see that there are so many ways to save money too. Thank you for sharing! Em x

    1. Definitely x

  17. […] wrote about renting an outfit in my previous post, but I think for Halloween it is even more relevant! Most people want to go as something different […]

  18. Great post, Caroline! I’m so with ya! I hated that concept of all or nothing when it came to sustainability. I think making any conscious decision to be eco-friendly daily goes a long way even if you’re not 100% zero waste. Renting clothes sounds fab! x

    Lynn |

    1. Definitely xx

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  20. ellegracedeveson says:

    I’ve always thought of being more sustainable as being more costly for some reason but after reading today’s post I’ve learnt that obviously isn’t the case. I learn so much from your blog, I really appreciate you sharing posts like you have today as I love helping out in any way I can. Thank you lovely! Xo

    Elle –

    1. Thank you Elle xx

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  23. So many great tips! I’m a single mom and meal planning has helped me a lot over the past year. We have a vegetable garden where we compost kitchen waste (only the compostable types, of course) and I make my own weed killer in the summer.

    1. Aw, that sounds brilliant! x

  24. Thank you for this! I’ve always said that sustainability, saving money, practicing minimalism – it’s all related. We look at all these different problems and keep arriving at similar answers. Shifting to consuming less and relying more on what you can re-use or re-purpose, or do or make yourself benefits in so many ways. And all of your examples- books, clothes, stuff around the house, there are things everywhere that we can breathe new life into and enjoy for much longer. Great write-up, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, I agree with you

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  26. Great post. We work hard at re-use and upcycling as well as recycling. I have repurposed a wrecked bedside cabinet as a succulent display unit in the garden for example. I found an old mirror with a badly damaged frame that I am in the process of playing with using old CDs and DVDs (that can’t be recycled) to give the frame a mosaic look. I made a windchime out of some old cutlery! Whenever we need something new we tend to look at whether we can adapt something we already have before spending money on extra items.

    1. Oh wow, that’s amazing!

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