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How to save money AND help save the planet

Despite the cost of living crisis and climate change, there are still ways to save the planet and save money at the same time.

As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, the number of people struggling to make ends meet has drastically increased, with recent research from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) stating that six in ten adults are struggling to keep up with their bills.

With the cost of living crisis top of the news agenda, and businesses and consumers still recovering from the aftermath of Covid 19, many may think that focusing on the climate crisis is one crisis too many under the current circumstances.

Right now, living more sustainably might not seem within many people’s budgets. Being eco-conscious is often associated with purchasing expensive alternatives, such as solar panel installation or the purchase of an electric vehicle. But, in reality, you can do lots of simple, practical things to go green and save money.

At ReLondon – a partnership between the Mayor of London and the London boroughs to help us waste less and reuse, repair, share and recycle more – we have five top tips which might help us all save a little bit on our outgoings right now:

Cut down on food waste

More than a third of the food produced globally is never eaten. This not only causes a huge amount of unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions, it’s a waste of money. One good idea is to download the free mobile app Kitche, which helps you reduce food waste at home with a ‘virtual fridge’. It tracks what you’ve bought and reminds you when to use it. It also suggests tasty recipes and provides food storage tips.

Share the food you don’t want

There are lots of ways to pass on extra food or benefit from food that someone else has been unable to eat. OLIO is a free app that connects neighbours with each other, enabling you to share unwanted food – or be given someone else’s for free.

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Thanks to free app Too Good to Go, you can also enjoy hugely discounted, high-quality food from manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurants – who often inadvertently end up with surplus.

In London, three food redistribution charities – FareShareCity Harvest and The Felix Project – have partnered up as the London Food Alliance to provide a co-ordinated response to emergency food distribution to vulnerable groups. The charities collect or receive surplus food from food businesses, sort it and deliver it to charities, primary schools and holiday programmes in the capital.

All these exciting food waste and sharing innovations have the added benefit of creating green jobs, as our new research into employment in a circular economy attests.

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Repair broken things

The throwaway culture is a recent invention. It wasn’t that long ago people held onto clothes and household items for years, repairing them whenever they broke – rather than immediately chucking them in the bin and buying new. Thankfully, there’s a growing trend for fixing things once more.

Repair shops are popping up all over the country. Often, their staff can mend items more cheaply than the cost of buying something new. For electronics, The Restart Project signposts more than 200 vetted repair businesses.

When it comes to clothes, Save Your Wardrobe is a free app that helps you make the most of your wardrobe – by providing tips on creative styling, buying less and getting clothing repaired.

Buy second-hand

Cheap, fast fashion is an environmental no-no. Preloved is the way forward. You can find so many great bargains – often unique outfits that no one else will be wearing – and be able to afford more premium brands than if you buy new.

As well as high street charity shops – like those belonging to the British Red Cross and British Heart Foundation – you can find lots of great deals online.

Thrift+ is a marketplace for second-hand clothing that’s been checked to make sure it’s in good condition. Reyooz is an online seller of second-hand furniture that’s come from office clearances. BackMarket is the site for refurbished electrical devices, like smartphones and laptops, sold with a 12-month guarantee.

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Rent stuff

Around 80% of household items are used less than once a month. Yet most of us don’t have the space or the money for a collection of household tools, gadgets or gizmos. It’s also a terrible waste of greenhouse gas emissions to buy something like a drill or a wallpaper stripper and then leave it languishing in a cupboard.

Thankfully, there’s a new trend for renting things we only need now and again. A good place to start is the Library of Things, where you can borrow useful items – like steam cleaners and sewing machines – for only 5% of the cost of buying new.

You can even rent clothes. The Little Loop is a kids’ clothing rental service that allows parents to keep swapping their children’s clothes for new ones as they grow – saving up to £1,000 per year.

In these testing times, there are lots of creative ways to watch your pennies and cut your carbon footprint. It’s all about sharing, repairing, reusing, borrowing and renting. Living a greener life really doesn’t have to cost the Earth. It can be a little win for both your wallet and the planet.

Wayne Hubbard is chief executive officer of ReLondon.

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Every copy counts this Winter

Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Winter. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Winter.

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