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Trying to be Sustainable in a Cost-of-Living Crisis

Being sustainable within the current cost of living crisis is increasingly challenging, especially for students.

In Deloitte’s 2022 survey into customer attitudes and behaviours towards sustainability they discovered that fewer choices because of inflation meant that consumers were finding more innovative ways to spend less. They report that the primary reason for not adopting more sustainable lifestyles is related to cost.

Being sustainable and choosing greener options within a cost-of-living crisis is especially challenging for students, with 91 per cent of undergraduates concerned about the cost of living pressures, as reported by the Office for National Statistics. This reality is one many of us are facing, battling with what choices to make that are both good for the planet and pocket.

However, the cost-of-living crisis has seen a surge in second hand shopping as reported by eBay and there are some things we can do that will save costs and our impact on the planet. Elisabeth Rommel, eBay Ads global GM, said that “between the rising cost-of-living and a growing desire to make more sustainable purchases, UK consumers are increasingly thinking about how they can be savvy with their shopping.”

eBay now has a pre-loved section on their website and has returned as the key sponsor of the new winter series of Love Island, which started on 16 January. eBay reported that since the partnership was announced in May 2022, they attracted 1,600% more searches for ‘pre-loved clothes’ compared with the year before. The significance of the huge show’s break from fast fashion, with previous sponsors including Misguided and I Saw It First, brings sustainable options into the mainstream.

Not only is eBay a great way to buy second hand clothes, but apps like Depop and Vinted are also great ways of giving your wardrobe new life and earning a bit of extra cash, rather than throwing clothes away. Renting sites, like HURR and ByRotation, are also great ways to rent outfits for special occasions, such as prom, graduation, or weddings. As, let’s be honest, we usually only wear these sorts of outfits once or twice. Renting is a great way of having something special for a much cheaper price and being kind to the environment and yourself. There is some speculation on the sustainability of renting clothes, due to the impact of the deliveries. However, the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment reported that renting is one of the best ways to support the environment, along with leasing, updating, repairing and reselling. So maybe the best way to shop for clothes sustainably is rummaging around in local charity shops and vintage shops, reducing CO2 output, supporting the local economy and ultimately, the wonderful charities.

While choosing sustainable options for clothes is important, food is something that is increasingly rising in cost and is a contentious issue within the climate change conversation.

Another survey from the Office for National Statistics reports that food and non-alcoholic drink inflation rose by 16.5% in the 12 months to November 2022, with staple foods like bread and cereals increasing the most towards the end of 2022. This is the highest increase since September 1977 when it was at 17.6%. This is such a huge challenge when wanting to choose more sustainable options.

The WWF Livewell diet suggests that a sustainable diet comprises of eating more plants, eating a variety of foods, wasting less and eating red and white meat in moderation. Some ideas which could help save money and the planet are trying to meal plan for the week ahead and buying only the ingredients that are needed, also trying to use up ingredients across various meals. Freezing leftovers reduces waste and means not needing to rebuy ingredients. Buying frozen vegetables or cutting up fresh vegetables and putting them in the freezer is another way to reduce waste.

The SideKick app, from Sorted Food, is a handy tool that creates recipe packs that share ingredients across different meals, ensuing all the fresh food bought is used up, reducing waste and saving cash. There are meat and veggie options, with eating less meat or cutting meat out being something that hugely reduces costs with evidence suggesting that going vegan for two-thirds of meals could cut food-related carbon emissions by 60%.

The scary reality of navigating the cost-of-living crisis and trying to be sustainable can feel like an endless struggle. However, there is hope, with some ways to cut costs whilst being sustainable, helping the planet and your pocket.




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