Affordable ways to live more sustainably

20 November 2023

4 min read

We know that making changes to live more sustainably can be expensive. And as we’re looking for ways to save money during the cost of living crisis, we’ve got some tips that are eco-friendly and could bring you some surprising savings.

A sustainable household

Our homes are where many of us have the most power to make changes which could help the planet. Here are some tips for a sustainable household:

  • Use the ‘eco’ setting on your appliances, where possible (for example, on your washing machine or dishwasher)
  • Try repairing damaged items yourself or getting them repaired instead of buying new items each time something breaks. How easy it is to repair yourself will depend on what the item is and how damaged it is. You can find guides on repairing different types of products by searching online
  • Consider changing your showering habits – if you shower for longer than 5 minutes and you’d describe your shower water as ‘hot’, try taking shorter and cooler showers. Longer showers may actually lead to drier skin, and hotter showers can damage your skin, especially in winter
  • Replace any energy-inefficient lightbulbs – if you still have any incandescent (traditional) or halogen lightbulbs, try switching to energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs
  • Use reusable kitchen wipes, cloths and sheets (for example, reusable baking sheets and kitchen cloths, which can be wiped or washed clean).

Sustainable shopping

Second-hand marketplaces

The most sustainable option when shopping is usually to buy something second-hand. You can find many apps and websites where anyone can sell their second-hand items. Some items are in ‘like new’ condition.


Upcycling is when you take an old or unwanted item (or items) and make something better or more useful out of it. You can try upcycling to:

  • Change the style of any items in good condition that you’re tired of
  • Repair any damaged items
  • Make something with a completely different purpose to the old item(s).

There are so many possibilities, such as turning a plain sweater into a festive jumper, finding uses for your odd socks, using an old bathtub as the base for a garden pond, or using old curtains as dog bedding.

Read clothing upcycling ideas

Read furniture upcycling ideas

Sustainable lifestyle

When trying to live more sustainably, the little things we do can really add up to big changes. We can all contribute to protecting our planet and environment. Here are some tips for a sustainable lifestyle:

  • Eat less meat and dairy – some meat and dairy products have high carbon footprints, especially beef and products made from cow’s milk. Eating less of it can encourage you to eat a more balanced diet, and could save you money
  • Grow your own food – if you have space to grow something (even just some herbs) this could save you some money and reduce your carbon footprint. You might also find tending to your plants relaxing and rewarding
  • Drink from a reusable water bottle – if you buy bottled water, switching to a reusable one means you can fill it up for free. Many cafés and restaurants will fill it for you if you ask, and some towns, cities and venues have water dispensers where you can fill it yourself. You can even ask the staff in your local branch of The Co-operative Bank to give you a top up
  • Bring a reusable bag – plastic bags take a surprisingly long time to decompose fully, and reusable bags are easy to find. You’ll save a bit of money at the supermarket, too
  • Switch to walking or cycling – for shorter journeys, walking or jumping on your bike could save on ticket prices and petrol, and you’ll be doing some exercise to increase your fitness at the same time.

Sustainable banking

Your money has power — so deciding who to bank with is an important decision. Banks can use the money their customers deposit with them to provide loans for projects or activities that could be harmful to our planet. It can sometimes be difficult to find out everything you want to know about the types of projects a bank will, or won’t, invest in.

We’re the original ethical bank, and we believe it’s what we won’t do with your money that really makes a difference.

Find out more about our values and ethics

Bank.Green offers a clear, easy-to-use tool to quickly check how sustainably your bank is using your money, empowering you to make your banking decisions with as much knowledge as possible.

Check a bank on Bank.Green

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