Category: Finances

Five tips for saving £1000s AND slashing your carbon footprint

In Paris this week every country in the world agreed that it is critical to limit global warming. Far from being expensive and difficult, my own experience is that living the low carbon lifestyle we all need to make this goal a reality is very easy. Yesterday, I outlined how I saved £80k through living a low carbon, two tonne lifestyle. Today I’m sharing some top tips for how you might actually go about this. Here they are:

Buy what you need

Most of us buy a load of crap that we don’t really need. This tends to make us poorer, and keep us in debt. We spend longer working as a result. Long hours and years in a job we might not enjoy can leave us feeling in need of a treat….and so it goes on. If we let it, it can actually go on until we can’t work anymore! It is possible – and easy – to save huge amounts of cash simply by replacing these expensive  ‘consolation prizes’ with other treats that cost little or nothing.

Get a Five Year Plan

It’s easy to drift along and be tempted by the expensive buy junky comfort purchases if you don’t have a plan.  But if you set out where you want to be in five years time,  you will have a lot more impetus. A plan might be to get debt free; or to give up work; or to have saved £30k for a child’s education. Your goals will be your own, and your methods will be too, but knowing where you want to be is a great way of avoiding the drift. If you have a plan, everything is possible.

If you want to save it, count it

You can’t save what you don’t count. So, if you get an idea of how much you spend now, you can start to reduce it over time. I developed the Home Cost Tracker to keep an eye on household fuel bills and carbon footprint, and it has really worked well for me. My fuel bills are less than half the national average. Simply being aware of how much your household spends each month can be a huge driver to change habits and drive down those unnecessary overheads.

Start a war on waste

We have all become ridiculously, jaw-droppingly wasteful. As soon as you key into this fact, you start saving. From leaving the heating on all year round to chucking away all of those buy one get one free deals that went mouldy at the back of the fridge, the money you can save by not wasting shit is amazing. It could be the gym subscription that takes a chunk of cash every month, or the old banger of a car that only cost £500 to buy, but burns £4000 in diesel and repairs each year. If you want to get a handle on where you might be wasting cash, try out our two tonne savings calculator.

Design out costs and carbon from your life

One of the big costs here is often the daily commute to work. It isn’t always possible to get a job close to home, of course. But, also, it’s worth considering how much you really earn from work. It may be that a high paying job increases your working day and commuting costs by so much that you’d be better off in a lower paid job that was closer to home.  If you add in child care costs, it can sometimes not be worth working at all. It’s also worth ensuring that the things you buy are not going to cost you much more in the medium term. Check that the running costs of your new gismo don’t massively outweigh any purchase price saving. Here’s a great little tool that can help.

I hope that these help you get started. Remember that all of these things can help you be better off and also do a huge amount to combat climate change. If you want more information, drop us an email or leave a comment. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more articles about how you can save a tonne of cash and a tonne of carbon through sustainable living. Sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay updated.

Watch me explaining how reducing costs and reducing your carbon footprint go together in the brand new LiveLight Video.



Economic growth through consumption will destroy us

A lot of people found the recent elections quite depressing, and not just because of the outcome. For all the arguments on policy, the main parties seemed quite close in a lot of their thinking. One such area was economic growth. Both Labour and Conservatives fought hard to be credible on economic growth, and the feeling generally was that growth is something that everyone wants, on the basis that it creates wealth and jobs. Yet economic growth has been based almost entirely on increasing consumer spend for years now. We’re buying more goods and services, and that is keeping the economy growing. So we must all keep on buying more, or the bubble will burst.

We all need to buy stuff, right? Well, yes, of course, but there are some fundamental problems. Spending and buying more requires us to get more into debt. The average UK household is soon going to be £10,000 in debt (not counting any mortgage). This may not seem too worrying, but all of the conditions that caused the global economic crash in 2008 are still with us, and it seems fairly inevitable that there will be another similar event in the next ten years. In the meantime, economic growth from consuming will not make most of us richer or more able to weather the next economic storm. Incomes haven’t really grown – unless you are already super rich, that is: the wealthiest UK residents have doubled their net worth since the crash in 2008.

If you don’t like the idea of an economic model that is based on buying more things we don’t need with money we haven’t got, without increasing our income or wealth, then I agree. It’s no doubt good for someone, somewhere, but that someone isn’t me. Growth like this only keeps us on a debt-fuelled boom and bust treadmill, or down at the food bank, if things really go badly wrong. This is a terrible situation, of course, but on it’s own it would be unlikely to ‘destroy’ us. I would rightly be accused of hysteria to suggest it. If, however, you accept that there are now only a few short years to reduce global carbon emissions in order to prevent major social upheaval from climate change, you might wish for a new political consensus that puts stability and resilience above the current notion of growth. Because trying to achieve perpetual economic growth through increasing consumption alone will destroy us. No doubt about that.