Our founder Sue is a regular guest (talking about easy sustainability) on Danny Pike’s entertaining BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey Sound Advice slot. This month, as the cost of living crisis continues to bite, she and Danny had a banter not only around unnecessary consumption, but the unnecessary spending that goes along with it.
We thought it was indeed such sound advice that we’d share it a little wider, with 100 Ways in 100 Days blog visitors. So, here we go with…
Five awesome tricks to cut down on splashing the cash – and be a planet-saving superstar
*Thanks to Kevin Karaca, No Spend Club for inspiring this list – and to our own wonderful 100 Ways psychologist, Claire Gregory, whose expertise is in the field of decision making, for her own take on the topic.
Before reaching for your phone or wallet, just ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you already own something that does the same thing?
Or more or less the same thing, that will see you through? Do you already have an Alexa, but have a separate Bluetooth speaker on your wish list?
2. Can you borrow one?
Try friends and family first. If not joy there, try the Library of Things? It’s the brilliant social enterprise that helps people save money and reduce waste by affordably renting out useful items like drills, sound systems and sewing machines from local spaces – and by helping neighbours share practical skills. It’s THE bricks & mortar destination to borrow useful things for your home, projects and adventures.
Typical items for hire (especially pertinent as we enter yet another week of back to back rainstorms (thanks ‘stuck’ jet stream) are dehumidifyers and wet & dry vaccuums. Or for those who can’t bear to venture outside – maybe snap up a sewing machine for some cosy crafting or running clothes repairs at home.
Then there’s Olio. Originally a food sharing app it’s now brilliant to seek out non-food household items too (for borrowing or buying, pre-loved).
With two in three Olio-ers saying sharing has improved their mental health too it’s no surprise it’s become a runaway success. In fact it’s now in over 60 countries and new communities are being welcomed with open arms.
Then there are local WhatsApp groups for friends, communities and work colleagues to borrow almost anything you can imagine (Sue’s own local group came to the rescue with children’s World Book Day costumes earlier this year).
3. How many times will you use it?
Quite. How about misplaced generosity. Will the recipient really use and enjoy it? We’re thinking foot spas and pasta makers here. We found some cracking examples on Buzzfeed, including this one: “My partner went out to buy vegetables for dinner and came home with a kayak. He forgot the vegetables and the kayak has never been used.”
Here’s another; one that may be more familiar, either because life was just too busy, or because, urgh, ongoing torrential rain precluded them being planted: “$75 in plants only to let them die because I forgot about them.”
4. Is it a “hell yeah!”?
Er, self-explanatory, this one
5. Is it in the budget?
SO, the golden rule is: if you still want it, put a reminder in for 30 days from now – then ask the same questions again
THEN, the all important follow-up questions…
If you DO decide you want to make the purchase:
1. Will it last for a long time?
Check out reviews (though appreciate many people only review something they’ve just bought, not something they’ve had for 10 years!) And do look at the website Buy Me Once. It has some innovative, if [ouch] expensive products, but on the basis that these will DEFINITELY last for a long, long, long time, they can be really good investments.
Then, thinking about the garden… choose perennial plants (those that keep on coming; year after year, without too much ado). Once planted, they’ll avoid such hellish annual horticultural happenings as you’ve seen above.
2. Is it versatile?
The fashion editors’ favourite in the versatility department is the timeless ‘capsule collection’ of classic clothing that can be worn for years. A black polo neck and skinny jeans with loafers, a much loved Britpop bucket hat, a vintage blouse, a trenchcoat – or anything plain and neutral, jazzed up for different occasions with your [existing, secondhand, or swapped] accessories or jewellery.
The same principle goes with paint. Make your budget go further (and avoid having half tins left over) – by buying an economy sized, neutral shade of paint – for decorating multiple areas or rooms. To stop it looking ‘samey’, add a different vibe for each area with coloured cushions, bowls, lampshades. Even fruit can lend an amazing pop of colour and bring a room to life!
3. Is it made by a good business?
Check out https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ It’s the ‘green version’ of Which?, an easy to use, incredibly well-researched eco shopping guide. Covering more than 100 products and services, it helps you buy ethically, and avoid unethical products and companies.
4. Can you repair it if it breaks?
After so many years of ‘built in obsolescence’, with not very old electrical appliances being landfilled or worse (1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste is generated each year), new ‘right to repair’ laws have been introduced. It means the life of some household appliances can be extended, but not all, so make sure to check before you buy.
But some consumer and fashion brands have always been legends in terms of repairs (though they do tend to be at the premium end, meaning they’re out of reach of many). But they can offer superb lifetime value. Sue had her 21 year old Dualit toaster repaired (a present from back in the day); now it’s good for another 21. Check out chilled clothing brand Toast too. It offers free repairs for ANY of its clothing, no matter when and where it was bought.