You would be forgiven to be completely focussed on saving money at the moment, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the environment. The good news is, there are still ways to shop sustainably on a budget.

Charity Shops/Thrift Stores/Car Boot Sales/Facebook Marketplace

Shopping for items that are preloved is fun, sustainable and you can find yourself a real bargain too. Clothes, shoes, books and home accessories can all be found in charity shops or online when people have no use for these items anymore but don’t want to throw them away and add to landfill. Take your time to shop mindfully as it is easy to be persuaded by an absolute bargain but if you wont wear it or use it, it’s a waste.


You might have something old that you don’t wear anymore or have found some furniture second-hand that is OK but not quite right – with some simple adaptations, you can make it feel brand new again. Think changing buttons or handles, sewing hems up or adding embellishments to clothes or textiles. Simple changes can add years to an item and save it once again from landfill.

Food Markets

Buying fresh food, in season is so much better for the environment and cheaper as it wont have had air miles added on. So you might have to say goodbye to your avocado on toast habit or fresh blueberries in your smoothies but instead you can buy locally grown produce at a fraction of the price without tonnes of plastic packaging. The other great thing about buying food in markets is everything is sold loose so if you only want one onion, you don’t need to buy three. 


If the local supermarket is more your thing, try and buy food that will last longer and can be used for multiple meals so think ahead as to what you can batch-cook and freeze portions of rather than having to shop every day. This will cut down on cost and packaging – and also save pennies off energy in using your hob or oven. Be mindful when you see offers or yellow stickers – do you really like it/need it and can you use it before it goes off? Frozen veg is a great alternative to fresh, they are cheap, the nutrients have been locked in during the freezing process and it will last longer too. And always look for British products that haven’t been imported to reduce your carbon footprint and money spent.


The cost of getting around is incredibly high but public buses, trains, tubes and bikes are much better for the environment and cheaper than an Uber or a taxi. It may not be as instant as booking travel at the click of a button on an app but it will cost you less and put fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Trains can certainly be expensive but if you’re willing to book that trip back to see mum and dad months ahead and travel off-peak, bargains are to be had.

Written by Sarah Canning – Student Accommodation Features Editor