When it comes to taking steps to live more sustainably, often one of the biggest obstacles can be having the financial means to implement it in our day to day lives, and affordable sustainability can seem out of reach. In many instances, products which are considered to be more sustainable, or better for the environment, than their traditional counterparts, tend to carry a higher price tag. This can leave many people priced out of eco friendly products, and as such can be considered a type of privilege.
This eco privilege is a concept which we feel is very important to tackle, especially when many sustainable brands have emerged. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, when seeing heavily sponsored content online, and as such may leave people feeling as though they are unable to attain the picture perfect, plastic free images we see a lot of these days, especially on social media. Conversely, social media can also be a valuable resource when searching for affordable and sustainable alternatives to common everyday items, and I feel it is important to share the positive wealth of DIY posts within instagram hashtags, as it is to be aware that some products marketed as eco friendly, may also be a bit of a gimmick.
High Price Tags
For example, some of these eco products may be pretty expensive, for what seems to be a bit unnecessary. Fortunately, there are many other products on offer which avoid this, such as your regular bar of soap. I’ve seen many aesthetically pleasing soap refill alternatives recently, which is great, however the best thing about a bar of soap is that in being solid, it needs little to no packaging at all! When we compare this with refills, it makes sense to me to choose the plastic free option, which is usually cheaper too! Of course, many soap bars do come in plastic packaging, but there are plenty of sustainable options out there, which don’t have to cost the earth. We can all be lured in by kitschy novelties when there are many other options. It’s worth noting that many small and independent shops are also present on social platforms, who often also have ethical and sustainable practices in place. The trick is finding them and supporting them online through likes and shares, so that more people are able to discover such great finds amongst the (at times) infuriating algorithms!
What we can do
As a small business, it’s important for us at Eco-Able to recognise the part we play, in enabling as many people as possible to be able to make informed choices about sustainability, whilst also acknowledging that the entire weight of the climate crisis should not simply fall onto the shoulders of the average person. Where we may be able to do our bit to live more sustainably, we must also consider the actions of the largest and wealthiest corporations, and of governments, and ask ourselves; what are they doing to tackle the climate crisis? Perhaps then, one of the best ways to help the planet is to demand better from those in positions of power. When considering the importance of enacting change on a larger scale, this seeks to remind us that as much as we may do our best individually, the impact of large corporations, and the inaction of those with influence and the power, will be felt for years to come. While this may seem disheartening, it’s worth sharing that while taking steps to live sustainably is incredibly important, so too is the urgent need of global action to tackle the climate crisis effectively.
Not all eco friendly products are going to be affordable for everyone, and whilst I would advocate making small swaps in our daily lives towards sustainable living, I completely respect the needs, priorities and circumstances, unique to each of us.
As a business we’re trying our best to find good eco friendly options that don’t have a huge price tag, and so we’ve added our Eco £10 and under section to help you to find everyday homewares and gifts. It’s also worth thinking about the long term cost of buying things like reusables, which can be a little pricier initially, but the long term savings can be well worth the initial investment.
Having spent far too many hours lately scrolling online, (a lockdown habit I’m desperately trying to curb), I have however come across my fair share of tips, DIY’s and budget friendly products. I’d like to share some of these with you, in the hopes that they may be helpful or encouraging to others, looking to make some sustainable changes in what they use on a daily basis. The first of which, I came across from Jack Monroe’s Instagram page. Jack, who is an excellent food writer and deeply passionate about tackling issues such as food poverty and income inequality, has recently started sharing her recipe excellence through household cleaning and bath DIY’s. One she has shared recently is for homemade orange oil and eucalyptus bath salts, which sounds divine and is surprisingly simple to make. I’ll attach the link to the post here, and it’s definitely worth looking at her food recipes too, which can be also be found here.
Other affordable alternatives I’ve discovered include the Nicky Elite Toilet Paper, which you can find in paper packs in many shops such as Home Bargains and Iceland, as well as online.. These toilet rolls are not only really soft, but the paper packaging is recyclable, along with being much cheaper than many sustainable toilet paper brands. At £4.49 for a pack of nine, £16.74 for for a pack of 45, you really can’t go wrong! When looking at the sustainable steps Nicky Elite are making too, such as through minimising environmental impact in production and products, and partnering with the Woodland Trust, it’s good to see the cheaper cost hasn’t compromised on it’s eco friendly value.
Aside from loo roll, great options can be found when looking for more sustainable household cleaning items, such as from Ocean Saver. Ocean Saver produces dissolvable pods of cleaning products such as anti-bac and floor cleaner made from plant-based and cruelty free materials with zero plastic! Simply pop the pod in an old spray bottle, add water and shake to dissolve. At £1.50 for a full spray bottle’s worth of product (750ml) the price point is on par with many regular cleaning brands. Plus with the added benefit of no plastic waste, simply keep your bottle to reuse each time. Additionally, soaps such as those made at Friendly Soap are a great option as they are free from palm-oil, sulphates and plastic, as well as being cruelty free. Priced at £2.25, they are slightly more expensive than some soap bars, but cheaper than many of the palm-oil free options found elsewhere.
Sustainable and Affordable Fashion
Lastly, I’d like to touch on some sustainable fashion options which are more affordable, such as second-hand shopping on the app Vinted. With charity shops currently closed during this lockdown period, Vinted is a great way of buying and selling secondhand clothes, often without the hefty price tags found on other sites/apps. I’ve found some great bargains on Vinted and it’s great for sellers too as it has no fees! Alternatively, upcycling or mending clothes you already own is the best way to have that ‘new’ outfit feeling with very little environmental or financial cost, and I came across a great page on Instagram called Visible Creative Mending, the idea being that mending doesn’t have to be hidden, but rather something which adds to the aesthetic of the garment.
A great place to look when this is not an option is the app and website Good On You. Good On You is a platform which gives ratings on fashion brands based on how ethical and sustainable they are. Using the app is a great option when looking to buy something new to consider which brands you buy from.
We’d love to hear from you
I hope these links and ideas are helpful, and it would be great to hear of any affordable and sustainable products that you have come across!