Take Action On... Purchases & Money

The circulation of money is vital for a thriving economy but whenever we get out our purses or wallets or click on ‘Buy now’ on the internet we are most likely contributing to climate change and as a secondary result, nature loss. However, if we are careful about what we buy and how we invest any savings we might have, we can reduce that impact considerably.

The best practice is to avoid buying something new in the first place, whether that be clothes, or things for your home or holiday, so for each potential purchase, instead of instantly buying it, give yourself a day or two to think:

  • Do you really need it?
  • How much will you use it and how long will it last?
  • Is it going to become next year’s clutter?
  • Can it be recycled at end of life?
  • Could I opt for something second hand. Check out Charity and antique shops, buy and sell websites such as eBay, local Facebook ‘Buy, sell and swap’ sites, Freecycle, and @Freegle
  • Borrow it.
  • Set up a neighbour’s group (Whatsapp is ideal to help with this) not only to help each other but also share items.
  • Join Share: Flitwick and Ampthill which loans out all sorts of things at very low cost. Share Flitwick and Ampthill – SHARE: Flitwick and Ampthill
  • Put out a request on Freecycle or your local Buy, Sell and Share Facebook page – someone might have just what you need.

Sadly, much of what we buy originates overseas and has involved a long journey by air, sea and/or road. Whilst often this is unavoidable it is still worth thinking about whether you can buy something that originates in the UK such as timber products, cut flowers and food, also supporting British industry and people.

Often you can find alternative options for products that you might want to buy so spend a little time researching the most sustainable product for you. e.g. pens or pencils that can be refilled rather than being disposable, sticky tape that is plastic-free, items made from metal or wood/bamboo instead of plastic.

You could also look for items that are made from recycled materials, for which there is a whole host of items from recycled plastic plant pots to clothing.

There are many retailers and manufacturers that are now packaging their goods without using plastic, so investigate options before you purchase.
Some examples:

  • Soap - available as bars wrapped in paper
  • Fresh vegetables – take your own re-usable produce bags (many retailers sell these now for a few pence)
  • Use a re-usable cup for your take-out coffee or tea

We are probably all guilty of buying something, it doesn’t last as long as we thought it would, and because it was not expensive just throw it away. But by doing this we are giving the retailer/producer of that item licence to continue selling rubbish which is a waste of earth’s resources and energy as well as contributing to the growing waste problem. But it is so easy to make a complaint by Facebook or e-mail now that I would encourage you to do so.

Most of us enjoy giving gifts to others, but how many of those gifts are unwanted or end of taking up space that the recipient just doesn’t have.  When considering a potential gift:

  • Give the recipient something they need.
  • Could it be a pre-loved item?
  • Could you buy an experience instead e.g. a morning craft activity, meditation class or massage.
  • When wrapping your gift, avoid materials that are not recyclable such as foil gift wrap and anything with glitter.
  • Avoid balloons which often end up in the environment. As an alternative you could make some bunting that could then be re-used.

Clothing gets it’s own section because of the massive impact it has on our planet and it’s resources. Have a read of this BBC article about the impact of fashion on the environment.

Fast fashion: How clothes are linked to climate change - BBC News

Here’s what you can do to reduce your impact:

  • Buy second-hand or rent clothing There is a growing number of retailers offering second-hand clothing.
    • Local charity shops take and offer a wide-range of clothing (you can also take old worn out clothing for them to sell as ‘rag’.) There are three charity shops in Ampthill and one on Flitwick.
    • On-line retailers. There are now lots of online retailers offering pre-loved/second-hand clothing including the likes of eBay and Oxfam. Take a look at this article listing others. 15 of the best online second hand shops – in pictures | Fashion | The Guardian
    • For a special occasion you can also rent clothing.
  • If out shopping, or searching online and you see something you like, think, do you really need it? Move away for a few minutes, or stop for a coffee, then ask yourself again. You may find it is just an impulse purchase that you can avoid.
  • Buy clothing of a good quality. It will not only last longer, making it cheaper for you in the long run but there is also usually a reduction in the shedding of microfibres (these get into the ocean and chemicals can end up in our drinking water)
  • Look for natural materials, such as cotton, wool, hemp, linen and bamboo and other non-plastic synthetic fibres. (Avoid new polyester and acrylic.)
    • The growing of cotton uses a massive amount of water that reduces what is available for local people and wildlife, so choose organic cotton if you can. (It used 90% less water and 60% less energy than ‘ordinary’ cotton, and far fewer chemicals.)
    • Bamboo is very renewable and fast growing but it is only organic bamboo which doesn’t use harsh chemicals during processing.
    • Wool – check the source as over grazing can lead to desertification and that animal welfare is considered.
    • Hemp - plant based, carbon negative.
    • Linen- one of the most environmentally friendly materials as the flax plants it comes from absorb CO2, and few chemicals are used to produce the fabric.
  • Look out for products made from recycled polyester, although these can still shed micro-plastics.
  • Learn how to mend clothing to make them last a bit longer. Check out these articles from Clothes Doctor. Journal (clothes-doctor.com). Alternatively there are several individuals who offer clothing repair and alteration services in the local area.

Ever wondered what your money is being invested in? It may well be invested in oil and gas exploration and be contributing to climate change and nature loss. Check out this article from the BBC and have a think about whether you have your money in the right places for you and the environment.

Green investing: How your savings can fight climate change - BBC News

Find out more about what the options are: Find Green & Sustainable Banks In Your Area - Bank.Green

Switching your current account is easy thanks to the Current Account Switch Guarantee. The Current Account Switch Service - your guarantee to a successful switch

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