Can you really be green and poor?

This past year, my lazy green journey has generally led to the formation of habits which are not only healthy for my body, and nice to the planet, but save me a bit of money too. I buy less stuff – such as clothes, toiletries and gadgets – and save on things like petrol, electricity and heating bills. I’ve banked hundreds of pounds a year from carrying my own water bottle and shopping bags; all in the name of throwing away less, and saving more.

But an interesting thing happened this week, when I had to go over every inch of my outgoings, in order to penny pinch in preparation for  my upcoming backpacking trip. At a point when I’ve realised my savings budget has been dipped into one too many times, I need to save big time if I’m going to live the dream in less than 8 months time. But how do you save even more money, when you already feel like a budget conscious cave woman living a life of little frivolity? 

I need to show my piggy more love!
I need to show my piggy more love!

This was where my discovery came in. After looking at the things I spend the most money on, I realised my desire for organic, vegan, ethical and generally non mainstream products was costing me a lot. Though my organic veg boxes are fairly reasonable in comparison to supermarket bought organics – and I buy groceries in bulk online where possible – there’s no denying that a diet of seeds, nuts, tofu, and organic veg is pricey! My taste for the yummy, varied and exotic has been costing me dearly too; especially when I use things like lemongrass, lime leaves, ginger, chilli and cashew nuts like they’re going out of fashion. A tin of baked beans once in a while could be in order to save my bank balance from a foodie heart attack!

But food isn’t the only thing my money gets sucked to like a magnet. Though I rarely treat myself to make-up and toiletries, those I do buy are often double the price of their less green counterparts. Being as generally lazy as I am, I haven’t mastered the art of make-it-yourself when it comes to scrubs and potions, and I’m still a sucker for gorgeous scents. But when it comes to washing my hair with bicarbonate of soda for 8 months, in order to spend 8 months sunning myself in South East Asia; a girls gotta do what she’s gotta do!

It totally is possible to be green and poor, but I can’t afford to be lazy too! I have to stop buying into the consumerist green market that is building momentum, and simply do more myself! So I’m sticking up photos of my final goal on my fridge for inspiration, and I’m gonna nail this budget green living. No matter how hard it’s going be, I just need to keep reminding myself of here:



13 thoughts on “Can you really be green and poor?”

  1. You’re so right about how trying to lead a generally green and ethical lifestyle is so much more expensive than not, especially when it comes to food. I often feel like people like us get penalised for trying to eat healthily! Cashew nuts… now there’s an expensive snacking habit! On the bright side though, I lot of the stuff you like to eat will be very cheap in Asia! 😉


  2. It’s really difficult but I’m sure it’s possible to save money on a veggie organic diet. I think you’re right though it will require more effort too. Good luck.


  3. Living on rice and beans and forgoing make-up for 8 months will be totally worth it. I did what you are doing when I was in my twenties. My trick was to get a second job in a restaurant, so I didn’t pay for a lot of my food. For several years in a row I would spend around 8 – 10 months in Australia working two or three jobs and then I would go backpacking for several months. I wouldn’t swap those travel experiences for anything, and my career has been fine, despite the dire warnings that I was squandering the important years.

    I love the idea of the picture on the fridge, better yet put one in your wallet too.


  4. Part of the fun is trying to find stuff cheaper! The cheap shops such as Home Bargains, B&M etc are a good place to buy cashews, seeds and other nuts along with tins of chick peas, herbs and spices etc. I use Sukin range of skin care – available from Amazon – it is organic, vegan etc and very cheap. Local farm shops sell local, organic fruit and veg very cheap without the delivery premium. Good luck with your savings 🙂


  5. Good luck with your attempts to trim expenses whilst maintaining your principles. I think it’s possible but you are right laziness makes it harder.

    I generally am suspicious of the green market as it still revolves around the economic principles of creating a want to fuel growth. Taking as much back to ‘source’ ingredients makes it easier: eg bicarb/clay and vinegar for hair; a simple olive oil soap; almond/grape seed or some such oil instead of moisturiser… Ditto for food: dry pulses and lots of vegetables. I know being vegan means being a bit more inventive but maybe take inspiration from some of the South East Asian cuisines you will be enjoying first hand. Many folks there will not be able to afford the ‘green’ products we are sold here…

    And for the baked beans, avoid the tin and try my recipe. It is far more tasty, filling and cheap!

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  6. I think this is a wonderful challenge and I wish you lots of luck; I’m sure you’re going to share heaps of tips with us. I do love lentils and rice and could probably live happily on dahl and chappatis. Bicarb is ok on hair (and I’ve even used Ecover washing up liquid in the past – it did strip my hair too much, but is good in an emergency!) so once you have a no-poo routine on the go that should help cut costs. And what about coconut oil? YOu can use that on every part of your skin and shouldn’t really need any other products. Can’t wait to see how you get on!.


  7. This speaks to me so much! When I first moved towards going greener/ more sustainable I felt so smug that I was saving so much money on toiletries, water bottles etc. But then I find fancy recipes for DIY toothpaste for example and I’m itching to spend money on all the ingredients! I think it is really difficult to find a balance! I love spending money on good food, but I’m trying to save too, it is so hard when almond butter tastes so good ha!

    If you get fed up of baking soda for your hair I use rye flour and water as a hair wash, really cheap and my hair and scalp are loving it so far (used it for about a month and a half), her are a few more details on the method etc:


  8. You are right about the food issue. I buy all organic and it is definitely more than conventional. However, the conventional food system is not sustainable. There is far too much reliance on water inefficiencies, monocultures, machines and oil. So, when I support local farms, I know that I am paying the true price of foods. Since I’m a green minimalist, I have very few other expenses, so I can afford to spend the extra dollars on quality food.


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