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Students share everyday ways we can spend less and live better

In this guest blog, students from Harrogate College, part of Luminate Education Group, share their top tips for living sustainably while saving money



Last year, around 9 in 10 British adults reported an increase in their everyday cost of living, meaning many of us have had to make cutbacks. For some, this may have meant substituting your favourite sustainable buys for cheaper alternatives.


But we’re here to help! You may have seen talk online about people living ‘zero-waste lifestyles’ by maximising the resources you have, and minimising the waste you produce. Not only is this good for the planet, but learning how to reduce waste and shop smartly can also save you money.

But it’s not just adults who need to make these changes, with over 80% of young people claiming they are eager to take action to help the environment. We spoke to students from Harrogate College to get their top tips on spending less and living better.


Here’s what they had to say:

When it comes to sustainable beauty, waste not, want not

We all like to look our best, but it's easy to overspend on products you don’t really need. Often, this happens because you’re not getting the most out of the stuff you already have.

Our hair and beauty therapy students have discovered that when it comes to makeup, a lot of people will throw away containers that actually have a lot of product left in them. According to one retailer, 20- 40% of beauty products end up as waste, which not only costs you more, but encourages you to discard more packaging.

We might all cut the base off the toothpaste to get the most out of it, but what about using a lip brush to get the last out of your lipstick? And, if you regularly open your mascara to find it’s gone dry, you can also try using a saline solution to resurrect it.

The same can also be said for a lot of beauty accessories. Think twice before throwing away a used makeup bag or brush as, often after a quick clean, they’ll be as good as new. When you do decide to clean, you need not spend your cash on expensive products with harmful ingredients - for many cosmetic accessories, soap and water will suffice.

Green looks good on you!

Our clothes help us to express ourselves, but keeping up with the latest micro-trends can be costly, and in recent years, this demand has led to over-consumption in the fashion industry. Since the year 2000, clothing production has doubled from 100 to 200 billion units a year, while the average number of times an item is worn has decreased by as much as 36%.

Whilst it might be tempting to make big savings on fast-fashion sites, the mass-production of clothing is responsible for an increase in global carbon emissions and resource wastage, with 20% of global wastewater coming from textile dyeing and production.

So if you’re looking for ways to refresh your wardrobe without harming the environment (or your bank account), then why not follow those venturing into the world of preloved fashion?

Often you can get second-hand clothes, in near-perfect condition, for much cheaper on re-selling sites or in local charity shops. Not only does shopping in these places give you the opportunity to find rare and unique items, but it also supports ordinary people and worthy causes - so you can feel good whilst looking good!

Our students recently took it upon themselves to find new ways of finding new second-hand gems. Last term, they took part in a clothing swap shop where they were able to exchange one good quality item for another. Our learners really enjoyed the experience, and said that they felt inspired to shop second-hand in the future.

If you do choose to buy new, then it’s important to prioritise quality over quantity. Buying good quality items such as jackets, shoes and coats might seem expensive, but they’re a solid investment that will save money in the long run. Some companies have committed to a ‘lifetime warranty’ which allows you to bring your items in for a repair every time you need one.

Become a savvy seasonal shopper

Food is an essential that we all need to think about. But with so much variety on the market, it can be tricky to know how to get the most from your money.

Our catering and hospitality students believe that the key to sustainable grocery shopping is planning ahead, and this starts with looking at your calendar. When buying fresh produce, it's important to think seasonally. Certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, will be cheaper when they are ‘in season’.

For example, brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips are typically grown through the winter, whereas tomatoes and strawberries are easier to find in summer. If you want access to food when it’s out of season, why not try stocking up when it is in season and freezing it for later?

Not only will it be cheaper, but shopping seasonally reduces your carbon footprint, as you will be relying less on imported food that requires fuel intensive transportation. Did you know that, according to one report, the average fresh food item travels 1,500 miles before arriving on your plate?

There are also ways to save on food that is pre-prepared. Many shops and services now offer a ‘too good to go’ service that’s designed to reduce waste at the end of the day - meaning you can receive top-quality produce at a fraction of the price.

The same can be said for reduced sections at supermarkets. Often perfectly good food is banished there for approaching its use-buy day, but the Food Standards Agency assure us that we can freeze food right up until its best-before date, meaning we can stock up for later, for less.

Make the most of your wellbeing on a budget

It doesn’t have to be a lot, but sometimes a small pick-me-up can really boost your mood.

Pastoral Manager at Harrogate college Kerry Walker, has shared with us her top tip for treating yourself on a budget. She said, “If I've learnt one thing in my role, it is that a little chocolate is always good for your wellbeing!

“My tip is to buy large bars of chocolate as opposed to the tubs of mixed chocolates, as it’s better value for money and has less plastic packaging. Increasingly, confectionary companies are committing to making their packaging more sustainable, so when shopping for treats, take time to consider which brands suit your budget, without harming the environment.”

There are also ways that you can de-stress and relax without spending a penny or leaving the house! There are lots of step-by-step guided meditations and yoga videos on YouTube, which can offer a sense of calm, peace and balance that is beneficial for your emotional wellbeing.

It’s worth keeping your eyes out for deals and free trials when it comes to fitness activities. If you’re looking to boost your endorphins whilst looking after your body, CrossFit Harrogate are offering free community classes every weekend throughout January.

A final tip from Principal Danny Wild

When we asked Principal Danny Wild what his top tip was, he said, “If you’re looking for money-saving and financial advice, it's best to ask the experts.

“There are lots of online blogs, Twitter accounts and finance gurus such as Martin Lewis who publish online content with the aim of helping you save money.”

The bottom line is that if you’re looking to spend less and reduce your waste, there is lots of support available to help you get started. Living sustainably doesn’t have to mean overhauling your lifestyle, sometimes the little things can make a difference.

To find out more about Harrogate College’s green agenda, visit our website.


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