Sometimes, it feels like Edinburgh is the most expensive place in the world, and ‘eco options’ seem like they come with an extra price tag. But it doesn’t have to be that way and Edinburgh really has given us so many ways that we can use less plastic and save money. Enabling frugality and sustainably – so win win!
Edinburgh has some fantastic farmers markets – Castle Terrace, Stockbridge and Leith being notable examples – and a rising number of eco-shops. Avoiding supermarkets obviously means that you can find options that aren’t shrink wrapped or stored in plastic trays. The quality of food is obviously better but you can also buy specific amounts. So by meal planning – and not buying more than you need – you can also prevent food waste (another problem we’re not really addressing in the UK).
Plan Your Meals
For a long time, I was planning one meal for the adults and another for the kids. It felt like all they would eat was pasta but I couldn’t cope with the carb overload. But this obviously meant hugely expensive grocery bills and lead to yet more mum guilt. By planning family-friendly meals, I can ensure that we save money and consume less.
Switch to Cloth
We switched to cloth originally because we found it was better for Thomas’ skin, but it obviously also meant that we didn’t send a lot of disposable nappies to the landfill either. A lot of people point out that it did mean that we ran our washing machine more often, but given we have a low energy machine we certainly didn’t notice a rise in energy bills and it was nice not to have the continual cost of buying nappies. We also used reusable wipes and even now Thomas is out of nappies, we have continued to use them for all kinds of things. We have softer ‘minky’ ones for nose wiping, and tough terry cotton for cleaning.
Wet wipes are often billed as ‘flushable’ yet contain plastic – so are problematic for our drainage AND eco systems. Not buying wipes saves money and the environment.
Grow Your Own
We’re lucky enough to have a small allotment space but I know the average waiting time in Edinburgh seems to be about 8 years. That isn’t forever so it’s worth signing up for a plot if you don’t have a garden. I have however learned that it is easy to grow your own. My top tip would be to try something that you LOVE to eat so that’s an additional motivating factor.
For the last two years I’ve grown spinach – which not only comes packaged in plastic but also doesn’t last long. By growing my own (which I could just cut and it’d grow again in a couple of days) – I saved money and in turn reduced food waste.
Invest in Reusable Items
I love that so many Edinburgh coffee shops now offer 25p off takeaway drinks but are also offering their own reusable coffee cups! Both Café Milk and Soderberg have their own ‘Keep Cups’ – including the beautiful glass variety. But I am still a massive fan of the Climate Cup that Kate reviewed last year. It collapses to fit in my pocket – meaning that I’m more likely to have it with me – but I also vowed to not buy coffee if I didn’t have it with me. So I do often also save money too!
Go for bar soap or refillable products
Many of the ‘eco shops’ in Edinburgh now have refill stations for things like Ecover products really helping people to reduce plastic waste. But the other alternative is obviously bar soap. I’ve tried an array of shampoo bars over the last couple of years (still haven’t found one I really love) but Edinburgh has so many places offering hand soap in bar form now. One of my personal havens in Stockbridge – Aesop – has the perfect body bar that foams nicely but doesn’t go slimy. Whilst that option doesn’t necessarily save money – it does plastic. So virtue for the win.