By Jen Bolton

As a UK citizen in government-funded housing, on a wage of £4.35 an hour, believe me when I say I understand why some people don’t use metal straws. As previously discussed on Yellow Scribe, going green is a luxury that many just can’t afford, but here are some tried-and-tested ways that are either free or very cheap, that I’ve found I can commit to in my everyday life.

1- Recycling coffee cups

The UK’s largest coffee shop chain, Costa, having recycling points in all their stores that accept all brands’ recyclable cups as well as their own coffee pods, is a prime example of the small things companies can definitely afford to splash out on, if it means, quite literally, saving the world. As well as recycling 41 million cups in the scheme’s first six months, Costa’s plastic iced drink cups are made of 70% recycled materials, and can be put into any “mixed” recycling bin. So even if you can’t afford one of their reusable mugs, you can still help the cause, just a little.

2- Straws

Continuing with the trend of drinks, how about simply not buying them, and instead making them? Buying a kettle and brewing your own coffee to put in a flask would not only make your commute quicker (no waiting in lines), and save you from needing a plastic cup and straw, but the kettle would quickly pay for itself. The cost of a Starbucks tall latte is £2.31. Now let’s say you buy a Starbucks tall latte every working day. That’s £2.31 for 250 days, which leaves you with a 10 day holiday where you don’t buy any (as well as weekends), which racks your yearly cost of coffee up to £577. Compare that with if you were to buy the first kettle that Amazon turned up, at £16, and use that and Lidl’s Bellarom Gold ground coffee, at £2.39 a pack. Each pack of these coffee grounds boasts that it contains the amount needed for 110 cups of coffee, which means that each cup would cost just over 2p. So £16 plus 2p for 250 days makes your yearly cost of coffee, if made at home instead of bought, the grand total of… £21. Yep, you read that right. You could save enough money to buy a second-hand car in one year, AND do your part to cut down on single-use plastic, just like that! (I am aware that some disabled people will require straws regardless of what they are drinking, but if you are not one of this minority, what’s stopping you?)

3- Refill shops

Now I of all people know that cutting down single-use plastic is no easy feat when most of Lush’s shampoo and conditioner bars with no plastic container are £8, but there are ways you can affordably get around this. The key is “refill shops”. Refill shops are just like any other grocery stores- except that there’s no plastic involved. You bring your own reusable container and fill it up with the products you need, and what you pay is usually determined by the weight of what you have filled your containers with. The UK has recently seen a boom in these kinds of initiatives, and they all specialise in a different area of living, whether it be oils such as vinegar and cooking oil, or grains and cereal, or fresh fruit and vegetables, so it is highly likely there will be at least one near you!

4- Carpooling

For once, America had the right idea, with their carpool lanes that act as an incentive to partake in the activity. Mostly used for the school run, you can save money on petrol, while simultaneously emitting half as much carbon monoxide as you usually would, if you shared a ride with someone. Yes, giving people rides, if you’re going to the same place, means only one car has to make the journey, which has many obvious benefits to both you, your friends, and the environment.

5- Vegetarianism

No one really likes talking about it, but cows release somewhere between 70kg – 120kg of methane per year, each. That doesn’t sound like a problem you can control, does it? But if action is taken, en masse, to let farmers know that they should be using their fields to grow crops instead of breed cows at unnatural rates, change will happen. Not only will this drastically reduce the amount of methane contributing to the world’s pollution, but it will also free up space for more crops to be grown, which has obvious benefits to the people going hungry, all around the world. And, what’s more, I can afford meat alternatives like Quorn and Linda McCartney Foods, even on my wage!

So, in conclusion, on this, perhaps the hottest day on record in the UK, remember that climate change has never been more impending, but also that doing your part to help prevent it’s irreversible damage has never been easier.

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