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7 Budget-friendly ways to be sustainable

April 21, 2023

A wallaby sits in front of solar panels at Marwell Zoo

Investing in our planet doesn’t have to be expensive, and it’s not always possible to make big changes like adding solar panels to your home or ditching the car for a bicycle. However, there are still lots of other small and affordable ways to make a difference!

Children are the future of the planet and it’s important that we all help to inspire love and respect for the environment – your little monkeys can get involved in each tip too.

1. Go reusable

You’ve heard it time and time again, but choosing reusable products over disposable ones can make such a difference. It not only reduces the number of times you have to spend money on something, but it also reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill, as well as the amount of materials being used.

The plastic industry leaks a lot of plastic waste in manufacture and shipping so even if you’re very good about recycling your plastic waste you could be unwittingly contributing to plastic pollution.

Reusable water bottles, mugs, straws, lunch boxes, bags for life, and even swapping kitchen roll for a cloth – there’s lots of different items that can be replaced with reusable options.

Better yet, choose a reusable product that is also made from recyled or plant-based materials (bamboo is a good choice). Choosing these materials avoid habitat damage from mining, and also reduces carbon emissions from energy-intensive processing in factories.

Marwell Zoo reusable grey and black water bottles with various animals on the design

2. Support sustainable farmers

Try buying local and seasonal produce and look for logos such as RSPCA assured, Soil Association Organic, and Leaf Marque that indicate an independent assessment of sustainability.

Local products have travelled shorter distances to make it to stores, reducing emissions. Buying seasonally is more environmentally friendly as it eliminates the need for the energy-intensive artificial environments needed to grow fruit or veggies that may thrive in a warmer climate.

A lack of transport, import, and energy costs also mean that seasonal and local produce is often cheaper.

3. Can you go meatless?

Meat, particularly beef, can have a big impact on habitats globally and this can have negative consequences for the animals that live in these areas. One of the biggest direct causes of tropical deforestation is conversion to cropland and pasture.

Meat can be expensive, so not try an alternative to meat one or two days a week? If, for any reason, you don’t think you can reduce meat in your family, look for sustainably produced meats which are slow grown and grazed rather than fed on imported animal feed. Look for beef that is labelled as 100% grass fed or carries a Pasture For Life Certification.

4. Support bees, bugs and hedgehogs

If you have a garden, spot for a window box, or balcony, plant a wildflower area or leave a section wild with weeds, leaves and fallen wood. This will provide nesting sites and nectar sources for native wildlife such as bees, insects, birds, hedgehogs and more.

Encourage your neighbours to join in and create bee corridors which will help them by reducing the distance they need to fly to collect pollen (bees get tired too!)

5. Take the bus

If you live in an area with good public transport, this can often work out cheaper than the costs involved with owning a car.

Taking the bus lowers the number of cars on the road and, compared with driving alone, is thought to reduce emissions by ~45%, decreasing pollution and improving air quality. It can also encourage you to rethink those short, quick trips down the road and perhaps take a walk instead.

Of course, it’s not always possible to take the bus (food shopping with little ones can be a challenge!) but next time you’re riding solo, consider leaving the car keys at home.

If you’re next visiting Marwell, why not take the bus? We’ve partnered with Bluestar and now have a new Z00 bus service straight to our door.

Marwell Zoo new Bluestar bus route Z00

6. Organise a local litter pick

Post in your local neighbourhood Facebook group and organise a litter pick. Not only will this help protect wildlife from ingesting or getting injured by litter, you’ll be helping to tidy up your town.

You could even do this by yourself or with family – turn it into a game or competition that your little ones will enjoy too! Make sure you litter pick safely! There’s lots of advice online.

7. Supermarket soft plastics

Recycling options are gradually improving and the addition of being able to recycle soft plastics at supermarkets is great! Soft plastics such as bread bags, plastic films, plastic bags and wrapping, flexible plastics can now be recycled at your local supermarket.

Label some boxes and have fun sorting recycling with your little ones – see who can sort the most or set up a sticker chart to add to whenever they recycle something correctly!

And finally, with bluebells coming into bloom now is the perfect chance to get out into nature. Experience for yourself the wellbeing boost from appreciating and being among trees, grass, shrubs, flowers and animals.

A young child looks at flowers at Marwell Zoo