Well, pretty much never. If I need a new outfit, my first port of call will always be charity shops. My trick is to hit up-market neighbourhoods to get well made, relatively new stuff for a small proportion of the regular price. This is especially great for weddings and job interviews. If that fails, I'll do a borrow or a swap. If I can't thrift or borrow something, new it is. (I use this technique for household goods as well.)
Buy in bulk
Did you hear the one about the woman who bought 1,150 tea bags? Well, you probably didn't, but it was me. I bought a catering-size bag full of tea. Why? Well, we drink a lot of tea in our place, it won't go off, there's less packaging involved, and it's cheaper than buying a new packet every few weeks. If you have the space, here are the other things I bulk buy:
- Shampoo, soap and conditioner
- Pantry staples (rice, tinned tomatoes, onions, pasta, lentils)
Only buy meat that's marked down
We're not huge meat eaters at my place, but we do like it on occasion. I'm a freelancer so I have the luxury of going to the supermarket at odd times, so I've been able to work out that my local supermarkets have marked down meat items at random times like 6pm on a Thursday and 10am on a Monday. If you have that luxury too, clear a space in your freezer and get cracking. You'll save lots of money and stop good stuff going into the dumpster.
Switch to a fixed green energy tariff
It might not be available where you live, but research renewable energy available in your neighbourhood. When we moved recently, we found that Octopus Energy served our area with energy from renewable sources, and were able to get a £40/month tariff - which is great for budgeting because we know it won't change, despite the fact that having regular Airbnb guests means that we use a fair amount of hot water and a tumble dryer.
Get on Freecycle and Gumtree
It may be a clunky old website, but Freecycle has been great for clearing things out (I had an old roll of carpet that got taken despite wrinkles, among other things) and getting stuff. I needed a printer, and one cropped up on Freecycle the next day. I saved it from landfill and saved around £50 on a next-to-new printer that works beautifully. When we decided to become Airbnb hosts, I realised I'd need a dryer to help deal with all the laundry - there was one listed locally for £60.
I've always been comfortable with not having new stuff - and I'm always keen for a bargain. There are plenty of opportunities to be thrifty and green, you just have to plan ahead.