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Saving the planet costs you an extra £2,000 a year

Money.co.uk launches the Sustainable Living Calculator to compare cost of green versus traditional living

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  • 43% of British adults happy to spend more on greener goods

  • 31kg of plastic packaging used per person in the UK every year

  • 25% of Brits prioritise organic over cost

  • 30% make an effort to buy local produce

  • 40% try and avoid plastic packaging

  • Over 60% use a reusable cup when they buy a coffee

  • 40% would make bigger effort to be green if it didn't cost more

  • 42% worry about their 'shopping' impact on the environment

  • Discover the the cost and impact of going green with the Sustainable Living Calculator

Would you go green in a bid to help the environment if it cost your family an extra £2,000 per year?

That's the added cost of being environmentally friendly and buying 'green' groceries, according to nationwide research by financial comparison website money.co.uk.

The survey discovered promisingly that 43% of British adults are happy to spend more on eco-friendly choices, if it lessens their impact on the environment.

The financial experts have now created a Sustainable Living Calculator to help consumers decide whether to shop green - and illustrate the environmental benefits of doing so versus the costs.

The tool is a first-of-its-kind and allows people to compare 'green' versus traditional prices of everyday groceries and other expenses like energy, booking holidays and even coffee.

It proves that going plastic-free, shopping organically where possible and reducing carbon footprints might be better for the planet but come at an added cost. The environmental benefits of eco-living far outweigh the costs of going green, according to the calculator.

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, which developed the calculator and commissioned the study of 2,000 adults, said: "There are certainly more pros than cons when buying green.

"As with all things you should always budget for your outgoings and on occasion you might be spending a little more money to be more sustainable, but the overall impact you can have by making small changes is surely worth it.

"By avoiding products wrapped in plastic, eating seasonally, and avoiding items or travel that has a large carbon footprint, consumers can really have a positive impact on our planet's future."

The money.co.uk calculator shows the cost of 20 everyday household items including apples, pasta, shampoo and toilet roll. To buy every item on the list in the 'greenest' possible way would cost a family of four £5,915 over a year.

But by buying non-organic items, or cheaper plastic-wrapped goods than fresh alternatives, it would cost the same family a lot less - just £3,151.

A bag of standard carrots costs an average of 75p from Tesco, with their organic equivalent adding nearly a fifth of the price, up to 95p. Similarly, a pack of supermarket-own brand bacon normally costs just £1.95 - with rurally-raised bacon from online retailer 'Perfick Pork' selling for as much as £4.99.

However, the calculator demonstrates the enormous value of such a spend, as shopping green can help cut down on the 31kg of plastic packaging used per person, each year.

And organic farming also restricts the use of pesticides used in conventional farming.

The research shows that a two-week 'non-green' holiday - flying a family of four to Majorca in July - would cost £5,300, whereas the 'staycation tax' of booking at an equivalent standard hotel in the UK, and travelling from London to Cornwall by train adds another £1,416, bringing the total to £6,716.

But the flight from London to Majorca also generates a huge 178kg of CO2 emissions per person - compared to just 20kg travelling across the UK by train. The calculator shows that aviation contributes two per cent of the world's carbon emissions, so cutting down flying time is one of the single biggest changes adults can make, even if the impact is felt in the wallet.

The money.co.uk survey also found more than a quarter of Brits prioritise food products being organic, over how much they cost. Thirty percent make an effort to buy local produce, and 4 in 10 try and avoid plastic packaging where they can. In fact, 60% of Brits now use a reusable cup whenever they buy a coffee from a café.

More than 4 in 10 would make more of an effort to be eco-friendly if it didn't end up costing them more, according to the research. But 42% confess to worrying about the impact their current personal shopping choices have on the environment.

Matthew Agarwala, environmental economist at the Bennett Institute of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge who helped develop the calculator, said: "I have a lot of sympathy for consumers who want to do the right thing but just don't know how their shopping choices affect the environment.

"That's why tools like these can be so useful when they are backed by sound scientific evidence.

"Sometimes what looks like a quick and easy bargain today often comes at someone else's expense because it imposes much bigger costs - environmental, social, health - on others. For instance, 'cheap food' is a myth. Whether it's the consumer, the planet, or the farmer, someone always pays.

"But there's loads of reasons to be optimistic. It is so encouraging to see Britons taking the environment seriously.

"From school strikes, to a climate change leader's debate, to the Attenborough effect, the British people are tuned in and engaged.

"Tools like this can help us make better day to day choices, and together we can demand the kinds of policies that make going green easier and more affordable."

Use the money.co.uk Sustainable Living Calculator to discover the cost and impact of living green.

Paying for your shopping using a credit card produces much less CO2 than cash, compare your options today.

Find the best credit card for you, whether you're looking for 0% card for balance transfers or purchases or day to day spending and rewards


Our spokespeople

Salman Haqqi

Salman Haqqi, Personal Finance Editor

Salman Haqqi spent 10 years as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Salman left the world of journalism and moved to the UK to pursue a passion for personal finance and a desire to help people make informed financial decisions.

Read Salman Haqqi's articles and guides
Joel Kempson

Joel Kempson, Personal Finance Writer

Joel Kempson devotes his time to helping people navigate the world of personal finance and make informed decisions about their money. He spent his early career writing about TV, movies, comic books and rock music.

Read Joel Kempson's articles and guides

About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.