Groceries spilling out of a bag

Buying ‘green’ adds up

Choosing ‘green’ options when grocery shopping could end up costing people more than £2,500 extra per year, according to a new Sustainable Living Calculator created by financial experts.

The calculator, commissioned by price comparison website, compares the ‘green’ and regular prices of 20 everyday household items including apples, pasta, shampoo and toilet roll. It also contrasts other expenditures such as energy and holiday providers.

The results suggest that to buy every item on the list in the ‘greenest’ possible way would cost a family of four £5,915 over a year. By contrast, buying non-organic items or cheaper plastic-wrapped goods would reduce the cost to £3,151.

However, the environmental benefits of eco-living far outweigh the financial costs, according to the calculator, which also measured environmental impact – for example, shopping green can help cut down on the 31kg of plastic packaging used per person, each year.

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at, said: “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 have a large carbon footprint, consumers can really have a positive impact on our planet’s future.”

Additionally, a survey by the website discovered that 43 per cent of British adults are happy to spend more on eco-friendly choices, if it lessens their impact on the environment. However, four in 10 people surveyed still had reservations, saying they would make more of an effort to be eco-friendly if it didn’t end up costing them more.

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.

“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.”

‘Cheap food’ is a myth. Whether it’s the consumer, the planet, or the farmer, someone always pays.

 – Matthew Agarwala, environmental economist

“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,” he added.

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