A thrifty mum has shared her favourite tips for living sustainably after saving £21,000 in just three years thanks to a few simple swaps.

Sian Young from West Sussex (47) has used a variety of sustainable living techniques to help her save a significant sum.

She lives in the same house as James, her husband, and Analicia their daughter, two years old.

Sian who runs the Centre for Sustainable Action, said that she used to buy cheap things because it was cheaper than I could afford.

Sian Young saved £21,000 in just three years thanks to a few simple swaps to a sustainable lifestyle

Sian Young saved £21,000 in just three years thanks to a few simple swaps to a sustainable lifestyle

“But, the items I purchased would be in such bad shape after the first wash or the second. Or broken if they were toys.

Sian was pleasantly surprised at the outcomes she saw when she began to research methods and practice sustainability more.  

Sian is also a mum to Jordan (23 years old) and Cameron (19 years old).

“The more I was healthy and happy, and the more I had saved money, the more I felt passionate about living sustainably.”

‘It didn’t just start with money – it all started with a desire to have less chemicals affecting our health and planet – but the more I learned, the more I noticed how much money it was saving us.’

“Our health was improving and our lives became healthier. We also got more energetic and slimmer.

Sian Young with her husband James, daughter Analicia and sons Jordan and Cameron. The family only has upcycled furniture in their house

Sian Young, her husband James and daughter Analicia with sons Jordan and Cameron. Only upcycled furniture is allowed in the family’s home

“We’ve turned financial savings into an income, using them to fund our business.

Sian has made sure that – aside from white goods – all the family’s household items are upcycled free items that she finds online. 

They also saved money by having their wedding at home for £2,500 – compared to the average wedding cost of £12,000 – and making the decorations themselves.

Adding up the average costs of items including TV cabinets, coffee tables, dining table sets and other assorted furniture, compared to what they spent, Sian estimates the family have saved £21,000 in total since cutting back on costs three years ago.

The mum shares her top tips on how to cut back and still live sustainably.

Sian Young with her sons Jordan and Cameron. The whole family has benefitted from her sustainable efforts as more money has been saved

Sian Young, her sons Jordan & Cameron. Her sustainable savings have benefited the whole family as they now have more money to spend on their needs.

Sian Young with her husband James getting married at home with the celebrations costing a total of £2,500

Sian Young with her husband James getting married at home with the celebrations costing a total of £2,500


Sian suggests Sian begin with the mindset. 

She explained that spending money is a decision made first in the mind. People buy stuff because they think it’s necessary or “should”.

“[We have to] question where this need comes from – did you just pass an advert or see something on social media that placed the thought in your mind?’

“Never purchase something just because someone will like it.” When you are happy, you just don’t need to buy senseless purchases – and often ones that you can’t afford.’

“You look at what’s going on in your head and buy the things you think will make you happy.

“A lot of it just gets lost amongst a bunch of other stuff.


Sian loves to get back to basics with household items.

This involves thrifty solutions including making her own body creams – which consists of coconut oil, sweet almond oil, coconut butter, shea butter and essential oils – and even her own cleaning products.

According to her, “I made my own cleaners because I was afraid of poisonous chemicals and decided to take the risk.”

“We’re going back to the basics, with essential oils and bicarbonate soda with good old-fashioned boiled water.

“When I had no money, I began with water, bicarb and lemon, as well as tea tree oil. This would last ages and allow me to make as and when I needed it – this also stopped me from going to the shops, often saving me money.’

While many people buy disposable nappies and sanitary products, Sian says she saves a total of £1,562 every year by choosing sustainable alternatives.

She said: ‘We use cloth nappies for our baby and this saves over £1,475 per year. You could reduce your environmental footprint 25% by using reusable nappies.

‘I also use sustainable sanitary wear, saving me £87 per year and dramatically reducing my impact on the environment.’


Sian has been able to save a lot of money by avoiding big purchases such as new furniture.

She instead gives old items new life through upcycling.

She stated that she had upcycled most of her furniture or found it for free.

‘For the screen we used on our wedding day, I found it online for £10. It was made from old stale papers that I had removed. Then I cleaned and painted the screen with chalk paint. Finally, I applied furniture wax as a protection coating.

‘I bought some linen cuts from another online marketplace for £3 and staple-gunned it across each screen section.’

‘There you have it – a new screen that would have cost me hundreds cost me £30 all in.’

“I enjoy the creativity and upcycling. I love that you can make something else beautiful.


Sian chooses to buy her clothes at charity shops – but insists this doesn’t mean having to sacrifice on style.

“I’m upgrading, having a stylist use the old clothes and fabric I have around me to design a custom-made outfit.

“I am happy” [buying my clothes from charity shops]Because I am aware that this is my way of doing my part to help solve our water shortage and pollution problems.

“If you buy new, then ensure you have enough money to purchase a high-quality item made from sustainably sourced materials that will last many years.”


Sian believes that preplanning her meals and ordering groceries in advance from local vendors helps to ensure she doesn’t buy anything more than she has to.

She said: ‘I eat locally sourced organic veg boxes which are delivered to my door each week and for only £12.50 a family of three can have main meals and some lunches for the week.’

“I also buy organic meat one month in bulk and distribute it.”

‘It saves me money on impulse shopping and buying food that goes to waste – the UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes so this is also a good thing.’

Sian is adamant that sustainable living saves money. Sian has also noticed an improvement in her stress levels since adopting the lifestyle. 

She added: ‘Living sustainably reduces stress, you don’t have to try and keep up with the crazy commercial desires that we are exposed to daily – this saves money which means you have less money stress, which means less stress on the body.’

“Living sustainably” is the way we live our lives. Although there is much to be done, I’m enjoying the journey.

To save money on venue fees, the couple decided to get married in their own home. They now plan to invest their savings in a dream to live in an off-grid building.