Best things in life are free challenge

What can I say? I was getting pretty nervous by the time I reached Portcullis House on Tuesday night to speak to MPs at an event run by the Energy Saving Trust. I was there in my role as the EST’s Green Voice of the UK to persuade MPs to work on green initiatives in their local constituencies.

I had to follow the new Energy Minister Greg Barker on the podium­ – so no pressure there! He spoke enthusiastically about the new coalition government’s plans to get more homes insulated and replace inefficient boilers. I hope that enthusiasm translates into action. But it all went off well in the end. I managed not to stumble over my words too much and people seemed to listen, which was a relief. Apparently even Mr Barker paid attention.

There was an excellent turnout and I met some great people including a member of the London Assembly, a woman who is the environmental representative for a company in Durham working with local community groups, plus a guy involved in lobbying for low carbon transport on the roads. It was great to meet such enthusiastic people who were yet realistic about the challenges involved and the lack of money available at the moment.


But enough of gadding about at Westminster, and back to the blog. Summer is (allegedly) here and you’ll be pleased to know that it’s challenge time once again for me. Since I got back from my holidays, I’ve been itching to get stuck into a new frugal task. The big news this week was, of course, prime minister David Cameron’s gloomy speech about the economy being much worse than the government expected (surprise, surprise). Harsh public spending cuts will be announced in the forthcoming emergency budget due on June 22nd which Mr Cameron claims will “change our lives forever”. Public services, pensions and benefits are expected to be hit. The government claims that these cuts are necessary to get the economy back on track more quickly and maintain the UK’s credit rating. However, critics claim that elderly, vulnerable and already poverty-stricken people in our society will be most affected by the cuts and the rich will remain largely untouched.

Whatever your outlook on the situation, sadly, it sounds as though frugal living will continue to be a necessity for many people, and, if Mr Cameron is right, for the next decade, which is pretty daunting. Many of us will have no choice but to continue to search for new ways to save money and live more cheaply.

Lately that famous line ‘the best things in life are free’ has repeatedly popped into my head while I’m out and about. The question that has been on my mind is, are they really? In my latest challenge, I’ve decided to test out whether this well worn phrase has any merit to it. Over the next three weeks I will be undertaking a series of tasks exploring what is available out there in the UK to do, eat or obtain for nothing and how satisfying or not it is to do so.

In my first week’s challenge I will be trying to find food for free, whether foraged, bartered for or otherwise obtained for nothing. In the second week, I will investigate activities and events we can take part in for free, whether locally or nationwide. And the final week of the challenge will see me trying to secure items which cost nothing, whether that’s finding free samples on the internet, reclaiming unwanted things from the council tip or swapping items with friends or neighbours.

The challenge kicks off next week and I’ll keep you posted here as to how it’s all going. Have a great weekend, Piper xxx.


Are the best things in life still free or do you really have to be rich nowadays to enjoy life? Leave a message and let me know.

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6 Responses to Best things in life are free challenge

  1. Flo says:

    There are hidden costs to everything. The internet requires a computer and internet connection which you pay either directly or through your council tax if you use the library. Free museum and parks entry is supported from your council tax. Or patronage perhaps. Your local tip will have a shop to sell useful items now or you will need to be a licensed person to take things. You pay for the license.

  2. Flo says:

    If you use freecycle, well you have travelling costs as well as telephone, computer and internet costs. Look at the hidden costs of free before you say it\’s free. Even if you barter, you have to do something as part of the process. Not free then is it?

  3. kim says:

    Really looking forward to seeing how you manage over the next week, good luck 🙂

  4. Bill says:

    Flo darling,I am oft at our local council tip, dumping garbage fers the local charity, last week it was a large double wardrobe which I collected in a house clearance, but became unsaleable.

  5. Bill says:

    . It is free ter dump stuff, & we have no shop, but I did ask an attendant if there were any spare gas bottles, & he unlocked the cage, & told me to take me pick, as many as I like. Purchasing a large bottle of gas is expensive, with a £30 returnable deposit, I now have 2 empties fer free, saving £60 on me next purchase!

  6. Bill says:

    Still there, Flo?The landfill is not free, I used ter dump 20 tonnes of sewage, 3 times/day, or 15 – 30 tonnes of Trade-Waste/load. They charge by weight. An acquaintance from the charity oft dumps 1 – 2 tonnes of garbage there.

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