Reduce your packaging and reuse bags
As consumers, we all have a big influence in what retailers will offer us. This means that if enough people choose products with the least amount of packaging, retailers will start providing products with only the essential packaging.
Re-use your own bags when you are shopping, buy products loose with no packaging and try a local green grocer, farm shop or butcher. Local products have a lower carbon footprint than items from far away.
So many carrier bags are used only once and they are often not able to be recycled very easily.
Most shop plastic carrier bags are made from polyethylene (PE), which is made from oil and energy is also used in the manufacturing process.
When plastic carrier bags are put in landfill sites they may take hundreds of years to break down and bags can also end up as litter in the countryside, rivers or the sea, where they can pose a threat to wildlife. Animals can easily get entangled in plastic bags or they may even be mistaken for food.
The best approach is to reduce the amount of ‘single use’ carrier bags that we use.
Instead try to remember to take with you your reusable and long-life bags each time when you go shopping.
If you find you’ve forgotten to reuse your carrier bags and have a lot of single use bags at home you can recycle them in some local super markets.
Buying your fruit and vegetables loose
Most supermarkets now offer loose fruit and vegetables in addition to packaged items. Local greengrocers and markets also provide the opportunity to use your own shopping bag and buy loose seasonal fruit and veg.
Why not make some eco-choices the next time you go shopping and help reduce your plastic footprint.
By shopping at local markets and farm shops you are also buying seasonal local produce and supporting local businesses.
Reduce single use plastics
Choose re-usable water bottles
We are often told its really important to keep hydrated. Rather than carrying a plastic bottle now is the time to switch to a reusable drinks bottle.
Disposable plastic water bottles can cost up to £2 each, so even buying one plastic water bottle per week could add up to around £100 over the course of a year.
Wherever you go, take your reusable bottle with you.
If you want to check where to refill your bottle on the go, you can check the refill app.
The refill app shows thousands of local refill stations nationwide.
Ditch the coffee cup
In the UK more than 7 million disposable coffee cups are used daily. Cups are normally made of two different materials that can’t be recycled unless separated and processed through a specialist scheme. We all love to grab a coffee on the go, but disposable cups are one of the main contributors to single-use plastic waste.
If you still want to enjoy a freshly made brew, don’t forget to take your reusable coffee cup with you.
Many local businesses give out discounts to customers that bring their own coffee cups.
Plastic straws and coffee stirrers
When sipping on your favourite drink, avoid using plastic straws and coffee stirrers. There are plastic free alternatives like compostable straws, wooden coffee stirrers or even reusable steel straws that you can take with you in your bag.
More businesses are going for more environmentally friendly options like plastic-free straws which is great news.
Choose washable cutlery
You can ask for no disposable utensils (or use your own cutlery) when you order takeout or pick up your lunch at your favourite shop or cafe.
Avoid pre-packaged foods
More and more businesses are offering refill options to customer who bring their own containers to cut down packaging. If you don’t know any shops nearby that offer refill options, try shopping for products that use recyclable packaging, buy loose fruits and veggies. Or try the old-school flask and lunchbox option for your meal on the go!
Six ways to use less plastic in your garden
- Reuse plastic pots that you already have for as long as possible
- Buy plants grown in biodegradable pots and order bare root trees and shrubs in the autumn and winter
- Make your own pots for seedlings from newspaper, card, loo roll etc
- Take your own cuttings and divide plants rather than buying new ones and swap with friends and neighbours
- Use wooded trays and seed labels rather than plastic ones
- Make your own compost
Reduce food waste
Only buy food that is going to get eaten. This may sound obvious but as much as 20% of the food bought is thrown away without even being opened. If you reduce this to zero then you’ll save hundreds of pounds per year.
Find out how you can save up to £50 per month by throwing away less food, try the latest seasonal recipes from Love Food, Hate Waste.
Eat seasonally and grow your own
Nothing beats the taste of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in your own garden - or the satisfaction and enjoyment you can get from doing it. Not sure what to grow or where to start? The RHS has all the tips and advice you’ll need and don’t forget lots of edibles can be grown in tubs if you haven’t got room for a whole veg patch.
Good for crops for tubs and containers include strawberries, herbs, radish, lettuce and salads, tomatoes, courgette, spring onions, beetroot, chillies, chard (try the rainbow varieties that look amazing as well as tasting great!), potatoes, French beans and cress.
Growing your own means eating seasonal crops with zero air-miles perfect for reducing your personal carbon footprint.
Reduce meat in your diet
Meat is an important part of heritage and identity. It’s a cultural staple in many communities across the globe. But with a rising global middle class, societies are becoming meat obsessed. Nowhere else is this more prevalent than rich nations whose appetite for beef, pork and processed chicken have reached a tipping point.
The livestock sector — raising cows, pigs and chickens — generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks and automobiles combined. Cattle ranchers have clear cut millions of square kilometers of forests for grazing pastures, decimating natural “carbon sinks.”
Reducing meat in our diets and shifting to more plant-based foods is essential to combatting climate change, soil, air and water pollution, ocean dead zones, and myriad other problems caused by industrial livestock production. If we decide to eat fewer meals with meat or dairy each week, we can have a huge impact on our collective health and the health of the planet.
- Commit to reducing your meat and dairy consumption by a few meals per week and tell five friends about your choice to find alternative proteins
- Make fresh fruits and vegetables a bigger part of your diet
- Buy local sustainable or organic fresh produce whenever possible
Think about your journey: Could you consider a train journey rather than a flight? Or perhaps holiday in the UK for a change rather than flying further afield? To help with climate change we all need to fly less and drive less. We need to walk and cycle more and use public transport more. It’s estimated that living car-free would save an average of 2.04 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per person annually.
Pack sustainably: Try to just take what you need and resist the impulse to buy new things to take, plastic bottles of water and pre-packed snacks. How about taking a good old fashioned flask and packed-lunch to the beach?
Plan where you eat: If you’re really keen do some research beforehand. Try to support local cafes and restaurants that make an effort to recycle, use seasonal ingredients and proper crockery and cutlery rather than throw-away packaging.
Reduce junk mail
You can stop junk mail turning up on your door step by registering with the Mailing Preference Service who will delete your details from the mailing list of companies, reducing the demand for paper at the source.
For unaddressed mail you can opt out of deliveries by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Reduce in the bathroom
Ditch the face wipes: Just use a good old flannel. If you've got a baby and you need that on-the-go reliability, then you can find biodegradable wipes.
Buy package-free: You can get shampoo, conditioner and body wash bars - they might cost a bit more but they last for ages. Replace plastic bottles of handwash with a bar of soap.
Big brands can also be eco-friendly: A lot of the big beauty brands are really taking inspiration from the vegan environmental movement. It's great to see these changes happening. For example, co-op own brand kitchen and bathroom products are not tested on animals and are vegan friendly. It worth starting to check the labels.
Reduce nappy waste: Around 8 million nappies need to be disposed of every day in the UK. Nappies sit in a landfill site for an estimated 500 years. You can use washable cotton nappies to not only save hundreds of pounds but also space in your bin and landfill sites.
Renewable energy is generated from natural resources such as the sun, wind, and water, using technology which ensures that the energy stores are naturally replenished.
Instead of buying all of your energy from suppliers, you can install renewables technology (also called micro generation and low-carbon technology) to generate your own.
The Energy Saving Trust can advise on renewable energy.
Swapping to a green energy supplier is an key way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Home insulation and turning down your thermostat
There are many simple yet effective ways to insulate your home, which can significantly reduce heat loss while lowering your heating bills.
Home energy efficiency
The Energy Saving Trust can advise on ideas for saving energy and water in you home, helping the planet and reducing your bills
Low energy light bulbs save electricity and money and last about 8 times longer than normal light bulbs.
Always switch lights off in rooms being unused. Smart plugs can help control electrical devices in the home and reduce energy consumption.