Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Living
Regardless of why you’ve decided to go green, every step you take towards environmentally friendly living is one that helps the world.
If you’re just starting out and want some sustainable living ideas then here are a couple to get you started:
Step 1: Turn it off
Energy conservation is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. Leaving your electricals on standby uses unnecessary energy – turn them off at the wall when you’ve finished using them, and you could see your bill going down.
Step 2: Invest in eco-friendly technology
Want to go further than simply turning it off? If you need to get new appliances, check their energy-efficiency rating to ensure they’re as efficient as possible. This way, you’re using much less energy for the time that the product is on and reducing your energy output.
And if you’re looking to make bigger changes at home to cut your carbon footprint – have you considered heating your home with an air source heat pump, or installing solar panels on your rooftop so that you can generate your own electricity?
Step 3: Switch to renewables
Choosing 100% renewable electricity is a great eco-friendly tip for any home – and is one of the biggest things you can do to help tackle the climate crisis. Due to the current situation in the energy market, it’s best to stay with your existing supplier right now. We’ll let you know when switching supplier opens up again.
Step 4: Eat less meat
Being careful with what you’re consuming is at the heart of being more environmentally friendly, and cutting down on the amount of meat you eat can have a huge impact. Not having red meat and eating a more plant based diet – even if it’s just for two or three days a week – can have quite a significant impact on reducing your carbon footprint.
Step 5: Don’t waste food
Waste not, want not. Did you know that 9.5 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year? This isn’t just a huge waste of food and money, it adds to the amount of CO2 and methane being created in landfills.
Step 6: Compost
If your food as gone too far beyond its ‘best by’ date then you could compost it rather than putting it in the bin. Not only will this help create a natural fertiliser and keep your garden green, it’ll also reduce the amount of waste going to landfill – and as it won’t break down anaerobically, there will not be a build-up of methane gas. If you can’t compost at home, you could find out if there are any local compost schemes available, or if your local authority collects food waste alongside other recycling. Make sure to only compost organic waste to avoid unwanted pests.
Step 7: Recycle everything
Chances are that if you’re pursuing a more eco-friendly lifestyle then you’ll already be recycling. But could you improve your recycling-ability (now a word)? You can recycle almost everything, from batteries to paper to crisp packets to cars. Before you throw it away, take a minute to find out if you could recycle it instead.
Step 8: Try to cut out plastic
Plastic seems to have found its way into every single aspect of our lives. However, giving it up isn’t as difficult as you might think – bring a canvas bag with you when you go shopping, buy your fruit and veg loose and stop buying bottled water.
There are also more and more shops around where you can bring your own container for things like nuts, seeds, pasta, oats and more – plus get refills for soap, shampoo, washing up liquid and laundry detergent.
Step 9: Use LED light bulbs
Not only do LED light bulbs last longer than conventional bulbs, they’re far more efficient too! This means that you’ll be using less power and having to replace your light bulbs less frequently – everyone’s a winner. What’s more, they’re available in a range of brightness and designs so you can really tailor the lighting to your needs or to suit the room.
Step 10: Insulate your home
Homes that aren’t well insulated are much harder to keep warm when it’s cold, and cool when the weather is hot.
Find out more about insulating your home, including benefits, costs and savings you would see in your bills in our ultimate home insulation guide.
Step 11: Have your food shop delivered
Home delivery is like the public transport of groceries. Instead of having 20 odd cars make their way to the supermarket – one van drives around delivering to everyone in the area (and many supermarkets are upgrading to an electric fleet, too). Additionally, it means you’re less likely to impulse buy which can help to reduce any waste food.
Step 12: Fix it, don’t throw it
Repairing or fixing something is more environmentally friendly than simply throwing it away, although the latter may seem easier and cheaper sometimes. The internet gives you access to the tools and information you need to fix practically anything, and if you still can’t fix it then why not try and turn it into something else?
Step 13: Use eco-friendly cleaning products
A lot of cleaning products have a lot of harmful chemicals in them that aren’t environmentally friendly to create or dispose of. In fact, repeated exposure to these cleaning products can affect your health as well as the environment. Green cleaning products use more natural and organic methods of cleaning which are far less harmful. Here are some great time-honoured tips from the National Trust.
Step 14: Consider your transport
If you can make the journey by foot, bike or public transport, then do it. Driving, unless you’re in an electric vehicle, isn’t very eco-friendly and can really add to your carbon footprint. When you do have to drive, make sure that you get the most out of your vehicle by keeping the speed down, ensuring tyres are properly inflated and that the engine is running smoothly.
Step 15: Use your microwave
Honestly, you’d be surprised by how much more energy efficient microwaves are compared to conventional ovens. While you’re already surprised, you may as well continue to be shocked with some of the awesome things you can cook in a microwave (hint: it’s not just ready meals).
Or if you are regularly cooking small batches, you could join the air fryer hype.
Step 16: Buy local
From clothes to food, the closer to home these products are made and bought, the less carbon is created with their transportation. Not only that, but you’ll be supporting the local economy which means that in time you’ll likely have even more local items to choose from.
Step 17: Don’t fly
Flying is one of the most environmentally damaging things you can do – just flying from Bristol to Edinburgh produces 0.15 metric tons of carbon!* Why not stay a bit closer to home and explore some of Britain’s beautiful nature? Camping, hiking and cycling are all great things to do in the UK and are extremely low carbon.
*Calculated using this carbon calculator.
Step 18: Grow your own
Growing your own vegetables isn’t just a good way to save money, it’s also a great way to cut down your carbon footprint and be environmentally friendly. Don’t have any outside space? Windowsill boxes are a great way to brighten up your view, filter the air coming into your home and offer plenty of space for herbs and small vegetable patches.
Another thing you could do is plant more native trees to replace those that have been felled and to improve air quality. This could be done by donating to a tree planting scheme, such as to the Woodland Trust.
Step 19: Upgrade to an air source heat pump
Heating our homes currently accounts for a huge 13-14% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. By installing a heat pump, you can heat your home using renewable energy rather than burning fossil fuels. With a £7,500 grant scheme from the government to put towards the cost, it’s a good time to explore green heating.
Step 20: Choose your personal care wisely
When it comes to personal hygiene there are several things you need to be careful to avoid for a truly eco-friendly lifestyle. The most damaging of these is microbeads, which are small bits of solid plastic which aren’t biodegradable and make their way into watercourses and ultimately end up damaging the environment by entering the food chain. Make sure that your body wash, toothpaste, face scrub and other products do not contain these beads. In addition to this, avoiding chemicals and opting for natural cleaning products – like those sold by Lush is the best way to keep yourself and the environment clean.