Earlier this year, we asked our customers what changes they had made in their daily lives to be more sustainable in 2020. With far less travel, and far more time spent at home, here are some of the things people have been doing to reduce their impact.

Home improvements

More time around the house has led to a lot of us doing home improvements to boost energy efficiency. With around a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from households, this can really help make a difference.

Whether it’s small shifts like switching to energy efficient bulbs and appliances, or bigger changes like investing in renewable generation or heating tech, there are lots of ways to make improvements. And a lot of you went big in 2020…

  • We’ve installed an air source heat pump to replace our oil central heating – Philip
  • We’ve changed our coal boiler to a wood pellet boiler – Gareth
  • I had the exterior walls of my house sprayed with Properal to seal against heat loss and climate damage. – Dora
  • We’ve added a 4KW battery pack to our solar PV system. Our bills have dropped dramatically! – Ryszard
  • We have connected a solar iboost system to our hot water, so that we now use electricity from our solar panels to heat our water on sunny days. – Simon

In the garden

As the mental health charity Mind reports, spending time in green spaces has been found to contribute to mental wellbeing. So it’s perhaps no surprise that in 2020, many of us turned to our gardens as a way to support our health and happiness. From growing ultra-fresh seasonal produce to creating space for nature, here’s how some of you spent time outdoors this year…

  • We have grown all our own tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, beetroots, peas, beans, sprouts, broccoli, curly kale, cabbages, courgettes, radishes, carrots, leeks, parsnips, onions, shallots and garlic and made jam with fruit from the garden. No food miles! – Linda
  • I’ve grown plants from seeds to nourish both body and soul. – Alan
  • I’ve totally moved my garden to growth – planting perennial flowers that ­insects need, and leaving old plants to provide homes and food for wildlife. For the first time in 20 years I have hedgehogs at night and rare birds. – Felicity

Cutting waste

Plastic waste has been found in some of the most remote corners of our world, including in Antarctica. UK households generate around 1.7 million tonnes of it a year. While there are campaigns to encourage producers and retailers to reduce their packaging, many of you have also taken action at home…

I now use refill schemes for all our soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, laundry and detergents; and recycle through Terracyle.

  • I have joined a local Climate Action Group which campaigns for plastic-free shopping in our High Street & plants trees together in new spaces. – Mark
  • We’ve massively reduced packaging by choosing food carefully and composting our cardboard. – Helen
  • I have switched to getting milk from a milkman in glass bottles and getting our yogurts in glass jars. – Yves
  • I now use refill schemes for all our soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, laundry and detergents; and recycle through Terracyle. – Sophie
  • My biggest change this year is switching to using washable sanitary products instead of single use. – Rosemary

The food we eat

Food miles, plastic packaging, intensive farming practices that harm biodiversity… there are many ways in which the food we eat can cause problems for the environment. Fortunately, there are just as many solutions — and many of them are simple to incorporate into how we shop and eat. Take some inspiration from some of our customers…

  • We’ve cut down by 50% on our meat consumption – Richard
  • I have moved to eating organic, grass fed meat & poultry from a group of small UK farmers. – Jane
  • We have been trying to reduce plastic consumption so I have bought a sodastream to help manage my Cola habit in a more sustainable way. – Becky
  • I now buy my vegetables from my local farm shop – less plastic waste and money into my community. – Sue

Lifestyle changes

Once you get started with trying to be greener, you quickly realise that sustainability touches on almost every part of life, from the clothes we wear and how we travel, to what the banks we use do with our money.  Here are some of the ways in which you showed us how we can weave green thinking into our daily routines…

  • I bought an electric car. – Anthony
  • We sold our dirty diesel car and bought a Plug-in hybrid! – Ellie
  • I’ve upgraded my bicycle to electric so can use it for work rather than the diesel car… winter will be the test! – Stuart
  • I now mostly buy second hand clothes, from apps and charity shops, to avoid feeding the fast fashion problem. – Charlotte
  • I’ve switched energy suppliers to Good Energy and I’ve also switched banks to Triodos. – Trishna

Towards the end of 2019, we ran a survey with the British public which found that 57% of us aimed to be greener in 2020.

Your contributions for this article have shown that many of you have done exactly that. Well done on your efforts this year. Wishing you all a happy and healthy festive break and an even more sustainable 2021.

Want to keep being sustainable? Visit our page of customer tips or submit your own.