Ideas and advice to help you improve your sustainability
We are often asked what you as an individual can do to be more sustainable. However, we understand that few people can implement such behavioural changes all in one go. Therefore, we decided to supply our tips in weekly segments. Each week we will suggest two pieces of advice and suggestions to help you reduce your carbon emissions and environmental impact in your daily lives.
Switch off Power for Earth Hour
This Saturday (24th March) show your solidarity for the planet this Earth Hour and switch off at 8:30pm!
Following the theme of Earth Hour, our tips this week suggest ways you can turn down your energy use:
1. Take a break from electricity - Taking direct inspiration from the event, why not try and dedicate more time taking a break from our highly energy consuming lifestyle. Consider spending a little more time doing low carbon activities such as reading, sport, going for a walk or playing games and keep away from TV, laptops and shopping. These small breaks in energy use will add up and help to reduce your carbon footprint.
2. Travel Green - Like your lights, give your car time off when you can and consider lower carbon alternatives to reduce the emissions of your transport. Each mile in a car produces 290gCO2e, traveling a mile by train therefore saves 218gCO2e, whilst each mile walked or cycled produces zero. Next time you pop to the shops or to a friends, try to leave the car behind and walk, cycle or lift share to save money and do your bit for the environment.
Waste goes out of Fashion
With winter almost over, the spring sales are in, but we can all be more carbon conscious with how we shop!
Our clothing habits are becoming increasingly unsustainable. This week, our tips are tailored to help you improve the footprint of your clothes:
1. Keep for longer - Clothing use (the amount of times a garment is worn) has decreased 36% while clothing production has doubled; this "fast fashion" - buying cheaper clothes more regularly - results in many clothes being thrown away within a year. Inevitably, this puts pressure on resources, pollutes the environment, creates waste and increases global carbon emissions. By spending a bit more on clothes that will last (as Coco Chanel once said, 'Fashion goes out of fashion, style never does'), your clothing use increases and your clothing purchases decrease, helping to reduce your carbon footprint whilst saving money in the long run.
2. Recycle or give to charity - Following on from last week's tips, this is another area where people commonly are not taking the opportunity to donate or recycle fully with 87% of textiles ending up in landfill or incinerated. Most councils will collect textiles recycling alongside your weekly rubbish collection (check your councils website for details), otherwise you can make the most of your local collection points. We are improving - the UK has seen a 15% reduction in clothes sent to landfill from households and a shift to washing at cooler temperatures, saving 700,000 tonnes CO2e each year - but we all need to keep doing our bit to reduce the impact of our clothes.
Keep Calm and Carry on Recycling
Did you know that in the UK, less than 50% of our waste is recycled!
We need to think about more than just plastic when it comes to our waste. This week we suggest two areas of recycling that are commonly overlooked and how they can help reduce your impact:
1. Food Recycling - Each year in the UK we create 7 million tonnes of food waste from our homes. If thrown in the bin and sent to landfill, this waste releases methane - a green house gas 25 times more potent than CO2. By sending it to recycling instead, reduces its environmental impact and enables the food to be turned into soil fertiliser or even a source of energy within an anaerobic digester.
2. WEEE Recycling - This is the type of recycling that people often know the least about. WEEE stands for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. Small WEEE products - such as batteries, microwaves and hairdryers - are often collected by councils as part of your weekly bin collection (check your councils website for information) and larger appliances can be dropped of at local collection points. Recycling the WEEE waste means that the metals and materials can be recovered and reused and avoid going straight to landfill. This is part of a Circular Economy.
Stay switched on by switching off
Our demand for energy accounts for 25% of the UKs total emissions!
This cold weather makes us all want to stay inside where it is warm and dry, so these tips are designed to help you reduce the impact of your energy use without having to leave the house:
1. Switch to a green energy provider - Reducing your demand on fossil fuels and helping to encourage the investment in renewables may be easier and cheaper than you think by switching to a green energy provider or tariff. You will need to be wary of potential "greenwash" and ensure the supply is truly what they are selling it as, but sourcing your electricity from 100% renewable sources is a great way to reduce your footprint.
2. Turn off appliances when not using them - This may sound like an overused suggestion, but ensuring to turn off your lights, TV and computers once you are done using them really can make a difference. Together, leaving them on or on standby unnecessarily can account for an extra 1,200kg CO2e a year*! Remember to also consider your other appliances such as your dishwashers, washing machines and speakers to help save carbon.
In other news: A supermarket in Amsterdam has opened the worlds first plastic-free aisle
This week, keep clean without dirtying the planet!
The bathroom is a commonly overlooked source of carbon savings. Our tips this week help you reduce the impact of your bathroom:
1. Use bar soap and shampoo - Drinking water is not the only source of plastic bottles, the bathroom is full of them. Although we are increasingly better at recycling our waste in the kitchen and outside, we recycle only 50% of our bathroom packaging. Using bar alternatives reduces your plastic waste and can often save you money as the bars often last longer than the bottled alternative.
2. Take shorter showers - During this cold weather, the warmth of a nice long shower is particularly appealing - especially in the morning. Yet, this can be a quite carbon intensive habit. Having a 15 minute shower every day for a year can produce between 164 and 450kg CO2e depending on your boilers fuel and efficiency*. Reducing your shower time to 5 minutes cuts this by two thirds, saving you around 110 to 300kg CO2e!
Love Food Hate Waste
This week show your love for the planet by being carbon conscious with your food!
If you are planning to cook something special this valentines (or any other time), these tips can help you reduce the impact of your meal:
1. Use in season food - Buying food that is out of season can rack up your emissions. Perishable foods that are grown in green houses and flown in from far away are the worst offenders. Those that are shipped, however are not nearly so bad. Knowing what is and isn't in season can be tricky, but shopping at a local farmers market can cut your need to check the labels. Otherwise, try to keep track of what is in season and avoid foods with large air miles to reduce your impact.
For example, a pack of asparagus flown in from Peru is worth 3.5kg CO2e yet a local in season pack is only 125g CO2e. In comparison, apples only range from 10 to 150g CO2e if sourced in season or shipped*.
2. Make extra for later - Make the most of any extra effort you put in and cook more than you need on the night to make yourself lunches/dinners from the leftovers. This is a great way to make the most of your time, save money and reduce food waste whilst creating easy tasty meals.
In other news: February 14th is also World Bonobo day, find out what you can do to help protect this magnificent and peaceful ape
Pass On Plastic
An increasing number of companies and MPs are pledging to reduce their plastic! Join in and cut more plastic out of your life!
Your choices, working in addition to changes made by companies and MPs, brought on by consumer pressure, can and will help reduce our plastic use and its impact on the environment. This week we have two more suggestions on how you can avoid plastic:
1. Bag for life - The plastic bag charge has already encouraged a fantastic 83% reduction in plastic bag use in the UK! Yet we still use over 2 billion single use plastic bags a year. Keeping a bag for life in an easy and convenient place (in your car or folded in your bag), so that you never find yourself at the till without one, is a simple way of helping to move us closer to giving up single use plastic bags completely.
2. Reusable coffee cups - In the UK, we use 7 million coffee cups each day! Less than 1% are actually recycled due to the plastic lining used to make the cups waterproof. Purchasing a reusable coffee cup and taking it with you next time you get a coffee will reduce your environmental impact and could even earn you a discount in certain stores.
Food for thought
Veganuary may now be over, but there are still plenty of ways you can make simple changes to your diet for the better of the planet!
Our suggestions for this week offer food for thought on how you can reduce the carbon footprint of your meals:
1. Reduce your meat and dairy consumption - The consumption of meat and dairy products accounts for a massive 15% of global emissions! We are aware going vegan is asking a bit much for most but by simply committing to reducing your consumption of meat and dairy, perhaps even going meat or dairy free a couple days a week can reduce your carbon emissions dramatically.
2. Avoid unsustainable palm oil - Chris Packham's recent BBC documentary 'In Search of the Lost Girl' was another reminder of how our consumption habits can wreak havoc on the environment and those who depend upon it. Palm oil causes mass deforestation when unsustainably sourced - 300 football pitches of forest is cleared each hour for palm oil! Unfortunately, palm oil, like plastic is so engrained in our lives it is hard to remove from your weekly shop completely. However, keeping an eye out and choosing products without palm oil or which are certified to be sourced sustainably can go a long way.
In other news: CBBC Newsround - Watch two school girls grill Iceland boss about plans to ban plastic in this super report
From road rage to carbon save
Commuting is no one's favourite part of the day, but it is an easy source of carbon savings!
Alongside the usual advice to consider greener modes of transport, our tips this week offer ways to reduce your commute and your environmental footprint:
1. Utilise flexitime to avoid traffic - Simply leaving for and from work half an hour earlier or later can help you reduce your time stuck (and contributing to) congestion and the footprint your commute has. Whilst stuck in traffic, your car produces 3x the amount of emissions for the same distance compared to if the road is empty*. By avoiding rush hour, you save yourself carbon, time and stress.
2. Work from home - Eradicating your commute entirely! Speak to your employers to see if you can have one day a week working from home. A 5 miles congested commute produces 22kg CO2e each day*, so annually you would be saving over a tonne of carbon!
It doesn't cost the planet
The green movement is often accused of being too costly and time consuming for individuals to reasonably implement, but that is not the case!
Many simple eco-friendly changes are quick and easy and actually save you money from the get go. Our suggestions for this week do just that:
1. Turn down the heating - We know it is winter but by simply donning a fluffy jumper or warm thick clothing and turning the heating down by a degree can reduce your energy consumption by as much as 8%! Remember to turn off the heating whilst you are out and make the most of your blankets and slippers to stay comfy and cosy these cold evenings whilst saving carbon and money.
2. Ditch bottled water - Another easy way to reduce your plastic waste! Simply get in the habit of taking your own water with you in a reusable bottle (preferably metal) and avoid purchasing the single-use plastic alternative. Better for the planet and your bank account.
Plastic, not so fantastic
With Theresa May's plans to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042, we all still need to do our bit to reduce our use of plastic!
Plastic waste is devastating to the environment and wildlife, as highlighted in Blue Planet 2. Over the weeks, we will include suggestions to reduce your plastic waste and environmental impact, here are two easy ones to start:
1. Say no to straws - According to ITV, 8.5 billion straws are used (and then thrown out) each year in the UK. Yet, this is one of the most avoidable single use plastics, simply ask not to have a straw with your drink and violà, you have reduced your plastic waste with very little effort.
2. Avoid plastic food wrapping - Try and select the produce with the least packaging such as fresh bread which comes in paper bags instead of plastic. If you can, go to a local farmers market (remembering to take your own bag) where it is easiest to purchase plastic free food.
Take the challenge
Challenge yourself to set a resolution that will really make a difference to you and the planet!
As it is the first week, we thought we would give you simple suggestions that will ease you into the process and set you up for the year:
1. Measure your carbon - this will help you get a better idea of your impact and which areas you should focus upon to reduce it.
2. Set a carbon reduction target - setting yourself a goal gives you something to strive for and enables you to track your progress, so that this time next year you can see just how much you have achieved!
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* Burners Lee, M., (2010) How bad are bananas: The carbon footprint of everything, London: Profile Books