Top tips for a green 2018

It's easy to be green - not only are you helping to look after our fragile planet, but it can often save you money as well. If you're looking for some inspiration on how to be more green in 2018, then here are some of our top tips:

Reduce single use

  • Reusable drinks bottle: Each year the average UK household uses 480 plastic bottles. In the UK, an estimated 16 million of these bottles are not recycled. Buy a reusable water bottle and save the planet whilst saving yourself money.
  • Reusable travel mug/Thermos: Most coffee cups are not recyclable, in fact just one per cent of the 2.5 billion disposable cups thrown away each year in the UK are recycled. Take your own hot drink with you and save money when out and about. You can fill it with whatever hot or cold drink you like.
  • Reusable bags: The 5p bag charge reduced carrier bag use by over 80 per cent in just one year! Remember to always carry reusable bags with you when you head to the shops – make it easy by keeping spare reusable bags in your car or bag so you are never caught out.
  • Reusable lunchbox and cutlery: Polystyrene takeaway containers are not recyclable. Buy a lunchbox and reusable cutlery so that you take lunch with you rather than buying food on-the-go; which will often be healthier and save you money too. It will also greatly cut down the amount of waste produced.
  • Reusable storage: Keeping leftovers is a great way of reducing food waste, but single-use non-recyclable plastic wrap such as cling film can be wasteful. Instead, keep your food in reusable containers, such as plastic tubs and glass jars.
  • Reusable tableware: Invest in reusable plastic sets of tableware, which are great for parties, picnics and barbecues. This will not only reduce your plastic and paper use but also help save you money. And any food waste is more likely to head into the food caddy rather than being thrown away with a disposable plate.
  • Say 'No!' to straws and stirrers: These items are in the top 10 items found washed up on beaches around the world and are hurting our marine wildlife and ecosystems. Always ask for your drink without the straw, and either sip or buy a reusable straw to take out with you.
  • Reusable nappies: From birth to potty, a child can use around 4,500 disposable nappies. Each of these can take up to 500 years to degrade in landfill. 'Real' nappies not only help the environment and expose your baby to less chemicals, but they can also save you up to £500. We have a reusable nappy scheme, where you can claim a free starter kit worth £100.
  • Reusable menstrual products: The average menstrual pad contains as much plastic as four carrier bags. Every day in the UK it is estimated that four million sanitary products are flushed away instead of being disposed of responsibly in the grey bin, resulting in expensive blockages and marine litter. Reusable menstrual products, such as reusable sanitary towels and menstrual cups, are much better for the environment and can save you money.
  • Rechargeable batteries: The energy used to manufacture a battery is around 50 times greater than it gives out. Between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes of batteries are wasted in the UK each year. If you invest in rechargeable batteries, you'll ultimately spend less than on single-use batteries, as well as reducing the amount of batteries created and thrown away.

Food

  • Love Food Hate Waste: In 2015 UK households threw away £13 million of edible food. The organisation Love Food Hate Waste is the leading organisation tackling this problem. Its website has a wealth of information about how you can reduce food waste through simple behaviours such as writing meal plans and shopping lists, correct storage and portioning, and tips on using leftovers. There's also a Facebook page.
  • Surplus food: lf you find you have bought too much food and will struggle to eat it before the 'use by' date, you can give away your unopened food using OLIO, the local food-sharing revolution, give it away using a community group, or donate it to a local food bank.
  • Reduce your meat intake: Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to climate change - it produces more greenhouse gases than all of the world's transportation combined. Reducing your meat intake will lower your carbon footprint and help the planet. Whether you want to be a reducetarian, pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan, you will find these websites useful for providing further information and advice: Veganuary, Meat Free Mondays, Reducetarian, Vegetarian Society, Vegan Society.
  • Grow at home: If you are able to, growing your own food is a great thing to do for a range of reasons:
  • You get free food!
  • You can swap surplus homegrown food with friends and family or community groups
  • It's a rewarding hobby and proven to have positive mental health benefits
  • You get to eat organic, which is healthier for you and your family
  • You can put your own compost to good use
  • You won't be using any packaging
  • You don’t need loads of space, you could even grow some food on your balcony or around your home – such as herbs.
  • Buy organic: Organic farming works with nature and supports biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem. Organic food is often nutritionally better for you and your family as well.
  • Choose sustainable sources: Scientists have predicted that due to declining fish populations and increasing pollution, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050! If you do choose to eat fish, ensure that you are eating species which are being sourced sustainably – the Marine Conservation Society have a Good Fish Guide to help you choose which ones to buy. 
  • Buy local and eat seasonal: Buying seasonal food locally not only lowers your food miles, but is also a great way to reduce the amount of packaging used, while also supporting local businesses. Find out where your local market is and head there to stock up on fruit and veg.
  • Plan ahead: By creating a weekly meal planner before you do your food shop you will reduce the amount of food that ends up being thrown out - this will help save you money, too.
  • Start a compost bin: This is a great way to convert any food and garden waste you have at home into fabulous fertiliser for your garden – even better if you are growing food at home. For more information, visit our home composting page.  

Reduce, reuse, recycle

  • Reduce: As a consumer, you have the power to reduce the amount of waste you generate by buying products which contain less packaging, and which can be easily recycled. For example, buying loose fruit as opposed to a pre-packaged fruit bag, or even buying refill items, such as fabric softener.
  • Borrow or buy used: Second-hand doesn’t mean second best! Producing new items leads to a lot of pollution and waste. You can find some amazing products in places such as charity shops, libraries, car boot sales, online marketplaces, or online community pages.
  • Give items a new life: Whenever you are having a clear-out, make sure you give items a new life where possible by selling or donating them instead of throwing them away. Websites such as eBay, Gumtree and Freecycle can help with this.

  • Repair: Seek to repair an item rather than buying new. This will save you money and avoid wasting resources. There are lots of online tutorials available on websites such as YouTube or WikiHow that can help you to fix things.
  • Recycle right: Familiarise yourself with our bins pages so that you know exactly what can go in each container to ensure that you are recycling all that you can, and not contaminating a bin with the wrong material.
  • Multiple recycling bins: Around 50 per cent of recyclable bathroom items are sent to landfill because they're put in the normal bin. Putting extra recycling bins around your home, such as in bathrooms, bedrooms and living rooms makes recycling easier and helps make sure these items can always be recycled. 
  • Buy recycled: If you buy a product made from recycled materials you are building on the number of consumers that are choosing recycled products over 'virgin material' products. The more people that do this, the more companies will invest in buying recycled materials.
  • Read news online: The UK uses a woodland the size of Wales every year in paper usage. Switch from buying newspapers and magazines to reading news and features online instead.
  • Upcycle: Upcycling is a great way to reuse an old item by giving it a new purpose so that it can have a new lease of life - whether it's a toilet-roll tube or a table. Websites such as Pinterest or Upcycle That can provide great inspiration and simple guides on how to get creative with a range of household or garden items.

Caring for your local environment

  • Litter: You can help care for your local area by doing a litter pick - remember to carry a recycling bag and a litter bag so that you can separate the litter you collect and dispose of this responsibly. Each year there is a national litter pick called the Great British Spring Clean, which you can sign up to take part in.
  • Give nature a home: We are currently living in the sixth mass extinction period - known as the Anthropocene - because it is driven by humans. But we also have the power to help stop this. By giving nature a home in our gardens we can help to support the valuable species that form our delicate ecosystems.

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