Top tips for a green 2017

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 2017, then here are some of our top tips:

Reduce single use

  • Buy a reusable drinks bottle, travel mug or Thermos: reduces plastic, Styrofoam and paper use, saves money on buying drinks when out and about, and you can fill with whatever hot or cold drink you like.
  • Invest in reusable bags: if the 5p bag charge didn’t encourage you, perhaps the New Year will. Remember to 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 storage: buy a lunchbox to encourage you to take food where you go rather than buy food on the go. 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.
  • Avoid using disposable 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. Also, any food waste is more likely to head into the food caddy rather than end up being thrown away with a disposable plate.
  • Say no to straws and stirrers: these are one of the top 10 items found washed up on beaches around the world, which means that will be affecting all species that live in rivers and seas.
  • Use real 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. Dacorum has a real nappy scheme where you can claim a free starter kit worth £100.
  • Use rechargeable batteries: by investing in rechargeable batteries you will ultimately spend less than on single-use batteries, as well as reducing the amount of batteries created and thrown away. If you need to use an item that has disposable batteries, be aware of the battery consumption by turning it off when not in use and only using when necessary.

Food

  • Love Food Hate Waste: Food waste is a big issue and an environmental disaster; in 2015 UK households threw away £13 million of edible food. The organisation Love Food Hate Waste is the leading organisation tackling this problem. Their 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. They also have a Facebook page and a phone app that you can download.
  • 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 is 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 will not be using any packaging – another great environmental benefit
  • 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.
  • 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 you spend on 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. Dacorum residents are also eligible to buy discounted compost bins. For more information, visit our home composting page.  
  • 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: Meat Free Mondays, Reducetarian, Vegetarian Society, Vegan Society, Veganuary.

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 sorting out your old items, ensure you give them a new life where possible by making use of places to sell or donate these used items.

  • Repair: so often when something is broken the first reaction is to throw it away and buy a new one. However, if the item was perfectly good before, seek to repair the item before buying new, thereby saving money and avoiding wasting resources.
  • Check that you are putting the right materials in the right bins: 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.
  • 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.
  • Opt out of junk mail: unsubscribe from unwanted post and use the free Mailing Preference Service to prevent junk mail reaching your door.
  • 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.