We only have one planet, and taking care of it is everyone’s responsibility. We all know that we need to be more eco-friendly and live a greener life for the future of our planet, but often we don’t know how to live a greener life.
A lot of people have the same attitude when it comes to going green: how much impact can I really have on the environment? Well, the answer is: a lot!
In this post we’ve put together 101 tips to help you make small changes in different areas of your life, which will all start to add up to one big reduction in your carbon footprint. If we all implement these changes, together we can make a difference.
When it comes to going green, there are so many things you can do at home really easily. See how many of these you can implement today!
1) Turn off the lights when you leave the room - there's a reason why most light switches are located near doorways and entrances!
2) Open your curtains during the day to let natural light into your home, and keep them open for as long as possible into the evening before you have to give in and turn on a lamp. Bonus - letting the sun into your home through the window also helps to heat your home, even during the winter.
3) Swap your old, inefficient light bulbs for energy-saving CFL (compact fluorescent) or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs; they may cost you more upfront, but they will last a hell of a lot longer and will use a lot less energy over their lifetime so will save you money in the long run.
4) If you have fluorescent strip lights in your home, try to only turn them off when you'll be leaving the room for ten minutes or longer. Regularly switching them on and off can cause the bulb to burn out more quickly, meaning it will need replacing sooner. The disposal of the old bulbs, plus the production and transportation of new bulbs all adds to your carbon footprint.
5) Unplug appliances and phone chargers when they're not in use. They may not be actively drawing the power to run, but they will still be sucking up small amounts of energy from the grid, which wastes electricity and also increases your energy bill for no good reason.
6) If you have any faulty or broken appliances try to have them repaired before you opt for a replacement. Things like washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, kettles, and toasters can often be repaired with a simple replacement part or by changing a fuse, so it's always worth going down that route first.
7) If you have an appliance that breaks down beyond repair and you are forced to buy a new one, make sure to buy an appliance with a high energy-efficiency rating. Modern washing machines, dishwashers, fridges, and freezers are now required to let customers know how energy efficient they are, so shop wisely.
8) Insulate your home to prevent the heat from escaping. Things like loft and cavity wall insulation are effective, as well as having your windows replaced for double or triple glazed ones. In the short term try using a draught excluder to stop the warm air from escaping under doors.
9) Don't heat an empty house; your home doesn't need to be heated whilst you're out at work all day. Instead, use the timer function on your central heating to turn it on and off in the mornings and evenings. Long term it might be worth investing in a smart system that can be controlled remotely via an app.
10) Install a ceiling fan in your home. In the summer it will keep your home cool and use a lot less energy than air conditioning, and in winter you can run it in reverse and it will circulate the warm air around the room, meaning you can turn your thermostat down and your room will be just as warm.
11) Keep your refrigerator working efficiently by keeping the coils at the rear clean. Dust and dirt can build up and prevent the coils from keeping your fridge clean, so it's important to regularly vacuum them and wipe them down with a damp cloth to keep them working efficiently.
12) Consider having solar panels fitted to your home. They typically involve a large upfront cost, although some local authorities offer reduced rates as an incentive to check before you buy. Once installed, you'll start saving money on your energy bills so the panels will quickly pay for themselves.
13) Many cleaning products use harsh chemicals and bleach which are bad for the environment if they make their way into the water stream. You can make your own eco-friendly cleaning products with a few store-cupboard ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, and bicarbonate of soda.
14) Recycle as much of your waste as possible. Most local authorities provide bins for recycling which they empty regularly, or you can designate an area in your home for collecting paper, card, glass, cans, and plastic bottles to be taken to the local recycling centre each week.
15) Switch to paperless billing and paperless bank statements to cut down on your paper waste. Most of us bank online and via mobile apps now so paper statements are largely unnecessary. More and more companies are offering discounts and incentives to customers who opt to view and pay their bills electronically.
16) Stop buying disposable paper napkins in order to reduce your paper waste. instead, opt for reusable cloth napkins instead. Not only are they better for the environment, they will also make meal times feel a bit more fancy!
17) When it comes to decorating your home, opt for paint which is free from VOCs (volatile organic compounds) as these airborne chemicals are bad for the environment and your health.
18) If you're renovating your home you might be tempted to throw out your old furniture and replace it with new. Instead, try to upcycle your existing furniture to give it a new lease of life. Sand down an old chest of drawers and re-stain it with a different varnish, and replace the drawer knobs for a unique piece of furniture.
19) If your furniture is no longer fit for purpose you should aim to recycle it responsibly, and replace your furniture with pre-loved items where possible. Sites such as Freecycle, or for sale or swap sites on Facebook can be good places to find perfectly good furniture that someone else is getting rid of.
20) If you really have to buy new furniture for your home, make sure you opt for furniture that come from sustainable, responsible sources. For example hardwood items made from wood sourced from sustainable forestry programmes, or bamboo products because bamboo is quickly replenished after being cut down.
The time, effort, and cost involved in making the earth's water supply usable is quite substantial, and represents one of the largest drains on our resources. If we all try to use less water, that means it needs to be processed less often.
21) Install a low-flow shower head to reduce the output of water each time you have a shower.
22) Take shorter showers. Simply spending less time in the shower can help to reduce the amount of water that gets wasted. You could even try turning the shower off whilst you lather yourself up, and then just turn it back on for a final rinse.
23) Opt for showers over baths wherever possible as they use far less water. If you are bathing children you don't always need a full tub for them, so use a baby bath or a bath dam to reduce the amount of water you need for the tub.
24) Turn off the tap whilst you are brushing your teeth. Many people leave the water running whilst they brush, but if you spend two minutes giving your teeth a good scrub that's a lot of perfectly good water that's disappeared down the plughole and will need to be re-processed to make it clean again.
25) When you're washing the dishes, always put water in the sink or in a bowl rather than washing things under running water. Your dishes will be just as clean and you will have used a lot less water.
26) If you have a dishwasher, try to use it more than hand-washing as they are actually very economical with water. However, remember to only turn it on when it is full as it will use the same amount of water no matter how many dishes are in it.
27) Don't rinse your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. The water inside the dishwasher is hot enough to remove food residue from plates, so rinsing them is a waste of water. If you have any heavily soiled dishes give them a pre-soak in a small amount of soapy water first to loosen the dirt.
28) Fix any leaky taps and pipes promptly to prevent undue water loss. All of those drips and trickles add up over time and contribute to water wastage.
29) Get to know your washing machine and make sure you're using the right settings. Look for economy settings as these usually use less water per cycle.
30) Wash your clothes at 30°C, it uses much less energy than washing at 40°C. The detergent and the agitation caused by the machine is usually enough to remove stains at colder temperatures.
31) Only boil the amount you need each time in the kettle. If you are making two cups of tea, boil enough water for just two cups rather than filling the entire kettle, this reduces the amount of energy used and also stops water from being wasted.
32) After washing your vegetables, save the water and use it to water your plants. You can also save the water drained off boiled vegetables, rice, and pasta too for watering your plants, providing it's not salted.
33) Collect rainwater in buckets in your garden and use it to water your house plants and your outdoor plants on a dry day.
34) Use a watering can to water your plants rather than a hosepipe as this helps you to stick to a pre-poured amount of water.
35) Water your garden plants in the morning or evening when the sun is at its coolest. Warm sun can evaporate the water, meaning you'll have to water your plants more often to keep them hydrated.
36) Wash your car at home using a bucket of soapy water rather than a hosepipe, or look for a carwash that is economical with water.
37) Turn down the thermostat on your water heater at home. If you often find that the hot water comes out of the tap a bit too hot, leading to you having to turn the cold tap on too, you can solve this by reducing the temperature. This will help to prevent a loss of water due to it being too hot to wash your hands under.
The emissions that come from vehicle exhausts contribute to global warming, whilst the mining and processing of petrol and diesel is rapidly depleting our finite resources of fossil fuels. It’s everyone’s responsibility to reduce the amount of vehicles on the roads for the benefit of our planet.
38) If your journey is under a mile, walk instead of taking the car. Not only will you help to cut exhaust emissions in the atmosphere, you’ll also get some exercise too!
39) Invest in a push bike and swap some of your car journeys for bicycle journeys instead. Again, it helps to reduce the number of cars on the road and also helps to keep you fit which is always a bonus!
40) Use public transport instead of driving. Many modern trams, trains, and buses are now low emissions and better for the environment than older models, so swapping some of your car journeys and taking the bus can have a good impact on the environment.
41) Trade your old car in for an eco-friendly model. Hybrid electric cars, and those that run on bio-fuel are better for the environment as they don’t give off as many harmful carbon emissions as petrol and diesel vehicles.
42) Drive more economically in order to reduce your emissions. You can do this by ensuring that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, accelerating gently, driving at the speed limit, driving in the right gear, and reducing the load in your boot or roof rack.
43) Have your car serviced regularly to ensure that it is running to the best of its ability.
44) Reduce how much you use your car by working from home once or twice a week if you can. Cutting out the commute can only be a good thing really can’t it!
45) Schedule your errands back to back on the same day in order to consolidate your travel time and fuel consumption.
Products are so readily available these days that it’s all too easy to buy new clothes, home wares, appliances, electrical goods etc when they break, rather than repairing or repurposing them. There are plenty of ways you can shop a bit more greener and have a better impact on the planet.
46) Invest in some reusable shopping bags and remember to take them with you whenever you go to the supermarket. Keep them in the boot of your car, and keep a foldable shopping bag in your handbag or coat pocket for smaller shopping trips. Plastic carrier bags are now 5p in the UK, even further incentive to invest in some reusable ones.
47) Shop locally where possible as this will cut down the distance that you need to travel. Plus you will be helping to support local independent businesses like butchers and greengrocers.
48) Choose to shop at local cooperatives and socially and environmentally responsible stores as much as possible.
49) Order your groceries online and have them delivered to you. not only does this prevent you from impulse buying the ‘special offers’ on processed convenience foods, it also reduces carbon emissions as it is like carpooling for your shopping!
50) Buy things in bulk where possible, and avoid things that are pre-packaged for individual use. Instead, just transfer smaller portions into reusable containers. Foods like rice and pasta are often cheaper in bulk, as are spices and herbs, just be sure to store them properly.
51) Plan your meals each week and make a shopping list, only buying what you need in order to avoid wastage. The same applies for non-edible items too, only buy what you need in order to prevent unwanted and unused items finding their way into landfill at a later date.
52) Shop at charity stores and flea markets for second hand and pre-loved items. Likewise, donate your own unwanted items to thrift stores to keep the cycle going. Sites such as eBay are also good for purchasing pre-loved items and selling your own unwanted things.
53) Invest in a Kindle or an e-reader app for your smart phone or tablet, and download e-books instead of buying paper versions. Also, make use of your local library for books too!
Living a greener lifestyle starts with a few changes, and soon it becomes second nature! Why not see how many of these tips you could adopt today?
54) Choose beauty products and cosmetics that have not been tested on animals. Companies such as Lush Cosmetics and The Body Shop don’t test on animals; whilst many of the big names such as Johnson & Johnson, Avon, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble do test on animals so are worth avoiding if you’re trying to be more eco-friendly.
55) Invest in a tub of coconut oil, it has many health and beauty uses. Add a few spoonfuls to a bath for a moisturising effect (particularly useful for baby baths), moisturise your baby with it instead of baby oil, rub it into dry skin to soothe and heal, use it as a shaving oil, deep-condition your hair with it, use it as a base for homemade sugar scrubs, oh and cook with it!
56) Make your own beauty products using things like olive oil, coconut oil, brown sugar, beeswax, essential oils, bananas, eggs, oats, and avocado etc to cut down on your chemical use.
57) Allow your hair to air-dry as much as possible, then just finish it off and style it with the hairdryer when it’s almost dry. This uses far less energy than drying it from wet, and is also much better for your hair.
58) If you regularly grab a coffee on the run, take your own reusable to-go cup to the coffee shop to cut down on paper waste. Or better still, make your own at home with shade-grown, fair trade coffee grounds.
59) Carry a reusable, BPA-free plastic water bottle, or a lightweight aluminium water canteen with you when you’re out and about to avoid buying bottled water.
60) Share things with friends, family, and neighbours. Things like books, magazines, newspapers, games etc can be passed around between you, saving you from buying and disposing of multiples of each item within a community. Electrical items that are fairly essential but don’t need to be used that often can also be shared too, i.e. things like lawnmowers and power washers etc.
61) Reduce your purchases; simply take a bit more time to consider the environmental impact of anything you’re thinking of buying. For example, how was it made, how will it be disposed of when you no longer need it, and do you really need it?
62) Think carefully about gifts for people and try to avoid buying stuff for the sake of it. A few greener ideas include giving the gift of time i.e. offer to babysit so they can go out, or give your other half a back rub. You could also donate money to charity on their behalf, give them seeds or cuttings from your garden, give homemade beauty products, purchase pre-loved items, purchase movie or music downloads, or buy responsibly sourced eco-friendly new products.
63) Reuse wrapping paper and gift bags as much as possible and recycle them when they’re no longer usable. You could also try wrapping gifts in old t-shirts or fabric, or recycling old newspapers as gift wrap.
64) Whilst it’s nice to receive a hand written greetings card, the sentiment can also be achieved by sending out e-cards or by calling the person up and wishing them a happy birthday etc over the phone.
65) Consider what you throw away into landfill and the impact it may have on the environment, for example the plastic rings that hold a pack of cans together can get stuck around the necks of animals so cut them up before throwing them away. If you can recycle or repurpose something then don’t throw it away with the general rubbish!
66) When staying at a hotel let the staff know that you don’t need your bedding and towels changed each day. The high temperatures, volume of water, and harsh detergents used to clean linen and towels in hotels has a big impact on the environment, so if more people can reuse their towels this will help to cut down on the amount of laundry to be processed.
67) Use cloth diapers for your baby instead of disposable ones. Even if you only use one cloth nappy per day in place of a disposable one, that’s 365 less diapers in landfill each year.
68) Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Not only is it better for your health as it’s a bit of extra exercise in your day, it’s also better for the environment as fewer uses helps to cut down on the amount of energy that the lift is using each day.
Around a third of all food purchased ends up getting thrown away as we don’t use it before it goes off. Not only is wasted food a waste of money for you, it also contributes to global warming as it generates methane as it breaks down in landfill. Here are some ways that you can eat in a greener way.
69) Shop at local farmers markets for fresh produce. The more locally you shop, the fewer miles your food has had to travel to get to you, thus reducing the carbon footprint.
70) Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season locally as they won’t need to be imported over long distances.
71) Grow your own! If you have a garden, put it to good use and grow your own vegetables and fruits; you can’t get more organic and fresh than that!
72) Plan your meals properly in order to avoid food waste. Before you go shopping, make a meal plan for the week ahead, and check what you already have in the fridge, freezer, and cupboards to avoid buying more than you need.
73) Buy long-life produce like pasta and rice in bulk to save money, rather than buying smaller packets here and there.
74) Store your food properly in order to prolong its life. Invest in some plastic airtight food containers and use them to store things in the fridge and freezer to prolong their life.
75) Cook in batches and freeze portions to cut down on food waste. If you have some vegetables that are about to go past their best, chop them up and make a vegetable soup, then freeze in portions for quick lunches to take to work.
76) Turn your food waste into compost by investing in a compost bin for your garden. Some local authorities also collect food waste along with garden waste now if you don’t have the space for a composter.
77) Keep your freezer full; it will run more efficiently than an empty one. It takes a lot of energy to keep empty spaces cool, so fill it up with your homemade soups and batch-cooked meals.
78) Cook from scratch; not only is it cheaper but it uses fewer resources than dining out or buying pre-prepared food. Processed food that is packaged in plastic and transported miles to your local supermarket uses a lot of energy and is a strain on the environment.
79) Have at least one meat-free day per week. The production, processing, and transportation of meat creates a lot of carbon emissions, so by eating less meat you can help to cut these emissions over time as the demand for meat decreases.
80) Cook with residual heat; turn off the oven five minutes before serving and allow the food to continue cooking while you save energy. Bring pasta or rice to the boil then cover the pan and let it sit without the heat on for the last 5 minutes to carry on cooking.
81) Microwaves use less energy than ovens so think about batch cooking and reheating meals in the microwave, or using it to cook a variety of recipes from scratch.
82) Steam or microwave vegetables instead of boiling to cut down on water waste and use less energy.
Fashion moves quickly, and before you know it you’re wearing last season’s items and feeling compelled to buy new clothes even though your existing stuff is still in perfectly good condition. However, it is possible to look great and still be eco friendly with these tips.
83) Choose organic, natural fibres which are grown and processed in a more eco friendly way than manmade fabrics like polyester and nylon.
84) Reuse clothing; pass down children’s clothing through the family, give it to friends, or donate it to a charity shop.
85) Have a swap sale with friends to get rid of old clothes and acquire “new” ones.
86) Repurpose your old clothes into new ones; get the sewing machine out and turn outgrown trousers and jeans into shorts/skirts. Try searching on Pinterest for ideas.
87) Take your old clothes to charity shops and shop there for new ones. Not only will you get new items for your own wardrobe, you’ll also be helping a charity to raise vital funds.
88) Line-dry your clothing wherever possible to avoid using the dryer or having the heating on to dry it.
89) Buy and sell used clothing on ebay or via an app such as Depop. What is old and boring to you may well be new and exciting to someone else, and you could make a little bit of money too.
90) Avoid buying clothing that is dry clean only; and if it’s unavoidable, request that they be wet cleaned instead to cut down on the harmful chemicals that are used in the dry cleaning process.
If you are a business owner it’s up to you to implement green policies for your staff to adhere to. If you’re an employee, it’s up to you to lobby your employer to make your workplace more eco friendly!
91) Turn your computer off at the end of each day rather than just leaving it in sleep mode. Hibernation and sleep modes still draw a significant amount of energy from the grid.
92) Avoid printing things out unless it is absolutely necessary.
93) Configure the printer to print on both sides of the paper.
94) Recycle your paper and packaging, and reuse scrap paper for note-taking rather than using notepads.
95) Many companies have a cycle to work scheme or a carpool scheme so try to join one of these to make your commute a little bit greener.
96) Encourage employees to bring in their own reusable mugs, water bottles, plates, cutlery, and cloth napkins to reduce waste in the kitchen area.
Your garden provides the ideal opportunity to be more eco-friendly, here are just a few great suggestions.
97) Attract animals to your garden by providing nesting areas and animal shelters, as well as bird feeders, and nourishment for insects and other animals.
98) Plant herbs in a window box or a herb patch within your garden to enable you to flavour your foods easily for free.
99) Grow your own vegetables; things like potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, can be grown easily in the soil, and with a greenhouse you could also grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries. If you find you’re growing too much for your own use, give some produce away to friends and family so that they can avoid buying potatoes too!
100) Invest in a compost bin and turn your organic waste, i.e. food and plant waste, into a nutrient rich compost for your garden. This will help you to keep growing great vegetables and healthy plants.
101) Use mulch such as bark, hay, or grass clippings around the base of plants and trees to prevent the rate that water evaporates from the soil. It also suppresses weed growth and adds its own nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.
So, how many of these green tips do you think you can incorporate into your own life? They may seem unobtainable at first, but things like walking more often and recycling more at home will soon become second nature to you!
Do you have any more tips? Let us know in the comments below or via our social media channels...