We are all at different stages of the journey to a more sustainable way of living, so this guide is designed to inspire you and provide a helping hand in finding ways to reduce your own carbon footprint, reduce waste and restore nature.
In the section on specific actions, we have rated each action from easy/cheap to difficult/expensive so that, hopefully there is something for everyone to have a go at.
To start with here is an overview with the top 10 things to do to reduce your carbon emissions:
- Avoid flights, use the train/car if possible
- Eat less meat and dairy
- Insulate your home
- Use a fossil fuel car less
- Avoid using plastic, especially single-use plastic
- Use LED bulbs throughout your house and garden
- Only buy what you need and make things last, including clothing
- Buy in-season local food to reduce air miles and plastic, waste little and ensure any waste is recycled
- Investigate who you buy from, source your power from and invest with
- Add your voice to campaigns/send letters of complaint/talk about it
Specific actions for you to try...
1 = easy to do, very little effort and cost
2 = a little more difficult, more planning required
3 = a fair amount of planning and cost involved
4 = quite difficult, lots of research required and substantial cost
1 Switch off appliances such as tv’s, computers and lights when not in use and use electrical appliances less.
1 Replace all light bulbs with LED bulbs
1 Turn your heating thermostat down a degree or two
1 Turn your hot water thermostat down a degree or two- between 60-65 degrees centigrade
1 Wash laundry at 30 degrees and with full loads only
2 Change your supplier to one that produces or buys renewable gas and electricity
2 Insulation your roof space
2 Only replace electrical equipment when necessary but when you do choose the most energy efficient version.
4 Install a renewable energy system e.g. solar panels/ground source/air source heat pump
Food and Drink
1 Reduce the amount of meat you eat at each serving
1 Buy the bulk of your fruit and vegetables as locally grown
1 Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season rather than those flown across the world, in supermarkets look for the British flag
1 Buy fruit and veg loose, use re-usable bags rather than single use plastic or paper.
1 If buying meat, fish and deli items from a supermarket, take reusable containers to the counter.
1 Use beeswax wrappers rather than clingfilm or foil.
1 Use a re-usable coffee cup and water bottle
1 Only boil as much water as you need for your daily cuppa.
1 Ask for a doggy bag when you eat out.
1 Ditch the straws and other single use accessories when you go out for a drink.
2 Have a vegetarian main meal at least once a week
2 Buy less processed foods, cook from scratch at least once a week.
2 Eliminate food waste by only buying what you need, and use leftovers. See Love Food Hate Waste
2 Make your own packed lunch or on-the-go snacks rather than using pre-packed food and use a re-usable container.
2 Grow some herbs and make your own fresh herb tea.
3 Buy organic products or meat from grass-fed animals.
Household and Personal Care
1 Buy household cleaning products in re-fillable bottles. (We now have a couple of refill business in the area – see our Plastic Free Project details.)
1 Use bars of soap and shampoo instead of plastic bottles.
1 Use washable make-up removed pads
1 Dry your clothes naturally where possible.
1 Save water by fixing leaks, turning off taps when you brush your teeth and taking shorter showers.
1 Cut down on toiletries and beauty products.
1 Don’t flush anything down the toilet except pee, paper and poo. Anything else can cause blockage and pollution.
2 Use plastic-free period products.
1 Drive smarter and smoother, target yourself to get more miles to the gallon with every tank
1 Avoid driving at the busiest time
1 Take the main roads - avoid driving through towns and villages where the pollution will impact the local people.
1 Cycle or walk journeys of 2 miles or less
1 Put off an errand requiring you to drive until you can combine it with others.
2 Use public transport instead of your car
2 Share a car journey with someone else ( not advised under current Covid restrictions)
3 Work from home one day a week.
4 Buy an electric car or do not own a car.
Purchases and Money
1 Think before you buy, do you need it? How long will it last? Can it be recycled at end of life?
1 Avoid buying new clothes especially for a holiday or one-off event
1 Ask friends, family and neighbours if you can borrow something rather than buying new, or hire it. Set up a What’s app group.
1 Look for items second hand first – charity and antique shops, buy and sell websites including local ones, Freecycle, @Freegle
1 Complain to the retailer if products bought are substandard and demand a refund
1 Buy products that are made from, or the packaging is made from, recycled material
1 Consider the gifts you buy others – is it something they need, could it be second hand/antique, or an experience
1 Avoid materials that are not recyclable such as foil gift wrap and anything with glitter
2 Buy clothing of a good quality to reduce shedding of microfibres and for increased durability. Go for organic materials.
3 Consider who you invest money with – avoid companies that invest in fossil fuels
1 Aim to use everything in your fridge before you go – donate it to a friend or neighbour if you can’t
1 If you are flying, don’t overpack to reduce weight in the aircraft
2 Reduce the number of flights you take by half and fly economy and direct. Use the train for UK and mainland Europe trips.
2 Replace at least one overseas holiday with one in the UK
2 Replace a long haul destination with short-haul
2 Reduce the number of cruises you take
2 Pledge to go flight free for a year
2 Refuse to buy single use items for holiday e.g. clothing, inflatables
4 Take a cycling/walking/camping holiday in the UK or abroad without using a car or flying
Garden and landscape
1 Do not use pesticides – they can indiscriminately kill pests and beneficial insects alike.
1 Use peat-free compost
1 Put out water for the birds and insects
1 Avoid excessive outdoor lighting, keep lights on for short periods and ensure they direct light downwards.
1 Leave plant stems and seed heads in place until the end of winter
2 Add plants to your garden, particularly shrubs and trees
2 Choose a wide variety of plants that flower and fruit at different times of year that will provide a year round supply of food for birds and insects. Avoid double flowers.
2 Only hard-landscape where necessary
2 Grow your own fruit and/or vegetables
2 Make your own compost and leaf mould
2 Allow some of your lawn to grow long and leave some weeds for wildlife
2 Install and use water butts
2 Avoid buying new power tools, hire or borrow them, try using manual tool or employ someone else to do the job.
2 Cut a hedgehog hole in your fence
2 Install bird boxes, log piles for insects and wildlife hotels where you have space.
3 Create a wildlife pond
3 Create a wildflower meadow
Waste and Recycling
1 Read the local council guidelines on what to put in each bin and abide by it. Ask them if you are not sure. Recycling different types of waste | Central Bedfordshire Council
2 Always recycle, even when you are away from home
2 Repair items if possible
2 Sell or donate items that can be used by someone else
2 Re-use worn items for other purposes
2 Recycle items that cannot be re-used
2 For items not recyclable at the kerbside, if accepted take them to the local council recycling centre.