Ideas Bank for Individual Action

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:

  1. Avoid flights, use the train/car if possible
  2. Eat less meat and dairy
  3. Insulate your home
  4. Use a fossil fuel car less
  5. Avoid using plastic, especially single-use plastic
  6. Use LED bulbs throughout your house and garden
  7. Only buy what you need and make things last, including clothing
  8. Buy in-season local food to reduce air miles and plastic, waste little and ensure any waste is recycled
  9. Investigate who you buy from, source your power from and invest with
  10. 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

Home Energy

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.

Everyday Transport

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.

Ampthill residents litter picking around the town

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