Becoming greener often feels like an impossible task – there is so much to think about and so many ways in which you could change your lifestyle. Taking small steps, making one little change at a time, is the best way of dealing with this feeling, and gives you that warm glow of doing good without forcing you to make a seismic shift in how you run your life.
To this end, here are 50 great ideas to make little changes which will add up to a big difference.
50. Mugs aren’t for mugs
Ditch those nasty polystyrene cups at work, and bring in your own mugs instead. While you’re at it, keep a supply of plates and cutlery to hand to use instead of plastic ones.
49. Get on your bike
Cycle to work once a week. Summer’s here – why not try the bike? You can buy a bike up to half price through the cycle to work scheme.
48. Drink tap water not bottled.
Drink tap water, not bottled and save money as well as helping the planet. If you don’t like the taste use a filter. UK tap water is more tested and regulated than most bottled waters.
The industry uses around 2.7 million tonnes of plastic in packaging not to mention the transport cost in fossil fuel. Even the plastic that is recycled has a transport overhead.
So next time you want water – turn on the tap.
47. Buy Fair Trade Products
Buy Fair Trade where possible. It directly benefits producers and their families ensuring they can meet their needs for food, health, housing and education.
Look out for coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, rice, pasta, honey and many more delicious foods.
46. Unplug your telephone charger
By unplugging your telephone charger once your battery is fully charged, you will save energy and money.
45. Choose products in glass containers, rather than plastic
Glass can be re-used (use glass jars for storage) or recycled indefinitely with no loss of quality. Recycled glass melts at lower temperatures than raw materials used to make new glass, thus using less energy.
44. Decide what you want before you open the fridge
When you open the fridge door up to 30 per cent of the cooled air escapes. Have it open for the minimum time possible. Save energy and money.
43. Replace kitchen towels with a sponge or cloth.
Reduce the volume of waste by using re-usable rather than disposable items. Buy cloths instead of paper towels that you can rinse or wash and re-use. Saves money too.
42. Refuse plastic bags – take your own cloth bags
Plastic bags take years to break down in landfill. Re-use the ones you have or better still buy long lasting cloth bags and re-use them time and time again.
41. Wash your clothes at 40 degrees or less
A 40 degree wash cycle uses 3 times less electricity than a 90 degree wash.
40. Recycle your mobile phone
When you have finished with your mobile phone, find a way to recycle it. Many charities take them or look online to find companies ready and willing to take your phone and may be even pay you for it.
39. Buy recycled stationary for your office.
Many companies are now offering good quality business cards, leaflets and office stationary made from recycled paper at no extra cost. Gives your company a good image too.
38. Buy locally produced products.
Buy products that are locally produced to save on transport, create local jobs and encourage local business. Think of the pollution and waste of resources that come from buying goods from far away.
37. Don’t leave appliances on standby
Before you go to bed, switch off appliances at the wall – remember the kitchen as well as the lounge. If everyone switched off we’d save up to $1 billion of electricity
36. Switch off before you leave work
As you leave your place of work, switch off appliances and lights that are not needed again until the morning. You will be saving the company money as well as reducing electricity useage.
35. Recycle your tins
Always recycle tins – it takes 95% less energy to recycle an empty can than making one from scratch
34. When filling the kettle put in only what you need.
Boil only the amount of water you need each time you use the kettle saving energy, time and money.
33. Eat fruit and vegetables in season
Fruit and vegetables that are in season are healthier, taste better and their cultivation has minimum impact on the environment – especially if you buy locally. Try ordering some organic vegetable boxes from a local farm and may be try something new!
32. Buy products with the least packaging
When choosing between products, buy the one with the least packaging and with packaging that can be recycled. And then ensure you recycle it.
31. When your light bulb needs changing, use energy saving bulbs
Next time a light bulb needs changing, replace it with an energy saving light bulb. It will use 20% of the electricity of a normal one and last up to 12 times longer. Saves money and energy and the hassle of changing bulbs so often!
30. When cooking – think about how many pots and pans you use
When you cook a big meal using lots of pans and dishes means more dishwasher runs and/or washing up water. Save time, energy and money using one pot recipes.
29. Think before you print – and print double-sided.
Before you print out an email or document – ask yourself whether you really do need to print it. Can you use it online or file it on the computer rather than a hard copy or email it someone rather than posting it or giving it. When you do print, print double sided where possible.
28. Don’t run water when brushing teeth or washing hands
Save water by turning the tap off whilst brushing your teeth and only using what is necessary. The same goes for washing hands or dishes.
27. Turn your computer screen off when not in use.
Turning your computer screen off when not in use saves more energy than a screen saver or power save mode. Get into the habit of pressing the button when you leave your desk for meetings and lunch and turn the computer off when you go home.
26. Support a ‘green’ campaign
Lend your support to a green campaign. Green England are currently asking for support in a petition to the Government to introduce a 10p tax on plastic bags and for the money to go to environmental projects. For more information see the petition
25. Always buy recycled toilet paper.
Anything other than recycled paper is not necessary for toilet paper. It is often cheaper than the main brands. Plus if you buy recycled paper it increases the market and thus further encourages recycling.
24. Always carry a bag with you in case you buy something.
Don’t get caught short! Take a fold up shopping bag – even a plastic bag that you can re-use – out with you so you never have to accept a new plastic bag when you purchase an item.
23. Don’t throw away clothes you have finished with.
Take clothes to the local thrift shop when you have finished with them, or if they are too worn or damaged take them to a clothing bank where the fibres will be re-used. Or use them for cleaning cloths.
22. Drive between 40mph and 60mph wherever possible
Driving between 40 mph and 60 mph is the most fuel efficient. Increase to 65mph and this is increased by 6% and 12% at 70mph. Saves petrol – and money and is generally safer. Try it and arrive more relaxed!
21. Use your local library – its free
Get books from your local library. Save paper and money. Order new books to borrow for a fraction of what they would cost to buy. And borrow DVDs and CDs too.
20. Make notebooks from scrap paper
Re-use paper that has only been printed on one side by cutting in half and stapling pieces together. Cuts down spend on notebooks and reduces waste. Ensure they are recycled when finished with.
19. Use Bicarbonate of Soda to clean your sink, bath and oven
Sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda on and clean with a damp cloth then rinse away excess for sparkling sinks, baths and hobs. Much more environmentally friendly than most cleaning products and cheap to buy too. [ Green Cleaning Supplies ]
18. Get your children to check their shelves for video games they have finished with.
Take used playstation, x-box etc games to a shop that buys secondhand. Recycles, gets money back and you can buy more games – ideally secondhand.
17. Always cover your pans with lids when cooking.
Keeping the lid on you pans whilst cooking saves energy allowing you to turn the plate or gas ring right down. Keeps your bills down too.
16. Buy manila envelopes.
Manila envelopes are usually made from recycled paper and are the cheapest on the market.
15. Don’t use the car to go a short distance.
If you are just going out to the local shop or nearby friend, walk the distance. If cold or wet dress accordingly. Enjoy the walk and the weather – get exercise and save money and fuel.
14. Use a refillable fountain pen.
A fountain pen, refillable from a (recyclable) glass ink bottle can last years. Use instead of all those ‘disposable’ plastic pens.
13. Steam your vegetables over boiling vegetables.
Get a steamer with 2 tiers. Boil your organic potatoes in the bottom one and steam your organic veg at the same time. Save energy and have nutritious vegetables.
12. Turn off the oven 10 minutes before the food is cooked.
Turning off the oven 10 minutes before the end of the required cooking time and the oven will retain enough heat to finish the cooking. Ovens are so well insulated that they retain the heat often beyond this 10 minutes. Save energy and money.
11. Try your local charity shop.
Next time you need some new clothes – try thrift shops. You may be surprised at what you find there. Clothes that may have been thrown away available for re-use at a fraction of their original cost and you are contributing to a good cause at the same time. Reduce, re-use, recycle.
10. Buy one eco-friendly cleaning product in your next shop
Next time you go shopping buy an eco-friendly cleaning product instead of your normal purchase. See blog and website for ideas. [ Green Cleaning Supplies ]
9. Recyle your printer cartridges
Don’t throw away your used printer cartridges – recycle them. There are organisations to which you can send your empty cartridges who sell them on for re-use and use the proceeds for charity.
8. Buy printer cartridges that have been recycled.
Buy printer cartridges that have been recycled and refilled, re-using the plastic and supporting the market for recycled goods to further encourage recycling.
7. Avoid the use of disposable razors.
Buy a traditional razor where you only have to replace the blade so you are not wasting all that plastic each time you need a new blade.
6. Use Freecycle for unwanted household items
Don’t go to the dump! Advertise for free any unwanted items that you are not going to sell on Freecycle. Someone may want your furniture, computer equipment, phone etc. And you never know what you might find in return…
5. Make great window cleaner with a mix of vinegar and water
Five parts water to one part white vinegar in a re-used spray bottle for sparkling windows. Saves money too.
4. Use the stairs rather than the elevator
Elevator useage can be between 5 and 15 percent of a company’s electricity useage. So get some exercise and use the stairs.
3. Defrost food before cooking.
Cooking food from frozen can use twice the electricity than cooking defrosted food. If you do this regularly you can significantly reduce both the the energy used and the cost of running your oven.
2. Re-use envelopes.
Re-use envelopes by carefully peeling off the address label or sticking a fresh label over the address – made from the reverse side of no longer needed printed paper.
1. When you need to buy a book try and buy secondhand.
If you do need to buy a book rather than get it from the library, check out online secondhand book stores or secondhand book shops in your local town.