10 ways to be sustainable in day-to-day life

Living more sustainably doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact, it can actually help you spend less!

Do your bit to tackle global warming and reduce your carbon footprint by making these small changes in your day-to-day life.

Wind turbines at an offshore wind farm

Recycle, resell and reuse

Did you know the average person throws away 400kg of waste each year? That’s 7 times their body weight. Cut down on your daily waste with these simple recycling habits:

  • Keep a recycling box next to your waste bin, to make it easier to separate recyclables
  • Invest in reusable bags for your weekly shop. This will reduce the number of plastic bags you use
  • Bring your own flask or reusable cup when you buy coffee on the go
  • Find out about local recycling collections near you for things like broken laptops, phones and larger recyclables that won’t go in your weekly collection
  • Donate your unwanted clothes, books and toys to local charity shops, so they can enjoy a second lease of life

Tackle food waste

1.3 billion tonnes of food goes to waste every year. Here are a few simple ways you can help limit the amount of food you throw away:

  • Check the sell-by dates while you shop, and try to pick dates that work for when you need to use the food
  • Don’t just throw away food based on its ‘Sell-by Date’ – this is a message for retailers and doesn’t mean you can’t still eat the food at home. ‘Use By’ or ‘Best Before’ means the product will have the best quality if used by this date. ‘Expiry date’ means the product is likely to go bad after this date
  • Plan your meals so you only buy the ingredients you need for the week
  • Check out supermarkets that offer misshapen vegetables at a better price – they taste just as good, especially at the discounted price!

Say no to single-use plastics

Around 40% of plastic is single-use. From 2016 to 2017 2.1 billion single use plastic bags were used. From 2019-2020 this was 564 million. A great improvement but there’s still more work to be done! Small changes can make a big difference.

  • Reduce your use of single use plastics for things like shopping bags, cutlery, cups and plates
  • Make an effort to buy unpackaged food
  • Carry your own refillable bottle to save buying bottled water
  • Try cling film alternatives such as bees wax wraps or silicone reusable lids

Think sustainable fashion

Did you know it takes 2,700 litres of water to make one t-shirt? Reduce the number of new clothes you buy by asking yourself whether you really need it.

  • Shop for second-hand clothes in charity shops and vintage stores
  • Many high-street brands offer sustainable clothing lines – search online to find which companies use recycled materials
  • Recycle your old clothes instead of throwing them away. Either pass them on to a friend, or give them to charity

Choose public transport

In the UK, we take around 5.8 million car journeys every day. Vehicles are one of the largest emitters of CO2.

  • Next time you pop out, consider whether driving is really needed or whether you could take public transport, cycle, or walk instead
  • Suggest your company starts a carpool scheme, so you can share petrol with colleagues in your area
  • Consider investing in an electric vehicle or even using car-hire schemes as an alternative to owning your own car

Save water

Reducing the amount of water you use will reduce the energy needed to process and deliver it to your home. These simple hacks will help you lower your water usage:

  • Leaving the water running while you brush your teeth wastes around 25 litres of water. Turn off the taps when you’re not using them to save water where you can.
  • The average bath uses 160 to 230 litres of water. Try to take an eco-friendly shower instead – remember, one minute less in the shower each day can save your family £60 a year on your energy bills.

Turn plugs off at the wall

Did you know that some of your appliances are still using energy, even when their switched off?

  • Switch electronics off at the wall rather than leaving them on standby. This could save you up to £80 per year
  • Unplug things like phone chargers and adaptors – they could be using energy even when they’re not charging your device
  • Invest in smart plug sockets that let you control your energy usage. These let you turn plugs on and off at the wall, set timers for things like lamps to turn on and track energy use all via an app on your phone

Save energy on the washing

Save water, electricity and money on your energy bills by changing the way you wash up.

  • Wash economically by waiting until your dishwasher or washing machine have a full load, or see if your machines have quick wash or energy efficient cycles that use less energy per load
  • There’s no need to pre-wash your dishes before sticking them in the dishwasher. You could end up wasting around 6,000 gallons of water a year

Use less energy day-to-day

Small changes can make a big difference over time. These are some easy ways to use less energy around your home:

  • Switch off lights when not in use. Or change all your light bulbs to energy efficient ones. Replacing all bulbs with LEDs could save you over £60 per year 
  • Only boil the amount of water that you are going to use in your kettle. Boiling half a kettle could save you £14 per year for 2 boils each day
  • Try to use electric appliances only when you need to. If there is good weather, dry your clothes outside instead of using your tumble dryer. The average tumble dryer costs £50–£60 to run each year
  • Consider drying your hair naturally instead of using the hair dryer
  • Using a toaster uses less energy than putting your bread under the grill

A lot of gas and electric companies offer smart meters to measure use of energy in your home. Check your supplier website to find out.

Shop and eat locally produced foods

  • Buying local produce means lower carbon emissions from delivery and transportation of goods. It also helps support local farmers/producers in your community!
  • Or, why not start your own vegetable garden? You don’t need acres, just enough to grow the fruit, herbs and vegetables you use the most

Share some of these tips with your friends, family or colleagues. Let’s keep the conversation moving and work together toward a more sustainable future!