Global warming continues to lead to record-breaking temperatures, governments walked away from emission-cutting pledges, and pollution levels in British cities crept further up. In a media whirlwind of dire-sounding forecasts, it’s easy to believe we can’t make a difference – but we can.
8 ways to be greener
Think about every plastic bag you’ve ever used, or every second you’ve ever left the tap on while brushing your teeth, and you’ll realise how much the little things can add up. And by making even the most minor changes to our day-to-day, you can make a really positive impact.
1. Recycle like a pro
Sure, you might chuck plastics into a recycling bin already, but it’s easy to get confused about exactly what can and can’t be recycled – and most households end up throwing away things they shouldn’t. Double-check you’re recycling everything you can, and go above and beyond too: take heavier-duty products to your local recycling centre, send old electrical equipment like TVs and laptops to be salvaged, and switch to using rechargeable batteries.
2. Cycle to work
Ask any cyclist why they pedal to work and they’ll probably boast about skipping the sardine-packed train carriage every morning, the money they save on not having to buy petrol and the fact they never have to go to the gym. Add to that list the fact switching to a bike reduces pollution. Fewer than 5% of Brits pedal to work – do your bit to fix that by investing in a bike.
3. Switch to paperless billing
You can complete this step in the time it takes to read this article – that’s how easy it is to go digital with all your bills and bank statements. Just head to your suppliers’ websites and follower their instructions. Aside from its environmental impact, you’ll appreciate not having important-looking papers cluttering up your home.
4. Start using green companies
Businesses are always looking to brag about how environmentally friendly they are, but some are far better at walking the walk than others. Do some research and see how green your favourite coffee shops, clothing outlets or petrol stations really are; if you’re disappointed, reward a more environmentally friendly rival by switching to them. Companies can use their resources to make a big difference – and people power can force them to act.
5. Go second-hand
Vintage and pre-owned clothing is all the rage at the moment, so this environmental tip has the added benefit of improving your wardrobe. Check out charity shops for some great bargains, or repair your own garments to make them last longer. And swap or sell your unwanted clothes to spread the joy.
6. Eat green
Your diet has a huge impact on climate change – and if you think going vegan is the only way to lower your belly’s footprint, think again. Eating less meat does indeed have environmental benefits, but if you can’t make that commitment, simply buy local; the food we eat is shipped or flown thousands of miles, so heading down to your local market instead could make a world of difference.
7. Stop buying carrier bags
How often do you find yourself scanning some groceries and realising you left all of your many bags at home? Supermarkets charging 5p hasn’t completely stopped forgetful shoppers from buying bags, so make sure you always have one on you. Hang your used bags near your front door so you don’t leave the house without them, and pack some in the car so you’re always prepared.
8. Turn your office green
There are plenty of small changes you can make in your workplace, if you want to help save the earth in as many venues as possible. Print on both sides of paper, ask for recycling bins to be placed near every desk, put your computer to sleep when you head out to lunch, and turn off the lights in meeting rooms when they’re not being used.