30 WAYS TO GO GREEN
Every person has the power to change the planet for the better. Below we’ve suggested 30 simple ways to be more eco-friendly. Well done if you’re doing some already. If you want to try any of the suggestions below then just take it gradually, nobody would be expected to do all of these things overnight!
The list is in no particular order. These suggestions could help prevent all sorts of environmental problems such as plastic pollution, deforestation, wildlife loss and climate change. We recommend firstly trying things which you feel the least resistance to. It's far easier to create new habits out of things which we like the sound of. Then if it goes well, why not have a go at some which may seem more difficult to you?
Most importantly, enjoy the satisfaction of saving the planet!
Don’t ‘Google it’, instead ‘Ecosia it!’ Ecosia is the free search engine which puts its advertising profits into planting trees. It's a very simple way to plant more trees at no cost to you, there’s even an app to make it easier! Find out more about what they do here.
2. MEAT & DAIRY
Cutting down on meat and dairy is one of the best things to do to avoid deforestation and climate change. Don’t feel you have to cut straight to being vegan, you could try just one vegetarian or plant-based meal per week to start. It can be as simple as switching to a non-dairy milk on your cereal! You could have a look at our plant-based recipes page if you want some inspiration. Find out more about why this is better for the planet here.
3. SINGLE-USE PLASTICS
A shocking 8 tonnes of plastic get dumped into our ocean every year. Avoiding single-use-plastics could be the first step to solving this problem. See our 22 Easy Plastic Switches page for tips on cutting single-use plastic out of our lives.
4. GREEN ENERGY SUPPLIERS
One of the best things you can do for our planet is switching to a green energy supplier. Gone are the days of expensive renewable energy, some providers are now cheaper than those with fossil fuels! If you’re not a homeowner then you could try talking to the owner of the property and encourage them to change if they haven’t already. The same goes for your place of work.
5. SUSTAINABLE FASHION
Fashion is responsible for 10% of the carbon emissions leading to global warming as well as polluting waterways with toxic chemicals, leading to wildlife loss. Opting for more sustainable fashion such as bamboo clothing, organic cotton or better yet second-hand fashion are all better practices for the planet. Find out more about the environmental problems with fashion here.
Unnecessary resources being wasted, unwanted gifts going into landfill and plastic pollution are all big problems associated with gift giving. We've come up with some suggestions to help relieve some stress when it comes to the environmental aspect of gift giving. Some solutions may also help your pocket!
7. WALKING, CYCLING & PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Another great thing to do is walk or cycle to places where possible. Better for the planet, better for our health. If it’s not possible then taking public transport is also better for climate change and air pollution then driving in a non-electric vehicle.
When it comes to holidays, is there somewhere you could go closer to home? Or maybe take a train instead of flying? Walking, hiring bikes or using public transport is also more eco-friendly than using taxis when travelling. It's also better for the pocket and can be a more interesting way to explore!
If you do need to take a taxi you could consider carpooling instead. It means less cars on the road as you can share a ride with others. Apps such as Uber make it easier to do so.
9. LIFT VS. THE STAIRS
Choosing the stairs over the lift is a simple way to be greener and it’s also great exercise!
10. ECO-FRIENDLY SHOPS
Supporting businesses that are doing things greener is a great way to help the planet. If you have a local zero waste shop you could try using it for as much as you can instead of the supermarket. Look out for shops who are carbon-neutral or at least trying to take some initiative to reverse the impact of their products or services through things such as tree-planting.
Using second-hand and charity shops is a great way to go. Giving a second life to any product is one of the best things do for the planet!
11. LOCAL BUSINESSES
Green shopping doesn’t just mean bamboo toothbrushes and plastic-free soap, though those are both great switches to make! Shopping in local businesses that get their produce closer to home and more sustainably is a brilliant to be more eco-friendly. You could try your local green grocers or farmers market to start with. Even better if you can take your own bag or food container to put your produce in and avoid unnecessary packaging waste!
12. MINDFUL SUPERMARKET SHOPPING
Shopping in a green grocers or zero waste shop may not be practical for everyone’s life. There are plenty of ways to still be more eco-conscious in the supermarket. Packaging is one thing; try to opt for products packaged in tins, glass or cardboard and avoid the plastic where possible. These materials are much more recyclable and so better for the planet. It can simply be choosing tinned peas instead of the frozen peas in plastic packaging. Just try to make sure it goes in the recycling bin when you're done.
Taking your own shopping bags and reusable produce bags to put loose items in, for example fruit and veg, is another great way to be greener. Whether the supermarket offers plastic or paper bags for loose items, both are single-use items of waste so taking your own reusable bag is much better for the Earth. The same goes for loose baked goods and deli items, taking your own reusable storage container is a great way to cut down on packaging waste.
The Giki app is a brilliant way to be greener when shopping in UK supermarkets. Use the app to scan barcodes on products and see how sustainable they are. The app covers all sorts of areas such as whether items are made in the UK and whether they contain sustainable palm oil.
We need the trees which produce paper to be helping in the fight against global warming. Lowering daily paper consumption is a great way to be kinder to the planet and our Paper Problems page has lots of simple suggestions to do so.
14. ELECTRICITY WASTE
A great way to prevent global warming is not wasting electricity. Switching off appliances when they're not in use conserves energy which is otherwise contributing to global warming. Not charging devices overnight is a good way to do this. The average smartphone takes two hours to fully charge. So after the device is charged it will still continue to drain energy when left overnight. It may seem like an insignificant change however when you think of over 3.5 billion people with smartphones worldwide, if everyone where to put this into practice the change could be extraordinary.
Sadly it’s difficult to get everyone to stop littering but leading by example is a great initiative. If we're going to solve the problem of plastic pollution then we need more people to get involved in litter picking.
Try not to think of it as just cleaning other people’s rubbish but instead, making your local area more beautiful for you and others to enjoy. We're a community-based species after all. It's also a way to protect the wildlife that we share our environment with. It’s actually a very satisfying way to spend time with family, friends or new people! Have a look at our page on clean-ups, full of tips of how to get involved in events or organise your own.
16. ELECTRIC VEHICLES
The world is slowly shifting to greener energy but who knows how long we’ll have to wait until the UK government bans heavily polluting vehicles on the road. Why wait until then if you need to replace your car? Electric vehicles are much more affordable than they used to be so you could get ahead of the game and opt for electric to really do some big favours to global warming and air pollution.
Green energy supplier, Ecotricity have created the app, Electric Highway, to help make it easier travelling around the UK in an electric vehicle. It gives you access to the 300 or so pumps on UK motorways and gives you a live feed so that you can see the availability of each pump for better journey planning.
17. FOOD WASTE
Globally over a third of food produced is wasted! That’s not just the food itself going to waste but also all the resources which go into producing, packaging, storing, transporting and then disposing of it afterwards. Is there anything you can do to help cut down on food waste? Maybe just making more use of the freezer and getting creative with leftover food!
There’s no shame in asking for a doggy bag if you’re out for dinner, or better yet taking your own food storage container if you know you often can’t finish big portions which are served! It's much better for your pocket and there are even collapsible food storage containers to make it easier.
Apps such as Too Good to Go and Karma allow you to buy perfectly good discounted food from bakeries and cafes which would otherwise go to waste later in the day. Olio is another food waste prevention app allowing you to give food away, that you know you won't be able to eat yourself, to people nearby - great for when you're going on holiday or somebody brings a pudding too many to a dinner party!
18. SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL
Palm oil is in over half the products sold in supermarkets. Avoiding it is nearly impossible but opting for products which use sustainable palm oil is actually the greenest way to go, find out why here.
There are some great tools to use to make it easier to find products which use sustainable palm oil. Chester Zoo’s ‘Shopping List’ tells you which big brands are using sustainable palm oil, making it easier to shop more eco-consciously! The Giki app allows you to scan items in UK supermarkets using your smartphone to see whether or not they use sustainable palm oil.
Online banking is a great way to be more eco-friendly. Fewer trips to the bank can mean less carbon emissions. Paperless banking saves trees. There are so many environmental benefits to online banking and it can make our lives easier too!
Who we bank with also has an impact on the environment, especially if we have savings. Did you know in 2020 it is estimated that £16billion of everyday savings in the UK could be supporting the fossil fuel industry? Many banks are not transparent with what they are doing with our money and unfortunately many are funding climate change by investing in fossil fuels.
Triodos is a bank that does things differently. They are completely transparent and publish the details of the organisations they lend to. Triodos only invest in companies which are good for people and the environment.
20. TREE PLANTING
One of the best chances we have to avoid climate change is to plant more trees. You could try growing your own trees from seedlings or taking part in a tree planting event. These are great way to spend time with family and friends or meet new people as well as all the added health benefits of being outdoors!
21. WATER WASTE
Is there anything you could do to waste less water? Brushing teeth without the tap on. Fixing a leaky tap. Getting a water butt for the garden to wash the car with rainwater instead. Even using a dishwasher instead of hand washing is better for water saving! It takes a lot of energy to make clean water and transport it around so the less that's wasted, the better for the planet.
If you have a garden then composting is a great idea to help the planet. With companies starting to make products and packaging with compostable materials it’s a great way to manage some of your household waste. Any food waste you do have can go in a compost bin and that way it can be used to fertilise your garden instead of buying compost! Compostable materials require specific conditions to break down. Find out how to make your own compost here.
23. AMAZON SMILE
Obviously shopping online is not the best practice for the environment. However some of us are so used to the convenience that it’s a difficult habit to break. Amazon may be one of the biggest culprits for many of us. Well they now have a sister site called AmazonSmile. You get to choose a charity of your choice and AmazonSmile will donate a small percentage to that charity every time you shop, at no extra cost to you. So if you’ve got a guilty conscience about shopping online, but aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to it, you could choose an environmental charity on AmazonSmile and at least something is going back into caring for the Earth.
24. HOME-GROWN FOOD
Growing your own food is one of the best ways to be more eco-friendly. Did you know that on average food travels 1,500 miles before it's consumed? The RHS have some great pages on how to grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs. Thompson & Morgan have an information page for the 10 easiest things to grow to get beginners going. Vertical Veg offer some great tips so even those with little or no garden space can still grow food!
Not a long-term solution but some temporary good for the current plastic situation. Ecobricks are a way to dispose of non-recyclable plastic which can be more difficult to avoid, for example crisp packets and sweet wrappers. Simply fill a single-use bottle with your waste and once it’s full you can drop it to one of their collection points. It then goes on to help building green spaces and buildings. Hopefully some day all packaging will be fully recyclable or biodegradable, until then this is a short-term solution.
Electronics may be an area where it's still difficult to find green solutions. We've put together a page with some greener suggestions such as more eco-friendly phone cases and solar-powered power banks.
Sending eCards is the greenest solution to giving greeting cards. It's a brilliant way to help avoid climate change and plastic pollution. On our eCards page, all the sites we've listed support charities, so not only will you be doing something that is better for the planet but also you can support organisations creating positive change at the same time!
28. SUPPORTING CHARITIES/NGOS
Something for those who feel they want to give a little something back with the money they earn. There are many charities and NGOs out there doing brilliant things for the planet; from seagrass, coral and tree planting projects to ocean clean-ups and wildlife/human conflict projects, the list is endless! These people are taking positive action for the environment which many of us may not have the time for in our busy lives. Giving any money towards funding environmental work is a great way to go green.
29. CONSUMER POWER
As consumers we often don't realise the power in our hands. Speaking up if we're not happy with the way things are done is a brilliant way to create environmental change. Maybe you're not happy with products which come in unrecyclable packaging. You could write to the company or take to social media to express your views on how the products you buy could be more eco-friendly. If enough people express their opinions on something then businesses should make changes to keep their customers.
30. SHARE THE AWARENESS
Perhaps the best thing you could do is share awareness. If people have the facts then it's up to everyone as individuals what to do with that knowledge. There is so much of this knowledge which people don't have already, passing this information on is a fantastic way to plant the seeds of positive environmental change.
That applies to this site too, if there are suggestions for being greener that aren't listed here please get in contact, we'd love to know your ideas!