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Sustainable living ideas: 33 Easy Switches for a better planet

It’s not easy to live sustainably

We’ve been brought up in a buy, use, throw away culture and now we need to change. Not for us, but for future generations. This guide of 33 Easy Switches will shed some light on changes you can make and how they impact on the environment, communities and ultimately the planet. Broken down into bite size chunks we start with those things you can Save and Collect.

Save and collect

  • Save those glass, eg jam jars, and plastic containers, eg, margarine tubs, and fill up at your nearest zero waste shop.
  • Build up a little stash of reusable mesh and muslin bags for fresh produce that you can use in supermarkets and grocers.
  • Buy products with less packaging.
  • Collect all those soft plastics, such as crisp bags, crunchy plastic covers on salads and ready meals, salad bags, bread bags, that you can’t put in the household recycling, and take them down them to a supermarket recycling point. Most of the big supermarkets are now offering soft plastics recycling. It makes it easy to do as part of your weekly shop, or save them all up and drop off monthly.

Good for you: Reduce waste. Good for the planet: Reduce landfill

  • Wash at 30 degrees, wherever possible.

Good for you: Lower energy bills, lower carbon emissions. Good for the planet: Reduce carbon emissions.

  • Make sure you always have a full reusable water bottle.

Good for you: Source of hydration without having to buy single use plastic water bottles. Good for the planet: Reduce single use plastic waste.

  • Have a water butt in the garden, and use rain water to water the garden rather than tap water.
  • Use a washing up bowl to wash your dishes and use the water left to water your plants.
  • Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth

Good for you: Reduce costs. Good for the planet: Reduce water usage

Rent, repair, upcycle

When you need something, think about renting first and buying second hand, second. What will you do with the item when you no longer need it? If you rent it, you can return it and it will be used again. When you buy second hand, if you resell it or donate it, you cannot be certain the recipient will do the same!

  • Rent your baby clothes from a rental service like Qookeee. From Sleepsuits, to Outerwear and everything in between.
  • Rent larger DIY and household appliances from a rental service like Library of Things or Share and Repair.
  • Rent childrens toys, from a rental service like Whirli or Toy Box Club.
  • Repair the things you have, such as clothes and shoes, so they last longer.
  • If an item can’t be repaired, think about upcycling it to make another useful item. For example, T-shirts could be made into reusable wipes!

Good for you: By renting, repairing and upcycling you extend the life of items already in existence and by doing so you: Reduce cost, reduce clutter, zero waste. Good for the planet: Reduce landfill, reduce carbon emissions, reduce water usage.

Switch and ditch

  • Switch from disposable nappies to reusables. Good for you: Reduce cost, reduce clutter, reduce waste, reduce your carbon footprint by up to 40%.
  • Ditch the disposable wipes and pick up a pack of reusables – they’ll last for ages! Real life experiences are invaluable. Take it from someone who knows!
  • Ditch the cling film and use beeswax wraps instead.
  • Switch from paper napkins to fabric ones that you can use again and again.
  • Paper towels are so wasteful! Trade them in for fabric towels. Use and reuse.
  • Switch from plastic straws to reusable metal ones.
  • Switch to paperless for all your bills.

Good for you: Reduce cost, reduce waste. Good for the planet: Reduce landfill, reduce carbon emissions.

Eat well, live well

  • Think before you discard food. Use by dates, are for safety, food should not be consumed after the date stated. Best before dates, means that food can be eaten after the date stated but it won’t be at its best.
  • Prepare a menu for the week.

Good for you: Reduce costs. Good for the planet: Reduce food waste

  • When you shop for fruit and vegetables, look at where it has come from and choose country of origins closer to home.
  • Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables, locally grown if possible.

Good for you: Supports local farmers and local businesses.

Good for the planet: Reduce carbon emissions, the nearer to home, the lower the emissions.

  • Grow your own vegetables if you have the space!

Good for you: Reduce costs. Good for the planet: Reduce carbon emissions.

  • If you like meat, set a target of one meat free day a week, and increase to two after four months and to three after 8 months. By the end of the year, you would have reduced your meat intake by nearly half which will be great for the planet, especially if you like eating red meat!

Good for you: Eating less meat is a healthier option. Good for the planet: Reduce carbon emissions

  • If you’re able to, walk instead of taking the bus, or use the bus instead of taking the car, this will reduce those CO2 emissions and may even keep you fit!

Good for you: Walking is healthier than sitting in bus or car and transported. Taking the bus supports the use of one vehicle transporting several people rather than individual cars. Good for the planet: Reduce carbon emissions

Buy well

  • Buy Fairtrade

Good for you: You are supporting farmers in getting a fair price for their goods and workers rights, safer working conditions and fairer pay. Good for the planet: Fairtrade Standards promote training for farmers, which can include advice on switching to environmentally friendly practices. This has been shown to lead to good agricultural practices, which have encouraged environmentally sustainable production. The Standards also guide producers in adapting to climate change and mitigate their impact.

  • Buy Organic

Good for you: Healthier diet because organic produce is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals. Good for the planet: Reduces water usage, organic farming promoted the health of soils, water and air,

  • Buy Upcycled
  • Buy Recycled

Good for you: Reduces waste by using what is already available rather than buying something made of virgin materials. Good for the planet: Reduce landfill.

  • Buy Local

Good for you: Supports your local community of producers. Good for the planet: Reduce carbon emissions, the nearer to home, the lower the emissions.