One of the first things to remember when thinking ‘green’ are The Four ‘R’s. See our brief overview of each below, with tips on how to start making a difference.
Do you really need to buy carrots in a plastic bag? Does the new toy for your child really have to be plastic, when there is a wooden variant? Could I be buying this item from a small independent company in my local town rather than this supermarket?
These are the type of questions which are important to ask yourself while shopping. Your purchase does a lot more than taking an item from a quantity of stock. It influences what the stockist buys from a supplier and, in turn, the supplier will produce more of the popular items. If you use your hard-earned money to tell suppliers that you don’t want to use plastic or buy certain products from abroad, they are more likely to seek alternatives.
The Guardian, English Heritage and the National Trust are just some examples of organisations who have replaced their plastic packaging with ‘Potato Plastic’ – which is rapidly becoming a go-to alternative for single use plastic.
Why not see our Green Business members here to see where you can reduce your carbon and plastic footprint.
Do you turn the lights off when you leave a room? Are you using energy-efficient light bulbs?
It’s a simple, but important example. Not only will you save on bulbs, but energy bills too! It doesn’t just stop at light bulbs either: many appliances don’t need to be left on standby, so turn them off at the wall when not in use.
Your carbon footprint is often normally easy to reduce, simply by purchasing from local suppliers, rather than from a supermarket. Yes, they can be more expensive, but not only are you reducing pollution by doing so, you are helping money circulate in the local area for local people.
Hygiene is, obviously, very important. However, when it comes to single-use plastic items, the bathroom is one of the worst places in the home. Bars of soap or wooden/bamboo toothbrushes are just two of many ways to begin to reduce your plastic impact.
While brushing your teeth, there’s no need to keep the water tap running (dentists recommend not wetting the toothbrush before brushing for a better clean anyway). Doing so will increase your water bills and, in turn, create a bigger carbon footprint by all the extra processing by the water treatment plants.
Of course, another great way to reduce your water consumption are by using water butts to be able to water your plants when it gets dry. Some plants will even withstand the use of bathwater.
You can’t avoid recycling in the UK.
Every council has recycling bins for us to use for their collections, and many have some form of recycling bins in public spaces too. There isn’t really an excuse for not recycling.
Consider the longevity of the item you are purchasing and the reusability of it. If you really have to purchase plastic, can you make use of it again at a later date?
If you still purchase a newspaper and are into gardening, you can make compostable pots for your new seeds – we’ll bring more on these at a later date.
Wrapping paper! Why waste so much paper when, in quite a few cases, you can reuse wrapping paper again for smaller gifts or those really annoying, small stocking fillers.
Are you green-fingered? Composting is a great way to reduce the impact of your food waste and also create great soil for your plants at no cost to you (bonus!).
Reusable coffee cups. It’s quite an obvious example, but now is a better time than never if you like to get your ‘Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato’ fix every morning!