With Earth Day approaching, it's a great time to think about our environmental footprint, and the little things we can all do to help reduce carbon emissions, food waste and, ultimately, climate change. While this might sound daunting, there are small changes we can all make to live in a more sustainable way, and even get the family involved! We've come up with a list of tips on how to make a difference while going about our daily lives.
1. Bathe Less
This might sound difficult, especially with kids, but taking showers instead of baths whenever possible is a great way to cut down on water usage. If you love your bubble baths, try limiting them to once a week, or just filling them a little bit less. Shorter showers can also help- try using a timer if you really want to tackle that water wastage.
2. Turn Everything Off
It goes without saying to turn the lights off every night, but even things like the tv and video consoles can use energy even when not in use. Try switching things off at the plug to reduce energy use.
3. Go Reusable
Not only will it save you money, but taking a reusable bag shopping rather than buying plastic bags is a good way to help reduce waste. You could even try taking along a backpack or suitcase for easy transportation!
4. Do Less Laundry
Less housework in the name of sustainable living? Yes, please! Of course, there is always going to be unavoidable laundry, but taking note of items that could make it another wear without washing can make a lot of difference. For example, items like jeans can go a couple of weeks without washing- as long as there isn't anything spilt on them!
5. Learn To Sew
Getting handy with a needle and thread could be all you need to breathe new life into damaged and unwearable clothes. There's no need to get overly fancy, but learning to repair garments can help reduce waste, and give those old jeans a makeover.
6. Do Laundry On A Cooler Setting
Did you know that washing your clothes at thirty degrees or less could save you £10 every year? Popping your washing in on the 'eco' setting isn't just environmentally friendly, it's also a great money saver!
Top Tip: Every once in a while, pop your clothes through on a hot wash to make sure no smells or bacteria are hanging around.
7. Only Do Full Loads
When washing and drying clothes, try to fill the machine and do a full load, rather than putting through smaller loads. This will reduce your energy use, and is much more sustainable (it will also save money!).
8. Hang Your Clothes Up
If you have a tumble dryer in the house, it can be tempting to throw clothes in and have them dry quickly. However, if you have a little time and a clothes horse, try hanging your clothes up to dry rather than using a dryer. You won't be at risk of shrinking clothes on a hot dryer setting, and you can get the family involved in helping you hang them up.
Top Tip: When hanging laundry up indoors, remember to make sure the room is well ventilated, preferably with a window open. This will discourage damp and mould and will make your clothes smell much fresher.
9. Stock Up On Plants
Did you know that having plants in the house can help improve air quality, mood and productivity? Picking some of your favourite plants and having them dotted around the house will not only add some decoration, but make it a more nature-friendly, and pleasant place to live.
10. Try Reusable Nappies
This one purely depends on your lifestyle, but if you fancy making the switch, reusable nappies are an easy way for your family to reduce waste. Reusable sanitary products, like pads or reusable menstrual cups, are also small changes that can lead to a huge difference.
11. Go Multipurpose
Considering the different uses for your household materials can help you save on money, energy and waste. For example, did you know that coconut oil can not only be used for cooking, but also for face and hair masks (check out our recipe in this post), and as a great solution for nappy rash?
12. Make Your Own Cleaners
Making your own cleaning products from scratch is not only fun but also a great natural alternative to bleach and buying plastic bottles. Here are some easy recipes to make your very own effective, sustainable home cleaners.
Lemon & Lime Grime-Lifter Spray
You will need: A clean spray bottle, the juice of a lime, the juice of a lemon, 200ml white wine vinegar and 200ml water.
Method: Add all the ingredients to the spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray on any hard-to-lift grime, let sit for a few minutes, wipe and rinse well with water.
Easy Peasy Microwave Cleaner
You will need: The juice of a lemon, 100ml vinegar.
Method: Combine the ingredients in a small microwaveable bowl and place in the microwave. Switch it on for 1 minute, then remove the bowl and wipe the inside of the microwave. Any dirt and grime should lift easily!
13. Save Your Scraps
When cooking, it's easy to throw away all the ends and peeled parts of vegetables that you don't need. In fact, you can reuse these morsels to make vegetable stock! Simply keep a sandwich bag or tupperware in the freezer and throw your scraps in as and when. Then, when it's full, you can add this to stock for extra nutrients.
14. Recycle Food!
Reducing your waste when you cook is easier than you think, and is an easy way for your family to become more sustainable. Simply designate a container in your kitchen to dispose of any extras (such as coffee grounds, fish bones, eggshells, mouldy food and vegetable peelings). Most councils will provide a container and collect this waste along with other refuse. Alternatively, you can easily create your own compost bin if you have a garden, and use the compost for your garden!
15. Use Glass Jars
Reusing glass jars for storage is an easy way to recycle items, and reduce your use of plastic. You could even use jars as fun cocktail glasses, or use them as part of an upcycling project to create mementoes with the kids!
16. Try Reusable Straws
If you have kids that use straws, or you like one in a drink, consider swapping from plastic to a more sustainable material. Metal, silicone and bamboo straws are all child-friendly reusable options that don't need to be thrown out after use.
17. Meal Plan To Reduce Waste
Planning out your meals for the week before you go shopping can help reduce the risk of food not being used, as you can come up with meals to accommodate everything you buy. If you can, try taking your own mesh produce bags for loose fruit and veg to avoid plastic waste! Maybe have a look at some of our recipes here and here!
18. Change Your Bulbs
When it's time to change your light bulbs, consider switching to an energy-saving bulb type such as LED or CFL. These bulbs have a much longer lifespan, so not only do they use less energy, but they also save you the hassle and cash!
19. Try Eating Plant-Based
If you can, having a couple of meals a week that are based around plants can help reduce your carbon footprint, and gets the family trying new things! From salads to delicious pasta dishes, there are many easy ways to make the switch to a more plant-based diet, and make your lifestyle more sustainable in the long run.
20. Go Paperless
Whether it's bank statements, magazine subscriptions or newspapers, making the switch to paperless or online systems is one of the easiest ways for your family to make the switch to sustainable living. Plus, if you have access to documents online, they are a lot harder to lose and can be tracked instantly!
21. Grow Your Own Herbs
Making your own herb patch or indoor herb garden couldn't be easier, and will save you pennies long term as you won't need to add them to your shopping list! Some examples of herbs that are easy to grow at home include basil, mint, dill, coriander, parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage, but the list goes on! Why not enlist the help of the kids to create their own mini herb garden?
Sarah was born and raised in the North West. Her love of art and culture brought her to study in London and she never left! She can be found teaching painting classes, trying out new recipes, or drawing with a cup of tea.