How much was your latest energy bill?
At the end of winter it’s entirely possible that your energy bill was alarming to read. This isn’t ever a good time for the bank balance but as well as the obvious cost to you there’s the hidden cost of what overconsumption is doing to the planet.
Being aware of how much energy you use at home and taking steps to reduce overall energy usage not only will save you money but it will also reduce the size of your carbon footprint.
Small disclaimer! It’s worth mentioning that the concept of a carbon footprint was created by BP in order to put the responsibility for climate change onto the customer. In this case we’re not using the term to guilt trip people into using less we are using it to illustrate the impact we all have as consumers. While we should be conscious of our individual effect on the environment, the best way to make change is as always to lobby companies and government representatives to put the pressure exactly where it needs to be.
So while these are ways to reduce energy usage in the home, which will hopefully save you money and energy, please do not feel guilty if you can’t do these things. The overwhelming responsibility for climate change lies with corporations and governments. For now all we can do is adjust our habits and vote both physically and financially.
Now that’s out of the way here are some things to consider!
How old is your boiler?
This is not an easy or cheap fix, and we’re well aware that nobody will ever change their boiler for fun. However, if you are in the process of replacing your boiler, we encourage you to choose the most energy efficient one you can afford.
Boilers typically account for 55% of a household’s energy bill so while this is an expensive fix, it can reduce the amount of energy you’re using overtime which makes it worth the effort.
When did you last switch your energy provider?
We’re always bombarded with adverts about switching energy providers to save money, and this is a good way to save overall. If you can’t make changes to lifestyle to reduce your energy consumption we recommend switching to a provider that’s committed to generating green energy.
This won’t stop the older companies continuing to produce energy the old fashioned way but it sends a strong message that the better these green energy companies do the more demand there is for this service. Ultimately that’s how big corporations start to listen, when an outsider starts to take their profit share they will adjust their methods to match in an attempt to get previous customers back.
If you aren’t sure where to start, the usual price comparison websites now have the option to search for a new supplier that specifically uses green energy.
The old methods will still work!
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the good old fashioned ways of saving energy still apply.
Switch off lights when you’re done in the room, those at home Blackpool Illuminations will run up your energy bill and cost you in the long run. If you do want to light up your house, make the effort to switch to low energy bulbs that will cut your energy use and last far longer than traditional bulbs.
Unplug devices when you aren’t using them, especially things like phones and tablets when you’re done charging them. Even when they are done charging the battery they will still draw energy and contribute to your total usage. Why not plug your phone in to charge a while before you’re planning to go to bed? Then you can unplug it before you go to sleep and there’s no way for it to take up more energy than it needs.
If your appliances have an eco-mode, use it! Dishwashers and washing machines typically have this mode and are designed to make the machine more efficient. If you’re replacing any appliances choose one with the highest rating you can afford, it will pay off long term.
There are so many little things that you can do around the home to save you energy and ultimately money. While big companies need to change, and we need to tell them to change every chance we get, we can still play a very small part and send an important message.
Is part of your 2021 New Years Resolutions to be more environmentally friendly with the products you buy? If yes, fantastic! This is a great goal to have for 2021.
For this goal, you may have already thought about buying from sustainable clothing brands or cutting down on the amount of meat you purchase this year. These are great ways to be more eco-friendly but have you considered the benefits of going green with your shampoo?
Move away from plastic shampoo bottles
It’s not something that everyone thinks about, but start thinking about how many bottles of shampoo you go through. This is a product that is often such a part of our lives that we don’t think about the impact it can have on the environment.
Once you know how often you wash your hair, you can work out how fast you go through your shampoo and then how many bottles you’re potentially sending to landfill. The sad fact is, even if you put it into the recycling bin it doesn’t mean it will be recycled.
So much of our plastic waste ends up travelling overseas, and the plastic that stays in the UK sometimes just can’t be recycled. The best way to reduce the impact of plastic is simply not to use it.
There has been an explosion of plastic-free hair care in the UK. Before you were looking at having to buy online or finding a local Lush, but now you’re spoilt for choice. Boots, Superdrug, and the big supermarkets all have shampoo bars for you to try. Even in a lockdown, you can still go plastic-free.
What to expect if you do switch to a solid shampoo?
Before you buy a bar make sure to use up what shampoo you have before going to purchase more, there are no benefits from buying more than you need.
When you’re ready to switch to a solid shampoo bar you’ll need to do some research before you dive in.
Shampoo bars will respond to different water hardness and give you different results depending on your hair type. It’s worth bearing in mind that they can become quite harsh on your hair if they don’t have any conditioning qualities.
It is a process to switch from liquid shampoo to a solid bar, so definitely take the time and look up specific advice for your hair type. It can be a challenge, and it will take time to adjust but if you really want to cut down on plastic waste in the bathroom this is a good option to explore.
Choose cruelty-free products where you can afford to.
As with make-up, it’s important to choose products that are ethically made without cruelty to animals. We’ve done a separate guide on why ethical make-up matters if you’re looking to start switching your products.
It’s well known that animals bred for meat contribute to climate change, but so do the animals unnecessarily kept for testing chemicals before they are introduced to us in our beauty products. While this may not be the biggest factor in choosing to switch to eco-friendly shampoo, it’s certainly an important one.
Cruelty-Free does not mean expensive or difficult to find. One of the brands that we love is the Superdrug cruelty-free range of haircare. There’s something for the majority of hair types and it’s reasonably priced. If you’re looking to spend a bit more on your haircare why not try Function Of Beauty? They’re an entirely online store that specializes in customised hair care just for you.
As with anything we recommend, this is a change you can make gradually. Do some research to find the perfect cruelty-free and (hopefully) plastic-free shampoo for your hair type that’s in your budget.
If you can’t afford to make a change to your beauty routine right now, that’s fine too. Why not spend some time getting in touch with companies and letting them know that they should be taking steps to be greener and stop using chemicals tested on animals? Using your voice to let companies know that they need to change to meet consumer demands is a big way to help if you can’t necessarily vote with your wallet and is a perfect way to make a difference.
Greenwashing is not a new trend by any means, it’s been around since consumers first started to challenge companies to adopt greener practices and reduce their impact on the planet.
However in 2021, with more eco-friendly practices becoming mainstream (as they should be!) there are going to be companies that engage in this type of marketing to profit from people’s desire to be better for the environment..
So, what exactly is Greenwashing?
Cambridge dictionary defines Greenwashing as the following:
Greenwashing is a symbolic gesture. Companies engaging in this practice are either directly misleading consumers that they are eco conscious or they are exaggerating how green their products and practices are for profit. Regardless of which it is, nothing about greenwashing is good or ethical.
There is nothing wrong with companies exploring green options and making changes to reduce their impact on the environment, it’s something we truly love to see!
For some people this is the first time they’ll be making green changes and these products can often create conversation that is important to the green movement. However it’s important to be aware that while these can be a great start, these small additions to product lines aren’t always as green as they claim to be.
An unfortunate example of this is the “Garnier Micellar Reusable Make-up Remover Eco Pads”. While these seem like a great way to cut down on single use cotton pads, the Garnier alternatives are not what they seem.
They’re made of 100% polyester which will not break down when they reach the end of their lifespan. They even say on the product description “Eco Pads cannot be recycled. After 1000 uses, please dispose in the bin.”. It’s also worth considering that they will shed microfibre plastics every single time you wash them.
At first glance these look like a great way to reduce waste in the bathroom, but in practice there are far better alternatives out there.
For example, we are still loving our bamboo face pads from My Little Eco Shop. They are even cheaper than the Garnier ones. The My Little Eco Shop ones work out at approximately £1.25 per pad while the Garnier ones are £2.99 per pad*.
Greenwashing is not always that easy to spot.
A less obvious form of Greenwashing is where companies will offer greener alternatives but make no effort to contribute to ending the cycle of over consumption or changing their business practices to be more eco friendly.
A perfect example of this is H&M. This company has most definitely taken steps to be more environmentally friendly, introducing recycling schemes and promoting their conscious collection.
You would not be wrong to be taken in by this and believe they are a more ethical brand to purchase from on the highstreet, especially when there are so few green brands on the highstreet to compare their practices against. However, they ultimately still promote the fast fashion model which as we know is unsustainable and one of the biggest contributors to climate change.
Unfortunately, with eco friendly products and practices becoming more and more popular there are companies that will seek to profit from this without doing the hard work to change their businesses.
It’s important that we take the time to consider just how green the companies we purchase from are and to make sure we are not listening to the marketing hype.
As we see with the face pad example, often the eco friendly options can actually work out cheaper than sticking with the big brands we know that aren’t changing fast enough to make a real impact.
For 2021, let’s take the time to really do the hard work and consider how ethical and green our purchases really are and make the effort to purchase as green as possible when we can.
*based on non sale prices displayed on 01.01.2021.
Are you celebrating Halloween this year? The traditional trick or treating might not be happening this year but it’s still possible to get into the spooky season, while doing as little damage to the environment as possible.
Next time you’re in the shops, take a look at the Halloween aisle. If you’re aware of what our planet is facing right now, these shelves do not make for happy viewing. There is so much plastic, and single use plastic that will be going to waste come the 1st of November.
With all this in mind, and given what 2020 has been like, we believe there are things we can do to reduce our environmental impact and still enjoy Halloween.
Don’t buy plastic if you can help it
Thinking back to that aisle, at least 90% of everything on it will be plastic. Plastic chains, plastic skeletons and plastic costumes. Even if you’re seeing those creepy hanging ghosts and thinking they aren’t plastic, look at the fabric they’re made of… 100% polyester.
We love Halloween decorations, they’re perfect for setting the mood but we cannot endorse buying these plastic decorations that are poor quality. Ignoring the eco element for the moment, the paint jobs on some of these decorations is the scariest thing about them.
Where you can this year, choose natural materials. Decorations made from cardboard and paper can be recycled and if you’re looking for something long lasting, why not make decorations out of clay or find some ceramic options in the shop. These are perfect because they can also double as a fun halloween activity if you aren’t able to trick or treat this year.
Make your own Halloween costume, or better yet go second hand
One other thing hanging on these shelves are the costumes. The vast majority made of plastic and more worryingly will probably only be worn once. Buying a brand new costume every year is just not sustainable.
Personally, we don’t believe there’s anything wrong with going as a witch every year but young children and teens will want a different look each year. To avoid wasting material why not check your local charity shop to see if there are any donated costumes? Or better yet, get creative and make your own costume.
You’ll be saving clothes from landfill and most likely saving yourself money too. Just be sure to properly recycle any off cuts or clothing you can at the end of your costumes life.
If you really like a costume there is nothing wrong with keeping it for next year either. Alternatively, if you’d prefer something new you could arrange to swap with friends or family next year so nothing goes to waste.
Don’t waste pumpkins!
More than half of the 24m pumpkins carved for Halloween in Britain this year will not be eaten, according to new research. Only 42% of Britons actually realised you could eat the insides of a pumpkin. When food waste is a tremendous problem in this country this isn’t food we can afford to be wasting.
With the interior of a pumpkin being very similar to butternut squash it’s perfect for soups, roasts and curries. The seeds you scoop out of the middle of the pumpkin are great for roasting and covering with a spice mix of your choice, store them in an airtight container for a healthy snack that can be portioned out and taken on the go. We’re always a fan of a BBC Good Food recipe so here are all of their pumpkin recipes for some inspiration. Happy carving!
As with any celebration the trick to being eco-friendly is to think carefully about what you’re buying and what it’s made of. Make the conscious decision, if you are able, to buy things that will last a lot longer than a single year. Choose natural products where you can and think about what you already have at home. For example, instead of a plastic bucket for sweets if you do go trick or treating take a cotton black tote bag or a pillow case. Use coloured paper to make garlands to hang around the house instead of using plastic webbing that will go straight in the bin when you’re done.
These little swaps will be what makes a difference and can help to have a more eco friendly Halloween.
It’s impossible to not notice all of the plastic when you shop. Vegetables wrapped in plastic. Snacks wrapped in plastic often inside more plastic with a plastic tray. All of this is brand new material and most of it won’t ever be recycled.
While there are instances where plastic packaging is beneficial for the produce, for example the shrinkwrap on a cucumber extends product life by 14 days, we do not need individually plastic wrapped oranges and melon pots.
Around 40% of plastic is used in packaging, and the UK generates around 2.4 million tonnes per year of packaging waste. It may not be the most obvious thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, but making a few changes to how you do your weekly shop are some of the easiest ways to cut back on the amount of plastic being sent to landfill.
If you can, shopping at a local market with local produce is the best thing you can do. You can choose produce that is in season, isn’t wrapped in plastic and often for a great price.
Many local markets will have bulk options for those on a budget. The trick is to shop around and compare prices and only buy what you will use up. It might be tempting to stock up on all the fresh fruit and vegetables but there is no sense in buying something for it to go to waste. That is swapping a plastic problem for a food waste problem.
It’s the most obvious solution but avoiding plastic where you can is the best way to prevent it entering circulation. Choosing products with cardboard, recycled metal and glass over single use plastic sends a message to companies that plastic is not the way forward.
When shopping always choose recyclable materials where you can or choose products made using recycled materials.
If you can’t choose eco products then it’s still important to recycle whatever you can. With only 50% of plastic bottles and just 12-15% of mixed plastics actually being recycled, repurpose what you can too. Glass jars can be reused round the kitchen and decorated for use around the home and large plastic juice bottles can be used as airtight containers for cereals and grains.
Remember your canvas bags
Bags for life were sold as a sustainable way to reduce plastic waste while you shop because there would be no more single use bags going into landfill. However, in the UK we are still buying bags for life which means more plastic in circulation. A study found that UK households are getting through 54 ‘bags for life’ each year suggesting that they are being used as a bag for a week. This makes them a poor option if you’re looking for an eco alternative as these bags will take even longer to break down because they are “sturdy”.
While cotton tote bags aren’t the most environment friendly option either because of the process of manufacturing and harvesting cotton, they will last a lot longer and are a far better option for the weekly shop. If you want to make fabric bags even more eco friendly, why not thrift some cotton material or turn an old t-shirt into a produce bag.
Being able to make changes to how sustainably you complete your weekly shop is a privilege. There are those who set up unrealistic expectations that state everything must be plastic free, organic and this is the only way to shop.
With food desserts, poverty and food banks becoming the normal thing for many people across the world, being super green while you shop is not always a possibility. If you cannot afford to do these things, don’t stress about it.
If you can make a change these are some great ways to cut down on plastic and reduce your individual carbon footprint.
The average family wastes £700 of food each year. That is 4.5m tonnes of food that gets thrown away and wasted. With food poverty still very much an issue in the UK it’s important that we don’t waste the food we have available. One of the biggest culprits for being wasted is fresh fruit and vegetables.
How often have you stocked up on the greens with the intention of using them but then never getting around to cooking. Before you know it they’ve gone slimy or furry and you have to part with them. Besides buying only what you need here’s what you can do to ensure you don’t waste your vegetables.
Store them properly
Half the battle of keeping vegetables fresh is storing correctly. Take the time to properly look up each veg you regularly buy and the proper way to store them. A starting point when it comes to storage iis to keep fruits and vegetables separate, fruits can cause veg to turn faster. Remember that no matter how much it seems to make sense not everything needs to be stored in the fridge a lot of veg prefer to be kept in a cool dark place.
Double check which containers you should keep vegetables in as well. While a lot of veg still comes in plastic, and we recommend buying loose veg to avoid this, it doesn’t mean that’s what it should be stored in. For example, mushrooms come in those awful plastic tubs and wrapped in cling film, this will cause them to go slimy. The way to store mushrooms is to take them out and keep them in a paper bag, this prevents them going slimy and if you buy them loose you can cut all the plastic out of buying mushrooms.
Cook them before they rot
It sounds simple, but use up the veg before it goes bad and don’t throw them away immediately. Yes some of your celery might not be perfect for a salad anymore but you can still add it to a sauce or a soup. This is even a good way to sneak extra veg into your portions as well as cutting down on waste.
If you’re noticing that a lot of your vegetables have nearly turned you can bulk cook a rustic vegetable soup, then you have cheap and healthy lunches for the week with no waste. Our tip is to pick or make a good quality vegetable stock as a base and experiment with seasons depending on what veg you’re adding. You don’t need a recipe to make a good soup, just get creative!
Compost is the last resort
If your vegetables have truly gone past the point of cooking, it’s time to get the compost out. Making your own compost is simple and with houseplants being the latest interior trend your new green family members will thank you.
Depending on your space there are a range of compost kits available to buy and countless guides on the internet. We like this guide from The Independent that includes troubleshooting what’s wrong with your compost and the best ways to set up your composting space.
Ultimately we need to tackle food waste in order to live sustainably, and the place to make a big difference with this is the kitchen. By starting to follow these small eco habits now they’ll become second nature and these small changes will add up to make a big difference over the years.
Getting coffee is part of our culture. People get coffee to go on dates, interview for a job and a lot of the time to just start the day. That experience of meeting somewhere for a drink with friends and family has become ingrained into how we socialise. Besides the price when you sit in to enjoy a coffee it’s not all bad, the problem comes when getting coffee to go.
Those paper coffee cups are not as innocent as they seem. How long does it take a coffee cup to break down?
The plastic lining on the inside of these cups often means that they can’t be effectively recycled. This means that your “paper” cup ends up in landfill and massively contributes to our waste problem.
The EU is working to ban single-use coffee cups by 2030, but right now that’s still 10 years away. With up to 7 million cups being used per day in the UK, that’s an additional 25 billion single-use cups being used in that time. This ban will not get here soon enough to make a real difference.
At the start of the year, I made the decision to no longer buy coffee in single-use cups, a bit of a new year’s resolution. It’s now May 2020 and, helped slightly by quarantine shutting the coffee shops, I still haven’t used a paper coffee cup.
I would have one coffee a morning typically, 3 days a week. If we hadn’t been quarantined and my habits hadn’t changed that would be 48 coffee cups used and approximately £124.80 spent. If you’re ever looking for a reason to break a habit, look up how much it costs you per month. This cost per use trick works really well for giving up coffee, cigarettes and buying lunch out every week.
The best way I found to switch from paper cups is to invest in a good travel mug and a nice coffee to make at home. I found a Thermos travel flask for under £10 and Aldi’s coffee for under £2 is on par, if not better, than what you get from Costa or another chain. Once you’ve found the right replacements for your coffee, it’s easy to give up paper cups.
If you really want your Starbucks coffee and do not want to make it at home. The majority of the coffee chains on the highstreet will happily make coffee in the cup you bring and some will even add a discount as a thank you for making the switch. Check out our resources for which ones will do this.
This is the best way to condition yourself to not just randomly go in for coffee and ultimately you’ll break the paper cup habit.
We were taught these three words in primary school. The way to reduce our impact on the environment is to reuse what we have and recycle. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Unfortunately, despite the good intentions of this phrase, it’s simply not enough.
It’s time to add Refuse to this saying. Even though we can recycle a large portion of what we use, the problem is that companies are still producing plastic and single-use products, they will only switch to sustainable alternatives when the demand for single-use has gone. The best way to get this message across is to refuse their products.
It’s a simple switch but it will make a difference. Refuse paper cups, refuse straws and refuse as many single-use plastic products as possible.
You’d be surprised how many businesses are getting on board with this way of thinking. Most bars will now ask if you want a straw instead of just adding it and larger delivery companies like UberEats give you the option to add on utensils instead of just automatically sending them.
Once you’ve added Refuse to limit the number of single-use objects being brought to the market the next step is to add Repair.
For example, around 350,000 tonnes of clothing goes to landfill per year in the UK. For comparison, a Boeing 747 weighs approximately 487.5 tonnes at takeoff. That is far too many clothes going to waste each year.
By learning basic repair skills like hemming, patching and replacing buttons you can extend the life of your clothes and bring down the number of clothes going to landfill.
Learning how to fix things around the home will save you money, make you feel like a wizard and hopefully reduce the number of things sent to landfill.