A decade ago, a greener lifestyle was a pipe-dream for most of us. While we might have been separating rubbish for recycling, there were few other options for living a more sustainable lifestyle, such as driving a non petrol car or opting for a renewable energy supplier. Today, that has all changed. As consumers increasingly express preferences for more environmentally friendly products and services, manufacturers and retailers are forced to listen. That’s why if you want to be more environmental in your daily routines, there are some very simple steps you can take towards achieving it.
Get on your bike
Around two million of us enjoy a bike ride at least once a week in the UK. However, if you’re keen to reduce your carbon footprint then getting on your bike, instead of in the car, to get to work is a very effective way to do it. Bikes are zero emissions transport and don’t have the same manufacturer impact as a car. Plus, they are great exercise too.
Buy an electric vehicle
If a car is an essential part of your daily routine then an electric vehicle (EV) is a considerably better option than a traditional petrol car. EVs are zero emissions – they are powered by a battery instead of by petrol. Today, the distance range of EVs is much greater than it has ever been – more than 200 miles – and charging points are springing up all over the country. Plus, purchase costs are coming down and there is financial support available for those willing to make this switch. Now it really is cheaper to run an electric car than a petrol/diesel one.
Request flexible working
The Live Earth Global Warming Survival handbook states that one million people working from home for just one day a week could save three million tonnes of CO2 every year. So, put that request in for flexible working and spend a day a week at your desk at home.
Don’t waste your food
Food waste is a big issue and many of us throw out a lot of perfectly good food because of misguided ideas on best before dates. Not only does this cost the environment in terms of wasted production and the expense of disposal but it can also eat into a household budget. Although it’s always a good idea to ensure that you stick to the best before dates on meat, fish and dairy, items such as vegetables and fruit can be judged more on smell and touch. You can also ensure that you minimise waste with more careful meal planning so that food is always purchased purposefully.
Choose products without microbeads
Microbeads have been found to be damaging to human health and they also have a very negative impact on the environment when washed down the sink. They are often an ingredient in scrubs and beauty products, as well as shower gels and toothpastes. If you want to make a difference with your buying choices, opt for natural products that don’t contain microbeads.
Get your energy from greener sources
There are now multiple providers – such as Bulb – that can provide you with energy that has come from green, more renewable sources. In terms of performance you won’t notice any difference but you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your energy is being delivered in the most sustainable way possible.
When you leave the room, turn it off
Devices and equipment left on will continue to use energy, which makes standby incredibly wasteful. Get into the habit of turning everything off at the plug when you leave the room. Not only will this help to reduce the impact that you have on the environment but it could also save you money too – up to £86 a year according to the Energy Savings Trust.
From clothes and shoes through to your weekly shop, it’s actually much better for the environment to buy everything online. One supermarket van distributing multiple deliveries of groceries, for example, uses a lot less energy – and generates fewer emissions – than each of those people driving to the supermarket to buy items separately. So, while it might seem lazy to do all your shopping without actually leaving the house, making use of online deliveries could be essential to the process of reducing the environmental impact that you have.
Car pool and car share
If you know that you and others are going in the same direction then car pool to save on emissions produced (and cash spent on petrol). If you’re regularly on the same route as someone else you can considerably reduce your outgoings by splitting the costs of petrol in this way.
Give up plastic
8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950s and only 9% of it has been recycled. Plastic kills wildlife and natural environments – 73% of beach litter, for example, is plastic. There are many alternatives to plastic today, from taking your lunch to work in metal tins to getting your food delivered in recyclable boxes and opting for reusable water containers instead of plastic bottles. Whether to buy plastic is increasingly becoming a choice that we don’t have to make.
These are just a few of the steps that anyone can take to move towards living life in a more environmentally friendly way. With many of them you can start making a difference today.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley