1. Go litter picking
More than two million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK every day – how gross! Litter does not clean itself away. It can take years to degrade, causing harm to wildlife and natural habitats, and depending on the kind of litter discarded, could simply break down into microplastics.
Wherever we live, it’s all of our responsibilities to make sure our beaches, canals, rivers, fields and parks all stay beautiful for generations to come. Remember, stay safe. Pick up some litter picking clippers and sturdy gloves (gardening or rubber work great!) before you head out.
If you do see accumulations of litter in a public place you can also report it to your local authority. It’s helpful if you can always be specific about the location, type and amount of litter too.
Let’s leave our homes more beautiful than it was before we got there.
EcoVibe's Stacey litter picking on Leeds Liverpool canal.
2. Shop locally
Dodge the big supermarkets and high street chains and instead, head to your local grocery shops. Shopping locally helps keep money in your community and support the local economy, where it can then be reinvested into other shops and services near you.
Shopping locally will also help you to reduce your carbon footprint by minimising the transportation needed to get food products to you. Often when shopping for local items, they’ve been produced (grown or made) in the nearby area. Whereas, when you shop at supermarkets, items may have travelled thousands of miles to get to the store. Local food and produce don’t need to travel on an aeroplane or in long truck trips, cutting down on air pollution and fuel consumption.
Even better, it’s also much easier to get package-free products when shopping locally! As the items haven’t needed to be packed in airtight plastic to keep it fresh, you can often choose to buy loose. This means it can be plastic-free and you’ll only need to buy items you actually need, cutting down your food waste too.
P.S. If you're not able to make it out of your home or are self-isolating, don't forget lots of local businesses still have online shops or social media pages you may be able to shop with instead.
3. Set up a little free library
Locally organised book swapping stations known as ‘Little Free Library’ have been popping up all over the country. They’re usually in communal areas like playgrounds, in old phone boxes or near community centres, converted into a small library or public bookcase. They’re free to everyone to take books home and keep them as long as they’d like.
You can help support your local community and leave books you’ll not read again for others to enjoy. Great if you’re Marie-Kondo-ing your house and don’t want to see good books go to waste!
Check this Little Free Library map to see if there’s one near you. To appear on the official map, you do have to pay a small fee so it’s worth checking your community Facebook pages for unofficial versions if you can’t see your local area on the map.
If your area doesn’t have one yet, you could look to set up your own – though you might need permission for your local council to start one in a public space. Check out Little Free Library’s advice on how to get started here.
Free Library by one of London's tube stations.
4. Help your neighbours
Is there anyone in your local area that could benefit from your help and skills? Could you mow the lawns of less mobile neighbours? Could you do a much-needed trip to the shops for high-risk neighbours? Could you get to know one of your older neighbours living alone while enjoying a cuppa over the fence?
Small gestures can have a big impact. Plus, it could be a great way for you to get to know new people! We can find friends in the least expected places. Lots of neighbourhoods have community Facebook and Whatsapp groups where you can offer your support.
EcoVibe's Anya and Becky volunteering with TVC Hollybush (pre-lockdown!) to create a wildlife area at a primary school in Yorkshire.
5. Join or help plant a community garden
A community garden can bring a wide range of benefits from connecting people to each other, to attracting wildlife, to being a food-growing hub to help feed those who are less well off.
It can also offer you a place to relax, a way to engage with nature, meet others and get active outdoors. Don’t forget, gardening is super therapeutic and can be a great way to look after your mental health as well as breathe in the fresh, earthy air.
Nomadic Community Gardens in Shorditch, dedicated to transforming disused spaces into urban gardens where people can grow their own produce, create art and share skills.
There are loads of organisations out there that would benefit from your time, such as good banks, youth centres, schools, senior homes and animal shelters. Why not choose a cause you’re especially passionate about and offer to donate your time?
A quick trip to Ecosia (they plant a tree for every search!) will help you find opportunities nearby. You could also directly contact organisations you’re interested in working with to find out how you can get in touch with their local team.