So, you’ve audited your house for plastic, swapped your previously plastic products for compostable and you religiously recycle what’s left. What’s next?
Well firstly, you’re doing amazingly – great work! If you’re wondering what’s next in your journey, we want to help. Thinking about living a zero-waste, self-sustainable lifestyle can seem daunting but as you’ve already proved, it’s all about incremental changes.
Here are our top habits for living sustainably
Reduce your food waste
A third of all food produced worldwide goes to waste. In the US alone food wastage creates the equivalent of 37 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gases - Yikes. If you want to avoid throwing food away here are our top three suggestions.
- Change your food habits – If you find you’re always throwing food away at the end of the week or month, consider meal planning. Planning out your weekly meals in advance means that you’ll only be buying what you need – and saves time on debating what to have too!
- No food left behind – If you end up with leftover food or produce, make sure this gets either eaten or frozen. Frozen produce retains most of the nutrients of fresh and it’s super handy to have meals stored in the freezer ready for a quick dinner. If you’ve got leftovers but are lacking inspiration on how to make them exciting, check out Love Food Hate Waste. They’ve got lots of ingenious leftover recipe inspiration!
- Composting – this is a great one to get into! Not only will composting provide a handy way to get rid of all your fruit and veg peelings, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps to improve soil health. There are lots of ways to get started and space isn’t an issue at all. For large gardens, think about creating a dedicated composting heap or compost bin. Check out the RSPB’s guide to getting started composting here.
For smaller spaces, why not think about getting a wormery? Wormeries are suitable for composting small amounts of kitchen waste and are quite compact - perfect for smaller spaces. They also work very quickly, with the average wormery producing usable compost in two months, rather than six months from a compost heap. Worms also help to produce an incredibly rich, concentrated liquid fertiliser which plants just love! Read more about setting up wormeries in the RHS’s guide here.
Grow your own
Another sustainable habit which can seem daunting is growing your own produce, but it can actually be pretty easy, not to mention fun! Why not review your usual shopping list and see what you’re buying most often – could you grow this instead? Potatoes, strawberries and radishes are some of the easiest crops to grow with hardly any maintenance needed. Better yet, you don’t even need a garden to grow your own – plant pots, hanging baskets, and makeshift flower boxes will do just fine.
If you’re interested in finding out more, why not check out this Gardener’s World article on low maintenance fruit & veg.
Reduce your resource footprint
As our global population increases, so does our demand for resources. Water shortages are a huge environmental problem with inefficient water use for crops, increasing droughts due to climate change and water pollution all being factors. Though it may feel like water is sometimes overly abundant in the UK, we all have a responsibility to treat water as a sacred resource and protect it accordingly.
By using a water footprint calculator like this one you’ll be able to identify easy switches to prevent water wastage. (P.s. Did you know one single new t-shirt requires 2,700 litres of water to produce and one new pair of jeans requires over 8,000 litres – crazy!)
Energy is another resource which can easily slip through our fingers and reducing your energy consumption can really reduce your carbon footprint. If going completely green and adding solar panels to your house is a step too far, why not switch to a green energy supplier instead? Luckily there’s plenty of choices these days – check out this recent review of green energy suppliers.
The good news is that green energy doesn’t have to cost you more either. Ongoing energy comparison research continually shows that some of the cheapest energy suppliers are green energy companies – win-win!
Review your devices around the home too – are you using energy-efficient versions? Even simply switching to energy-efficient bulbs can save a substantial amount of energy and money. If every UK home installed three energy-saving light bulbs, it would save enough energy to power all the UK's street lights! If you’re interested in reducing your energy even further, check out OVO Energy’s guide here.