Whether you call it 'Going Green', 'Eco-Friendly' or 'Environmentally Aware' - there are several ways we can lessen our own personal drain on natural resources.
The common perception is that being eco-friendly is expensive and time-consuming, and often we don't give it a second thought for these reasons.
We highlight 25 key tips and tricks you can try to reduce your carbon footprint, many of which are time-friendly, easy, and will save money at the same time!
Ditch the bottled water
Plastics are a hot topic these days and no more so than in the case of bottled water.
'Mineral water' as it's labelled is often no better health-wise than common tap water. Many research articles have proven that there is little to no difference in the nutritional values of the two, while the adverse environmental effect is one of the most devastating.
Plastic bottles take many decades to degrade, meanwhile causing harm and difficulty to animal and marine life. When we couple this with the resources used in manufacturing, bottled water creates a significant environmental impact.
Going green in this instance is as simple as turning on the tap at home, and using a 'BPA free' re-usable water bottle when out for the day or at the gym.
For those in hard water areas, a water filter may also be a necessary purchase, but this is paid for quickly by what you would save on the bottles of water.
Turn off your electrics
This requires a little discipline initially but will soon become habit and you'll be surprised how much you can save over a period of even a couple of months just by turning off these 'energy vampires' - things you aren't using such as devices, plugs and light switches that still use minute amounts of electricity while on stand-by/
Recharge your batteries
Rechargeable batteries help to reduce battery production while at the same time being a more cost-effective solution for you - an absolute win-win and a simple adjustment to make.
Switch to a green energy provider
Using a carbon aware energy provider such as Octopus, Bulb or Outfox the Market is a fantastic way to aid the environment. Predominantly using wind and solar energy, these green energy companies have their fingers on the emerging greener pulse of the nation and are we believe, the way of the future for energy. This is further evidenced by the fact that more and more companies are steering toward an environmental-focus.
The most surprising thing about switching to green energy is that it will often cost less than the bigger UK energy providers.
Cycle or Walk
Not only better for health, but better for the environment, using non-emissive transport methods cuts down on vehicle emissions or transport costs, while also saving on tax, insurance, parking and all other costs for running a vehicle.
Vehicles are the largest producer of greenhouse gases on the planet and a collective movement towards greener and healthier travel would be a giant step in the right direction.
For many however, cars are an essential way of life and in these instances, simply turning off the car when stationary, is a small act that can equal a big collective change. One damaging offset of car idling is asthma among children and this is just the beginning.
Did you know that a cold wash (30°C and lower) will often work just as well as warm with today's popular fabrics? Ariel offers a handy guide on cold water washing.
Use a Drying Rack
Tumble dryers are convenient and perfect to rumble away in the background while doing something else, but they are also a massive energy drain, not to mention expensive over time. Using a drying rack is quiet, zero cost and another leg-up for the environment.
Take the digital route
Most services such as banking, shopping and even paying your bills can now be done without any paper ever changing hands. Almost always the digital route is also faster and can save time and money on costly journeys.
Try making a list of all the things that you don't do digitally and seeing if you can make any changes.
Install a Sink Water Aerator
These are simple tap attachments designed to reduce water flow. Available at many hardware or DIY shops and a surprising money saver through not just less water consumption but also less required heating.
Take fewer showers
The body produces its own natural oils and does a good job of self-cleaning. Believe it or not, it is actually potentially detrimental to shower daily/ Besides the many health reasons it will also benefit your pocket reducing both heating and water bills.
Take a bag when you shop
I think this is one tip that many of us do anyway but it's still worth a mention. Simply taking your own bags reduces plastic bag production and saves money into the bargain.
Borrow one-off purchases
Often we are faced with occasions such as weddings or events where we have nothing appropriate and need to buy something specifically. On these occasions consider asking friends if they might lend you an item, it'll save you money and might cultivate a mutually beneficial culture.
Putting unused items back into the community is an important part of becoming more eco-aware, books, electrical items, clothes can all be used by someone and lessen that persons need to buy something themselves. It's a knock on effect that benefits both other people and the planet.
Reduce meat consumption
Many will skip over this section and I, as a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore wouldn't blame you, but many recent studies have shown that too much meat over time contributes to many diseases and ailments that can occur as you age, so swapping out for veg and fish more often is a really great way to stay healthy and minimise environmental impact.
When swapping to fruit and veg it's a great idea to buy seasonal, less of a complicated route to market means cheaper produce while being much fresher, tastier and better for its nutritional value.
Again, this makes a significant impact overall to many environmental factors lessening production and export costs and reducing vehicle transport emissions.
Buy Second Hand
Buying from charity shops provides much-needed funds for your chosen charity while at the same time lessening production costs for new textiles and creating much cheaper buying choices for you, there is no reason to stop at clothes either, many quality books and furniture items in excellent condition can be found at a mere fraction of what you may pay new.
Use home-made cleaning products
This is a great idea not least because commercial cleaning products contain harmful toxins, as well as the wholesale plastic burden! Here is one how-to guide on making your own chemical-free cleaning products.
Visit Your Local Library
Before jumping on to Amazon to buy that new book you've heard about, ask your local library if they have it! Libraries these days are exceptionally easy to use and with online resources, any renewals or fines can be easily taken care of at home.
Can You Fix It?
When household items break, the instant thought is "Oh I'll need a new one of those". Many items can be fixed or repaired such as clothing or furniture, so next time something breaks, have a think about resourceful ways to repair it. Not only will it save you money but there is pride in having something that is partly you!
Install a manual thermostat
Controlling heat around the home with a programmable thermostat allows you to set timers for both heat and water. This regulates your family consumption while reducing overall bills.
Get A Water Butt
If you have a garden, then a water butt can be a very cost-effective way of reducing the amount of water used to keep your plants happy in the summer months. Plus the water can be used for things like washing cars and bikes. Water Butts are quite a common sight on second hand listing sites (some even got for free!), so won't take long to pay for itself.
Buy Energy Saving Light Bulbs
These use a great deal less power than standard bulbs and though they are more expensive, will last much longer.
Composting is a fantastic money-saving tip, providing all your gardens with essential nutrients while simultaneously stopping excess food from going to landfills. Composting is simple to do with many articles listing step by step composting instructions.
Learn to cook
You know who you are! Many of us, myself included, find several reasons not to pick up a cookbook, but I would suggest at least trying it before that next visit to KFC on the way home. Cooking is surprisingly easy and by buying your own ingredients and cooking from scratch, you know exactly what you are putting in your body.
According to a Which survey, we can save up to £315 a year on energy bills by installing loft insulation. And as we know less energy = lower costs for you and better for the environment. a solid win-win! Proffesionally installed insulation will take roughly as couple of years to pay for itself, but if you're able and can take on the (relatively) easy task yourself, this will be significantly lower
Doing our bit for sustainability
Changing to an eco-friendly lifestyle can seem daunting and difficult. As with all things, small changes are the way to go, adding more as the previous changes become the norm and fit better. In the long run your pocket will thank you, and opening up to new ideas can be fun, rewarding and a gateway to new friends and societal benefits.
At least trying a few of these ideas for a short time will provide a sense of what it can do for you, your friends and your family. Each small thing we do for the planet protects the future for others, not just our children but the animals and nature that surround us and keep the natural world in balance.
So if you can, do one small thing today, and if it works for you, consider adding more.