They’re small, easy-to-make changes, but they’ll make a BIG difference…
1. Refuse plastic wherever you can.
Say ‘No, thank you’ to any single-use plastic items – from cutlery to straws – in shops and food outlets and explain why.
2. Cut coffee-cup waste by carrying your own reusable cup
for example Zuperzozial’s bamboo and corn travel mugs, with earth-friendly silicone lids. From £9.50, trouva.com.
3. Invest in a refillable glass water bottle
4. Love your old bags!
Keep a stash of used carrier bags by the door, in the car and in your handbag so you won’t have to buy a new one or continue adding to the waste plastic mountain. And keep small plastic bags to reuse for fruit and veg.
5. Recycle all paper and cardboard packaging
Remove any any plastic film first. Pick up rubbish from streets, parks and beaches (in your old bag) and deposit in a community bin or your recycling bin at home; consider forming a Rubbish Ramblers group locally.
6. When you buy meat and fish
take your own airtight food container into shops and supermarkets to cut out the plastic packaging.
7. Get tough on grease and oil
Cook with as little as possible, strain when cool, store in a glass jar in the fridge or a dark cupboard. If you can’t reuse, never pour it down the sink, even with detergent and hot water. Put in a sealed container and bin with non-recyclable trash. Or make your own landfill and bury it deep in the garden.
8. Look for organic cotton products
Conventional cotton production accounts for almost 16 per cent of all insecticides used globally so it’s a major environmental polluter. As well as clothing and bedlinen etc, think personal care products, such as organic tampons (eg, Natracare, from £1.97, hollandandbarrett.com).
9. Use organic cotton face/hand cloths
rather than wet wipes or make-up remover pads and never put wipes down the loo. Most are made of polyester, a plastic that takes years to degrade and then releases millions of tiny fibres into rivers. The Department for Environment now classes wet wipes with plastic bags as serious environmental hazards.
10. Support small works of green genius
such as Optiat exfoliating scrubs made from repurposed coffee grounds, in Vanilla Velvet, Potent Peppermint, Lemongrass Lifter and Mouthwatering Mandarin. From £9.99 for a big 220g tube, optiat.co.uk.
11. Clean your teeth with an eco-friendly Humble bamboo-handled toothbrush
packed in 100 per cent recycled materials. For every toothbrush sold, Humble donates one to children in need; £4, boots.com.
12. Treat your gums
to Georganics plastic-free dental floss, made from sustainable bamboo and silk, coated with natural waxes and flavoured with mint or cardamom essential oils, in zero-waste, plastic-free glass containers; £4.90, georganics.co.uk.
13. Choose refillable, organic cleaning products
for your home – eg, from brands such as Ecover, Method or Splosh – over those with synthetic chemicals, which can set off allergies such as asthma and eczema as well as pollute water systems.
Buy old furniture and household items – from dressers, chairs and chests to flowerpots – for a song and transform them using an all-natural paint with no plastic binders or chemical dyes. The best brand we’ve found for all purposes is Edward Bulmer Natural Paint in a gorgeous range of heritage colours; edwardbulmerpaint.co.uk.
15. Plan daily and weekly menu
then make a shopping list of what you need. We throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink per year in the UK. Compost peelings and use up leftovers, etc. River Cottage Love Your Leftovers: Recipes for the Resourceful Cook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, £20*) is packed with great suggestions.
16. Plant shrubs and trees
to combat air pollution and provide homes for wildlife. Grow bee-friendly organic herbs (jekkasherbfarm.co.ukjekkasherbfarm.co.uk). Wherever possible, remove concrete from urban gardens to reduce flood risk.
17. Wrap parcels the old-fashioned way
in brown paper, tie with string then secure with sealing wax, rather than using plasticky Jiffy bags and Sellotape.
18. Switch to a green energy supplier
such as Green Star Energy, Ecotricity or Green Energy.
19. Save power
Turn off lights, run your washing machine at 30 degrees, install double glazing or thick curtains and insulate the roof.
20. Cut down on car journeys
If possible, switch to a hybrid or an electric car to reduce your greenhouse-gas emissions. Or try carpooling, walking, cycling or using public transport. Have your groceries delivered – one van delivering to 30 families is less polluting than 30 separate car trips.