Sustainability is defined as a requirement of our generation to manage the resource base such that the average quality of life that we ensure ourselves can potentially be shared by all future generations.
We have a better understanding than ever before about the impact of climate change on the sustainability of our planet but it’s easy to carry on as usual without challenge ourselves about what we can do to make a difference. Although our individual actions may seem small, the collective effect of us all combined, can make a sizeable change for a more sustainable and responsible world.
There are lots of things we can do to reduce our personal contribution to climate change, improve sustainability; and also many of these actions will save money and improve our health.
Very Brief Intervention
What do you think about climate change, is this something that is a concern to you?
- Encourage the fact that we can all make an individual contribution that can often improve ours and other’s health and save money
How important is the environment to you when you shop or travel?
Have you heard of the expression ‘carbon footprint’?
- A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community
- Prompt – Would you like some information on what this is and how you can reduce this?
Have you seen anything on the news/tv or social media lately that has made you think more about the environment or climate change?
- Link this to the personal impact the person can make for example ‘plastics in the ocean’ to using re-useable water bottles/coffee cups reducing food packaging etc.
How important is it for you to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… is quite a retro concept but it’s as applicable today as it ever has been?
- Prompt - This could be Reducing how much electricity you are using in the home re-using plastic bags/bottle or recycling clothes or packaging etc
Would you like to learn about simple and easy ways to live more sustainably, save money and live more healthily?
Where would you like to start/what matters to you?
Recycling and waste management
Did you know that the recycle now website provides a handy A-Z guide on what you can do with a whole series of day to day items that you can re-cycle – Would you like some further information on this?
Do you know what you can and can’t put in your recycling bin, would you like some information on this?
- Explain that is sometime difficult to know but cross contamination of un-segregated waste impact on how much waste the local authority can recycle
Would you like some information on ways that you can re-use or gift items you no longer want?
Do you know what type of waste your local authority will re-cycle, would you like some information on this?
- Explain that this does vary by local authority and some offer extra services such as composting bins and garden waste recycling.
Food and Water usage
Did you know that you can save water, money and energy by making some simple changes for example, taking a shower, instead of a bath switching off the tap whilst brushing your teeth and collecting rainwater to water the garden during dry periods?
Do you know that the best before date on food is not the same as the use by date? Would you like some information on the difference?
Do you know that in Britain we throw out 1/3 of the food we buy? Would you like to handy tips on how you can reduce this?
Minimising single-use plastics
Did you know that in 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were used by customers by major supermarkets in England. Do you use a bag for life when you shop?
Did you know that there is an estimated 480bn plastic bottle produced in 2016 and only around 50% of these are re-cycled – Would you like some information on alternatives to plastic bottles and other single use plastics?
Did you know that there are hundreds of locations all around the region that will happily refill your water bottle for free, would you like some information on this?
Did you know that many energy companies are now offering the opportunity to switch to a greener energy supply where the energy you use if sourced in a sustainable or renewable manner? Would you like some further information on this?
When buying a new appliance do you check the energy efficiency rating, you will find these labels on light bulbs as well. Appliances and light bulbs with a rating for A – A++ are the most efficient and will save you the most on your energy bills
Have you investigated how you can make your home more efficient? Would you like some further information on this?
Did you know that two thirds of all UK car journeys are under 5 miles, what short journeys do you take by car that you might be able to walk or cycle?
Did you know that swapping the car for even small amounts cycling and walking provides significant health benefits as well as reducing risk of heart diseases, cancers and diabetes? Would you like some more information on this?
Re-cycling and Waste Management
Recycle Now is the national recycling campaign for England, supported and funded by Government, managed by WRAP and used locally by over 90% of English authorities
Find out if it can be recycled: aerosols, bicycles, building rubble, car batteries, carpet, CDs, Christmas decorations, clothes, engine oil, paper, printer cartridges, spectacles, stamps and video tapes.
Find out about how your paper, glass bottles, plastic bottles, cans, electrical, cartons, food waste and garden waste are recycled at the collection services and the recycling centre.
Packaging labels and recycling symbols are now appearing on lots of everyday items, and help us to identify how different types of packaging can be recycled. It’s good to know what can and what can’t be recycled so that we can segregate this as required.
There are many reuse networks so your waste can be reused by someone else:
- Charity shops – charity shops will accept nearly anything from clothes to furniture.
- Freecycle and Freegle - internet-based, not for profit organisation dedicated to reducing landfill by "gifting" reusable items rather than sending them to landfill.
- SnaffleUp.co.uk - a new website that gives people with unwanted but still useful items, an opportunity to donate them to other people instead of throwing them away and adding to landfill in the UK.
- Ebay – make money by selling your unwanted items on line.
- Community RePaint - your paint can be reused on community projects
Find information on your local recycling centre
Food and Water usage
How can I save water? 5 ideas to reducing water use
Swap to a water efficient shower
For you: Switch to an aerated showerhead. Without even noticing you will save on hot water and your heating bill. Find out how much it costs to run your shower.
For the planet: An aerated showerhead uses up to 75% less water than a regular showerhead.
Don't linger in the shower
For you: Cutting a minute off your shower time every time, you could save about 3,300 litres of water a year and enough energy to make 16 cups of tea every day for a year.
For the planet: Heating water is responsible for 5% of your household’s carbon footprint. Using hot water wisely is a cost effective way to cut your impact.
Don't flush money down the drain
For you: If your water is metered, a dual-flush toilet could cut your water bill by 15%. Put a brick, a bottle filled with sand, or a Hippo / Bog-Hog bag into your toilet cistern. This reduces the amount of water you flush down the toilet.
For the planet: Toilet flushing is 30% of your daily water use. That water is processed before it gets to you, which creates carbon emissions. Using less water to flush your loo means less carbon.
Collect free rainwater
For you: Enough rainwater falls on your roof in a year to fill three tanker lorries. Store some in your garden with a water butt and water your plants and wash your car for free.
For the planet: Processing water to drinking quality takes up 2-3% of all the UK’s electricity consumption, emitting carbon. Using rainwater where you can will help reduce our carbon emissions.
Choose A or A+ appliances
For you: Choose A or A+ rated washing machines and dishwashers and only pay for heating the exact amount of water you use. Only run your washing machine/dishwasher when full. An efficient dishwasher can use as little as 10% of the water needed to wash up in the sink.
For the planet: Fully loaded A or A+ appliances use less energy and water than lower-rated ones. This helps cut carbon emissions and save water too.
‘Best before’ vs ‘Use By’ dates
The best before date, sometimes shown as BBE (best before end), is about quality and not safety. The food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best. Its flavour and texture might not be as good. Best before dates appear on a wide range of foods including:
- frozen foods
- dried foods
- tinned foods
A use-by date on food is about safety. This is the most important date to remember. Foods can be eaten until the use-by date but not after. You will see use-by dates on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products or ready-to-eat salads.
Get into the habit of checking what you already have in the fridge and freezer before you go shopping. Look out for foods that are approaching their use-by date and other fresh foods that can go off over time and try to use them up first. This includes:
- fruit and vegetables
- meat and fish
- cheese, milk or other dairy products
Reducing Food waste
The production of food has its own carbon footprint, this is the greenhouse gas emissions produced by growing, rearing, farming, processing, transporting, storing, cooking and disposing of the food you eat.
The ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign is to provide everyone with helpful and practical hints and tips on how to enjoy the food we buy, and cut down on the amount of good food thrown away.
Here are some ideas we thought we’d share:
Stop before you shop
- Check what is in your cupboard or freezer, not forgetting the back of the fridge, before you shop for more.
- Make a list and shop with meals in mind. This will mean that you do not buy food unnecessarily and save you time and money.
- Be careful of special offers and multi-buys especially on fresh goods – make sure you will use them.
Use it or lose it
Keep an eye on perishables you have and plan to eat meals with in their ‘use by’ date. View our advice about food date stamps.
Love your leftovers
Meals made from leftovers can be delicious and timesaving – whether its dinner from the night before or food left in the fridge or cupboard. Do your own ‘Ready Steady Cook’ and see what meals you can make. Try using an on-line recipe database to give you some inspiration. When cooking for a family – take a few minutes to measure food out – perhaps into a favourite cup – so you get the right portion per person.
No more soggy surprises
- Keeping your fridge between 1-5 degrees centigrade helps you get the best of your food.
- Milk and other food items kept in the fridge can perish quickly when not stored at the right temperature
- Make good use of the fridge and freezer to keep food better – for example, most ripe fruit can be kept in the fridge to make it last longer.
Consider your options
Chilled and fresh food has become more popular over recent years – however sometimes it may be worth purchasing frozen or ambient food to increase shelf life at home. This is particularly useful if your meal times are more unplanned due to work or family schedules.
Remember, that often fresh and chilled produce can be frozen at home if it is not going to be used in time.
You can also influence the shelf life of your cupboard storage,
- Store root vegetables in a dark place away from other fruit and vegetables.
- Store cereals, flour, rice, pasta and other dry goods in airtight containers.
- Close packets and bags with airtight bag clips. There are many ingenious products available to protect the quality of your food.
Start composting at home
Home compost your peelings and cores, this is a great way to prevent unavoidable food waste such as peelings, cores and teabags ending up in landfill and can do wonders for the garden
Minimise single-use plastics
Carry a reusable bottle
In the UK we use over 35 million plastic bottles every day! Carrying a reusable bottle is a great way to cut your plastic use and save money too! There’s even the refill app that tells you where you can refill your bottle for free!
Say no to plastic straws
Plastic straws are bad news for our oceans. Next time you order a drink, think about whether you need a straw – and if you don’t, just say no! You can also ask your local pub to stop adding straws to drinks as standard and offer paper straws to those who want one – more info here.
Take a reusable coffee cup
2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK – and less than 1 in 400 are recycled. Carry a reusable cup with you – some cafes even offer a small discount if you use your own cup (and if they don’t ask them why not!)
Avoid excessive food packaging
Whether it’s making different choices in the supermarket or choosing a different place to shop, we can all try and cut down the plastic we buy. And as an added bonus, loose fruit and veg is often cheaper than pre-packaged alternatives!
Say no to disposable cutlery
We’ve all been there – caught out in a cafe or at a train station when we’ve bought a salad or a yogurt but the only cutlery on offer is plastic! Whilst it’s hard to plan for every opportunity, consider carrying a spoon or fork (or spork!) in your bag or keeping cutlery in your desk at work.
Get your milk delivered
Although the early morning sound of a milk float is not as common as it used to be, there are still lots of places in the UK where you can get milk delivered in glass bottles – which are then collected and reused. You can find your nearest milk round here
Carry a shopping bag
Since the plastic bag charge was introduced in England, there’s been a massive 85% drop in their use. Many of us are used to carrying an extra bag with us – if you still find it hard to remember, try a foldaway one that you can carry in your normal day bag.
Making just a few small changes can have a big impact on the amount of plastic we use on a day-to-day basis.
Green Energy providers
Before you switch energy provider or tariff, it’s a good idea to look at all the different types of tariffs available. Each gives you different options, so it’s important to choose one that best suits your needs.
You can choose a ‘green tariff’ if you want your energy to come from renewable supplies like wind or solar. These tariffs are usually more expensive but reduce your carbon footprint. Many of the price comparison website will inform you which of the tariffs are linked to green energy.
If you’re on a green tariff, your supplier has to tell you:
- how much of each kind of renewable energy they generate
- if they contribute money to environmental schemes on your behalf
Energy efficient appliances
Energy efficiency labels can help you choose household appliances which cost less to run and have less impact on the environment. They help you compare the efficiency of different makes and models, enabling you to make the right choice for your lifestyle and budget.
With the energy label recognised by 85% of consumers, manufacturers are keen to see their products in the highest available category when compared to competitors. For example, roughly two-thirds of refrigerators and washing machines sold in 2006 were labelled as class A, whereas well over 90% of those sold in 2017 were higher than class A, namely A+, A++ or A+++.
In addition to information about the product’s energy consumption, the labels can also provide specific data about other relevant features of usage e.g. the product’s noise emissions or water consumption.
Home energy efficiency
There are many simple yet effective ways to insulate your home, which can significantly reduce heat loss while lowering your heating bills.
Visit the Energy Saving Trust for further information on the following
- Roof and Loft
- Cavity Wall
- Tanks, Pipes and Radiators
- Solid Wall
- Draught Proofing
- Damp and Condensation
Walking and cycling to work
Travelling to work on foot or by bike is a practical and healthy alternative to using the car.
Step to it! - for journeys of less than two miles, walking is a quick, easy and cheap way to get to work and it’s also a great way to build exercise in to your daily routine.
Every minute you walk adds between 1½ and 2 minutes to your life - a return rate of almost 2:1.
Top tips for increasing your steps within a working day
- If you don’t walk regularly, start gradually, and try walking just one day a week.
- Walk one stop further to catch the bus or get off a stop earlier.
- Park further away from work.
- Improve your social and work life and take a 10-minute lunchtime walk to boost your productivity.
Did you know that people in cars suffer three times as much pollution as pedestrians?
Cycling is a great way to keep fit; it’s fun to do and gives you the flexibility to time your journey to work, putting you in control.
By cycling to and from work - or to the train station - you can by-pass traffic jams and arrive alert for the day ahead, as well as saving on fuel and parking costs.
5 reasons for walking and cycling to work
- Increases energy levels and boosts brainpower making you mentally sharper.
- Helps to control weight by reducing body fat and pumping up metabolism.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes, some cancers and diabetes.
- Boosts ‘happy’ hormones, improving mood and reducing stress.
- Cuts traffic congestion and pollution.
Walking for 30 minutes a day could mean you burn off up to 130 calories, the equivalent of a doughnut or a small glass of wine.