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Going green

A guide to adopting a more environmentally friendly lifestyle

Embracing an environmentally-friendly lifestyle is not as difficult as you may think, and with lots of great schemes and support available across the UK these days, it is easier than ever to ‘go green’ and help care for the environment.

So pledge to make 2015 ‘green’ by following our guide to an environmentally-friendly (yet low maintenance) lifestyle.

Where to start

While this is an old saying, the meaning certainly still rings true in today’s environmentally-conscious world. Simply by being aware of what you purchase, and consequently what you waste, you can make a significant contribution to the planet’s wellbeing:

  • Purchase everyday items in bulk to help cut down on packaging and waste, switching from disposable items to reusable ones; razors for example.
  • Consider cancelling your newspaper subscriptions and catch up with the news online. As well as reducing your paper waste, you’ll save yourself a few pounds in the process.
  • Think before you buy, and only buy what you need. Remember, if you purchase something on a whim that you do not have a real need for, you are not only creating excess rubbish, you are wasting your own money.

 Reuse and recycle

  • Reuse plastic shopping bags, cardboard boxes, sandwich bags, freezer bags and elastic bands, etc. Simply ask yourself before throwing items away, ‘Can I reuse this?’
  • Most modern items are now recyclable. Paper, glass, card, plastics and many other materials can be recycled and local councils offer weekly kerbside collections. It is well worth taking a few minutes each week to sort out your recycling, knowing that you are helping to protect the Earth’s resources as you do so.
  • Consider donating unwanted and good quality clothes, shoes and household items to charity shops. There are also a growing number of recycling networks set up to reduce waste items going to landfill – Freecycle, Freegle, Gumtree, etc. These networks provide a way of connecting people who wish to give away items they no longer have use for, with people who need that exact item; from chairs and tables to glassware, bikes and children’s toys.
  • Donate or recycle your electrical items responsibly. Electronic waste contains mercury and other toxins and is becoming a growing environmental problem.

Conserve energy

Becoming more energy efficient in the home is perhaps the easiest way of doing your bit for the environment; helping to reduce energy consumption and reducing your carbon dioxide emissions:

  • Switch off lights when you leave a room
  • Unplug appliances when they are not in use
  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible (as much as 85% of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes towards heating the water)
  • Allow clothes to dry naturally
  • Fit energy-saving light bulbs
  • Trap heat in your home by closing curtains and using draft excluders. Consider insulating your home with cavity wall and loft insulation
  • Turn the temperature dial down on your thermostat
  • Boil only as much water as you need when you are making a cup of tea or coffee
  • Take shorter showers to reduce water use

By making small changes, you can really help to make a big difference and contribute to the preservation of the Earth’s precious resources.