50 Things

50 things you can do to lead a more sustainable lifestyle

  1. Only use as much detergent as you need. It contains phosphates, which can kill fish and other organisms in the lakes and rivers. Use Eco-friendly products where possible.
  2. Encourage wildlife in your garden. Plant flowers that attract insects (butterflies particularly like Buddleia, honeysuckle and large daisy-like flowers.) Birds like berries and fruit. Put up a bird table, bird box or bat box.
  3. Take showers instead of bath. Replacing one bath a shower per week can save up to 25 litres of water.
  4. Don't put things down the toilet that are not broken down by the sewage process (e.g. sanitary products and condoms) as they pollute the water system.
  5. Turn down the thermostat by 1 degree or use 1 hours less heating a day to cut C02 emissions by 5-10%.
  6. Insulate your loft with glass - fibre or mineral wool and tag hot water heaters, tanks and pipes.
  7. Change to fluorescent light bulbs. These produce the same amount of light for about 1/5 the energy of ordinary light bulbs and last 8 times longer.
  8. Only boil as much water as needed in the kettle.
  9. Cool foods to room temperature before putting them in the fridge or freezer.
  10. Use a cooler temperature and full loads in the washing machine and let clothes dry naturally.
  11. Ask your electricity company for renewable power or a green tariff to promote renewable power generation.
  12. Avoid using unnecessary packaging - e.g. buy loose fruit and vegetables.
  13. Avoid disposable products - buy longer lasting items and repair products whenever possible.
  14. Walk or cycle. Short journeys, before your car is warmed up, cause most pollution.
  15. Stop junk mail coming through your letterbox. Remove your name from mailing lists by registering with the: Mail preference service, Freepost 22, London, W1E 7EZ.
  16. Choose products in reusable packaging (milk bottles can be used up to 100 times) and one for which you can buy refills, and reuse packaging for storage - boxes, jars etc.
  17. Set up an allotment. By growing your own vegetables you can be sure to avoid chemical fertilisers and pesticides and the vast distances food so often travels.
  18. Replace washers in dripping taps. A tap dripping one drop per second can waste 5 litres of water an hour - that's 2,700 gallons per year.
  19. Try to use easily recyclable materials, e.g. glass instead of plastic, and buy products made from recyclable materials.
  20. Encourage your local authority to improve its recycling facilities, perhaps by providing a plastic recycling point or a doorstep collection scheme.
  21. Have a catalytic converter fitted if your car has not already got one.
  22. Help reduce the damage done by the waste already out there: join in an organised clean-up event such as National Spring Clean (organised by the Tidy up Britain Group).
  23. Avoid using hoses and sprinklers. Instead; install a water butt and use rainwater.
  24. Buy organic food and goods. These are produced without chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides or growth regulators, without unnecessary cruelty to animals.
  25. Use public transport. On average, public transport used less than half as much fuel per passenger mile than a private car.
  26. When buying a car go from something small and fuel efficient, with an engine size of 1.4 litres or less.
  27. Avoid using chemical fertilisers and pesticides in your garden and make your own compost.
  28. Driving at 70mph uses 30% more fuel than at 50mph.
  29. Buy less. In the richest countries, 20% of the world's population consumes 80% of the natural resources. Make a shopping list so you don't buy things you don't need.
  30. Water plants in the morning or evening to allow water to get to the roots rather than just evaporating.
  31. Lobby your local supermarket not to put premiums on the cost of organic food and goods.
  32. Keep your car properly maintained to ensure lower emissions and higher efficiency.
  33. Buy local. Transporting fruit and vegetables across the world needs up to 4 litres of fuel for each kg of produce and generates pollution from planes and lorries used. Buying locally grown food not only supports the community, it is less likely to have preservatives, irradiation treatment, false ripening, etc before it gets to you.
  34. Wait until you can wash a full load in your dishwasher or washing machine and use the short cycle.
  35. Buy a low-volume toilet unit, which uses less than half the water of older models.
  36. Switch off lights and appliances when not in use including turning off the TV and DVD rather than leaving them on standby.
  37. Turn off your car engine when stuck in traffic for more than two minutes.
  38. Close curtains at dusk to reduce heat loss through windows.
  39. Use mains power rather than batteries, use rechargeable, which can last up to 15 times longer than ordinary batteries.
  40. One of the easiest ways to avoid exploitation of producers is to buy 'fairtrade' products to guarantee that producers get a fair share of the price you pay. This includes 'premiums' used to benefit communities, for instance towards providing better education opportunities, increased medical care or improved living conditions.
  41. Consider a local holiday, and if possible travel by boat or train rather than flying.
  42. Consider loft insulation and double glazing as together they can save up to 35% of heating costs.
  43. Make ethical investments.
  44. Volunteer to help in your local school or community.
  45. Join car-share schemes, or share the journey to work or school.
  46. Join a local box scheme for organic produce delivered direct to your door.
  47. Have solar panels fitted to your roof.
  48. Use your own shopping bag rather than plastic carrier bags.
  49. Place foil behind you refrigerators to reflect heat into the room.
  50. Buy products that are built to last. Choose ones with long guarantees and ask if the shop will take the product back to be recycled at the end of its lifecycle.
 Phew. Now get on with it!
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