40+ Tips To Live More Sustainably
From supermarket strategies and restaurant ordering tips to freezer secrets and impromptu workouts, we’ve been racking our brains over at Freda Smith HQ (ie. my kitchen table) to come up with some creative and helpful hints to help you become more sustainable.
If we can all make a few tweaks here and there to our everyday habits, we’ll be doing our bit for the planet and even saving our wallets and waistlines at the same time. Everyone’s a winner!
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Tao Te Ching
1. Buy fruit and veggies in season
That means oranges in winter and strawberries in summer. Seasonal goods will likely be locally produced and are more flavoursome too. This tip comes from my granny, Shirley, who is very proud of her allotment!
2. Check the labels
Where do your beetroot, beans and bananas come from? Chances are your trolley is laden with items from the other end of the globe. Try to buy as many UK produced goods as possible to minimise your carbon footprint
3. Bag items with the fair-trade certification
This not only means that local farmers and producers are fairly compensated for their goods but it also guarantees that sustainable methods were used in the process of making or growing them
4. Step away from the bottled water
We seem to be addicted to bottled water but it wastes fossil fuels in both production and transport which is damaging our environment. Most bottle water is also packaged using PET (polyethylene terephthalate) which is derived from crude oil and is harmful to our health. It also costs money!
5. Invest in a stylish foldaway bag
Keep forgetting to bring your bag for life? Buy yourself a stylish foldaway bag that you can tuck into your handbag. Double points for buying a sustainably, locally and ethically produced item!
6. Order your shopping online
If you do the transport maths, one van instead of 20 cars is far more eco-friendly when it comes to your weekly shop! Plus, you’ll avoid impulse purchases which might help reduce waste
7. Ditch the clingfilm
Use beeswax wrap (we love the ethos behind The Beeswax Wrap Co) or reusable tupperware to keep food fresh instead of adding to plastic usage and waste. It’s such a simple switch to make and if you didn’t already know, plastics kill around one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year!
8. Buy eco-friendly cleaning products
Eco-friendly products are more natural and not full of so many harmful chemicals. We love Ecover and their products because they are committed to minimal environmental impact. Even their bottles are green as they’re made up of 75% plant-plastic and 25% post-consumer recycled plastic.
9. Get your meal prep on
Plan your meals in advance and make a shopping list so you know exactly what to pick up at the supermarket and don’t buy extra. You’ll save time, money, energy and the planet in one fell swoop!
10. Ignore 3 for 2 deals in the supermarket
Do you really need 3 packets of fish fingers? Stay true to your list and try not to get sucked in to supermarket offers unless it really is worth stocking up
11. Use your nose
Don’t just throw your milk away on its use-by date, sniff it instead and see whether it’s really spoiled. Supermarkets don’t want to get the blame for making you sick so they use that best-before date to cover themselves. Plus, they want you to buy more!
12. Get creative with cooking
See what you can whip up using that strange mish-mash of leftover ingredients in your fridge. Ready… steady… cook! Freda was a dab hand at rustling up family meals from leftover. In those days, you had to!
13. Pack your lunch
Made too much for dinner? Pack the rest of it up for lunch so you save time, money and the globe. You’ll get brownie points for wrapping your food in beeswax wrap and/or carrying it around in an upcycled glass jar or reusable containers. We especially like Elephant Box’s collection of stainless steel containers.
14. Use your freezer
Keep things fresher for longer by making full use of your freezer. Instead of keeping bread out, slice it up and pop it in the freezer so it doesn’t go off. See those black bananas in your fruit bowl? Frozen bananas make a healthy and delicious treat.
15. Get composting
7.3 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year. That’s not just food down the drain but money, time and an overwhelming amount of extra CO2 created in landfills. Compost leftover food instead of throwing it in the bin. It’s a natural fertiliser for your garden and there’ll be less waste for the landfill
16. Favour glass packaging
If there’s a choice between glass and plastic, always go glass! This is especially true of condiments like mustard and mayonnaise. Plus, glass Ketchup bottles are so much cooler and more retro than the plastic squeezy types!
17. Repurpose glass jars
My granny reuses glass jars to make her own jams, pickled beetroot and other condiments (a tip I believe came from Freda!). Your creativity is the limit. Use them as makeshift vases, a container for nuts and seeds or a great salad dressing mixture that you can store in the fridge. They even make pretty storage for a packed lunch.
18. Think long-term over single-use
Bypass the Evian and treat yourself to a lifelong glass water bottle. There are so many stylish, design-forward reusable bottle on the market these days! Go for stainless steels straws over plastic.
19. Order tap water
Force restaurants to avoid serving you water in plastic bottles too by ordering a glass of their finest tap water to accompany your meal! Cheaper and good for the environment!
20. Recycle, upcycle!
If you really can’t avoid purchasing or using plastic products, the very least you can do is recycle them or re-use them or even upcycle them! You can make a great makeshift vase by slicing through a plastic bottle. Get creative.
21. Turn it off
That means lights when you leave a room and even appliances on standby like your telly or kettle. It also means your wifi!
22. Microwave it
Use the microwave instead of your oven. Microwaves consume far less energy than conventional ovens. They’re not just good for ready meals! You can even bake in a mug! Watch this space for some epic recipes using your Freda Smith mug…
23. Be kettle smart
Brewing a cuppa? Don’t fill the kettle to the top, only use as much water as you need. Your kettle is one of the least energy-efficient appliances in your home
24. Switch to LED light bulbs
They use less power and are more efficient so they last longer than standard bulbs too
25. Take the stairs
See that lift? Take the stairs instead. You’ll be saving the planet one step at a time and you’ll be getting a free workout all in one go too!
26. Go electronic
The next time you hit the print button on your computer, think about whether it’s really necessary. Can you keep your travel documents on your phone? What about digital cinema or train tickets?
27. Give a crap!
Or rather…. switch your toilet paper to 'Don’t Give A Crap’. These toilet rolls are made entirely of recycled paper, they’re delivered direct to your door in stylish eco packaging, and 50% of the profits are donated to building toilets in less developed countries.
28. Embrace wonky fruit and veg
Did you know that a third of fruit and veg is thrown away before it leaves the farm because it’s not pretty enough for the supermarket? We love what Odd Box are doing - delivering fresh, but wonky-shaped produce to your door to reduce waste and support local farmers.
29. Introduce Meat-Free Mondays
Cutting back on your meat consumption can have a positive impact on both the environment and your health. Why not go meat-free once a week and see how creative you can be in the kitchen with your veggies? And when you do eat meat, purchase from your local butcher’s where possible.
30. Give your clothes the cold treatment
Wash your clothes on a cold cycle of at 30 max. 90% of the energy your washing machine uses is devoted to heating water. Plus, it means you wont’ have to worry about shrinking your favourite jumper!
31. Swap your books
Instead of buying your next read, exchange your favourite books with a friend! It’ll save you money and could be the start of a book club. E-readers are another good paperless option.
32. Save your dryer lint for our feathery friends
If you have to use a dryer (which you shouldn’t be because you’re being eco-friendly and air-drying your clothes, right?!), throw the lint outside - birds will use it to feather their nests!
33. Reach for your jumper, socks or slippers
Instead of running to the heating when you feel chilly, grab a cosy jumper or even pop on an extra pair of socks or slippers. You’ll be surprised at the difference they make!
34. No junk mail
Stick a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your letterbox to stop a flurry of wasted paper landing on your doorstep. You won’t need to waste time wading through a useless stack of leaflets any longer!
35. Become eco-fashion conscious
Support clothing brands that are eco-conscious and ethical. I absolutely adore clothing from Lucy & Yak who use organic materials that are manufactured sustainably and shipped in biodegradable packaging.
36. Grow your own
You don’t have to have an allotment like my granny or a veggie patch in your garden to start growing your own produce. Start small with herbs so you lower your carbon footprint and save money. No space? Invest in some boxes for your windowsill and you’ll brighten the view and filter the outside air all in one go! Or, as a friend of mine suggested, grow plants in old washing tablet tubs and cut off plastic bottles.
37. Sing in the shower
You probably already do this but see if you can save water by showering in the time it takes for you to belt out your favourite song from start to finish! That’s a challenge… Or get a water saving shower head.
38. Public transport for the win
Aside from saving the planet by burning through fossil fuels, hopping on public transport instead of your car means you’ll have more time to read your book. If there’s no way around it, try car sharing with someone from work or a friend.
39. Save your envelopes
Get your own back on the bills you receive in the post by saving the envelopes and using them as your shopping list or just a great spot for doodling when you’re on the phone to your best mate.
40. Hold on to those boxes
Repurpose boxes and use them as containers for gifts or reuse them when you need to send something out in the post in future.
41. Be period powerful
Periods are a pain, not just to us poor sufferers but also to the environment. Make the switch either to organic, biodegradable tampons, towels and liners (TOTM are awesome and you can even subscribe monthly). Or, commit to zero-waste and invest in a menstrual cup (you can find many a Mooncup in Boots). A friend of mine swears by them!
42. Change your search engine
Plants trees by surfing on the internet. We kid you not! Esocia use their profits to plant trees where they’re needed most benefitting the environment, communities and local economies. Talk about the easiest way to save the planet in history!
43. Recycle or donate your clothes
Fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry after oil, and tonnes of clothes are thrown away with household waste each year. 95% of those clothes could have been recycled. Next time you have a clear out, consider donating your clothes to charity or recycling them. H&M offer you a £5 voucher to spend in-store if you hand over your unwanted clothes to any of their stores, no matter where the garments are from!
44. Shop local
The closer to home your clothes, food and everyday items are made and brought, the smaller the carbon footprint. Buying local also means you’re supporting the local businesses and the economy as a whole. In fact, all of our Freda Smith products are manufactured and distributed within the UK so think of us if you’re in the buying mood!