We know that living more sustainably can sometimes feel overwhelming and that it can sometimes feel like our efforts won’t make any difference. But if we all make small changes, they really do add up collectively to make a big positive difference.
We know it can sometimes seem tough to know where to start, so we have put together some tips to help you get going.
"The best time to start was yesterday, the second best time is now" - unknown
If you don’t know where to start – start small. Pick a room and write down all the things you would consider swapping for a more sustainable option when they run out. Then, every time you are ready to replace something on that list, choose a more sustainable product to try instead.
Find your local refillery or sustainable store (there are a number of these across the UK in physical stores and online) and if you’re not sure where to start, do not be afraid to ask them for their recommendations and advice. Trust us, we get asked questions all the time and we are always happy to help.
We know it can be hard sometimes but try to shop local as much as you can. This includes online shops & services as well as physical premises operating in your local area – they all contribute to your local community.
Keep an eye on local noticeboards and social media groups for small-scale local producers making unique items.
Try and buy local, in-season produce wherever you can. This not only reduces food miles but supports local farmers and producers too. Many areas now have local fruit and veg delivery boxes that can help make supporting local farmers that bit easier.
Consider going organic. Not only are there reputed health benefits of eating organically grown food, but it helps protect our wildlife, biodiversity and soil for future generations too.
"The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself" - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of The United States of America
If you eat & drink dairy products, consider swapping to milk deliveries from local high welfare farms that come in glass bottles rather than plastic ones. Many also deliver other food staples at the same time.
If you eat meat, consider reducing the amount of meat & dairy you eat per week. Also, look to buy products from local suppliers who can specify welfare and environmental standards rather than rely on mass-produced goods derived from factory farming or imports.
If you live in an area close to amenities, consider walking or cycling rather than driving short distances. Also, use public transport wherever possible.
If you have a garden or outdoor space, consider making it organic. Plant flowers suitable for bees – they especially like blue, purple and yellow flowers (we also wrote a blog post about bees) and if you have space, consider growing some of your own organic fruit and vegetables. In our opinion, nothing beats homegrown!
If you are able, consider supporting a local environmental or social charity in your area. In our opinion, places like food banks and environmental charities shouldn’t need to exist at all if governments were doing their job well, but without community support, local charities often struggle to keep going and their work is vital to help support our communities and environments.
If you’re a pet lover and hoping to bring a new furry friend into your home (or indeed any other kind of pet), consider rehoming one rather than buying. We know this won’t work for everyone, but for those with the time and patience for an adopted animal, it is worth considering.
We all need clothes, especially fast-growing children, but there are so many options available now for buying second hand, such as from well-known auction sites, social media, local sales websites & second-hand stores, that checking these out before hitting the shops to buy new items is a good way of helping the planet and saving some money at the same time.
If you need clothes for a special occasion, why not consider using a clothing rental company rather than buying something new? These are typically found online and while we have never personally used one, we have heard a number of positive reviews.
When shopping for new clothes, if second-hand isn’t suitable, look for more sustainable garments such as organic cotton or recycled fabrics rather than polyester for example.
Look to repurpose or upcycle as a way to breathe new life into an array of goods rather than replacing them. And if you no longer want to keep the item, why not offer it to your local community via a freecycle site, donate to a charity shop or see if your local homeless charity can reuse it? If it must go to landfill, try and recycle it as far as practical.
Use recycled paper products wherever possible.
Avoid single-use plastic as much as possible and always take reusable bags with you when out shopping.
Fundamentally though, the most sustainable purchase is the one you don't make. Next time you are looking to make a purchase, ask yourself if you really need it and if so, is there a more sustainable option.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world" – Mahatma Gandhi
There are so many ways that you can make more sustainable swaps that we couldn’t hope to list them all, but we hope that this list provides a good starting point for those looking for some inspiration.
We also know that all sustainable options won’t be suitable for all people. As much as we would like our world to be fully sustainable, we're just not there - yet! There are many factors such as social, economic, geographic, political etc, that can act as a significant barrier to people but, if everyone made just one additional sustainable swap, it all adds up to a big collective difference and can help make the case to policymakers that we want change.
"it's only one straw said 8 billion people"
“If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it…one step at a time.” – Marian Wright Edelman
“Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for living things around us, especially each other.” – Jane Goodall