Ten ways to be greener

Solar panels, used to power lighting, on the roof of Brancaster Millennium Activity Centre, Norfolk

Looking for ideas to help you go green? Here are ten simple things you can do at home to save energy and reduce waste – for the good of your pocket and the planet.

Take action and switch off

The first step to reducing energy bills is cutting down on the amount of energy used. Did you know that turning the thermostat down by just one degree can save up to 10 per cent on your bill? Other simple changes include using LED light bulbs, switching off lights when you’re not in a room, boiling just the right amount of water in the kettle and hanging out washing instead of using the dryer.

Reduce food miles, waste and packaging

You can reduce the environmental impact of your meals by eating seasonally, and growing your own fruit and veg. If you don’t have your own garden or allotment, you can still grow a huge variety just on your windowsill, or try buying seasonal produce from local growers and farmers markets. Seasonal crops grown in the UK are often cheaper too, because there’s plenty to go round and they haven’t had to travel as far.

Do you grow your own veg?
Wooden wheelbarrow full of harvested summer vegetables
Do you grow your own veg?

Opt for renewable energy

If you’re able to invest a bit more in your green journey, then installing renewables at home is a great way to save on your energy bills and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. If you don’t have the means to install these systems, then you can still make use of renewables by switching to a green energy provider.

Get composting

Making compost is a great way to use up organic waste from your house and garden, rather than sending it to landfill. A good compost heap also provides a habitat for beneficial bugs, worms, fungi and bacteria, plus you can use the final product in your garden. You might be surprised to learn how many things are compostable, including uncooked food scraps, newspaper, tissues, eggshells, and tea or coffee granules.

Look after rivers and seas

All living things rely on water, yet our rivers and seas are suffering the effects of climate change and plastic pollution. There are lots of ways you can help to help to keep our waterways clean and flowing, such as using a GuppyBag in your clothes wash to trap micro-plastics, reducing your water use, or trying all-natural cleaning products. You could also volunteer on a river or beach clean to help remove litter that harms landscapes and wildlife.

Rivers are the lifeblood of our country
River underneath a bridge
Rivers are the lifeblood of our country

Make eco-friendly swaps

From beeswax wraps for your lunchbox to reusable straws and bamboo travel cups, there are so many everyday eco-friendly options out there which can help to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in your home. Natural cleaning products are also becoming popular again as they contain fewer chemicals, why not give them a go?

Plant a tree

Trees help to combat climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide, then removing and storing the carbon while releasing oxygen back into the air. They also play a key role in reducing the risk of floods, as their roots slow down water’s absorption into the soil. And not to mention all the wildlife that rely on trees, including red squirrels, hazel dormice, and red kites. If you don’t have room to plant a tree at home, you could donate just £5 and we’ll plant a sapling on your behalf.

Get crafty with natural and recycled materials

Ready to put that mountain of old wrapping paper to use? There are plenty of homemade gifts and decorations you can make from materials you probably have at home, from fabric scraps to old magazines. Why not make your own draught excluder or paper chains for parties? Or how about a homemade pair of thermal curtains? Try browsing online for more ideas and crafty tutorials.

Why not create a home for insects by building a bug hotel?
A bug hotel
Why not create a home for insects by building a bug hotel?

Create homes for wildlife

There are lots of things you can do to help wildlife to thrive. If you have a garden you can let the grass grow, make seed balls for the birds, build a bug hotel or a hedgehog highway. If you have limited outdoor space, why not try planting a window box full of pollinator-friendly flowers, hanging up a bee B&B, or taking part in the annual Big Butterfly Count during July and August.

Pass it on

Know someone who could use a bit more of the great outdoors in their life? Studies have shown that regularly spending time in nature can significantly improve our health and wellbeing, and we also know that if people fall in love with nature they'll be more likely to look after it. So why not treat your loved one to a refreshing coastal walk, take a wander through a fragrant garden, or picnic under the shade of a tree?