We all know that being good to the environment is the right thing to do, for ourselves and for future generations, but it can seem like to make a big impact on the environment you have to do something extraordinary and potentially expensive like buying a hybrid car, having solar panels fitted or only buying more expensive locally sourced food.
Big gestures may help but there are hundreds of little things that you can do easily and cheaply that will have as great environmental impact and could even have more of an impact than a solitary grand gesture. A lot of these simple actions won’t actually cost you a penny and some will save you money! Who’d of thought?
Get the basics right
There are several simple steps you can take straight away, you have probably heard about some of these already so just make sure you’re doing them consistently to have the greatest impact!
Use a reusable shopping bag
Stop using the plastic bags supplied by the supermarkets, some of them sit around for 500 years polluting the environment. The fancy (but still very cheap) linen shopping bags are even becoming a bit of a fashionable item!
Buy fair-trade whenever possible
Buying fair-trade ensures the producer of the product is being paid fairly and isn’t being exploited. While fair-trade products started off with niche offerings they are now more popular than ever, the list of fair-trade products now available is enormous and the price difference isn’t very big. For more information about fair-trade products check out fairtrade.org.uk
Use energy saving light bulbs
When your old bulbs go make sure you replace them with energy saving light bulbs, over their lifetime they will save you money and help the environment – what’s to lose!
Only fill the kettle with the water you need
As one of the most expensive electrical items to run in the average house, this should be a no-brainer, over filling the kettle will have a major impact on your electricity bill as well as the environment: It has actually been calculated that if everyone did this the saving would be enough to provide energy to light the whole country.
Stop using your car for small journeys
This can add up to a huge environmental impact, use your bike, walk or use the bus. You will get fitter and save money and you might even learn something about where you live that you would probably have otherwise missed.
Turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees
You probably won’t even notice the difference! Put a jumper on and think about the money you’re saving on your energy bill and how those ice caps aren’t melting quite as fast.
Plant a tree!
This is one of the best and coolest things you can do. Buy some seeds or Google how to get some from an existing tree. Plant your tree anywhere you like (so long as you have the landowners permission) even better take a child to plant it with (again permission of child borrowing required) and then smugly tell everyone you know how you have provided enough oxygen for 2 people for their entire lives. You could even decide which two people.
Turn electrical things off… Properly off…
Most electrical appliances (unless very new) standby mode is actually a bit of a myth and uses just as much energy as actually being on. Turn things off properly or get one of those fancy plugs to turn everything off for you (read here).
Recycle your old specs!
If you’re a glasses wearer you probably have somewhat of a horde of old glasses, you used to love those glasses but lets face it, they’ve been sat at the back of that drawer for a year now for a good reason. Why not help one of the 200 million people around the world who will make good use of those somewhat fashion-questionable glasses by donating them to someone who actually needs them. Visit vao.org.uk for more details.
Join an action group
Today it is easy to join an action group that mobilises people power in order to do good in the world. You might just wish to simply learn more or to take part in direct action, either way consider some of the following groups that make a difference every day:
Amnesty International – amnesty.org
Greenpeace – greenpeace.org
PSPB – rspb.org.uk
Woodland Trust – woodlandtrust.org.uk