Bottles to baths - 53 ways you can help save the planet

here is a series of eco-friendly events taking place in Norwich over the next two weeks. Picture: Ni

There are plenty of ways to reduce your carbon footprint. - Credit: Nick Butcher

One person can make a difference and we must all act now to do our bit to save the planet. That's the theme of today's EDP environmental call to arms.

However, while many are keen to play their part, it's a vast challenge - and it's easy to become overwhelmed.

So here are 53 places to start. Why not print this off and see how many you can achieve?

Watchdogs have warned people in Norfolk not to fall for a scam over solar panels. Picture: Matthew U

Solar panels can reduce your carbon footprint. - Credit: Matthew Usher

At home

  • Recycle, recycle, recycle

Whether it's food waste, cardboard from all those Amazon orders or empty bottles and cans - make sure you are recycling and using the correct bins for your waste.

  • Draught proof your home

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A properly draught-proofed and insulated house helps reduce your energy usage and CO2 emissions, as well as saving on bills. 

  • Be more conscious with your heating

Do you need the heating on in September, or can it wait? Will an extra layer do the job? Considering if we can reduce our heating usage is important.

  • Switch off paper statements

Many high street banks and utility companies have switched to paperless statements. Using the internet for banking and payments saves trees and reduces the demand for paper and air pollution from production.

  • Ditch the drier

If you have one, hanging your clothes on a line instead of using a drier will reduce your carbon footprint. 

  • Shorten your showers - and turn off the tap

Reducing your shower time and frequency not only saves money but also reduces water and energy consumption. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth will achieve the same goal.

  • Reduce your cleaning

If you can drop a washing machine or dishwasher cycle, you'll cut back on bills (£16 a year, the Energy Saving Trust estimates, from cutting out one cycle of each a week) and energy usage.

  • Boil water only when needed

Fill the kettle with only the water you need - and stop reboiling it. Upgrading to a more environmentally-friendly model, with rapid boil and automatic shut-off features, can help.

  • Fix leaking taps

You might save more money than you expect by fixing leaky taps.

  • Install solar panels

In January last year, the government introduced a scheme - the smart export guarantee - to pay households for solar energy they create, but don't use.

  • Lighten up

If you're redecorating, paint your walls a lighter colour so you need less artificial light.

This light bulb is on. That's not the case in some 500 Norfolk homes where electricity supplies have

Ensuring you switch lights off when they're not needed can cut down on usage.

Tweaking your tech

  • Use energy efficient light bulbs

It might seem like a small change, but the Energy Saving Trust says replacing all bulbs in your home with LED lights could reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by up to 55kg a year - equivalent to the amount emitted by driving your car for 190 miles.

  • Turn lights off when not in the room

Electricity generation is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions, and turning lightbulbs off when you leave the room will help cut down.

  • Turn off standby

Using similar logic, turning off appliances at the plug instead of leaving them on standby will save energy and money.

  • Get a smart meter or thermostat

Smart gadgets to control your heating temperature, timings and location can reduce both your bills and your energy usage. Some work via smartphone apps, so you can make changes while you're not at home.

  • Look after your appliances

Expanding the lifespan of old appliances means there are less carbon emissions from the manufacture of new ones. Read the manual to get the most out of your appliances, clean them and replace tired or faulty parts.

  • Clean your fridge

Dusty coils can increase energy consumption by 30pc, research has found.

A honey bee feeding on a lavender flower Picture: Chris Bishop

A honey bee feeding on a lavender flower Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

In the garden

  • Encourage bees

Bees are pollinators and more than three quarters of the world's food crops are partly dependent on them, but climate change is hitting their numbers. To encourage them to your garden, use winter to plant nectar-rich plants including primrose, buddleia and marigolds.

  • Let your grass grow

Stopping mowing part of your garden will see wildflowers and shrubs grow, creating perfect conditions for pollinators.

  • Compost your waste

Composting food waste significantly reduces the amount you send to landfill, and helps creatures and flowers thrive.

Greater Anglia's Delay Repay compensation scheme has been ranked among the most efficient in the UK

Using public transport is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint. - Credit: Archant

On holiday

  • Use e-tickets

Switching to e-tickets cuts down on the paper - and energy - required to produce physical copies. Try using e-tickets for flights, travel and events - you'll reduce the risk of losing them.

  • Don't be tempted by 'minis'

They might look appealing, but they are another source of plastic which will end up in landfill. Instead, buy a refillable set.

  • Avoid air travel

It produces significantly more carbon dioxide than by rail.

All shops in England are set to begin charging 10p for plastic bags by the end of the month.

Use alternatives to plastic bags. - Credit: Archant

Food and drink

  • Ditch plastic bags

Single-use plastic bags cause problems, particularly when they enter the ocean. Instead, buy a reusable cloth bag or shop at places that offer paper ones.

  • Minimise packaging

Look for local zero waste shops which don't use plastic packaging and take along containers to refill.

  • Shop local

By purchasing closer to home, you are cutting down on 'food miles', which include the pollution and fuel that come with transporting goods by lorry or plane.

  • Have a meat-free day

Reducing your meat consumption, experts say, will reduce your carbon footprint, with the livestock sector contributing to greenhouse gases. Try reducing your meat and fish consumption for one day a week.

  • Or head to a butcher

Ensuring you are buying locally-reared, good quality meat helps, too. 

  • Reduce food waste

Make use of leftovers in soups and stocks, freeze extra portions, don't over-buy and plan ahead.

Photo of a coffee cup as the environmental audit committee has urged that consumers should be charge

Using reusable cups is a more sustainable option than single-use options. - Credit: PA

At work

  • Invest in a reusable coffee cup

In the UK alone, it's estimated people toss out more than 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups every year. Have a look into options for reusable varieties.

  • And water bottle

We know that single-use water bottles are damaging to the environment. Replacing them with reusable, refillable bottles made from glass, stainless steel or higher quality plastics is a better option.

  • Use a laptop over a desktop

In comparison to desktop computers, laptops use less energy due to fewer components, built-in monitors and efficient processors meant to extend battery life.

  • Use both sides of the paper

The average officer worker throws away 10,000 sheets of paper every year. Make sure you are recycling paper, keeping files online where possible and using both sides. 

New YMCA charity shop in Anglia Square.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Many people visit charity shops for a more environmentally-friendly way of shopping. - Credit: Archant

Beauty and fashion

  • Go second hand

Visiting charity shops or browsing eBay keeps clothes out of landfill and reduces demand for the production of new clothing. Research has found extending the average life of clothes by just three months per item reduced carbon, water and waste footprints by 5pc to 10pc. 

  • Learn tailoring skills

Instead of throwing out clothes which are past their best, learn how to darn a hole or sew on a new button. 

  • Don't throw away old clothes

Donate wearable clothes to charity shops or sell them on. For those at the end of their lives, put them in textile and clothing banks - many are in supermarket car parks - or consider donating to animal charities, which can make use of old textiles.

  • Air dry your hair 

Putting the hairdryer down every so often not only gives your hair a break, but saves energy too.

  • Ditch the packaging

Plenty of cosmetics are now sold in reusable or zero waste formats, including shampoo and conditioner bars, reusable cotton wool pads and products with plastic-free packaging.

No.2 Konectbus service to Holt leaves Norwich Bus Station. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Konectbus in Norwich. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Getting around

  • Get a bus pass

Using public transport helps reduce CO2 emissions from cars. Using the bus or train is one way to help.

  • Or walk 

If it's doable, why not walk instead? It's good exercise and you'll be helping the planet.

  • Join a car club or lift share scheme

Many cities have car club schemes, where people can hire a car for a period of time, or lift shares, to cut down on the number of cars on the roads.

  • Look at what type of car you have

If you must drive, consider your car. Electric, hybrid and hydrogen-powered vehicles are more environmentally-friendly.

  • And practice green driving

You can minimise the eco-impact of any car. Avoiding unnecessary idling or revving, accelerating gently and keeping speed below 70mph are all ways to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The Forum and Norwich Millennium Library by night.Photo: Bill Smith

The Forum and Norwich Millennium Library by night.Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2002


  • Join a library

Sign up to your local library, or head to a charity shop, instead of buying new books.

  • Become a beekeeper

If you're on the hunt for a hobby, why not try your hand at beekeeping? Seek an expert's advice, first.

  • Upcycle, upcycle, upcycle

Whether it's clothes, furniture or jewellery made from unused materials, reusing items and giving them a new look is an eco-friendly (and money-saving) hobby.

A parcel return in Norwich at 7.43am on Christmas Day may have been one of the quickest unwanted pre

Glitter in wrapping paper and cards can be damaging for the environment. - Credit: Archant © 2006

This Christmas

  • Think of your wrapping

Non-biodegradable glitter is harmful to animals. Avoid glittery cards, use up what you already have at home and opt for recycled options, brown paper or even fabric to wrap gifts.

  • Switch to LED

If every UK household opted for strings of LED lights over incandescent, the country would save thousands of tonnes of CO2 just over the 12 days of Christmas.

  • Buy from sustainable businesses

Research traders before you buy - what are their green credentials? Are they sustainable? Are their manufacturers local? What is their packaging? Do they have any ethical or sustainable certifications?

  • Buy local (again)

Order your turkey and pigs in blankets from the butcher down the road and visit a local greengrocer for your spuds and sprouts.

  • Use timers for outdoor lights

This is true for any outdoor security lights, but at Christmas, as fairy lights adorn homes, it becomes particularly important. Make sure those twinkling lights are on a timer to cut back on your energy usage.

  • Use rechargeable batteries

Whether it's for toys, new gadgets or Christmas lights, make sure you swap single-use batteries for rechargeable options, which are highly effective in reducing your carbon footprint.

  • Join a climate action group

Okay, you can do this anytime of year. But if you want to kick your new year off with a resolution well worth keeping, why not join a local action group? 

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