While we continue to call upon governments and big business to make vital changes now, there’s also many smaller switches that we can all look to make.
We’ve worked with our longstanding partner Friends of the Earth to put together a list of the lifestyle changes that will have a positive impact on caring for the environment – all of which you can make without having to leave the house.
1. Think local when it comes to deliveries
While shopping locally is by and large the most environmentally friendly option, lots of us are now relying on home deliveries for our groceries, whether we’re self-isolating or just trying to keep shops less crowded. Ordering from small, local and organic suppliers can cut down on the emissions and pesticides involved in your weekly shop, and help keep independent businesses afloat.
2. Use your money to do good
Switching to a sustainable bank account is quick, easy and means your money will be actively working to protect the planet. Opening a current account with a sustainable bank (such as Triodos Bank, which Friends of the Earth recommends) gives you the chance to reflect your values while doing everyday banking transactions. If you have investments or a pension, you can also choose to invest in funds that only back sustainable companies – meaning that while you’re seeing a return on your investment, you’re also supporting pioneering solutions to the climate emergency.
3. Choose products that protect people, and the planet
Anti-bacterial spray, wipes and hand gel were essential in keeping us safe throughout 2020, but they also involve heavy plastic waste. However, being Covid-safe doesn’t mean you need to resort to single-use plastics. Unless you’re in a high-risk group and need specialist PPE, choose a washable, reusable face covering or try making one at home. Where you can, top up anti-bac sprays from refill stations, and keep a large bottle of hand sanitiser to refill your own hand gel bottles rather than buying a new one every time.
4. Care for the planet’s wellbeing while you care for your own
Your self-care routine needn’t cost the earth. Look for beauty, skin-care and grooming products that use organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, and recyclable packaging. More and more people are turning to organic health and beauty products, with a 23% market growth in 2019, according to the Soil Association. Its research also revealed that 64% of people look for products with recyclable packaging.
You could also switch from liquid products to bars. Whether it’s soap, shampoo or body wash, switching from bottles to bars can substantially decrease the amount of single-use plastic a household gets through. Solid bars also contain far less water than products dispensed from plastic bottles so they can be more economical. By going for minimally packaged bars, you can reduce the environmental impact even more. Other easy switches to make include buying bamboo toothbrushes or choosing reusable makeup remover pads.
5. Make home improvements that reduce your carbon footprint
Energy use in our homes is responsible for a whopping 14% of all UK emissions. But by adopting a few cost-effective and energy efficient measures you can cut your carbon footprint and your fuel bills, while still staying warm.
There are lots of straight-forward and cost-effective way to insulate your home such as draught-proofing or installing additional loft insulation, while fitting an insulating jacket to your water cylinder will save £20 annually on your heating bill. Check out the Energy Saving Trust for more information. You can also apply for a Green Homes Grant voucher, which could be worth thousands of pounds to the cost of making energy efficiency improvements to your home. And to get ahead of the curve you could also consider installing low-carbon heating, such as a heat pump.
6. Switch to green energy
As well as cutting down your overall emissions, you can also ensure the energy you do use is as clean as it can be. You can stop funding fossil fuels directly by switching to an energy supplier that guarantees to only offer 100% renewable energy, and is coal, nuclear and fracking free.
7. Buy less, and buy to last
Most of us could probably do with less stuff in our lives. Unfortunately, we're hardwired to feel good about getting something new.
Buy better-made furniture, clothes and shoes – they may cost more upfront, but they’ll be cheaper in the long-run. Also try repairing rather than replacing – it can lessen the load on your wallet and the planet, and buy and sell unwanted goods using websites like Shpock, Gumtree and eBay.
8. Use your voice
Staying indoors doesn’t mean you can’t make your voice heard. You can still write to your MP, join an online discussion group or sign a petition on an environmental issue. Social media is also the perfect avenue to show your support and cheer on those championing the environmental cause, whether that’s the likes of Greta Thunberg or sustainability heroes in your local community. Keep an eye on Friends of the Earth’s website to learn more about how to make a stand on the climate emergency, without needing to leave the house.
Want to make a change?
If you’re inspired by these tips and using your money to do good, find out more about our personal current account.