To mark COP26, Planet Woking has compiled a list of 26 ideas to help you to cut carbon and boost biodiversity.
1.Low energy lighting – modern LED lightbulbs use 80-90% less energy than traditional lightbulbs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if you replace all the bulbs in your home with LED lights, you could reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by up to 65kg a year – the same amount emitted by driving your car around 220 miles!
2. Home improvements like loft and cavity wall insulation could help cut carbon, reduce the amount of energy you use and save you money. Action Surrey has got loads of advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of your home. In addition, you might be eligible for funding for some measures. Find out more at www.actionsurrey.org
3. Reduce food waste. According to the Surrey Environment Partnership, a family of four could save £70 a month just by reducing the amount of food they throw away. Avoid wasted food by planning meals, popping food in the freezer and using leftovers.
4. Repair, reuse, recycle. Dust off those sewing skills by repairing that favourite top or furnish your home for less by sourcing preloved furniture through the Surrey Reuse Network. There are lots of tips on how to reuse items and reduce waste at www.surreyep.org.uk/reduce-reuse-recycle/ Terracycle schemes collect hard to recycle waste that is not collected kerbside e.g. crisp packets, coffee pods, ink cartridges. As well as drop off locations, they also offer a Zero Waste Box that can be filled and returned by post. Find out more at www.terracycle.com. And don’t forget to recycle in the bathroom too! According to the Recycle Now campaign, while 90% of packaging is recycled in our kitchens, only 50% is being recycled in the bathroom.
5. If you need to replace appliances at home such as washing machines and fridges, choose a model with a high energy efficiency rating and try using functions such as eco modes which can save more energy. The Energy Saving Trust has a really useful guide to help choose the right energy efficient appliance for you.
6. Move to a renewable energy tariff – The Energy Saving Trust says that by choosing a green tariff, it sends a message to your supplier and the wider energy industry that you wish to avoid electricity generated from fossil fuels and support renewable energy generation. Find out how to switch.
7. Help a hedgehog! Sadly these much loved mammals are in decline. Give them a helping hand by creating a hedgehog highway in your garden or making a log pile for much needed shelter and food. Find out more here.
8. If you have access to a garden or window box, plant flowers to support bees and other pollinators. The Surrey Wildlife Trust has lots of information on wildlife gardening and supporting species in decline.
9. Ditch the car for short journeys – by walking, scooting or cycling you can cut carbon whilst getting active.
10. Savvy shopper? Try to swerve fast fashion items that have a detrimental impact on the environment both in terms of their production and their disposal. You could set yourself a challenge not to buy any new clothes for a month…or even a year! Or explore the beautiful bargains or vintage pieces that can be found secondhand. There are lots of online stores specialising in preloved items available now.
11. Minimise packaging and reduce single use plastics – buy loose fruit and veg and take your own containers to shops and markets. Bare+Fair in Woking has a range of refillable toiletries, skincare products, household cleaners and food available in store. When you’re out and about take a reusable bottle. You can get free water refills from lots of Refill Woking participants – check out the list here.
12. Tetra Pak cartons are made up of six layers which help protect the milk, juice or juice drink inside from germs, sunlight, and air. There are a number of Tetra Pak recycling facilities in Woking borough including Sainsbury’s in Knaphill and Morrison’s in Goldsworth Road. Find your nearest collection point here.
13. Research by Oxford University scientist Joseph Poore shows that if every family in the UK swapped a red meat meal to a plant-based meal just once a week, the environmental impact would be the same as taking 16 million cars off the road. For some inspiration, check out these tasty meat-free meal ideas.
14. Heating accounts for one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions at home. Heating controls can help you make sure you’re only using heating when necessary. Thermostats, thermostatic radiator valves and smart heating controls which programme when your heating comes on and turns off can all help.
15. Draughtproofing your home can help prevent heat being lost through gaps around windows and doors, letterbox, loft hatch and between floorboards. Lots of DIY shops sell draughtproofing solutions which can be simple to fit yourself without hiring a professional.
16. When doing your food shopping, try to buy fruit and veg that have fewer food miles. Eat Seasonably is a great resource to help you choose foods that are in season and require less artificial inputs (such as heating, lighting and pesticides) to grow. The Eat Seasonably calendar shows what’s in season and when throughout the year.
17. Raingardens are landscaped areas designed to help slow down surface water run-off, reducing the risk of flooding. Find out how to create your own raingarden by using our handy guide.
18. Fancy getting involved in local climate and conservation volunteering? Local organisations such as Woking Environment Action and Woking Biodiversity Group (pictured left) help conserve our diverse range of habitats and species and welcome new volunteers. Find out more about these and other local volunteering opportunities here.
19. Use water efficiently. According to Affinity Water, we use more water in the South East region than any other in the UK. Water is a precious resource and there are some quick, cheap and effective ways we can all use less. Eco shower heads can help save an impressive 7,000 litres of water a year. And by turning off the tap while brushing your teeth you could save 6,500 litres a year! Your water company will have lots of handy tips for how you can reduce water usage around the home. Affinity Water’s are available here.
20. Gift sustainably – choose gifts that don’t have too much packaging or that can be recycled. When wrapping gifts avoid glittery or shiny paper that can’t be recycled and use paper tape or reusable ribbons or string.
21. Are you a pet owner? The Surrey Wildlife Trust has great advice on how you can care for your pet while caring for the planet – check it out here.
22. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has lots of advice on gardening in a changing climate. This report outlines how plant choice and garden design can make a difference.
23. Did you know it takes 2,700 litres of water to create enough cotton to make a t-shirt? That’s enough water to sustain a person for 900 days (source: WWF). The Centre of Environment and Sustainability (CES) at the University of Surrey created an informative take on the snakes and ladders game – the Good, the Bad and the T-shirt. It takes players through the lifecycle of a cotton t-shirt. A quick and easy way to reduce our single-use of cotton is to replace cotton pads and buds with reusable alternatives.
24. Car clubs offer an alternative to private car ownership, giving affordable occasional access to cars on a pay as you go basis. Research shows that for every car club car provided 10 vehicles are removed from the road, helping reduce congestion and improve air quality. Find out more about the Surrey County Council car club scheme that operates in partnership with Enterprise Rent A Car here.
25. Plant trees while you search online! Ecosia is a search engine that uses the ad revenue from searches to plant trees. Find out more at www.ecosia.org
26. Do what you can – every little change makes a difference. This list is intended to inspire you to do what you can and maybe try out something new for the benefit of our environment.
Got some other top tips or super hacks for living sustainably? We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line at email@example.com