A whopping 73%* of us would like to live more sustainably, but not as many of us manage it. Life is busy, habits are hard to break, and it can be difficult to work out what’s green and what’s not. Lucy Johnson is a sustainability coach and the founder of Green Salon, a sustainable lifestyle consultancy. Here’s her guide to the top 10 things you can do to green your life.
1. switch to a renewable energy supplier
With 30% of our carbon footprint coming from the energy we use in our homes, switching to a renewable energy provider is one of the biggest things we can do to lessen our impact on the planet. Look for renewable energy providers that source 100% of their energy from renewable sources. Check out Good Energy, which has recently become the only green energy supplier to be awarded the gold standard by USwitch.
2. buy better, buy less
One fear we all have of buying more sustainable products is that they cost more. And, on the whole, that’s a reasonable fear. Mass production drives down costs at the expense of the environment. However, there is a simple way around this: buy better quality products, and buy less of them. Check out Buy Me Once, a company that sources the best quality, most durable products so you can save money by simply buying them once. Or, if you need to buy furniture, look for well-crafted antiques that are built to last.
3. green your wardrobe
Talking of saving money, £140 million pounds worth of wearable clothes end up in the bin each year, according to Clothes Aid. That’s a lot of money to throw away. The cost of fast fashion is not just high for us, but also for the planet with the fashion industry producing a staggering 10% of global carbon emissions. So what can we do about it? If you feel like going clothes shopping, start by visiting your wardrobe! You may be amazed what you find in the back of it. Play around with mixing and matching items, and find a tailor to up-cycle clothes you love but don’t quite fit. If you need key pieces, search out vintage and charity shops for pre-loved designer items at affordable prices, or look at rental platforms like Hurr Collective for special occasions.
4. shop refillables
We all believed that if we recycled, we could deal with our plastic waste. Sadly, however, we still recycle less than half the plastic we produce in this country. There is another way. Sustainable brands selling pantry staples, cleaning products, beauty products and even make up, are now offering refillable options. Good Club is leading the way on delivering dry food in refillable pots. And Circla is an innovative new company, based in London, that delivers your beauty products to your door by bike, then when they’re empty, picks them up and refills them.
5. eat fewer animal products
In order for the UK to hit Net Zero by 2050, the Committee on Climate Change says we all need to eat a bit less meat – a third less to be precise. Many of us enjoy eating meat, dairy and fish, but the scale of industrial farming and over-fishing is putting a major strain on the planet. Some people have chosen to go vegan or vegetarian in response, but another solution is to buy better quality organic, pasture-fed meat and dairy, and local and seasonal fish, and buy it less often.
6. be tech savvy
Technology has done a lot to make our lives more energy efficient, but it is also responsible for over 2% of global carbon emissions – just above the airline industry**. Our smartphones gobble up energy. Here are three things we can do to reduce this. The first is to sign up to Honest Mobile, which double offsets all your phones’ emissions, the second is to buy a pre-loved phone from Reboxed or a Fairphone, a modular phone, with ethically-sourced components you can replace when needed. And, finally, resist the call of the automatic upgrade and keep your phone for longer.
7. ditch the petrol car
According to Ipsos, the single biggest thing most of us can do to reduce our carbon footprint is to not have a car. Peddle power, and public transport, are a great way to stay fitter and get around cities. However, it’s not always a viable option to ditch the car, so moving to a hybrid or an EV is the next best thing and use it only when we really need to.
8. swap trains for planes
Most of us love to travel, so how can we do that without getting on a plane? Taking the train around Europe is a great way to see more of the continent and avoid the hassle of airports. It also makes a big dent in your carbon footprint: taking the Eurostar to Paris instead of the plane emits 95% less carbon. Check out The Man in Seat 61 to find out how to get anywhere in the world by train.
9. shop genuinely sustainable brands
There is a good reason most of us are suspicious of “greenwashing”. A recent report found that 40%*** of companies are making misleading claims about their sustainability. These brands used vague claims and terms like “eco” and “natural products” without any evidence of their claims. If you’re looking for genuinely sustainable brands, check out our Green Salon Directory. We check brands against 30 sustainability criteria to work out which brands really are as sustainable as they say they are.
10. vote with your wallet
$45 trillion. That’s the amount that we consumers spend on buying products globally each year. Yes, you read that right. We consumers pack a phenomenal amount of purchasing power in our wallets. Imagine if we all spent that money on sustainable and regenerative products and services. Now that really would change the world.
For more information on sustainability coaching and wardrobe styling, or to browse the Green Salon Directory of pre-vetted sustainable brands, check out our website: www.greensalon.co.uk, or follow us on Instagram: @greensalonconsultancy.
*Garnier Sustainability Report 2020
**McKinsey Report 2021
***International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network Report 2021