Go Green: 40 Steps to a Sustainable Life (That Will Also Save You Money)

The more we hear about climate change, global warming, endangered species and environmental damage, the more overwhelming it feels.

What can we actually do?

Charity donations, political action and direct action are fantastic of course, but all of us can do more on a daily basis to 'go green'.

Not sure where to start?

As the old adage goes, every journey begins with a single step, so here are 40 ways you can begin to create a cleaner, more sustainable future today.

Reduce Energy Use

1. Only turn lights on when absolutely necessary, and then only one in the room you're in.

2. Turn your heating off completely from April to October, or longer if possible.  Dress properly, even indoors, and use blankets and throws instead.

3. There are lots of ways to save water, for example minimise consumption by turning off the tap when brushing teeth, only boiling what you need in a kettle or on the stove, having quick showers, and more.

Related post: How to Garden without Wasting Water

4. If you are in your forever home, install solar panels.

5. Turn off plug sockets and unplug appliances when not in use.

6. Only turn on the TV or radio for specific programmes, rather than having them as background noise constantly.

7. Ask whether you really need your car for short journeys.  Cycle or walk whenever you can.  use public transport if possible.

8. Invest in double glazing for warmth.  You could also install roof windows for better light and warmth; studies show they can reduce electricity use by as much as 10%.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The principle of reduce, reuse, recycle is great but recycling itself uses vital resources, as well as the resources used in making the item in the first place.  We need to tackle the root of the problem which means not having the things in the first place.  So reduce first, avoiding packaging as much as possible.

Reduce Purchases

9. Stop buying take-out drinks in non-recyclable cups.  Buy a reusable cup and take it with you.

10. Stop buying bottled water.  Use a refillable, preferably stainless steel not plastic, bottle and store filled in the fridge overnight.

11. Cut down on meat, or eliminate it from your diet completely.  You will be healthier, wealthier and help the planet.  Check out or vegan and vegetarian recipes for ideas.

12. Drastically reduce your consumption of fish.  Over-fishing is one of the tragedies of our time and, however sustainable your source claims to be, it probably isn't.  Fish and shellfish also contain a shocking amount of microplastics which are carcinogenic.

13. Make your own household cleaning products from natural ingredients and essential oils, rather than buying expensive and dangerous cleaning products.  At the very least buy green, such as Ecover or Method.

14. Use soap nuts and dryer balls for your laundry.

15. Open windows rather than using expensive and unhealthy air fresheners.

16. Hang clothes outside on a washing line, or indoors on a rack, rather than turning on the tumble dryer.

17. Find out how to garden organically and attract natural bug control to your patch, rather than buying harmful insecticides and garden feeds.

Reduce Waste

18. Buy fresh food several times a week so you don't over-buy and use what you have.

19. Create a stockpile in your freezer and cupboards to cover when you don't have time to shop fresh.

20. Buy fruit and vegetables from markets or farm shops, using your own boxes or containers, or paper bags.  Buy as local and in season as you can, then organic if possible.  If time is short, sign up to w weekly box scheme.

21. If possible buy products in glass bottles or jars rather than plastic, e.g. sauces.

22. Stop buying take-aways.  Save the money and cook at home, or save up and go to a restaurant once a month.


23. Use things up.  Don't buy new until your last one is completely used up.

24. Cut the ends off tubes of toothpaste or hand cream to get the dregs out.

25.Apply the principle of 'Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.'

26.Shop from your own wardrobe before buying new clothes.  The same for books and toys.

27. See what you can repurpose or upcycle around the home and garden before buying something new.

28. Take time to create and craft from what you have.

29. Refuse to see shopping as recreation.  Spend your time doing interesting things, not just spending money.

30. When you do shop, buy things that last.  Better one high quality product than ten cheap ones.  Step away from throw away fashion and buy classics; buy quality appliances that will last; spend a bit more and get better value for money, but only buy one thing.


31.Take your own containers to refill at the market, farm shop or weigh store.

32. Use bowls or plates for keeping/covering leftovers rather than aluminium foil or cling film.

33. Use up leftovers, don't just store them to chuck them away!  Use them for lunch, make something else with them or freeze them.

34. Start a compost heap and chop up your garden waste to go on it.  You can also add cardboard, most kitchen waste and more.  Find out more here.

35. Reuse scrap paper, envelopes, junk mail, the backs of letters, tissue box inserts etc etc etc for shopping lists, notepads, address labels and more.

36. When buying gifts, scour charity shops, car boot sales, eBay, Gumtree and Facebook selling sites before buying new.


37. If you don't recycle, why the *beep* not?!  Think twice before putting anything in your rubbish bin.  And remember to 'close the loop' by buying recycled products such as paper, kitchen towel etc.

38. Plastics, cardboard, paper, aluminium foil, CDs, DVDs, batteries, coffee pod cartridges, plant pots, garden waste, water filter cartridges, stamps, small appliances, fridges, textiles, clothes and much more are all collected somewhere.  Hold on to your junk and find out.

39. Take unwanted household goods, toys, clothes, books, baby things and more to your local charity shop rather than binning them.

40. When out and about, take a bag and pick up rubbish on the beach, on the street, in the woods etc, recycling what you can.  If you don't help, who will?  If we all do a bit we can make a huge difference.

Start with just one of these tips and soon you will be living cleaner, greener and healthier than before.  Eventually, it becomes clear that every choice we make is an opportunity to help our under-resourced, over-used planet.  Choosing not to turn on a light, walking instead of driving, turning the tap off a few seconds earlier, not wasting time online only to have to recharge your tablet or laptop, choosing better products to clean your home or manage your garden, all these tiny steps add up, and will make a difference.

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