My top 10 green life hacks
Here are a few things that have worked for me, to help me live more sustainably over the years. I have tried many things, but not all have worked for me, and not all of them have stuck, either they were too difficult or onerous, too expensive, or I felt I was missing out in some way that I just couldn’t live with. But here are my top ten of the things I have tried, some of which are slightly random, which have stuck, and I have loved, which might just be of interest to you!! I struggled to narrow it down to 10 to be honest, but I hope these are useful! And I would love to know your top green life hacks too! Please share them with me Twitter @GeorginaStevens. Insta – georginastevensgreen
- Bin swap
There is no getting away from the fact that most of what we throw away is going to be around for some 300 years or so, which is something that has always really bothered me. So one thing I did a long time ago, which has stood the test of time and really helped me and my family cut down on waste, was to swap our bins around! Most people have a large rubbish/landfill bin in their kitchen, and then a smaller recycling bin under the sink or somewhere else. I now put my rubbish to go to landfill in a very small bin in a drawer, so it’s more difficult to access and for guests to my house to access! It makes you stop and think! The big bin is the recycling bin with a big poster on it of what we can put in there, because contamination is such a big issue (if you put that bottle top in there, there is a real risk that the whole sack will not be recycled!! So if in doubt leave it out). And then I have a big compost bin under the sink where all the scraps go, after being offered to the dogs first! And then I also keep my recyclable plastics in another bin (did you know you can recycle a lot of that plastic film have a look here). The biggest cut in our plastic waste came from signing up to a weekly veg box, I particularly love Oddbox who provide fruit and veg which would otherwise have gone to waste. Then if you’re still up for doing more I would recommend the Everyday plastic survey to find out what your biggest sources of plastic are. They ask you to put in data from your plastic waste over a week and then they give you your own personalised plastic footprint, and some great recommendation on what changes to make to cut down on pesky plastics. And if you still want to do more, do the 31 day waste warrior course with ZeroWaste week team! Guaranteed results and no more arguments about who puts the bins out, because there won’t be much to put out!
- Get a dog
Dogs are amongst the most amazing creatures on this earth. Not only do they make everyone smile but they also require lots of exercise, thus acting as free personal trainers, but they also help cut food waste! Our dogs love to eat all of the vegetable peelings and any leftovers. They also need some of their own food too, so why not give them a sustainable alternative to all the poor quality low welfare standard meat biscuits out there? There are loads of great vegan dog foods now which my dogs love, especially this one made in the UK. And there is also a great insect based food, which our two love, although it does make them a little flatulent! Dogs also help you cut down on flying, as its always more fun to go on a local holiday with the dogs than fly somewhere and have to leave them at home!
- Water the garden with your bath water
There is nothing I love more than a big bath to wallow in. But this uses a lot of water. A shower is much better for the environment but I really really love baths, and so does my little boy!! I tried for a while to just shower, but I was really missing my baths! So I got the outlet pipe from my bath linked up to a new pipe that waters my garden (and you can also do this with a hose). It was really simple and really cheap to do, and the garden looks so lush from all of the water! You need to let the water cool down before you let it out, and also use earth friendly bath products. If you are not a bath fanatic, and have a garden, then get a water butt to collect your rain water to water your grass and plants. Tap water is really too precious now to use to water your garden.
Become fanatical about your fridge
I have found that the tidier our fridge is, the easier it is for everyone to see what food there is in it, the less we waste and the more gets used! It’s that simple. It’s also great to plan your meals before you go shopping, and once a week grab everything that is left in the fridge, put the list of ingredients into Ecosia, and see what recipes it suggests! There is always a new recipe out there to try! And close the fridge door when you take something out; it saves so much energy.
- Vegan burgers!!
I have been vegetarian and latterly vegan for a long time now, and never have I tasted more amazing vegan burgers than the ones that are available now!! My favourites are Moving Mountains Plant Based Burgers (and their plastic free packaging), M&S Plant Kitchen No Beef Burgers and Beyond Meat Plant based burgers! All delicious, even the committed carnivores in my life love these burgers, and they cut your foodprint down enormously!!
- Fabulous flasks and lights
I read somewhere that most people boil the kettle three times before they use the water! Kettles are one of the least efficient items in terms of their energy use, so why not boil your kettle just once and then put the hot water in a flask to use when you need it. Or better still make up a flask of tea and take it to the woods, with some biscuits whilst watching nature at work. My other top energy cutting tip has been using an LED reading light pinned to my book in the evenings! You can then turn all the other lights off and sit in darkness with just your book lit up for some cosy reading!
- Baking bonanza
Another really simple one, but really effective at saving energy; next time you stick the oven on to bake some cookies, or to cook a hot pot, bung in a few jacket potatoes or a tray of vegetables to roast. Use up all of the room in your oven to cook anything you might be eating in the next few days and to leave a few ready cooked things in your fridge for those moments when someone is peckish!
- Slow Travel
I went volunteer farming across Europe with my son two years ago, and we got the train most places, or the bus. It was just incredible and so much more fun than flying! We saw some of the most incredible scenery that we would otherwise have missed. And we didn’t have to get taxis from airports into cities or to where we wanted to go because the train dropped us right into the fun! It is also so much easier now to find alternatives to flying with using this website and this one too.
- Unique clothes
We all know the clothing industry has a huge impact on the environment in terms of water, chemicals and transport emissions, not to mention poor labour standards for many who work within it. I have always been a big charity shop fan but in lock down I have found some amazing second-hand clothes from Depop, Vinted & Preloved! All of them unique and beautiful. And when I think I want to buy a new piece of clothing from somewhere, I now search for a similar item in one of those places, and so far I have not been disappointed!
- Share your hacks and a little joy!
One of the most effective things we can all do to make the world a better place is to talk about climate change and environmental issues, and share the things that work for us, and ask others for their ideas too. I have also learnt not to judge or lecture anyone and always to listen even if they might not share your views!! Most people are doing something to reduce their impacts, so why not ask them for their tips. Plus everyone loves a joke, so why not tell them one. My favourite joke about the environment is…….Climate change is such a joke…Even the Antarctic ice sheets are cracking up.