Whilst we can’t solve climate change on our own, together we can make a huge difference. Every action counts, from the food we eat and the way we travel to how we power our homes and the stuff we buy, it all affects the environment and living more sustainably is easier than you think! But knowing where to start can be tricky, and it can sometimes feel like everything has a bad impact.
Don't worry, you've come to the right place!
On the following pages you’ll find lots of tips, hacks and advice to help you live in ways that are good for you and the environment.
Did you know that a quarter of the average household’s carbon footprint comes from the energy we use in our homes? It’s time to power our homes in a way that’s fit for the future.
Every time we turn on the light, switch on a plug, or use hot water, the energy that we use comes directly from the National Grid. Whilst the UK is generating more energy from clean and renewable sources every year, lots of this energy comes from burning fossil fuels, one of the main causes of climate change.
Spending less energy and water, or changing where you get your energy from can make a big difference to your bills and to the environment.
1. Make the switch to a green or renewable energy supplier
Power your home with wind, solar, or hydro power to make a really big difference. It can often be cheaper if you find a good supplier. Use a comparison site to find the best supplier for you and ensure you're getting the best deal for your energy. Click here to give it a try.
2. Switch it off
Did you know that the average household spends more than £30 every year powering appliances left on standby? And that's not including the money spent heating water and rooms when we don’t need to! If you’re forgetful, consider investing in sockets, timers or sensors to make turning things off (and on) even easier. You can also track your energy usage easily by fitting a free smart meter—contact your current supplier to find out more.
3. Every drop matters
Heating water is one of the most energy-intensive activities in our homes. Save hot water by opting for shorter showers (aim for 4 minutes!) rather than longer baths, popping a pan lid on when cooking, using a washing-up bowl when doing dishes by hand and not filling the kettle to the top if you’re only making tea for one. Using less cold water helps too. So turn the tap off when brushing your teeth, capture rainwater in a water butt, and order free water saving goodies from United Utilities here.
4. Get cosy
More than half of a household’s energy is used for heating so turning your thermostat down by just one degree (to a minimum of 18 degrees Celsius) could save you around £80 a year! Keep the heat in with blinds or curtains, rugs and draft excluders, or if you own your home, consider investing in insulation or better insulated windows.
5. LED the way and aim for A
If you’re a homeowner - or your landlord allows it - switch your lights to low energy bulbs. LED lights are a bright idea: they use 85% less energy than traditional bulbs and last much longer. In the market for a new appliance? Look out for its energy rating. An A rating will mean lower running costs, saving you money in the long term—even if it might cost a little bit more to buy. Make sure that you dispose of your appliances in the best way too: give your appliances a new lease of life by selling, donating, or recycling it.
Did you know that Manchester has fewer cars per person than any other UK city outside London? But for those that do drive, 1/3 of journeys we take are less than a mile! How we—and our stuff—get around can make a big difference to our carbon footprint. According to the Government, 33% of the UK’s carbon emissions comes from transport.
The more that we choose to drive and fly the more fuel that we burn, and the larger our own impact on the environment.
Manchester is one of the worst cities in the UK for air pollution – and pollution from road transport is the biggest culprit. While invisible, polluted air is the largest environmental risk to our health and can impact the most vulnerable in our society the most.
Yet there's no need to feel exhausted or stuck in a jam. By walking and cycling more, flying less, sharing your journeys and using public transport you could save money, help reduce your own carbon footprint, improve your wellbeing, and help protect the health of everyone in Manchester at the same time! Win, win, win!
1. Walk short journeys
Walking short journeys is a fantastic way to get more active and see more of our city. Walking is good for our health too, and can help us feel better, improving our mood and reducing stress – all whilst helping the environment. Why not give walking a go? The NHS’ Active 10 app can help boost your activity by tracking your steps and setting daily walking goals.
2. Get on your bike
Cycling is a fun and affordable way to be more active and travel medium distances quickly, sometimes faster than driving! On a bike, you can use bus lanes and cycle lanes to zoom past traffic and take more direct routes than in a car. Cycling is also wheelie good for your health and wellbeing. Boost your cycling confidence with TfGM's free training courses for beginners and find your nearest green cycling route here.
3. Enjoy a staycation
Lockdown has made many of us appreciate what the UK has to offer in terms of great vacation spots. Less travelling abroad has been good for the environment – in fact, flying one fewer journey is one of the best individual actions we can take to reduce our personal carbon footprint. Next time you're planning a trip, consider a staycation or travelling by train, ferry or road where possible. If going by train, have a look to see if you're eligible for a Railcard - it could save you 1/3 of your ticket price. And if you do fly, choosing to voluntarily offset your emissions is a relatively affordable way to reduce your impact.
4. Change delivery habits
We’re all shopping more online than we used to. Whilst convenient, it also means a lot more delivery vehicles on our roads that cause traffic, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Millions of missed deliveries every year means lots of unnecessary, polluting journeys. Think about having things delivered to a convenient central location like a shop or locker or choosing to bundle items together. Try to avoid having to return things if possible. Returns mean more vehicle journeys and sadly, not all items are resold - the time and labour needed to process them means they may just be sent to landfill instead!
5. Be a savvy driver
Even if you’re not quite ready to leave the car at home, you can save money and carbon by being a savvy driver. Try car sharing with colleagues or friends to halve your emissions (and fuel bill). Or check out the Metrolink park and ride network so you’ll never have to worry about parking again. Don’t forget to turn off your engine when idling for two minutes or longer too—you’ll save fuel and stop polluting the air around you. If you’re thinking of buying or leasing a new vehicle, why not look into an electric or hybrid model that’s cheaper and cleaner to run? You can find out more about investing in an electric or hybrid vehicle here and your nearest electric vehicle charging point on the Be.Ev map for Greater Manchester here.
Did you know the average UK household wastes around £60 worth of food a month? That’s £720 per year! In fact, about 1/3 of all food that gets produced is wasted meaning that if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of climate changing greenhouse gases after China and the US.
Most of the food we throw away could have been saved from the bin if we’d shopped and cooked smarter, and shared food that we weren’t able to eat.
What we eat also has an impact on the environment. A huge 25% of global emissions come from food and more than half of this comes from animal products. Meat, especially beef and lamb, has a higher carbon footprint because of the land, water, and energy used to feed and rear animals and the emissions produced by animals themselves (yes that’s cows belching!).
The good news is that we have daily opportunities to make a difference with our forks.
1. Plan and shop smart
A minute of planning helps you to save food, time and money. Check your fridge and cupboards first and write a list. You can also plan some of your meals using a simple meal planner or the Kitche app which helps you check in with your shelf. Only buy a deal if you can eat it, freeze or store it for later on - you can batch cook and freeze some meals as backups for a rainy day or to take for lunch. Try out wonky veg for a discount and buy loose items to get only the amounts you need.
2. Know your labels and store it right
Have you ever been confused by whether food is good to eat? You’re not alone. "Best before' labels are about quality rather than safety, so food past it's best before is perfectly good to eat for a while longer - just smell and taste to be sure. Use-by on the other hand is about food safety, so keep an eye on those date labels, buying items that will last longer if you can’t eat them straight away. Remember freezing food is like pressing the pause button and storing things properly can make food last longer and taste better. Your freezer is your best friend, increased freezer use could save you up to £270 on food bills.
3. Eat less, better meat
Going veggie (and eating less dairy and eggs) is a great way to reduce your impact, but you don’t have to completely cut out meat to make a difference, as one less burger a week is the same as taking a car off the road for a whopping 320 miles. Try the 5:2 approach where you eat meat twice a week and simply swap meat in your usual recipes for vegetables and grains. Check out this guide to eating less meat or download meat free versions of nation’s favourite dishes. If you do buy meat, go for the best quality you can afford. Watch this video on how to start eating 'less but better' meat and dairy
4. Embrace the season
We are used to buying foods whenever we want. Yet when it comes to the environmental impact of a meal, eating more locally and seasonally produced food is a great (and tasty!) way to reduce your carbon footprint. This is because growing food out of season often requires energy-guzzling heated greenhouses to keep the conditions right. And food such as bananas that can’t be grown in the UK will often have travelled from the other side of the world, which needs plenty of fuel and packaging to ship and store safely - all of which increase the impact of your grub. Use this guide to eating seasonally to find out what British ingredients are in season when and for some delicious recipe inspiration too. Want to find the most local food possible? Check out The Veg Box People who deliver locally produced veg to pick up points across Manchester or this handy list of farmers and local producer markets. Oh, and it doesn't get more seasonal and local than growing your own – you'll find lots of simple tips for getting growing here.
5. Sharing is caring
Going on holiday or bought food that you won’t get around to eating? OLIO is an app that connects you with people in your local area to share extra food or grab a few extra ingredients for free. There are also Community Fridges popping up across Manchester to help communities share good food that would otherwise go to waste. Find your nearest one here.
Did you know that gardens make up a 1/5 of the green space in Manchester? We can all be part of making our city greener and wilder for the benefit of people and wildlife.
More and more of us are moving into urban areas and the population of the City centre is expected to double over the next 5 years. This puts a lot of pressure on green areas which are crucial for protecting biodiversity (a term used to refer to a wide variety of plant and animal species living in their natural environment) and help reduce the effects of climate change by keeping our cities cooler, improving air quality and reducing the risk of flash flooding.
Spending time in the natural environment, whether this is in your garden, your local park or amongst the plants on your balcony, have also been proven to make us feel good - it reduces stress, can boost our immune system and make us happier. It’s time to bring nature nearer!
1. Give it a grow, whatever your space
Bring nature nearer by growing plants, whether you have a garden, windowsill or bedside table. Not a green bone in your body? Not to worry, growing is all about trowel and error and we’ve got the tips you need to get started.
2. Create a home for wildlife
Loss of habitat is the number one threat to biodiversity and every garden, balcony or terrace, no matter how big or small, can support local wildlife. Download the My Wild Garden booklet to find simple ways to protect Manchester wildlife and make your garden wilder.
3. Keep your garden green
More and more of us are choosing to pave over our front gardens or swap natural grass for plastic grass (artificial turf). Let nature be nature by sticking to natural grass, leave trees and hedges to grow, avoid using herbicides, pesticides or slug pellets, and limit the use of wherever you can. Not only will wildlife love you for it, also improve drainage and reduce your risk of flooding. Click here for more gardening tips.
4. Go peat-free
When buying compost for your window box or garden make sure you opt for peat-free compost as removing peat from its natural habitat releases lots of carbon and destroys wildlife habitats. The Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside Wildlife Trust have a put together a great peat-free at home guide.
5. Plant trees from your desk
Make your searches worth something: switching your browser to Ecosia can help plant trees. So far users have raised enough money through searching for Ecosia to plant over 94 million trees and counting. Ecosia also has a dark mode which uses less energy than the white-background regular version. OCG is a similar free extension that uses the money advertisers pay to show you ads to clean up the oceans, rather than that money going to big tech companies. Surfing the net never felt so good.
Many of us think that living in ways that are better for the environment is expensive, but you can help without having to spend a penny. In fact, how we save, invest and spend our money has a huge impact on our carbon footprint, often without us even realising it.
As savers, consumers and pension holders we can influence what future our money is investing in and let the money do the work for us. Not only will shifting your savings, current account, pension or investments have a huge impact on your carbon footprint, it also send a strong signal to the markets that things need to change. By investing in sustainable, resilient, well-run companies, your investments are more likely to perform better in the long run, giving your money a chance to get better returns.
1. Support your local
Shopping locally produced food, clothing and items helps boost the local economy, reduces the distance your items have travelled, and protects local jobs. Have a look at labels to see where the things you’re buying were produced, and if you can, opt for independent shops, craft and farmers markets.
2. Purpose over profit
Finding it hard to tell a green brand from a greenwashing brand? Look out for respected accreditations such as Fairtrade, Soil Association or B Corp. (check out the growing number of UK B Corps here).
3. Power to your pension
Each year, the average UK pension member unknowingly finances 23 tonnes of CO2 emissions through the businesses their pension invests in. There’s £3 trillion in UK pensions – imagine the impact this could have if it was invested in renewable energy, community projects or ethical companies? Pensions isn’t something that most of us control directly so to get started, have a look at Make Your Money Matter’s resources on how to talk to your employer about the impact of your pension.
4. Move your money
Not all banks are created equal. In fact, your bank may be investing your money in fossil fuel companies, arms, tobacco and more. The good news is that switching banks is pretty straightforward and allows you to use your money to support causes you believe in. There's a growing number of ethical alternatives out there, allowing you to choose to use your money to support causes you believe in - see how your bank is performing here.
Between 2019 and 2020, the average household in Manchester threw away 420kg of waste, much of which could be avoided.
All the ‘stuff’ in the world has a carbon footprint for it to be produced, packaged and transported, so the less new stuff we buy, the smaller our impact. Much of the things we throw away can be recycled into something else or get a new lease of life if passed onto someone in our community.
There are simple things we can all do to make more of the things we buy and own by throwing away less, switching to reusable items where we can, and recycling more. Are you ready? Let's reduce, reuse, recycle.
1. Say no and reuse
Say no to plastic carrier bags, straws and other single use items. Remember to take a reusable bag, bottle and coffee cup with you when you go out and instead of using disposable batteries, why not try rechargeable ones instead? Rechargeable batteries will save you money over time and are better for the environment as they create less waste.
2. Breathe new life into of your things
Many of the things we throw away could have got a new lease of life with a bit of care and repair. Find an expert repairer, visit your nearest Repair Cafe, or get that bike puncture or phone screen mended instead of replaced.
3. Get your recycling right
Most of us agree that recycling is important, but it can be tricky to get it right. Here's a handy A-Z of how to recycle different items. Give cans, bottles and pots a quick rinse, and remember: putting the wrong item in the wrong bin can lead to the whole bag being contaminated so if “in doubt, leave it out”. For items that can’t be recycled by the council, have a look at Terracycle, a free recycling programme.
4. Recycle your electricals
Everything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled. Better yet, electricals contain precious materials that can be transformed into anything from children's playgrounds to life-saving equipment - even into new electronics! Recycling unwanted electricals also helps create jobs in electrical reuse and recycling. So remember - don't bin them - just pop your old recycling in a bag and find your local reuse or recycling point here.
5. Donate your old tech
In the UK we discard 155,000 tonnes of electricals every year, instead of reusing or recycling them - and this has a significant carbon footprint. By using your products for longer or donating old electrical items (such as smart phones, laptops and computers), you can help minimise the amount of waste you throw away and reduce your carbon footprint. Got an old smart phone? Gift it on to someone in your community through the Community Calling campaign.
The fashion industry alone produces 10% of global carbon emissions - more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Did you know it takes on average a whopping 9,000 litres of water to make one pair of jeans? Buying fewer, better quality clothes that you love and wear for longer will save you money and reduce your impact.
1. Wash with care
If you can, air your clothes to get another wear out of them! When you do wash them, wash at 30degC and on gentler cycles to help them last longer. What to know more laundry tips on protecting your clothes and using less water? Here are 5 tips which will help.
2. Breathe new life into old togs
An estimated £140 million worth of clothing is sent to landfill every year in the UK alone (WRAP) and fabrics take hundreds of years to decompose (many don’t due to the plastics they contain). The good news is that old clothes, even damaged and holey ones, can still be put to good use to avoid being wasted. Stitched Up has lots of great videos on how to repair and rework your clothes.
3. Your trash could be another’s treasure
Over half of us have bought clothes and books second-hand. Browse this guide to passing on unwanted items or grabbing a preloved bargain.
4. Avoid the bin
When your clothes have reached the end of their life, don’t put clothes in the bin - instead put them in a textile bank so that they can be recycled, find your closest textile bank with The Firefighter Charity or the Salvation Army or find your R4GM centre.
5. Make a reusable face mask
Old cotton fabrics such as t-shirts and towels are perfect for making into reusable facemasks. Globally we are estimated to use 129 billion every single month, and single-use masks aren't recyclable or biodegradable, so with everyone needing them day-to-day a reusable can make a big difference. Here's an easy tutorial on how to make a mask in minutes. Reusable face coverings should be washed regularly and can be washed and dried alongside other laundry - or boiled or steamed for quicker washes between laundry loads.. For more information on using a face covering, check out the official government guidance.