Save the world in 2021… without leaving your sofa

Friends of the Earth has put together a list of the lifestyle changes that will have a positive impact on caring for the environment – all of which you can make without having to leave the house.
  Published:  04 Jan 2021    |      3 minute read

1. Think local when it comes to deliveries

While shopping locally is by and large the most environmentally-friendly option, lots of us are now relying on home deliveries for our groceries, whether we’re self-isolating or just trying to keep shops less crowded. If you can, order from small, local and organic suppliers to cut down on the emissions and pesticides involved in your weekly shop. It'll also help keep independent businesses afloat.

Organic vegetables on sale at Brockley market
Credit: Robert Dimov/CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Use your money to do good

Switching to a sustainable bank account is quick and easy, and means your money will be actively working to protect the planet. Opening a current account with a sustainable bank (such as Triodos, which Friends of the Earth recommends) gives you the chance to reflect your values in your everyday banking. If you have investments or a pension, you can also choose to invest in funds that only back sustainable companies – meaning that while you’re seeing a return on your investment, you’re also supporting pioneering solutions to the climate emergency. 

Bevis Watts, CEO of Triodos Bank UK: "Everyone has the opportunity to make their finances align with the values they live by. You don’t need to accept your money being used to fund industries that exacerbate the climate crisis – switching to a sustainable bank is one of the most impactful ways an individual can make a positive impact on the world."

3. Choose products that protect people, and the planet

Anti-bacterial spray, wipes and hand gel were essential in keeping us safe throughout 2020, but they also involve heavy plastic waste. However, being COVID-safe doesn’t mean you need to resort to single-use plastics. Unless you’re in a high-risk group and need specialist PPE, choose a washable, reusable face covering or try making one at home. Where you can, top up anti-bacterial sprays from refill stations, and keep a large bottle of hand sanitiser to refill your own hand gel bottles rather than buying a new one every time.

4. Care for the planet’s wellbeing while you care for your own

Your self-care routine needn’t cost the earth. Look for beauty, skincare and grooming products that use organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, and recyclable packaging. You could also switch from liquid products to bars. Whether it’s soap, shampoo or body wash, switching from bottles to bars can substantially decrease the amount of single-use plastic a household gets through. Solid bars also contain far less water than products dispensed from plastic bottles so they can be more economical. By going for minimally packaged bars, you can reduce the environmental impact even more.

Bars of coloured soaps
Bars of coloured soaps
Credit: Heather Ford

5. Make home improvements that reduce your carbon footprint

Energy use in our homes is responsible for a whopping 14% of all UK emissions. But by adopting a few cost-effective and energy efficient measures you can cut your carbon footprint and your fuel bills, while still staying warm.

There are lots of straightforward and cost-effective ways to insulate your home, such as draught-proofing or installing additional loft insulation, while fitting an insulating jacket to your water cylinder will save £20 annually on your heating bill. Check out the Energy Saving Trust for more information. You can also apply for a Green Homes Grant voucher, which could be worth thousands of pounds to the cost of making energy efficiency improvements to your home. And to get ahead of the curve you could also consider installing low-carbon heating, such as a heat pump.

6. Switch to green energy

As well as cutting down your overall emissions, you can also ensure the energy you do use is as clean as it can be. You can stop funding fossil fuels directly by switching to an energy supplier that guarantees to only offer 100% renewable energy, and is coal, nuclear and fracking free.

7. Buy less, and buy to last

A lot of us could probably do with less stuff in our lives. Unfortunately, we're hardwired to feel good about getting something new. Try buying (and selling) your items second hand on websites like Shpock, Gumtree and eBay.

If you have the means to, and you want to buy new, then invest in better-made furniture, clothes and shoes. They may cost more upfront, but they’ll be cheaper in the long run. Try repairing rather than replacing – it can also lessen the load on your wallet and the planet.

8. Use your voice

Staying indoors doesn’t mean you can’t make your voice heard. You can still write to your MP, join an online discussion group or sign a petition on an environmental issue. Social media is also the perfect avenue to show your support and cheer on those championing the environmental cause, whether that’s the likes of Greta Thunberg or sustainability heroes in your local community.

Join (or start!) a Climate Action group in your local area.

Keep an eye on friendsoftheearth.uk/take-part to learn more about how to make a stand on the climate emergency, without needing to leave the house.