10 Simple Steps Towards Sustainable Living in the United Kingdom

Want to make your new life in the UK a little greener? Find out with our list of 10 easy steps to sustainable living in the UK.

If you’re a green-minded ex-pat living in the UK, you may be wondering what you can do to make your new life more sustainable. Thankfully, living sustainably doesn’t mean giving up the things you love about living in the UK. In fact, these days, greening your life is so easy that it can easily become a part of your daily life.

To show you how you can boost your green credentials in your new home, this article outlines 10 easy steps to sustainable living in the UK.

1. Download the right Green Apps.

Does the answer to a more sustainable life really lie inside your smartphone? Of course not, but downloading the right apps is an important – and easy – first step. Thankfully, there are plenty of green apps in the UK, covering everything from food to fashion! But which apps should you download? Well, it depends on you. If an app is really going to make a difference in your life, it’s important that you choose one that you will actually use.

If you love your sweet and savory treats, to-go to-go is a great way to keep delicious fresh food out of the trash. Using the app, you can pick up these items from local cafes, restaurants, and bakeries at low prices.

Are you a fashionista? Then avoid fast fashion choices for your wardrobe with Good on You, an ethical clothing app.

If you spend your life looking for things online, why not help plant a tree with every search? Download Ecosia and your own personal tree counter will tell you how many trees you’ve helped plant.

For more information on which apps you should download, read our guide to must-have apps in the UK.

2. Check out your local charity shops.

If there are one thing newcomers to the UK will notice when they first walk down their local high street, it’s that there are plenty of charity shops. In fact, you’ll be able to find them in almost every town across the country, as there are an estimated 11,000 thrift stores. These shops are run by large international charities and smaller, local organizations. They stock a wide range of donated, second-hand goods, and all profits go straight to charity.

These second-hand stores can be a great way to find great deals while reducing your carbon footprint. Most stock clothes, housewares, books, and music. At larger stores, you’ll also find second-hand furniture, including sofas, bookcases, etc.

Charity shops aren’t just good for picking up bargains. If you want to upgrade your furniture or wardrobe, contact your local store and see how you can donate. Not only is it a greener choice, but it will also save you the challenge of trying to get it recycled by your local authority in the UK.

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3. Choose a green energy company.

Green-minded ex-pats to the United Kingdom will be pleased to know that the local energy sector is one of the most renewable in Europe. In fact, in the first quarter of 2020, renewables generated a record 47% of the UK’s electricity. That figure is expected to rise as the UK government looks to move away from fossil fuels by investing in the country’s wind farms and solar panel infrastructure. And the good news is that you can help with this energy shift by making some simple choices at home.

Setting up gas and electricity in your new home in the UK will probably be one of the first things you do when you move to the UK. When it comes to choosing your energy supplier, you have many choices. However, if you are looking to make sustainable living choices, why not consider one of the UK’s green energy providers? A growing number of UK small energy suppliers are offering 100% green electricity, including octopus and bulbs. If all this choice is a little too confusing, comparison websites like MoneySuperMarket and Uswitch can help.

4. Leave the car at home.

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, an easy way to do it is to reassess the way you use your car. According to official figures, transport is the biggest contributor to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. In an effort to promote the shift to electric vehicles, the UK government announced plans in 2017 to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040. EV charging infrastructure across the country. But, even if you don’t buy the latest electric model, there are still simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.

5. Reduce your Food Waste.

When it comes to sustainable living, the issue of food waste is a growing concern across the UK. According to environmental charity Wrap, households in the UK threw away 4.5 million tonnes of edible food in 2018 alone. This equates to nearly 10 billion pounds and is associated with more than 10 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This is because when you throw away food, you not only waste the food itself but also all the energy and resources that went into making that food. And the answer to solving this problem starts at home.

Thankfully, there are lots of simple ways you can reduce your household food waste in the UK. These can range from decluttering your fridge, to better seeing what’s inside, to better shopping when you visit your local British supermarket. An easy way to make sure you don’t end up with too many groceries is to use a meal kit delivery service. These include:

  • Hello Fresh
  • Gusto
  • Clever chef
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Along with providing fresh and innovative recipes for you and your family, you won’t be left with any unused groceries. This will reduce your household food waste without you even noticing.

6. Watch Your Water Usage

Fresh water is becoming an increasingly precious resource around the world, and Britain’s abundant rainfall is no exception. According to experts, the average UK resident uses around 150 liters every day – a figure that rises by 1% every year. Yet despite its reputation for rainfall, there is a surprisingly limited amount of water readily available for human consumption in Britain. In fact, the southeast of England – Britain’s most densely populated region – has less water available per person than both Syria and Sudan. So, how can you help save water in your everyday life?

Thankfully, there are lots of small, easy ways you can reduce your water use in and around the home. Unlike energy companies, you won’t be able to change your water supplier in the UK. However, many suppliers offer advice and products aimed at helping you save water. These include water-powered shower heads and shower timers. Saving water isn’t just limited to the bathroom. Whether you’re cooking, cleaning or gardening, there are many ways you can reduce your water use.

7. Go paperless with your banking.

When you’re setting up your new life in the United Kingdom, opening a bank account in the UK is probably high on your list. Not only will it help you organize important payments for your UK home internet, your UK mobile phone contract, and more, but it’ll also help you shop for a home on your local British high street. It will also make it easier. However, banking can also mean a lot of documents and letters delivered to your home. This includes bank statements, credit card bills, and other banking literature.

These days it is very easy to make your banking experience completely paperless. While most major retail banks offer an increasing number of paperless options, the easiest way to go paperless is to sign up for mobile banking in the UK. There are a growing number of mobile banks to choose from, including Starling Bank and Monzo. Not only can you apply for an account in minutes, but you’ll also receive all your bills and correspondence directly to your phone.

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8. Replace those old appliances.

If you’re moving into a new home, especially a rental your first thought probably isn’t about the energy efficiency of your appliances. In fact, you’ll be happy if they just work and you can understand the instruction manual. However, if you’re making the switch to more sustainable living in the UK, you might want to reconsider that old fridge or toaster. Statistics show that not only will a new appliance run on less energy, but it will also help you save money on your bills.

If you’re in the market for new electronics, you’ve got plenty of shops to choose from in the UK. Specialized electrical retailers such as Hughes and Currys PC World carry a range of products. Catalog-based retailer Argos is another option, as are major UK department stores and some supermarkets.

And of course, if you’re replacing your old appliances, be sure to recycle them efficiently! Most local authorities in the UK will have a designated recycling point for these items. Read our guide to recycling in the UK for more details.

9. Buy local.

How far have your groceries traveled before entering your kitchen? We’re not talking about a trip to your local UK supermarket, either – we mean the total distance from the field to the fridge.

Food on supermarket shelves comes from all over the world, whether fresh or dried. Experts call this distance food mile, and tackling them is a big part of sustainable living in the UK. According to UK government statistics, food transfers in and around the UK account for about

10. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

When trying to live more sustainably, it’s important to remember your three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. We’ve considered reducing things like your food waste and car usage.

We’ve also discussed recycling water and all the bargains you’ll find at your local charity shop. Recycling is the third R of sustainable living, and for many people, it’s the easiest to achieve. The UK has a fairly developed recycling system, but still only recycles 45% of all household waste. However, you can help improve this data.

Most household recycling is handled by your local council via curbside collection. These are usually weekly or fortnightly, depending on your council. Towns and villages of all sizes also have recycling centers where you can recycle items such as clothes, shoes, and glass bottles. These are often found in supermarket car parks or public services near libraries and leisure centers. However, what and where you can recycle varies between local authorities. For more information, read our guide to recycling and waste collection in the UK.

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