100 Sustainable Living Tips for 2023
Sustainable living is a bit of an obsession of mine. We’re not saints – we still enjoy a takeout and a holiday abroad, for example – but we try to tread lightly on the planet.
So here’s my annual post which keeps growing(!) with (actually over) 100 tips to live a little bit greener.
Even if you change just one thing each month, that will really make a cumulative difference.
Eat less meat and dairy
Consuming less meat and dairy is the single biggest way to help the planet and is better for your health too.
- We love Cauldron sausages – flavoursome and ‘meaty’ (fry, don’t grill, they get too dry). Tivall soy hotdogs are an occasional junk-treat for the boys (also good sliced into a tomato pasta sauce) and these ‘Beyond Meat’ Plant’ Burgers are AMAZING.
- Try my completely inauthentic but yummy family fave Veggie Spag Bol. Coarsely grate 500-750g mixed veg (courgette, mushrooms, carrots and/or finely sliced leeks – whatever – it’s a great ‘hidden veg’ user-upper!). Sauté in a splash of olive oil to soften then add a pack of soya mince and stir in for a couple of minutes. Add flavour/colour with 2-3 cloves crushed garlic, teaspoon Bouillon powder/stock cubes, a squirt of ketchup, roughly 2 tbsp tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce (leave out if vegan), a gloop of balsamic glaze, big pinch chilli flakes, teaspoon Marmite (trust me!), splash red wine, 70% chocolate/cocoa powder and seasoning. Lastly, two tins of tomatoes and simmer. No real measures, I’m afraid – it’s all to taste! Makes 8 portions (freezes well too).
- Add 1-2 tins of kidney beans to the leftover half for a ‘Chilli sin Carne’. Serve with rice, tacos, guacamole, grated cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced peppers and 0% Skyr or Greek yoghurt (a healthier alternative to sour cream).
- Oat milk is way more sustainable than nut milks. We use Oatly Barista – and actually prefer it to cow’s milk. Froths well, doesn’t separate in hot drinks.
- This year I discovered this DELICIOUS yoghurt substitute – OK, it’s not fat free, but it’s good fats and a treat on fruit in the morning – from The Coconut Collab. Dangerously good.
- Ditto this Booja Booja organic vegan chocolate icecream. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- I can’t give up ‘real’ cheese but for vegan cheeses, Smoked ‘Gouda’ slices are a passable smoky, mild cheddar substitute for sandwiches…
- …and Nush almond-milk chive-flavoured cream cheese is a bit like Philadelphia.
- Vegan slow cooker recipes we’ve enjoyed include this Jambalaya…This Quinoa chilli…and this Veggie stew (we add more spice and butter beans for protein)
- These breakfast burritos are tasty, with an amazing vegan ‘scrambled egg’. Make a batch for quick, healthy weekday lunches. They freeze too.
- Opt for less plastic packaging. We get real butter in paper – which I keep in this insulated butter dish rather than the fridge) – and loose fruit where we can.
- Oxo cubes are plastic-free and come in many flavours, as opposed to say, Knorr Stockpots
- Sign up to Mindful Chef. Healthier, planet-friendly and gluten-free recipes with vegan choices – my boys help pick the recipes and have got so much more adventurous. They also donate a meal to a starving child for every meal you buy. Get 4 boxes with 25% off here.
- Try these Bees Wraps for sandwiches, to cover bowls, wrap around cuts of cheese, etc
- These silicon dish sealers also eliminate the need for clingfilm and come in a range of sizes.
- You can wipe and re-use tin foil several times before recycling. Make sure any foil is balled up well to at least the size of a tennis ball (we save smaller bits and wrap in the larger pieces) as the recycling grabbers can’t pick up tiny bits of foil.
- This year I got these yoghurt lid toppers as my fave brands have stopped doing the plastic disposable lids too.
- Try and buy British, seasonally and choose ‘wonky veg’ options to reduce food waste and save money.
- To reduce waste even further, we took any unused Christmas food – non-perishables like crisps, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, jams, relishes and puddings to our local soup kitchen.
- Bought too much cheese at Christmas? Did you know you can freeze it?
- Milk & More deliver milk and juice in retro glass bottles to your doorstep – we used them for years but sadly they no longer serve our area.
- Looseleaf tea is too faffy for me but luckily my favourite Yorkshire Tea is now in plant-based bags! Check out other plastic-free tea brands here.
- These steel water bottles are better than plastic ones which leach BPAs and harbour bacteria.
- We LOVE our Contigo flasks. Lockable and spill-proof, great or around kids and tech. Drinks stay hot, we save a fortune and no throwaway coffee-shop cups.
- Coffee: we don’t use pods, Andy buys sacks of beans and grinds his own.
- Get a SodaStream for plastic-free sparkling water. We dilute the kids’ juices too for healthier fizzy drinks.
- If you’re not doing dry Jan, these are the most sustainable tipples.
- Look out too for B-Corp companies who put sustainability at the heart of their operations – Diageo are leading the way on this with Bailey’s now officially a B-Corp spirit – good for the planet, if not your waistline!
- Say ‘no’ to straws: Paper ones are greenwashing – they use eight times more resource than plastic to produce!
- If you need to use a straw, we have these stainless steel ones– and this portable one clips to your key ring!
- Start with a big ‘Kondo‘ clearout. We got rid of anything that didn’t ‘spark joy’ and ended up with an organised, uncluttered home, despite kids. Enjoy the extra headspace, time and calm it gives you. Having less means you end up needing and buying less. Our purchases now are more considered, high-quality and long-lasting.
- If you love shopping, consider putting in a one-in, one-out policy to stop over-buying.
- Gift ‘experiences‘ over things – no clutter, just great memories. Events, gigs, gallery memberships, cinemas, days out and meals – or just favours, help and time spent with loved ones.
- Reduce mass consumerism: at Christmas, try a Secret Santa for the grown ups, homemade edibles or agree to just buy for the kids. Less stress and cost, no crap presents and you focus on time together. Liberating!
- Metallic/glittery papers don’t recycle. We use brown paper (plain or printed), brown parcel tags and string – or glue sticks instead of sellotape. You can decorate with marker pens or stamping inks (poster paints don’t recycle).
- Instead of Christmas cards, send e-cards and/or make a charity donation.
- Even my kids’ teachers are now doing this for their classes e.g. adopting a panda and giving each child a certificate.
- Use (or start!) a neighbourhood Whatsapp and/or Facebook group. Great for buying/selling/donating kids’ toys, books, clothes, games and bikes.
- Keep fabric shopping bags in the car, with your coats and in your bag – so you’re not caught needing a plastic one.
- If you do have some plastic bags, Ocado pay 10p for each (any brand) and recycle them.
- Try and cut down online clothes shopping if you can – a shocking number of brands send returned goods to landfill,
- Get your ‘colours’ done – saves on time, money, mistakes – and you’ll look great!
- My stylist also edited my wardrobe: I buy less and wear more of my clothes because now they’re all organised, I know what I’ve got and can find them again. Plus she gave me some great styling tips.
- A great dressmaker/tailor can revitalise and upgrade existing items and high-street/second-hand finds. Game-changer.
- Buy pre-loved: I get overwhelmed in charity shops – but I love eBay. Try also Vinted, Vestiare Collective and similar for more eco-friendly buys.
- I used to buy the kids’ 0-4 yr clothes and toys (often new, with tags!) from NCT Nearly New Sales.
- Amongst friends we’d host ‘Swishing’ parties: bring a bottle and quality items you no longer wear to swap. A great girls’ night in and a wardrobe boost – with the rest to charity.
- Easier still, you can find local clothes-swap events on Eventbrite.
- Mothballs are highly toxic; use zipped laundry bags to store folded jumpers and woollens, try cedarwood hangers/sprays and read other moth tips here.
- Did you know 95% of fabrics in landfill could’ve been re-worn or recycled? I don’t throw any fabric away…
- Wearable kids’ clothes get passed on to family and friends…
- Adult clothes go to charity, warm ones go to our local soup kitchen and higher-value stuff gets sold via eBay, Vinted or local Facebook groups.
- You can use old garments as cleaning rags (we use old socks to polish shoes!)
- Or I take any unusable ones (even holey socks, tights, pants…) to H&M for discount vouchers. They are one of the most sustainable mass-market fashion brands, so great for growing kids.
- I’ve also donated quality work-clothes and accessories to Smartworks which kits women out for job interviews.
- Take old bras to Bravissimo – reusable ones go to women in developing countries, others get recycled and they make a donation to charity.
- Use pretty fabrics to wrap presents, Japanese furoshiki-style
Green Power aka ‘how we halved our energy bills’ …
- The biggest shift we made this year was getting an electric car (a Kia). Definitely cheaper than petrol, although factoring in the extra charge time for longer journeys was a pain, it’s getting faster.
- We have a charger installed and charge it between the hours of 12:30 and 4:30am as electricity is cheaper at night.
- We use Octopus renewable energy. To switch (and get £50 off) click here.
- Our TADO thermostats turn the heating down when we are out – and back up as we head home – and you can control it in each room. Read up on options here.
- We got these massive, cosy ‘Oodies‘ this winter and so me and my boys are toasty warm and we can turn the heating down.
- Swap out your spent disposable batteries for rechargeables – they last for years. We have a Universal battery charger and keep charged spares in a drawer.
- Take used batteries to a battery-recycling bin – our local Sainsbury’s has one.
- A Smart Meter displays how much energy we were using.
- Ours shocked me into buying a retractable double washing line and these recyclable pegs!
- Our energy-efficient Hue lighting and motion sensors mean lights only come on when needed e.g. hallways, bathroom, kitchen, garden. They can be set to low levels at night, and be controlled remotely by app (even on holiday!) or voice command.
- Microfibre cloths although plastic, are really eco-friendly. They wash well, last for years and are super absorbent (use them damp) so you need much less cleaning product or kitchen roll.
- Glass cloths polish mirrors/windows and even cutlery with just water.
- Save water – don’t rinse your plates – just scrape and pop in the dishwasher.
- DON’T pour hot fat down the drain – that causes fatbergs. Let it solidify and put in food waste.
- These cellulose and coconut husk washing-up sponges biodegrade in food waste
- This Ecover toilet cleaner is amazing and for tough limescale, Kilrock is a powerful eco-friendly limescale remover.
- I make most of my cleaning products using vinegar and Fairy liquid – easy, fast, cheap and non-toxic. So good, my cleaner has switched to using it for all her clients! Don’t worry, any vinegar smell disappears (or you can scent it – slice squeezed/used lemons up and push into the bottle. BONUS: you end up with preserved lemons for salads, chicken or fish dishes.). Here are a few natural cleaning tips/recipes all tried and trusted for you.
- Burnt-on pans/ovens/tough stains – Mix vinegar into a paste with bicarb of soda, rub on, leave for a bit, use elbow grease, wipe/rinse. Or make a runnier mix and let it fizz away. For burnt pans: put water and vinegar in immediately. After a few minutes, the gunk just lifts off with a gentle scrape.
- All-purpose cleaner: for sinks/glass/worktops: 50/50 vinegar/water and a good ‘squidge’ of Fairy liquid in a spray bottle. Tip gently back and forth to mix.
- Granite/marble/kitchen counters: Just drizzle on neat washing up liquid and use hot water with a microfibre cloth. Lift any stains with a gentle paste of bicarb and water.
- Limescale remover for taps, tiles, etc: 50/50 vinegar and Fairy (neat). Warm the vinegar to mix it more easily and tip bottle gently back and forth. Spray on stubborn limescale and leave to dry. Scrub with an old toothbrush and use the suds to clean the rest of the sink/bath, then rinse. Gasp and thank me later.
- Toilet descaler: use a loo brush to displace as much water as you can first for best results. Boil 1-2 inches of vinegar (it will descale your kettle too!), pour down the loo and close the lid. Leave overnight if you can. Scrub – the scale should lift. Repeat if needed.
- Drains: Commercial drain cleaners are toxic for our waterways. De-clog smelly drains with 1/2 cup of dry bicarb down the plughole, pour 1-2 cups vinegar over to make it fizz. Leave 30 mins and pour a kettle of boiled water on top. Repeat as needed.
- Wood: just wipe down oiled surfaces with a damp cloth (advice from the guy who restored our dining table). Occasionally rub oiled wood with a bit of furniture wax if needed.
- Floors: for tiles, lino, laminate and sealed wooden floorboards. Mop using just hot water, some Fairy liquid and a glug of vinegar. Do not over-wet wood.
- Dishwasher: put half a teacup of vinegar in the top rack. Everything will sparkle and it descales your machine. We also use vinegar instead of commercial rinse aid.
- Washing machine: weekly, add half a cup of vinegar into the drum or fabric-conditioner drawer. Whitens whites, darkens darks (as it removes soap scum), softens, descales, deodorises, kills germs and prevents mould build-up. Told you it was magic!
- Paving. Spray neat vinegar on the areas and leave for an hour. Wash off with soapy water and a firm broom to scrub.
- We use Who Gives a Crap bamboo toilet paper- sustainable, plastic-free AND they provide sanitation to developing countries. Get £5 off your first order here.
- Plastic-free washing: We use Dove soap bars instead of shower gel. We also love shampoo bars. No more spillages and are great for hand-luggage. I’ve to find a good conditioner bar though. I also use this gentle, moisturising face bar. This is the best soap tray. It attaches to a tile/mirror with strong suction and hold the lot.
- If you still want bottled shampoo, go large. A 900ml bottle uses less plastic than 3 x 300ml ones – usually better value too. For the same reason – don’t buy travel-sizes – just decant your big bottle into small travel bottles.
- Buy plastic-free cotton buds with paper stalks here
- Use cleansing cloths or natural facial sponges instead of disposable cotton wool or wipes.
- Plastic toothbrushes don’t recycle or break down – use bamboo ones.
- Floss can harm wildlife if flushed away. Instead, use this electric water flosser.
- For a natural tooth whitener, use bicarbonate of soda on a damp toothbrush – I combine with toothpaste to hide the taste!
- Save water with this FREE kit – if you’re metered, the tap aerators and shower timers will save £££s too. Oh, and turn your tap off whilst you’re brushing!
- #PlasticFreePeriod: us ladies typically spend over £18,000 and use up to 11,000 sanitary products in a lifetime. Since I lived in Argentina in 2008, I’ve used a Mooncup: hygienic, zero waste, no fuss. There are also period pants e.g. Thinx, ModiBodi and these.
- We have always given a % of our revenue to causes but this year we joined B1G1 to link even more of our everyday business activities to creating impacts for good. Read more here.
- We also gifted a total of 2502 days of literacy and business training to women in Uganda via B1G1 as Christmas presents for our clients.
- We only use 100% recycled or recyclable packaging – including this brown tape.
- www.ecosia.org is a search engine that plants trees with every click and search!
- We run virtually paper-free, everything is digital and backed-up in The Cloud.
- Having created the branding for ZEN (Zero Emissions Network) we are a recommended partner and have a partnership with Calverts printers who only use recycled or FSC-accredited papers and non-toxic inks. Our clients get a 10% discount and we also waive our 15% print handling fee.
- The Guardian Sustainable Business Network will keep you up-to-date with other ethical and sustainable business innovations.
- Did you know you can choose a greener way to travel – via electric car – on your Uber app?
- And because, if you have (or want!) to fly, consider these airlines for their sustainability efforts – or, try Eurostar, which we did for a Christmassy trip to Belgium!
- Watch my winning talk at the inaugural Good Pitch Summit where I talk about how any business can be a Force for Good.
Whatever 2023 has in store, living in a more sustainable way will make it better.
No better time to start – let me know how you get on…