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10 Steps to Greening Good with Joanna Lumley and BRITA

It's time to get your green on.

Suffering with green guilt?

Our research shows that over half (57%) of Brits feel that they could be doing more to reduce their environmental footprint at home.

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A message from Joanna

It’s important to get some of that green guilt off your chest. Which is why I’m on a mission to show you how to green good and feel good, because when we know we’re playing our part, life can be that little bit brighter.

I come from an age where you reuse, you make do and mend. Reduce, reuse, recycle, is a great mantra to live by - cut down on what you buy, reuse what you have and recycle when you need to.

I’m a big believer in cutting right down on waste, whether it’s eating every last bit of food tucked away in the back of the fridge or fixing old clothes so that they last longer but still look fabulous. But darlings, if you’re feeling guilty over your green indiscretions, don’t fret – there’s some simple things you can do to start Greening Good again.

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1. Keep an eye on your electricity usage

According to the Energy Saving Trust, lighting accounts for 20 percent of a typical electricity bill in the UK. But by switching to LED bulbs, it says you can slash your home’s

CO2 output by a massive 65kg a year - that’s the equivalent of 11,700 plastic  bags. Switching to a provider that only offers energy from renewable sources, also helps. According to Big Clean Switch, it could also reduce your electricity bill you up to £270 per year, as well as helping the environment.

Apps like Nest, which work in conjunction with a smart meter, can help you track and reduce your electricity. Many suppliers now offer smart digital thermostats, so you can see your usage in real time on your smartphone and even control your heating and electricity when not in the home. Ask to have one installed when you change to a green provider.

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2. Break that single-use plastic habit

Most UK households throw away at least 40kg of plastic each year, enough to make 10 recycling bins. From bottled water to packaged fruit and veg, it’s an issue that we can all do our part to help fix. A BRITA water filter jug for the home will turn your tap water into great tasting freshly filtered water, meaning you’ll never have to buy bottled water again.

Beyond that, there are over 220 shops that offer dry–food refills in the UK according to Beeco, meaning you can take your own containers when you go shopping to cut down on all that packaging. These ‘bulk food’ stores also offer alternatives to cleaning products, toiletries and a full range of plastic free products for the kitchen and home.

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3. Slash water and food waste

The UK throws away 6.6 million tonnes of perfectly edible food each year. According to the UN, people in Europe and North America waste between 95kg and 115kg per person every 12 months. But, by making some simple changes, you can save money and eat better too. Start by planning your meals each week, taking time to batch cook and freeze portions. Remember that what you’d usually throw out can often be used. Vegetable roots are great in soups, while broccoli stalks are perfect for making delicious veggie crisps.

TooGoodToGo, founded in Copenhagen in 2016, helps connect people with restaurants and grocery stores that have leftover meals and ingredients available for a third of their usual price. This app is a great way to bring down your food bills as well as ease chronic food waste.

When it comes to saving water, ditch the bath, which can use between 35 and 50 gallons of water, in favour of a shower. You could even consider switching to a low–flow showerhead, which will use 25 gallons over 10 minutes compared to a conventional showerhead which uses 50 gallons over 10 minutes.

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4. Remember your reusable shopping bag

37 percent of Brits feel guilty about not remembering a reusable bag when they head to the shops – we’ve all done it. It’s incredible to think that a whopping 160,000 bags are used every second, so it’s on all of us to remember to use our nifty reusable bags.

The best bet is to make a special bag hook right by the front door, ensuring they stay in your eyeline as you head out. Alternatively, buy a bag that will fold up neatly into your pocket or use a net bag that can be bundled up but still hold loads of food and other essentials.

Baggu makes great, design–savvy bags that can hold a hefty 50lb of shopping.

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5. The power of community action

Living up to the expectations of green campaigners like Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough can be tough. But small actions can make a big difference, both individually and as a group. Social media can work wonders.

Leave No Trace Brighton is a beach cleaning group set up on Instagram, which has adopted the Take 3 for the Sea campaign, urging beach goers to pick up three items of waste whenever they’re by the water. It now works with the local council on clean ups that everyone is welcome to attend - they even cleared 11 tonnes of rubbish in one day in June 2020.

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6. Recycle smarter

Recycling is more than simply putting all of your plastic, cardboard and glass in a separate bin. Getting it right can be tricky, with 33 percent of Brits saying they feel bad about not doing it properly.

But there are some easy ways to do your bit. Make sure all recycling is clean – if it isn’t, there’s a chance it could end up in landfill. Screw lids on bottles – small items often jam recycling equipment, and, never put your recycling in plastic bags, as they clog up sorting machines.

You can recycle BRITA filters easily – just head here to find your nearest drop off point.

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7. Switch to a collapsible coffee cup

Brits bin an astonishing 2.5 billion non–reusable coffee cups every year. That’s the equivalent of four times the weight of the Eiffel Tower. And what’s more, 24 percent of us feel guilty about it.

Collapsible coffee cups, such as the Stojo On–The–Go, fit easily into a bag or coat pocket. Leave it there and you can even ask your barista to give it a rinse before they make your morning latte or set a daily alarm to remember it before you leave the house.

Don’t fret, non–reusable coffee cups are great for gardeners - they’re ideal for nurturing seeds in spring.

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8. Cutdown on meat and dairy

Oxford University researchers have found that plant-based diets can slash food-based emissions by 73 percent. But rather than feel guilty, as veganism isn’t for everyone, we should see it as a chance to eat well and try new recipes. Try going meat free one day a week, perhaps. 

Anna Jones’ one pot kale, tomato and lemon zest pasta is a marvel and only takes 20 minutes to prepare and cook.

Try dairy alternatives like oat drink instead of milk for your morning porridge and make meat a treat, only eating it on special occasions like David Attenborough.

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9. End that bottled water habit

Bottled water, whether grabbed onthego or bought in bulk to satisfy the urge for sparkling rather than still, is a waste we can ill afford. Those who drink two litres of bottled water per day can reduce their CO2 emissions by 134.7kg of CO2 each year and save a massive 15kg of plastic a year by switching to a BRITA jug and drinking filtered water from the tap.

Considering it takes 17 litres of water to produce 1kg of the plastic used for sing-use water bottles, that’s also a saving of 255 litres of wasted water a year.

To ensure you never forget to leave the house without a reusable bottle, simply keep it by the front door or in your hand bag. If you do need to buy a bottle, keep it and use it for crafts with the kids - they make great windmills, or musical shakers when filled with pasta or rice. (Remember Joanna’s mantra: Reduce, REUSE, Recycle).

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10. Cut back on fast fashion

It’s hard to resist snapping up a new shirt or dress at a bargain price, but the global textile industry is responsible for a colossal 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 a year according to Greenpeace. That’s more than international aviation and shipping combined. It’s easy to see why 19 percent of us Brits feel bad about it.

In the UK, each person buys an average of 26.7kg of new clothes every year compared with 15.6kg in France, Germany and Denmark. Don’t stress – there is lots you can do to get over that fast fashion fix. Buy wool jumpers rather than acrylic ones as they’re warmer and last longer, and start to think about buying fewer items that are better quality in general.

For special occasions, think about hiring, rather than buying a new outfit. Hurr lets you rent amazing designer dresses and bags at great prices. If you simply have to have a new look, then try vintage instead. Beyond Retro sells great pre-loved clothes that will give you a unique style and help save the planet.

And, don’t forget to invest in a small sewing kit. Repairing small holes and tears will make clothes last longer and save you money. For inspiration, look on Instagram for embroidery, patching techniques and tips on how to breathe life into old clothes.

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