Feed your dog insects and microwave your dinner: a 24-hour guide to going green

From borrowing clothes to switching search engines, there are ways to boost your environmental credentials throughout the day

7am: take an aerated, plastic-free shower

Britons use 840bn litres of water a year showering, with some power showers using up to 15 litres a minute. Aerator shower heads, such as Lowenergie’s (£12.99), save water by acting as a sieve, reducing space for the water to flow through while maintaining water pressure.

Microbeads were banned in the UK last year, but most soaps are still wrapped in plastic. Seek out alternatives. Aerende’s bergamot and mint wool soap (£12) is handmade by young people in Hertfordshire with disabilities, wrapped in wool from Herdwick sheep, packaged in recycled paper and contains no parabens.

7.20am: clean your teeth with a bamboo toothbrush

The average person uses 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime, with an estimated 80% ending up in the sea. Zero Waste’s bamboo, replaceable-head toothbrushes are 100% biodegradable and made from sustainable bamboo (£6.99). Use with a zero-waste toothpaste such as Georganics’ natural toothpowder (£6.90), which is free from peroxides and comes in a recyclable glass jar.

7.25am: borrow your wardrobe

Ashton Kutcher
Tread lightly, like Ashton Kutcher, in carbon-neutral AllBirds trainers. Photograph: AKGS/Stoianov-SPOT/BACKGRID

The UK sends an estimated 300,000 tonnes of clothing to landfill each year. If you are not going to wear an item at least 30 times, don’t buy it. Instead, consider renting (try hirestreetuk.com or frontrow.uk.com). If you do buy new, use the app Good on You to check clothing brands’ sustainability rating. The charity Traid will collect old clothes free of charge for its shops in London, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Brighton.

The global footwear industry emits 700m tonnes of CO2 a year. AllBirds is a favourite of actors Ashton Kutcher and Amy Adams, and uses sugarcane, sheep’s wool and recycled bottles to make its carbon-neutral trainers. You can recycle old trainers at Runners Need.

7.35am: eat local, eat wonky

Help eliminate food waste by purchasing a “wonky” veg box from Odd Box (from £9.95) or one of Lidl’s Too Good to Waste boxes (£1.50). Alternatively, search Social Farms & Gardens to see how you can get involved at your local community farm.

8am: feed your dog insects

Pets are estimated to consume about 20% of the world’s meat and fish. Reduce your dog’s environmental impact with Yora (£13.99), a protein-packed food made from insects, oats and potato.

8.10am: cycle to work

Man on a bicycle
Take to the road on a bike. Not so fit? Try an ebike instead.
Photograph: The Good Brigade/Getty Images

According to Sam Jones of Cycling UK, only 2% of all journeys in England are taken by bike. Happily, the government has just refreshed its Cycle to Work scheme, extending the tax-free savings to ebikes over £1,000. These have integrated motors, making the scheme more accessible for those with a lower level of fitness or a longer commute.

10am: have an eco-friendly tea break

Make the office a cuppa with an eco-friendly kettle. Vektra’s vacuum eco kettle (£59.95) keeps water hot for four hours, so you don’t have to waste power and water by repeat-boiling.

11am: go green with office supplies

Dr Neil Jennings of the Grantham Institute for climate change and the environment at Imperial College London recommends setting your office printers to double-sided, and automating systems to power down over the weekend and evenings.

12.45pm: switch to an eco-friendly bank

Since the Paris agreement was adopted, the world’s biggest banks have poured $1.9tn into financing the fossil fuel industry. Make the switch on your lunch break – Triodos Bank invests in social and environmental initiatives and publishes details of where it invests.

1pm: enjoy a sustainable lunch

Cook once, eat twice and bring leftovers for lunch. A vegan’s carbon footprint is half that of a meat-eater’s, but if you can’t face forgoing animal products then cut down. Researchers have found that eating just one vegetarian meal a week for a year saves the greenhouse-gas equivalent of driving 1,160 miles. Ditch the tupperware: transport sarnies in black+blum’s stainless steel sandwich box with bamboo lid (£29.95).

3pm: have a guilt-free loo break

Don’t flush anything that isn’t biodegradable, to avoid feeding fatbergs, which block sewers and cost the UK about £100m annually. Flushable wipes and chemical-free sanitary products can be found at Natracare.

4pm: save some trees with your search engine


Only about 30% of the Earth’s forests remain. Change your homepage to Ecosia, which has servers that run on 100% renewable energy and uses its profits to plant trees – almost 60 million of them, so far.

6pm: go green with your housework

Many household cleaning products are filled with toxins, so get creative and make your own. A combination of baking soda, vinegar and essential oils is perfect for scrubbing floors, bathrooms and kitchens. Avoid air fresheners – most emit more than 100 chemicals, some of which may be pollutants. Lola Grogan, founder of the Eco Laundry, recommends Sonnet, which offers ecologically conscious bleaches and laundry products.

A typical 6kg wash load of acrylic fabric releases more than 700,000 plastic fibres into the sea, where they are eaten by fish and, eventually, us. “Only wash clothes when you have a full load, and at low temperatures – higher temperatures can mean more fibres are released,” says Grogan. Most washing machines don’t have filters, so invest in a microfibre-trapping laundry device, such as the Cora Ball (£29).

7pm: tuck into a waste‑free dinner

Don’t be a microwave snob – it is a more eco-friendly way to reheat food.
Don’t be a microwave snob – it is a more eco-friendly way to reheat food. Photograph: Getty Images

Opt for a fridge with an A+++ energy label, which shaves about 5% off an average household’s electricity bill when replacing an A+ fridge. Freezers cut food waste by almost 50% and are more efficient when fully stocked. Use a lid to cover pots on the stove, reducing energy use by two-thirds and heating food faster. And don’t be a microwave snob – it is a more eco-friendly way to reheat food.

8pm: streamline your streaming

Stream films through a smart TV rather than a less energy-efficient games console. The US nonprofit the National Resources Defense Council found that the PS4 and Xbox One required 30 to 45 times more power to stream a film than players such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV. Depending on your music habits, listening to CDs may be more environmentally friendly than doing it digitally. Research by Bach Technology in 2012 showed that streaming an album 27 times can use more energy than creating and posting a CD to a consumer.

10pm: makeover your makeup routine

Reusable face pads (try cheekywipes.com) can be used to remove makeup and then machine washed. When it is time to reapply, go for Ecotools’ makeup brushes, made from recycled bamboo, plastic and aluminum and packaged in recycled paper.

11pm: sleep in bamboo-fibre bed sheets

Get some shut-eye in cotton/bamboo bedding from Urban Collective (from £116.99). Bamboo is fast-growing and self-replenishing, consuming one-third the amount of water during the growing process than cotton. It also has antibacterial properties.

Additional reporting by Zainab Saleem

• This feature appears in the climate issue of Weekend magazine on Saturday 29 June.

If you would like a comment on this piece to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in print, please email weekend@theguardian.com, including your name and address (not for publication).


Georgina Lawton

The GuardianTramp

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