Think green: easy things to try…


Summarised version below of the full extract. See Friends of the Earth for the full PDF.

• Cut down on the number of journeys, or share where possible. Make a journey on foot, bike or using public transport. Also see Carplus.

• Share school runs with other parents or find a safe route for children to cycle or walk.

• Drive a smaller car which will also be cheaper to run as well. Diesel cars tend to produce less CO2, but produce more of other pollutants, which aggravate asthma and other health problems. Compare models and their CO2 emissions at VCA.

• Change the fuel you use. Many cars can use biofuels with little or no modification to the engine.

• Keep your car tyres properly inflated. Improves fuel consumption by up to 80%.

• Rent a car on a pay-as-you-drive scheme, rather than buying one.

• Drive with the windows up and remove heavy items and roof racks from the vehicle when not required.

• Switch off the engine if you think you will be stationary for more than two

• Change your driving style. Changing gear at a more modest engine speed can reduce fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent. Smooth braking and acceleration and braking can save up to 30% more fuel as well as reducing wear and tear on the vehicle. Plus, pulling away too fast uses up to 60 per cent more fuel.

• Avoid short car journeys. A cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel as a
warmer one.


“Aviation is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change. Passenger numbers could more than double by 2030, and emissions from aviation could account for more than a tenth of UK totals by 2020. Cutting down on the amount you and your family fly will make a huge difference to your carbon ‘footprint’.”

• Consider a holiday in the UK or, if you are going abroad, consider using a train and making the most of public transport whilst you’re there.

• Hire bicycles instead of a car if you are exploring locally.

• Cut down on business trips. And if you really do need to travel, go by train rather than car or plane – as well as often being quicker, you’ll be able to get some work done.

• If you are staying in a hotel on holiday, ask for your towels to be washed every other day instead of every day.


“In the UK we spend £500 million every year on organic food but many of the environmental benefits of organic farming are quickly cancelled out if the produce is flown around the world. When organic produce is imported by plane from New Zealand, the transport energy used is 235 times greater than the energy savings of organic production”

• Buy local and seasonal food. Avoid ALL air-freighted foods.

• Cook from fresh avoiding processed and packaged foods which have travelled miles, used multiple ingredients from different locations and uses unnecessary, excessive packaging.

• Use a toaster rather than the grill to make toast.

• Buy organic milk. It takes over three times as much energy to produce a litre of non-organic milk than a litre of organic milk.

• Recycle aluminium. The energy saved by recycling one aluminium drinks can is enough to run a TV for three hours.

• Buy in bulk for everyday items. As well as saving money, this will avoid the emissions created when packaging individual items. If you don’t use large quantities but still want to take advantage of the savings, share an order with a friend, colleague or neighbour.


“Simple measures could substantially reduce the emissions from your home, and save you money as well – you could currently be paying £200 a year more than you need to in gas and electricity bills.”

• Turning the thermostat down by just one degree can save you up to £30 a year on your heating bill

• Avoid wasted heat energy by timing your heating to go off 30 minutes before you leave the house, and come on again 30 minutes before you are due to get back.

• Consider underfloor heating in a new house or when building an extension. The boiler operates at a much lower temperature and due to the lower ambient temperature in each room, much less heat is lost through walls and windows

• Insulate your loft. You can cut up to 20 per cent from your energy bill by installing good quality loft insulation.

Reduce draughts: double glazing, cavity wall insulation. Make sure that you specify ‘Low-e’ glazing, which has a special heat-reflective coating that reduces heat loss through the window by nearly half.

• Insulate underneath the floorboards on the ground floor

• Lag your hot-water tank correctly.

• Fit reflective radiator panels behind radiators or make your own by wrapping tinfoil around cardboard.

• Draw your curtains at dusk to stop a huge amount of heat from escaping through your windows.

• Saucepans with lids on heat much quicker, using less energy.

• Use your oven sensibly. Don’t keen opening it to check whether your food is
ready and by switching it off just a few minutes before your food is ready you’ll find that it’ll stay hot enough to finish cooking the food.

• Don’t buy cut flowers. Because of their short shelf life, the flowers are usually flown in – which gives them a massive climate change footprint because of the aviation emissions.

• Buy potted UK-grown plants – or if you’re still going to buy flowers, choose those that are UK-grown and in season.
Charity Flowers Direct – an organisation run by Age Concern for the benefit of 170 charities
The Postcode Plants Database to find your local plants

• Turn lights off! Lighting an empty office overnight can waste the energy required to heat water for 1,000 cups of coffee.

• Buy energy-saving light bulbs. Just one energy efficient light bulb can save you £10 a year on your electricity bill.

• Light-coloured walls, ceilings and floors, as well as mirrors, reflect daylight, making maximum use of natural light and reducing the need to use artificial lighting

• Fit infrared sensors to external lights so that they only come on when you pass in front of them.

• Don’t leave any item on standby (TV’s, videos, freeview boxes, PC screens).

“If all UK households turned off their TVs at night instead of
leaving them on standby, we would avoid emitting enough CO2 to fill the Millennium Dome 38 times each year15. Stand-by is expensive too – British people pay £163 million every year paying for the electricity used in keeping their appliances on stand-by.”

“a PC monitor switched off overnight saves enough energy to microwave six dinners” – Carbon Trust.

• Unplug equipment once fully charged. Mobile phones, shavers and electric
toothbrushes keep drawing electricity even when the battery is full.

• Keep fridge and freezer doors closed.

• Fit a SavaPlug which regulates the fridge motor dependent on the temperature of the fridge. Just snip off the existing plug and wire this one up instead.

• Install the fridge or freezer away from hot appliances and direct sunlight.

• Keep your freezer full. It takes less energy to keep a full freezer cool than it does an empty one.

• Pressure cookers and steamers both save energy; steamers are particularly easy to use and very healthy.

• Chop vegetables finely and boil with just enough water. The smaller you make your vegetables, the less time they’ll take to cook.

• Only use a washing machine on full-load. Ninety percent of the energy that
washing machines use goes toward heating the water, so switch to a cooler
wash temperature: using 40°C for all clothes can use a third less electricity per wash. Today’s washing powders are just as effective on low temperature
programmes, saving both energy and money.

• Carry out a Home Energy Check to find out how to save energy and save cash.

• Turn lights off! Lighting an empty office overnight can waste the energy required to heat water for 1,000 cups of coffee.

• Reduce office paper consumption.

• Switch office equipment off at night.

“A photocopier left on overnight uses enough energy to make 1,500 photocopies” – Carbon Trust.

• Join a co-operative which invests in wind energy projects that promote emission-free technology. Or you could ‘adopt’ a local renewables project.
Yes2Wind provides information and resources on wind farms
British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) also provides a database on wind
energy projects

• Install your own renewable energy system. Grants are currently available for up to 50 per cent of the capital costs of installing renewable energy. You might even make a profit: if you produce more than you need, you could sell the excess back to your energy supplier.
Energy Saving Trust for info on grants for solar photovoltaic panels
The Centre for Alternative Technology for good advice and how-to-do guides for those wishing to generate their own electricity:

Call the Energy Efficiency Helpline on 0845 727 7200 for free, impartial advice on how to make your home more energy efficient. A trained advisor will also be able to inform you of the grants available in your area to help you save energy and money.

The Carbon Trust
National Energy Foundation
Energy Savings Trust
Clear Skies grants
CTC – the UK’s national cyclist network
Kent Energy Centre – free and impartial advice to Kent residents (but applicable to everyone!)


2 Responses to “Think green: easy things to try…”

  1. Duncan Says:

    Interestingly no mention of composting. What with recycling our tin foil, plastic, paper, glass and card, (including dissecting the packaging from food products – cardboard pizza bases, out card packaging around wine boxes etc), on top of composting loads of things (old veg and their peelings, teabags, coffee granules, hair!), we’ve been able to keep our binned rubbish, down to about a small bag and a half per week.

    There’s a lot of useful composting info on the web.

  2. Nikki Says:

    As another tip, apparently boiling the kettle is one of the most energy-sapping items in the home. So if you just want one cup of tea, it’s best to fill the kettle with the amount you need, rather than boil a full kettle each time… or why not make a pot – better to boil the kettle once than each person make their own cup.

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