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Household sustainability and recycling tips

Recycling Containers Ready For Collection

We live in a world that’s becoming increasingly conscious of its environmental footprint, and it’s now more important than ever to be mindful of how our daily life impacts the environment and adopt more sustainable practices in our homes. 
While sustainability may sound like a complex and long process, embracing some of the eco-friendly habits in your home is surprisingly easy, but incredibly rewarding. 
In today’s blog, we’ve compiled a range of sustainable living tips to help you navigate through a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and make impactful changes in your living space. So, whether you are an eco-enthusiast or just starting your green journey, our tips and hacks will empower you to make a positive change in your life while protecting our planet. 

Jump to:

Getting into recycling
Home recycling ideas
Clever swaps to reduce waste
Changes to eating habits

Getting into recycling

Household sustainability starts with rethinking your approach to waste. Recycling is a fundamental part of eco-friendly living, focusing on sorting items into the right bin, but also seeing the potential of reusing some of your waste items for different purposes, to stop or delay them going into landfill waste sites. 
To understand the recycling process a bit more, you can start with these initial tasks:

Create separated recycling bins

Purchasing indoor recycling bins is the first step to take when working towards a more sustainable household. The market offers a variety of options when it comes to recycling bins, allowing you to choose the design, capacity and material that matches with the rest of your interior. 

Alternatively, you can use an empty cardboard delivery box or a bag for life to store paper and card for recycling. Similarly, an unused plastic storage tube or bucket can be used for waste tins or glass. 

To make sure you sort your waste efficiently, you should have at least one bin for general waste and one bin for recyclable waste, including plastic, paper and glass. However, based on your location and the local council’s guidelines, the rules for disposing of waste may slightly differ. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check with your local authority to get the most up to date information. 

Sorting Recycling At Home

Check the packaging labels

Once you have your recycling bins in place, it’s super-important to get into the habit of checking the labels on products’ packaging before disposing of them in the bin. 

While with some items, such as plastic bottles, recycling may seem straightforward, others might require a bit more attention. For example, watch out for packaging that is made of a combination of cardboard and plastic. While the paper part can be usually placed in the recycling bin, the parts that are plastic or foil might not be recyclable, and you might have to dispose of it separately. 
Familiarising yourself with the recycling symbols and guidelines is the key to making sure your efforts meet the principles of sustainable waste management.

Watch out for non-recyclable items

Items like crisp packets, plastic cotton buds or nappies can be much harder to recycle, as they often contain a mix of materials that are challenging to separate and recycle efficiently, making them unsuitable for standard recycling processes. 

However, things like crisp packets, pet food pouches or frozen food bags can usually be recycled at your local supermarket, with more than 3500 places available across the UK. 
Similarly, you should keep an eye on any waste containing metal, such as broken tools or electrical devices, as these are considered hazardous and should be disposed of at a metal recycling site. You can find your nearest site by looking on your local authority’s website.

If you’re not sure about the recycling process of particular household items, you can use one of the numerous online tools, such as Recycle Now,  to help you find the best way to dispose of them. 

Rinse food packaging before 

And finally, before tossing the packaging into the recycling bin, make sure you rinse it to remove any leftover food residues, liquids, or contaminants. By following this simple, yet crucial step, you can prevent contamination, enhance the recycling process and minimise unpleasant odours in your home. 

Home recycling ideas

Alongside all the basics of recycling, you can take your eco initiatives to the next level. While further reducing your environmental footprint, trying new innovative reusing and recycling ideas can also transform your home into a creative, environmentally responsible hub.

Jam Jar Planting

So, if you’re looking to deepen your commitment to sustainable living, here are some tips to try:

  • Engage in creative upcycling projects and instead of discarding your old furniture, clothing, or household items, transform these items into new, stylish accessories. Searching Pinterest can be a great way to get ideas for how to upcycle your unwanted stuff.
  • Utilise food scraps like vegetable peels and fruit cores to create homemade compost – a nutrient-rich soil for your plants and garden.
  • Try giving a second life to empty jars and containers, as they can be easily used as stylish storage solutions, indoors or outdoors.
  • Instead of tossing away your old clothes, consider donating the items to local charities or participating in clothing swap events.

Clever swaps to reduce waste

Sustainability is not just about recycling waste; it’s also about proactively looking for new ways to minimise the generation of waste. In fact, making small, clever swaps in your daily life can have a real impact on reducing your environmental footprint.
These are some of the sustainable household hacks you might want to try:

Reusable alternatives to single-use plastics

From plastic straws and water bottles to plastic food packaging and cotton buds, all these items significantly contribute to the plastic pollution of our planet. By swapping the plastic, single-use items for re-usable alternatives, you can play an important role in building a more sustainable future.
For example, you can swap:

  • Plastic straws for stainless steel or bamboo straws
  • Clingfilm to beeswax wrap
  • Plastic toothbrushes and cotton buds for bamboo alternatives
  • Cosmetic cotton pads to reusable face wipes
  • Plastic water bottles for durable, reusable bottles

Responsible shopping

Similarly, shopping is an essential part of our routine, offering a number of opportunities to go greener. For example:

  • Swapping plastic carrier bags for cotton tote bags
  • Opting for reusable produce bags when buying fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Choosing brands committed to more sustainable sourcing and packaging
  • Using refill stations, where available, for household items like cleaning products, detergents, and personal care items
  • Buying locally sourced products to support small businesses with low carbon footprints
  • Shopping fresh seasonal produce, as it usually comes from local farmers and it’s often cheaper when it’s in season 
Seasonal Vegatables In Greengrocers

DIY cleaning products

You can also minimise your reliance on commercially packaged cleaning products by creating your own DIY alternatives. Basic ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon can effectively clean various surfaces while eliminating the need for single-use plastic bottles.

Take a look here to get more inspiration and instructions on how to make homemade DIY cleaners and disinfectants. 

Mindful energy usage

And finally, a sustainable household comes in line with mindful energy usage. By adopting more energy-efficient practices, you can reduce your environmental footprint while contributing to lower utility bills. Read our recent blog on Energy Saving Tips for Winter to learn more about mindful energy usage.

Embrace new eating habits

Sustainable living doesn’t only involve the things we use in our daily life, but also the products we consume. It’s important to remember that the choices we make in our dietary habits have a profound impact on the environment, from the production of the food to its packaging and transport.
Instead of making drastic changes for a short period of time, consider adapting smaller adjustments that can seamlessly integrate into your lifestyle and have a lasting impact on sustainability.
These are some of the small, yet impactful, adjustments you can consider: 

  • Reduce your meat consumption by going meatless at least one day in a week
  • Enjoy seasonal ingredients to support local farmers
  • Prioritise whole foods over processed options
  • Plan your meals before you shop to minimise food waste
  • Look for delicious leftover recipes
  • Use more energy-efficient methods when preparing meals - you can learn more by reading our blog on How to save energy when cooking
Storing Food Leftovers