What can you do to improve your environment?
For the Borough to become carbon neutral and make the necessary environmental improvements, action is required by everybody: the council, businesses, community groups and our residents.
Here are some handy tips for changes you can make in your day to day life to help drive change and improve our environment. You can use the below headings to jump to the sections that interest you.
Using Less Energy
- Use a Carbon Calculator or the WWF Environmental Footprint to find out your impact on the environment
- Regularly service your boiler to prevent wasting fuel, money and reduce pollution.
- If you have an open fire or wood-burning stove, make sure it’s a Defra approved stove to prevent unnecessary pollution.
- Wear extra clothes (a jumper, socks, slippers) before turning on/increasing your heating.
- Install a room thermostat, programmer and thermostatic radiator valves to control your home temperature and avoid overheating. But stay warm - do not let your heating drop below 18℃.
- Use a timer to set your heating and hot water to come on and off when needed (rather than 24/7).
- Turn off lights when not in use.
- If getting new ceiling lights, opt for a single bulb rather than ceiling lights that use multiple bulbs.
- Switch to LED low-energy light bulbs to save power and money.
- Switch equipment off, not on standby.
- Install smart heating controls to easily turn heating on/off remotely e.g. via a mobile app.
- Install solar panels, creating a renewable electricity supply for your home.
- Let the sun dry your clothes outdoors instead of using the tumble dryer.
- Use natural materials for flooring e.g wood (a natural heat conductor), as opposed to carpet (a heat insulator).
- Switch your energy contract to a renewable energy supplier.
- Regularly switch your energy contract to make sure you are getting the best deal. Most suppliers issue contracts for a set period of time, after which the price will change. Online switching sites can help you find the best deals. Be aware of early exit fees before you switch.
- Contact your energy company to install a free smart meter and learn how much money you’re spending on energy.
- Whether you own your property or rent, making sure your home is energy efficient will save you money and reduce your environmental impact. We’ve put together advice on energy efficiency.
- Homeowners, ensure you have efficient insulation e.g. low-carbon heating systems, loft or roof insulation. If renting, ask your landlord to install insulation, to make your home more efficient and lower your heating costs.
- Draught-proof your home repair/replace leaky windows, doors and cracks. Consider adding double glazing, triple glazing, secondary glazing to windows and doors to prevent losing heat energy and money.
- When replacing your flooring, add underfloor insulation to reduce heat loss.
- Use natural ventilation to heat and cool your home. On hot days, keep shutters/curtains and windows closed, opening them at night to allow cooler air in.
- Apply for a Green Homes Grant, a government scheme offering vouchers to support homeowners in installing energy efficient home improvements.
- Install a water meter to only pay for the water you use - contact SES Water or Thames Water (depending on who your water company is).
- Get a free SES water saving pack and download their Get Water Fit calculator.
- Take short showers instead of baths, to reduce water use and save money.
- Fit a water efficient shower head, it will reduce the hot water use while retaining the sensation of a powerful shower. The GetWaterFit platform has free devices to help save water e.g. eco shower heads, shower timers and tap aerators.
- Put a brick/weight in your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water with each flush; SES Water can provide devices for free.
- Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth to save water.
- Fill your washing machine before running it to prevent water wastage. Half a load doesn’t use half the water.
- Use a water butt to collect rainwater for watering your garden and don’t use lawn sprinklers.
Food & Lifestyle
- Plan each meal, writing a shopping list to avoid buying more than you need.
- Grow your own food; use your garden, an allotment, or grow food in pots indoors e.g. mushrooms.
- Eat everything you buy or donate unwanted items to a local food bank.
- Utilise your freezer to save food waste e.g freeze leftovers.
- Put unwanted leftovers e.g. fruit peelings in your food waste caddy to recycle. Or create a garden compost heap, mixing it with garden waste.
- Use reusable food containers instead of single-use plastics and environmentally friendly alternatives cling film.
- Reduce (eliminate if you can) the amount of meat, dairy and eggs you eat.
- In the Summer, make the most of salads and other raw vegetables - less cooking, less energy.
- Purchase fruit and vegetables when in season and save money.
- Buy local organic produce e.g. visit Wallington Farmers Market or buy a Sutton Community Farm fruit or veg box.
- Travel by bike (hire one, if you don’t own one), use public transport, or walk. Check the TfL journey planner for route options.
- Hire a Brompton bike behind Sutton Station.
- Avoid heavily polluted roads when walking - use the clean air route finder tool to find the best route.
- Choose a hybrid, electric or low emission vehicle and install a home charging point
- Visit Zap Map to find your nearest electric vehicle charging point.
- Request an electric vehicle charge point near you. Tell us online at Power My Street.
- Drive smoothly, ensuring car tyres are fully pumped and oxygen sensors are in working order.
- Avoid flying (travel by ferry or coach). When unavoidable, pay a little extra to carbon offset your journey.
- New to cycling? There’s support available - free cycling classes for adults and children and a try-before-you-bike scheme.
- Question the environmental credentials of the company you’re buying from e.g. is the packaging excessive or non-recyclable?
- Ask questions of sales staff and manufacturers, about the materials used, where they come from and how they recycle their used goods.
- Purchase products not wrapped in single use plastics.
- Buy environmentally-friendly toiletries e.g. natural deodorant, bamboo toothbrushes, organic biodegradable sanitary items or reusable ones.
- Purchase safe second-hand appliances. If buying new appliances, choose those with an energy rating of A+++.
- Purchase paints and varnishes that are labelled as having low volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Recycle old/unwanted/used items at retailers; makeup, inhalers, batteries (Superdrug), clothes hangers (Tesco), postage stamps (Oxfam) and plastic carrier bags (supermarkets e.g. Waitrose, Morrisons).
- Take reusable containers and bags when shopping, to use for items from counters or loose fruit and vegetables.
- At pubs, cafes and restaurants, decline single use plastics e.g. cutlery, straws.
- Take a reusable coffee cup for takeaway beverages. Many cafes offer with a discount.
- Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it at participating Sutton Refill stations.
- When supermarket shopping, buy wonky, slightly damaged produce or ‘yellow sticker’ (reduced items) to prevent food waste.
- Garden for wildlife using native plants without pesticides or grown in peat.
- Dig a pond and leave wild areas i.e. long grass and wood piles.
- Garden organically using natural pest-control measures.
- Plant bee-friendly flowers, use bird boxes, have a bird bath, cut a hole in your fence for hedgehogs and encourage your neighbours to do the same.
- Choose peat-free compost.
- Grow your own fruit and vegetables. You don’t need outdoor space - salad will grow in a pot on a sunny window sill.
- Volunteer with Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers helping to protect and enhance the borough’s biodiversity and wildlife.
- Volunteer with EcoLocal e.g at their community allotment.
- Volunteer at Sutton Community Farm and Carshalton Community Allotment.
- Visit one of the borough’s many parks and join the local ‘friends of’ group or take part with the volunteer gardening and tree planting groups at Beddington Park.
- Join the South East Rivers Trust volunteer days, helping to restore the River Wandle.
- Use a compost bin for garden waste instead of garden bonfires which cause air pollution.
- Plant a tree, even in a pot - there are even trees suitable for small gardens and balconies.
- Join in tree planting events near you.
- Keep your garden green, avoid decking, artificial lawn or paving. Leave space for rainwater to soak in, to protect yourself and neighbours from flash flooding.
- If you have paved your garden, use the RHS tips to green your grey front garden.
- Visit the Sutton Ecology Centre in Carshalton, who host biodiversity themed activities for children and adults throughout the year.
- Contact us if there is a patch of public land you’d like to transform for wildlife and we’ll try to help you with permissions.
- Visit Love Your Clothes for tips to repair, reuse, restyling or rehoming clothes you no longer wear. Search YouTube for craft inspiration videos too. Limit the amount of new clothes bought.
- Switch to reusable nappies, if you have a baby. The council has a nappy cashback scheme to help fund the upfront cost of the nappies.
- Opt for pre-owned or upcycled devices e.g. mobile phones which are better for the environment and often less expensive too.
- Sell unwanted items, give them to charity shops, or post them on websites such as freecycle, freegle, gumtree or a local swap page on facebook.
- Buy pre-loved items. The Community Reuse shop at Kimpton sells a range of items from board games to furniture and vacuum cleaners.
- Use reusable/washable face masks.
- Recycle everything you can from around your home. Use the recycling - what to put where tool to check what you can recycle or which bin to use.
- Recycle plastic plant pots at your local garden centre.
- Recycle soft contact lenses and pouches, ask your Optician if they are running a scheme.
- Explore options for recycling other "non-recyclables" through TerraCycle e.g. crisp packets.
- Wash used tin foil - it can be cut up by scissors, to sharpen the blades and then recycled.
- Many coffee shops will recycle coffee cups, ask in store.
- Sell common household items, instead of throwing them away e.g. perfume bottles, toilet roll tubes, jam jars, wine corks.
Ever wonder what happens to your waste and recycling? Watch this video to find out where your rubbish ends up.