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.
- Find out what your impact on the environment is by using a carbon footprint calculator. For a detailed carbon footprint, use the Carbon Calculator. For a quicker assessment, use the WWF Environmental Footprint tool.
- Regularly service your boiler, this will help ensure your boiler isn't wasting fuel and money. It also helps reduce pollution and prevent carbon monoxide from being created.
- If you’ve got an open fire or wood-burning stove, use it only when absolutely necessary. If you are replacing a stove, choose a Defra approved stove.
- Put a jumper on before turning on/up the heating.
- If you don’t already have them, install a room thermostat, a programmer or thermostatic radiator valves. This will help to control the temperature of your home and avoid overheating it. But stay warm and well by not letting your heating drop below 18 degrees.
- Use a timer to set your heating and hot water to come on and off when you need it, don’t keep it on 24/7.
- Turn off lights when you aren’t using them.
- Use LED low-energy light bulbs to save power and money. The quality has really improved in recent years.
- Switch equipment off rather than leaving it on standby.
- Install smart heating controls so you can easily turn your heating on/off remotely via a mobile app if your plans change.
- Contact your energy company to install a smart meter, its free and you'll know how much money you’re spending on energy.
- Regularly switch your energy supplier to make sure you are getting the best deal. Most will give you a contract for a set period of time, after which the price will change. You can use online switching sites to find the best deal and watch out for any early exit fees.
- When switching your energy contract, opt for a renewable energy supplier.
- Dry your clothes outdoors when weather permits instead of using a tumble dryer.
- Insulate your home. If you don’t own your home, ask your landlord to install insulation. This will help to reduce the amount of energy you use and the cost of your heating bills.
- Draft proof your home - repair or replace any leaky windows, doors and cracks. It will save you money too.
- Use natural ventilation to heat and cool your home. On hot days, keep your shutters/curtains and windows closed during the day, opening them at night to allow the cooler air into your home.
- Replacing your flooring? Invest in underfloor insulation to reduce heat loss.
- If you are replacing your windows, install energy efficient glazing.
- Get a water meter so you only pay for what you use. Visit either SES Water or Thames Water (depending on who your water company is). Businesses can request this too.
- Get a free SES water saving pack and download their Get Water Fit calculator.
- Shower rather than taking baths, and try to be quick in the shower. Using less hot water will help you save money on your heating bills.
- If you have a shower that takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank (rather than an electric shower), fit a water efficient shower head. This will reduce the hot water use while retaining the sensation of a powerful shower.
- Put a brick or other device in your cistern to reduce the amount of water with each flush. SES Water can provide these for free.
- Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
- Run your washing machine full - a half load doesn’t use half the amount of water.
- Use a water butt to collect rainwater for watering plants and don’t use sprinklers for lawns
- Plan your meals, write and take a list shopping to avoid buying more than you need.
- Eat everything you buy - food waste is throwing money in the bin!
- Love your freezer - to save food waste.
- Put anything you do have left over, e.g. fruit peelings in your food waste caddy to recycle unavoidable food waste. Alternatively create a compost heap in your garden and mix it with garden waste.
- Use reusable food containers instead of single-use plastics, and try environmentally friendly alternatives to cling film.
- Reducing your meat and dairy intake is one of the biggest ways to reduce your environmental impact and save the planet, one meal at a time
- Travel by bike, public transport, or walk. Use the TfL journey planner for route options.
- Walking? Use the clean air route finder tool to find a route which avoids heavily polluted roads.
- Try out the Go Sutton Bus which is being trialled until May 2020.
- Hire a Brompton bike from behind Sutton Station.
- Buying a new car? Choose a hybrid, electric or low emission vehicle and install a charge point at home.
- Visit Zap Map to find your nearest electric vehicle charging point.
- Want to request an electric vehicle charge point near you? Tell us online at power my street.
- Drive smoothly and make sure your car’s tyres are fully pumped and that the oxygen sensors are in good order.
- Avoid flying, but when flying is unavoidable, pay a little extra to carbon offset your journey.
- Whether online or in person, ask questions. What are the environmental credentials of the company you’re buying from? Comment on packaging if it’s excessive or non-recyclable.
- Ask questions of sales staff and manufacturers about the materials used, where they come from, and whether they’ll take back the product at the end of its life for recycling.
- Try to buy products that aren’t wrapped in single use plastics.
- Explore environmentally-friendly options for everything from deodorant to cling film.
- If buying new appliances, look at their energy rating. A+++ rating is best.
- Choose paints and varnishes that are labelled as having low volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Buy from local producers if you can.
- Take containers and bags with you when shopping, to use when buying meats and deli items from the counters or loose vegetables.
- Take a reusable bag with you to the shops.
- At pubs, cafes and restaurants, avoid single use plastics and ask for no straw.
- Use a reuasable coffee cup for your coffee takeaways - many cafes will offer a discount when one is used!
- Carry a reusable water bottle and refill at participating Sutton Refill stations across the borough.
- Buy local and sustainable food e.g. visit Wallington Farmers Market or buy a Sutton Community Farm fruit or veg box.
- If shopping in supermarkets, be prepared to buy wonky or less than perfect fruit and veg to save it going to waste.
- Consider volunteering at Sutton Community Farm and Carshalton Community Allotment.
- Garden for wildlife by using native plants, cutting out pesticides, digging a pond and leaving wild areas such as areas of long grass and wood piles.
- Garden organically and use natural pest-control measures.
- Plant bee-friendly flowers, put up 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 veg. Even if you don’t have any outdoor space at all, salad will grow in a pot on a sunny window sill.
- Volunteer with Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers who work to protect and enhance the borough’s biodiversity and wildlife.
- Volunteering opportunities are available at EcoLocal throughout the year which cover a wide range of activities and interests.
- Visit one of the borough’s many parks and consider joining your local ‘friends of’ group. There are also volunteering opportunities for tree planting and gardening at Beddington Park.
- The South East Rivers Trust work to restore the River Wandle, take part in one of their many volunteer days held throughout the year.
- Garden bonfires cause air pollution - set up a compost bin for your garden waste instead.
- Plant a tree - even in a pot. There are trees suitable for even small gardens and balconies.
- Initiate or take part in tree planting events near you.
- Keep your garden green - avoid decking, artificial lawn or paving your garden. Leave space for rainwater to soak in, to protect yourself and your 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. They host a range of activities for children and adults throughout the year.
- Is there a patch of public land you’d like to transform for wildlife? Get in touch and we’ll try to help you with permissions.
- Visit Love Your Clothes to get tips for making the most out of your clothes. They have great ideas for repair, reuse, restyling or rehoming clothes you no longer wear.
- If you’ve got a baby, switch to reusable nappies. The council has a nappy cashback scheme to help fund the upfront cost of reusable nappies.
- Got an item you no longer need? Sell it, give it away to charity shops, or post it on websites such as freecycle, freegle, gumtree or a local swap page on facebook. Consider buying pre-loved items as well. The Community Reuse shop at Kimpton sells a range of items from board games to furniture and vacuum cleaners.
- Be sure to recycle everything you can from around your home. If you aren’t sure what you can recycle or which bin to use, visit recycling - what to put where.
- Did you know you can recycle plastic plant pots? Ask at your local garden centre.
- Soft contact lenses and pouches can be recycled - ask your optician if they are running a scheme.
- Explore options for recycling other "non-recyclables" through Terracycle.
- Wash your used tin foil, it can then be recycled.
- Many coffee shops will recycle coffee cups - ask in store if they are taking part.
Ever wonder what happens to your waste and recycling? Watch this video to find out where your rubbish ends up.