Make 2024 more sustainable

Round & About

Plastic Free Home

The New Year is always a great time to consider making positive changes. Here are suggestions from Wokingham-based Plastic Free Home when it comes to living more sustainably in 2024 and beyond…

1. Shop smarter
Aim to only buy and consume what you need, to help reduce your footprint and the amount of waste you produce. Support local and independent businesses wherever possible and explore how you might rely less on big supermarkets and major retailers. Is there a zero waste shop or business, butchers, greengrocers, bakery and so on near you? Aim to buy sustainably sourced, ethically produced, high quality and long-lasting products. Think – where has the product come from, who made it, under what conditions and where? What from? How is it packaged? And how can it be disposed of, reused or recycled afterwards?

2. Lightbulb moment
Energy is responsible for around a quarter of our emissions. If you haven’t already, switch to a renewable energy supplier, or at least a green tariff with one of the larger ‘big six’ energy companies. From insulating your home and avoiding endless devices and gadgets to using central heating sensibly and washing your clothes on a cooler setting and drying them on a line, consider ways to reduce your use of energy at home. And the old classic – turn off lights, appliances and devices and don’t leave things on standby where avoidable.

3. Staycationing
Taking one medium to long-haul flight generates more emissions than an average person in many countries produces in a whole year. In recent years we’ve all been reminded of just how much the UK has to offer – get out there and explore it more before venturing further afield. Even cutting two annual overseas holidays down to one can make a big difference.|

4. Plan ahead
We live in a fast-moving and convenience-led world, which has resulted in us becoming lazier and far more wasteful. Plan ahead when going out – carry a refillable drinks bottle, take a packed lunch or picnic, and if you can’t live without caffeine, a reusable coffee cup too. The same goes for a reusable bag – you never know when you might need one. If you are buying on the go, consider the less packaged and more eco-friendly options. Planning ahead is also a good idea when doing your weekly shop. Make a shopping list and stick to it, to avoid unnecessary impulse buys. And when buying gifts all year round, share lists with family, friends and colleagues or find out what the recipient(s) really like or need to avoid giving something they won’t enjoy or make use of.

5. Not so fast fashion
The fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of global emissions and globally just 12% of the material used for clothing ends up being recycled. Buy far fewer clothes and aim for organic or naturally derived textiles (e.g. 100% cotton) and clothes that are responsibly sourced and made. If the company offers a closed loop option, allowing you to return items for recycling when you no longer want them – even better.

6. Waste not, want not
Nowadays, very little should end up in ‘the bin’. Be sure that you are disposing of, recycling and reusing everything you use correctly, from kerbside, food and garden waste collections to supermarket recycling points and local TerraCycle schemes. And if you can donate, pass on or sell something, do.

7. Nurture nature
Nature was there for all of us when we needed it most during pandemic times. Now it’s our turn to be there for it. Plant trees, wildflowers and pollinator friendly plants, add bird, insect and animal feeders and create habitats, litter pick locally, support a wildlife charity. Don’t pave over a large area of your garden and avoid artificial grass. There are many ways to show you care.

10 eco-friendly Christmas tips

Round & About

Plastic Free Home

“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means just a little bit more” – read the top tips from Plastic Free Home for a more sustainable festive season

It’s not often we quote the Grinch, but in this case, and perhaps now more than ever, Dr Seuss’ fictional character is spot on.

For most Christmas is a magical time of year but it is also one of significant and unnecessary waste and excess.

If we are to get serious about tackling the climate emergency, then even the festive season shouldn’t be off limits when it comes to making much needed changes.

Below are 10 top tips on how you can make a difference this Christmas and put ‘a more sustainable future’ at the top of your wish list…

Avoid the gimmicks

From pre-packed ‘reindeer food’ (what’s wrong with a good old-fashioned carrot?!) that can be harmful to wildlife, to Christmas Eve boxes full of matching pyjamas and quickly discarded novelties, try not to get sucked into the latest fads.


Think quality, not quantity. Maybe introduce shared gift lists or a secret Santa to encourage everyone to buy less and to help save on unwanted items. When shopping, consider what gifts are made of, who by and where and how they can be reused, recycled or disposed of when someone is finished with them. Aim to buy presents that are produced ethically, sustainably and here in the UK wherever possible, and shop independently if you can. Buy pre-loved, recycled or sustainably sourced clothing, opt for toys that are well made and will last for generations, ditch big brand toiletries in favour of more eco-friendly alternatives and give homemade gifts, experiences or your time in place of ‘things’.

Wrapping paper

It isn’t an exact science but if you scrunch wrapping paper into a ball and it stays that way, it’s more likely that it’s plastic free and can be recycled. Even better, use recycled kraft paper, which is both home compostable and recyclable, and more likely to be free of harmful inks. Avoid gift bags if you can as many aren’t 100% recyclable and a high proportion are never reused and, crucially, avoid plastic sticky tape! Paper tape is readily and cheaply available online, compostable and recyclable and skip the bows, gift tags and ribbon or find reusable and recyclable alternatives.


Of course, the obvious answer would be to avoid cards altogether. If that’s a step too far, aim to buy cards that are made from recycled, FSC (sustainable) or seed paper and free from non-biodegradable glitter, badges and plastic wrapping. Or get crafting and make your own!


Again, you could opt to avoid crackers completely or, again, why not make your own, reusable, ones? If you do decide to buy some, try to ensure they are both recycled and recyclable and free of plastic prizes.


If you already own an artificial tree, enjoy it year after year for as long as you can. As and when you are in need of a new one, consider instead a real tree that is FSC or Soil Association approved. Or, you can now even rent a real tree, with the tree replanted after Christmas and used again next year!

Advent calendars

Make or buy a reusable advent calendar and fill it with homemade goodies or plastic free and ideally Fairtrade treats. Anything wrapped in foil or delicious chocolates from the likes of Divine or Tony’s Chocolonely are among the better options. The growing trend of more expensive, toy-filled calendars just means more unnecessary waste.

Christmas lunch

Can you buy your meat unwrapped from a local butcher, and your vegetables loose from a local greengrocer, farm shop or certain supermarkets? Wherever possible, aim to avoid unnecessary packaging and only buy and prepare what you really need to avoid food waste. Or give a vegetarian or vegan Christmas a go!


Wine bottles with a (real) cork are a better option than a screw top because cork is home compostable and results in lower emissions. And take a look at some of the fantastic British wines available, from the likes of Stanlake Park, Windsor Great Park or Chapel Down, to cut down on imported goods and the miles associated with them. If you’re buying beer, avoid plastic packaging and of course opt for cans or glass instead. When it comes to other alcoholic or soft drinks, swap plastic bottles for glass or cans too.

At the end of it all

Importantly, ensure that you recycle and dispose of everything correctly when the fun is over. If in doubt, look online, contact your local council or drop Plastic Free Home a line! Prepare beforehand by getting bags or boxes ready for things like wrapping paper, cardboard and recyclable plastic and rescue and reuse anything you can next time. Remember to donate any unwanted leftovers to a charity shop or (if in date and unopened) food bank.

Not everyone can do everything but if we can each make changes, they really do add up.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy Christmas when it comes and let’s all cross our fingers and toes that Santa brings us a more positive year in 2024…

Created in 2018 by blogger and voluntary hack Dave Lamont, Plastic Free Home is an online community with more than 45,000 followers, aiming to seek and share information on how we can all live more sustainably. Visit or find Plastic Free Home on Facebook.

Shop smart & save

Round & About

Plastic Free Home

Save money and the planet with tips from Plastic Free Home’s Dave Lamont

The rising cost of just about everything is unmissable at the moment, not least when it comes to the weekly grocery shop. It possible to save money and still be sustainable.

Make it from scratch

Most of us have become rather lazy in the kitchen, leaning too heavily on processed, pre-prepared and overly packaged food items. As a quick example, a supermarket branded vegetable lasagne for two will set you back £8. Imagine how much lasagne you could make for that… A packet of Bird’s Instant Custard will cost you 47% more than the same brand’s tinned powder. With a little extra time and thought you can save a small fortune.

Be prepared

Whether you are going to work or off out for the day with the family, try to take everything you might need with you. From a picnic or packed lunch to a reusable drinks bottle or flask. Buying items on the go will cost you several times more and, of course, everything will be packaged resulting in avoidable waste. If you need to refill your drinks bottle, check out the free Refill app that will direct you to a nearby water station.

Grow your own

Whether you have access to an allotment or even just a little space in your garden, it’s easy and great fun to grow your own fruit and veg. Raised beds can be made cheaply or you can repurpose existing borders and containers. You might even want to invest in a mini greenhouse, or to browse online for a second hand one someone is selling cheaply or giving away. If you’ve got the space, plant some larger fruit bushes or trees too. They are often available cheaply from large supermarkets in spring and summer and you will quickly make your money back.

Avoid food waste

If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions after China and the USA. Whilst we’ve taken great strides here in the UK, we still waste nearly ten million tonnes of food annually. Avoid the temptation to buy in bulk, it’s often not cheaper if you compare prices by weight or volume. Portion control people, and plan ahead. Don’t throw anything away or get overly attached to best before dates. And, if you really have to throw food away, make use of your food waste collection or compost bin if you are lucky enough to have one.

Reduce your meat intake

In the UK we have cut our intake by 17% in the past decade, but the national food strategy suggests we need to double that figure. Meat production is a significant contributor to climate change and other environmental issues, while eating lots of processed or red meat has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. It’s also often one of the more expensive items in shopping trollies. Consider further reducing your consumption, or even whether you can work towards becoming vegetarian or vegan.

Household items

In our kitchen cupboard you won’t find a dozen different household and cleaning products, often heavily packaged and full of nasty chemicals. Why? Because we don’t need them. Next time you run out of something, ask yourself if you really have to buy it again, or explore a homemade or more eco-friendly alternative. Whether you’re washing the dishes, doing laundry or having a spring clean, if you need ideas please visit or get in touch.

Your daily regime

The same is true when it comes to our bathroom. All of the products we use are eco-friendly and often also refillable. And you can survive with far fewer of them! Toilet roll is a perfect example. A supermarket or big brand quilted option currently costs up to 46p per 100 sheets, while a normal alternative can come in at between 20p – 30p per 100 sheets. Our toilet roll of choice, Boxroll, is made from 100% recycled post-consumer waste paper here in the UK and is just 18p per 100 sheets.

Download Olio

Olio is a mobile app allowing people and businesses with surplus goods to connect with those keen to make use of them in their local area. This might range from a bakery giving away bread or treats to a near neighbour with more fruit or veg than they can eat. Check out local supermarkets too – some will sell discounted ‘wonky’ and imperfect, but perfectly edible, items.

Find out more

See more about Plastic Free Homes and find the Olio app here

Why waste water?

Round & About

Plastic Free Home

Berkshire-based Plastic Free Home’s Dave Lamont looks at ways we can be more water-friendly in the wake of news of impending shortages

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”

Make no mistake, the water shortages faced in the UK this summer should not be dismissed as “just another hosepipe ban.” You only have to look around Europe to read headlines such as ‘Water shortage cripples nuclear reactors in France’, ‘Dutch government declares water shortage due to drought’ and ‘Water scarcity: EU countries forced to restrict drinking water access’ to know that something isn’t right.

The problem isn’t a new one though. For some time the Environment Agency has cautioned that the UK faces a significant water shortage by 2050, by which point the country’s population is expected to have risen from 67 million to 75 million people.

Back in 2019, the Agency’s Chief Executive, Sir James David Bevan, warned that the country faces the “jaws of death – the point at which we will not have enough water to supply our needs”.

“We need water wastage to be as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby or throwing your plastic bags into the sea,” he said.

‘But the Earth is 70 per cent water,’ we hear you cry. Yes, but only three per cent of the world’s water is fresh water, and around 65 per cent of that is stored in frozen glaciers.

The Environment Agency has suggested that in the UK the average person’s daily water usage could be reduced from 140 litres of water to 100 litres through more efficient use in homes and gardens.

Progress has been made by water companies but much more needs to be done to tackle wastage. Across England and Wales, nearly 3 billion litres (660 million gallons) of water is lost to leaks every single day – enough to fill almost 1,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

In our opinion, when it comes to water we also need to look at how homes are built and function. Just as big changes are planned when it comes to how we heat and power our homes. It cannot be right that in the 21St century we flush our toilets with clean drinking water that in some parts of our planet people would walk miles to drink. Up to a third of the water we use in our homes comes from flushing.

The Environment Agency has suggested that in the UK the average person’s daily water usage could be reduced from 140 litres of water to 100 litres through more efficient use in homes and gardens.

So, how can we all save water? Here are our ten tips…

💧 Swap baths for short showers. An average bath will use around twice as much water as a five minute shower.

💧 Use water butts in the garden, water at night or early in the morning and a good mulch to retain moisture. Even the smallest water butts will fill 20 watering cans and rainwater is better for your plants.

💧 Use watering cans, not a garden hose, and avoid watering lawns. Lawns will generally recover so don’t waste water on them. A garden hose or sprinkler system will use around 15 litres per minute meaning in just 20 minutes you could have filled your bath four times.

💧 Turn the taps off when brushing your teeth, shaving, washing up etc. A running tap wastes over 6 litres per minute.

💧 Only run your dishwasher and washing machine when full and use an eco-setting. It can actually be more efficient than washing them by hand.

💧 If you have a dual (two button) flush, check which button uses the least water and stick with it. This can use half the amount of water every time you flush the toilet.

💧 Install efficient or water saving taps, shower heads etc. Your water supplier will often provide discounted options.

💧 Save cooled water from cooking to water plants. Particularly if you’ve been boiling the likes of pasta and potatoes – plants love starchy water.

💧 Avoid excessive car washing. Wash your car less often and use a bucket and a sponge instead of a hose or jet wash.

💧 Deal with or report any leaks. Around a third of our water is lost to leaks, ranging from dripping taps to burst water mains.

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