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Going Green the Easy Way

We all know we should be supporting the local shops in our area, buying locally, supporting our farmers, using socially responsible companies and helping the environment in the process but is ‘green shopping’ really that easy? The answer is ‘yes’ – just read out handy guide to ethical shopping to find out…

Before going to the shops, ask yourself ‘Do I really need a plastic bag?’
Many shops pack single items into an unnecessary plastic bag and research suggests most of these are discarded after only three minutes. Instead, take your
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- keep a used carrier bag with you at all times. That way, when you are shopping you will always have a bag to use. Also, try reusing old carrier bags, a supermarket bag for life or a cloth shopping bag. You could also set up a 'bag pool' at work - plastic bags are often brought back to work with staff lunches so try placing a collection of plastic or cloth bags and a sign in an obvious location that staff pass on the way out to lunch.  Finally, it sounds simple but always reuse plastic bags - there are many uses for old plastic bags! For example many people use plastic carrier bags as bin liners at home.
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In the UK we throw away about one third of all the food we buy!  This food ends up rotting in landfill, producing methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases and a significant contributor to climate change. We are also wasting all the carbon generated when the food was produced, processed, transported and stored.  Throwing away food also wastes money - research suggests that each week a typical household throws away between £4.80 and £7.70 of food that could have been eaten … the equivalent of £15,000-£24,000 in a lifetime!!

Top tips

  • Try to plan your menu for the week ahead
  • Stock take - check what ingredients you already have in the fridge and cupboards. We all buy things we don’t need when we’re ‘not sure’ whether we already have it at home.
  • Watch out for ‘bargains’? They might not be what they seem! It's easy to be tempted into impulse buying more than we need by the lure of special offers such as buy one get one free. They might seem like a moneysaver in the supermarket but often end up being thrown away.
  • Always keep food at the right temperature in the fridge to prevent it going off.
  • Try to buy loose fruit and vegetable instead of pre-packaged – you can take what you need and save packaging

Buy products made from recycled materials
Any material you place in the recycling sack or bottle/paper bank, etc are collected, sorted, reprocessed and remanufactured into new products to be brought and used again. Buying recycled products is important - without demand for recycled products, materials can only be wasted. Buying products made from recycled materials also saves natural resources and green house gases - producing recycled paper involves between 28% - 70% less energy than new paper  … and also uses less water!

Top tip  There is a massive range of products made from recycled materials - recycled paper for your printer is a good place to start.

Have milk delivered
A glass milk bottle is re-used between 9 and 40 times and then recycled - saving all the plastic bottles or cartons that milk is sold in the shops.

Top tip  Find your local delivery at www.delivermilk.co.uk

Use green cleaning products 
Making the switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products is easy - there is now a wide range available from supermarkets, independent health food shops and on-line. Products include:

  • washing up liquid
  • dishwasher tablets
  • surface cleaners
  • toilet cleaners
  • lime scale remover
  • floor cleaner
  • washing powder
  • fabric softener
  • stain remover
  • eco-balls (an environmentally friendly alternative to washing powder)

 Top tips Try using a dryer ball  - they lift and separate washing in the tumble dryer, reducing drying time by up to 25% … and so saving you money.

E-cloths are made from micro fibres that clean with water alone – so you don’t need to use any chemical based cleaning products. After use the cloths can be used washed and reused again and again.

Save money and the environment by making your own cleaning products from natural ingredients. This is an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family – get everyone involved and make it FUN!

You can reduce 'food miles' by buying seasonal fruit and vegetables produced in the UK whenever possible
It can also save you money - you pay extra for food that has travelled a long way in order to cover transport costs.

Top tips
Always check the labels on the food you buy in the supermarket to see where it has come from.

Try shopping at one of your area’s local markets – they are a great place to pick up local produce

Sign up to an organic fruit and vegetable delivery such as Abel and Cole or the Ethical Food Company … or even grow your own fruit and vegetables!

You don’t even need a garden – kits are now available to turn your window box into tiny vegetable patch!

If you have a great idea then please share it on totz2teens discussion forums

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