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How environmentally friendly are you?

How environmentally friendly are you? Try these tips to make a real difference.

We all know it makes sense to be environmentally friendly – but have you ever wondered how much you can really do?

According to data from the World Bank, 85% of the UK’s energy consumption since 2011 has come from burning fossil fuels, despite the national push to be kinder to our environment.

But by making small changes, we can improve our surroundings today, and leave a better climate for our children’s futures – try these five simple swaps to your everyday routine to do your bit.

1. Cut energy waste

By turning off appliances such as televisions or computers at the power supply when they aren’t in use, you won’t only reduce your electrical use, but you’ll save money too. So take a moment before bed to flick those switches instead of leaving them on standby.

If you commute to work or use the car to run the kids around, try using cruise control on roads where you can drive safely at a steady speed. With one button press you’ll stop the speed creep/brake cycle and control your fuel use – giving another all-important reduction in carbon emissions.

If you’d like to go further than a simple swap, look into generating your own energy at home. Installing technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines and ground source heat pumps can mean that you reduce your dependence on non-renewable energy and make the best use of the re-usable gifts from nature.

2. Recycle

Making new glass means quarrying more material from the earth – with a massive impact on the environment. Unlike other materials, glass is 100% recyclable. So recycle objects from jam jars to drinks bottles and you’ll make a change that counts.

Putting your Sunday newspaper into the recycling bin at the end of the day means that it can be re-used rather than ending up in landfill. It may seem like a tiny adjustment, but if every reader recycled together, we could make a huge difference. We’ve all seen the size of those supplements...

It’s not just the planet you’ll save...

Committing to an environmentally-friendly lifestyle isn’t just good for the planet – it’s good for your finances too. Here’s what the Energy Saving Trust estimates you waste by leaving devices switched on unnecessarily around the house – and where you could save:

wireless router on standby – up to £21.92 per year
desktop printer on standby – up to £18.26 per year
satellite TV box on standby – up to £18.26 per year
tablet chargers plugged in – up to £12.18 per year
games console on standby – up to £12.18 per year
speaker on standby – up to £12.18 per year
lights left burning – up to £7 per year
plasma TV on standby – up to £4.87 per year

Total: £106.85 per year

3. Watch water

The age-old lesson has been tumbling from parent to child for decades, but you’d be amazed at how many people admit to letting the water run as they brush their teeth.

Brushing for three minutes, twice a day, while letting water escape down the plughole is a waste that we could all stop with a quick twist of the tap.

And it isn’t just about the water we use – it’s where we get it from too. By filling up your water bottle at the tap or buying a filtering jug, you’re helping the planet by cutting down on plastic bottled water that is often used and discarded over the very same day. This is also a great change if you’re counting the pennies...

4. Consider your food shop

In journalist Graham Hill’s Ted talk on the concept of ‘weekday vegetarianism’, he gives the shocking statistic that the supply chain providing us with meat causes more emissions than all methods of transportation combined. Now, there’s no need to cut out meat overnight, but by enjoying a meat-free dinner once or twice each week you could cut a sizeable chunk from your carbon footprint. Try looking out for protein packed meat substitutes or giving a delicious vegetarian recipe a go – it could help your wallet and your waistline, too.

As well as picking up less meat on your weekly shop, try to buy local produce. By visiting butchers, greengrocers and fishmongers, you’re supporting local businesses and cutting down emissions caused by transported food. If you’d rather keep your shopping under one roof, many supermarkets stock locally produced goods – keep your eye out for them next time.

5. Save trees: go paperless!

You can do almost anything on the internet, so why not deal with your household bills online too?

Sign up for paperless statements and you’ll reduce wasted paper (plus the fuss of going through piles of post.) Most banks and suppliers offer fantastic paperless services.

Tick off just a few of these tiny tweaks, and you can make a real difference. And just think of the collective impact to the environment if we all made them...

Whatever your plans are, our #makeaswitch campaign aims to both inspire and help you make those changes come to fruition. If you're looking to switch any of your finances, M&S Bank offer a range of products that may suit your needs, find out more here: current accounts, credit cards, loans, insurance, savings & investments.

Published 05/01/2016