21 Mar 2024

Embracing sustainability at home: small swaps, big impact

3 min read 

Many of us are trying to do our bit to help the planet, but it can sometimes feel daunting when people suggest becoming ‘more sustainable’ at home.

APDO member Amanda Manson shares her 3 levels of simple swaps that could make a world of difference from your armchair.

Whether you’re ready to throw yourself into full-on level 3 sustainability, or are happy to just dip a toe in the water at level 1, choose the right level for you and gradually bring sustainable living into your home.

Single-use water bottles or coffee cups 

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  1. use china or glass in a cafe 
  2. use a refillable water bottle or reusable coffee cup when you’re on the go 
  3. make a drink at home and take it with you. 

Food storage cling film 

  1. re-use your takeaway containers 
  2. switch to glass containers with bamboo lids 
  3. try silicone covers or beeswax wraps. 

Buying fresh vegetables 

  1. buy in paper bags or trays 
  2. bring a container or net bag with you (think of your Granny) 
  3. shop local at a farm shop.  
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Plastic single use bags 

  1. 10p from the supermarket 
  2. 40p stronger bags for life 
  3. hessian or cloth bags. 

Disposing of food scraps 

  1. chuck in your ‘green’ recycling bin 
  2. throw into a compost heap at home 
  3. turn root veg peelings into chips or boil up bones to make gravy. 

Unwanted bric-a-brac items in useable condition 

  1. recycle in relevant bins at your local recycle centre 
  2. pass on via your local community app: Freegle, NextDoor, etc 
  3. donate to a charity shop. 

Surplus books 

  1. donate to a charity or bookshop 
  2. pass on to a local school or community interest group 
  3. up-cycle into interesting shelving. 

Old bike wheel or car hub cap in your garage 

  1. recycle at the recycling centre 
  2. pass on via your local community 
  3. up-cycle into something else such as a clock. 

Surplus crafty bits & bobs 

  1. donate to a charity (as a grouped bag) 
  2. seek out a local craft group 
  3. make up packs for donating to long-term patients in your local hospital. 
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Mountain of electrical cables & products 

  1. donate at your local recycling centre 
  2. pop into one of the many retailer bins (John Lewis, Curry’s, Asda, etc)   
  3. find a local community project who can make use of them. 

Toiletries (such as handwash, shampoo) 

  1. buy larger bottles 
  2. choose refill options (check out Fill-Refill for stockists) 
  3. switch to using shampoo and soap bars. Also consider swapping out your usual toothbrush to a bamboo one and single use razors to one with an interchangeable head. 

Make up removal wipes 

  1. use a flannel 
  2. try bamboo or cotton squares (washable) 
  3. good old soap & water. 

Want new clothes? 

  1. check out the charity shops 
  2. buy from Vinted 
  3. make your own

Too many clothes? 

  1. pass on to a charity 
  2. seek out a homeless shelter or workwear provider such as SmartWorks 
  3. sell on a site like Vinted. 

Got unwanted (non-reusable) textiles? 

  1. recycle as ragging or at a recycling bank 
  2. donate to an animal shelter 
  3. find a local up-cycling group & see if they are interested. 

Move away from chemical-laden cleaning products 

  1. try eco brands like Ecover, Fill-Refill 
  2. visit a refill shop to top up your bottles
  3. make your own lemon, vinegar & baking soda mix or make up an all-purpose cleaning vinegar & water 50/50 mix.  
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How do you dry your clothes? 

  1. try reusable dryer balls instead of single dryer sheets 
  2. use a low-voltage plug-in airer 
  3. ditch the plug-in drying altogether and go back to a line & pegs  

Mindful consumption is the way forward. Think before you buy. Plan according to your needs. Question before you take action. 

By embracing sustainability at home, you're reducing your carbon footprint, conserving resources, and creating a healthier planet for future generations. If you would like an APDO member to help you look at sustainable ways to manage your household, look at our Find an Organiser page to find your local professional.

Amanda Manson is Manchester's organising expert at Orderly Office and Home, simplifying spaces since 2011. I offer practical, no-nonsense support for busy people struggling to sort, organise, or move the stuff in, around & out of their space. Get fortnightly tips in 'The Nudge' newsletter and stay on track with your organising goals!