10 Simple Steps Towards Sustainable Living in the United Kingdom

Marko Leon
August 20, 2021

Would you like to make your new life in the UK a little greener? Find out how to make our list of 10 simple steps towards sustainable living in the United Kingdom.

If you’re a green-minded expat living in the UK, you might wonder what you can do to make your new life more sustainable. Luckily, sustainable living doesn’t mean giving up the things you love about living in the UK. In fact, making your life greener these days is so simple that it can easily become part of your everyday life.

To give you an idea of how you can boost your green credential in your new home, this article outlines 10 simple steps towards sustainable living in the United Kingdom.

1.Download the green apps to the right

Does the answer to more sustainable living actually live inside your smartphone? Not quite, but downloading the right apps is a very important – and easy – first step. Luckily, there are a lot of ‘green’ apps in the UK, covering everything from food to fashion to fitness! But which apps are you supposed to download to achieve green sustainable living? Well, it depends on you. If the app really does make a difference to your life, it’s essential that you choose the ones you’re actually going to use.

  • If you like your sweet – and tasty – treats, Too Good To Go is a great way to save delicious fresh food from the trash. You can pick up these goods at a reduced price from local cafes, restaurants and bakeries using the app. Great app to help you achieve sustainable living.
  • Are you a fashion designer? Then avoid making quick fashion choices with Good on You, an ethical app for your wardrobe.
  • If you spend your life looking for things online, why don’t you help planting a tree every time you search? Download Ecosia and your own personal tree counter will tell you how many you helped plant.

2. Check out the local charity shops

If there is one thing newcomers to the United Kingdom will notice when they first walk down their local high street, it’s that there’s a lot of charity shops in there. In fact, you’re going to be able to find them in almost every town across the country, with an estimated 11,000 thrift shops. These stores are run by both large international charities and small, local organizations. They store a wide range of donated, second-hand goods, and all profits go directly to the charity.

Only a USD100 in savings enough to assist families to remain afloat

These second-hand stores can be a great way to find great bargains while reducing your carbon footprint. Most of them have a range of clothes, household goods, books, and music. You’ll also find second-hand furniture in larger stores, including sofas, bookcases, and more.

Charity shops aren’t just good at collecting bargains, either. If you’re looking to upgrade your furniture or wardrobe, please contact your local store and see how you can make a donation. Not only is this a greener choice towards sustainable living, but it will also save you the challenge of trying to get it recycled by your local authority in the UK.

3.Choose a company for green energy

sustainable living green energy

Green-minded expats arriving in the United Kingdom will be pleased to know that the local energy sector is one of the most renewable energy sectors in Europe. Indeed, renewable sources generated a record 47% of UK electricity in the first quarter of 2020. This figure is expected to increase as the UK Government seeks to move away from fossil fuels by investing in the country’s wind farms and solar panel infrastructure. And the good news is that you can help this shift in energy by making some easy choices at home.

Setting up gas and electricity in the UK at your new home is likely to be one of the first things you do when you move to the UK. You have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing your energy supplier. However, if you are looking to make sustainable living choices, why not consider one of the UK’s green energy suppliers? An increasing number of smaller UK energy providers are offering 100% green electricity, including Octopus and Bulb. If all this choice is a bit too confusing, comparison websites like MoneySuperMarket and Uswitch can help.

4.Leave your car at home for a more sustainable living

If you’re looking to reduce your carbon emissions, it’s easy to reassess the way you use your car. According to official figures, transport is the largest contributor to UK greenhouse gas emissions. In an effort to boost the switch to electric vehicles, the UK Government announced plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 onwards in 2017. However, while sales of electric vehicles in the UK are increasing, the uptake remains slow due to problems with EV charging infrastructure across the country. But even if you don’t buy the latest electric model, there’s still a simple way to reduce your carbon emissions.

sustainable living car

While many expats living in the UK will find the prospect of a car-free ride too challenging, it is certainly possible in some places. Local public transport networks in British cities are good enough to ensure that you can ditch your car and lower your carbon footprint. If you don’t want to catch a bus or metro, why don’t you consider signing up for a car-sharing platform like Zipcar or Turo? Alternatively, jump on your bike and do some exercise by exploring the UK on two wheels.

5.Reduce food waste

The issue of food waste is a growing concern across the United Kingdom when it comes to sustainable living. According to the environmental charity Wrap, households in the United Kingdom have spent 4.5 million tons of edible food alone in 2018. This is equivalent to around £10 billion and is associated with more than 10 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because when you throw out food, you don’t just waste the food itself, but all the energy and resources that went into producing that food. And the answer to this problem starts at home.

Luckily, there are a lot of simple ways you can reduce your household food waste in the UK. These range from decluttering your refrigerator so you can better see what’s inside, to shopping smarter when you visit your local British supermarket. One easy way to ensure that you don’t end up with too many grocery stores is to use a food kit delivery service. These include the following:

  • Hi-Fresh
  • Oh, Gousto
  • Mindful Chief

As well as providing fresh and innovative recipes for you and your family, you won’t be left with any unused food. This will reduce your household food waste without even noticing it.

6.Watch your use of water to preserve sustainable living

Freshwater is becoming an increasingly valuable resource in the world, and the fairly rainy United Kingdom is no exception to that. According to experts, the average UK resident uses around 150 liters each and every day – a figure that rises by 1% each year. Yet despite its rainy reputation, the United Kingdom has a surprisingly limited amount of water that is readily available for human use. In fact, the South East of England – the most densely populated area in the United Kingdom – has less water available per person than both Syria and Sudan. So, how are you going to help conserve water in your everyday life?

Luckily, there are a lot of small, simple ways you can reduce your water use in and around your home. Unlike energy companies, you’re not going to be able to change your water provider in the UK. However, many providers offer advice and products to help you save water. These include water-efficient showerheads and shower timers. Saving water isn’t confined to the bathroom, either. Whether you’re cooking, cleaning, or gardening, there’s a lot of ways you can reduce your water usage.

7.Go on paperless with your banking

When you start your new life in the United Kingdom, opening a bank account in the United Kingdom is probably high on your list. Not only will it help you make significant payments for your home internet in Britain, your UK mobile phone contract, and more, it will also make it easier for you to shop at home on your local British high street. However, banking can also mean that a lot of documents and letters are delivered to your home. These include bank statements, credit card bills, and other banking literature.


It’s pretty easy these days to make your banking experience completely paperless. While most major retail banks offer an increasing number of paper-free options, the easiest way to get paperless is to sign up for mobile banking in the UK. There is an increasing number of mobile banks to choose from, including Starling Bank and Monzo. Not only can you apply for an account in minutes, but you will also receive all your bills and correspondence directly on your phone.

8.Replace the old appliances

If you move to a new home—especially a rented one—your first thought is probably not about the energy efficiency of your appliances. In fact, you’re probably going to be happy if they just work and you can make sense of the instruction manual. However, if you’re switching to more sustainable living in the UK, you might want to rethink that old refrigerator or toaster. Figures show that not only will a new appliance run on less energy, it will also help you save money on your bills.

If you’re on the market for new electronics, you’ve got a lot of shops to choose from in the UK. Dedicated electrical retailers like Hughes and Currys PC World have a range of products in stock. Catalog-based retailer Argos is another option, as are most major UK department stores and some supermarkets.

And of course, if you’re replacing your old appliances, be sure to recycle them efficiently! Most local authorities in the United Kingdom will have a designated recycling point for these items. Read our UK recycling guide for more details.

9.Sustainable living means buing local stuff

How far have your grocery stores traveled before they put it in your kitchen? We’re not talking about a trip from your local UK supermarket, either – we’re talking about the total distance from the field to the refrigerator. Food on supermarket shelves comes from all over the world, whether it’s fresh or dry. This distance is what experts refer to as food miles, and tackling them is a major part of sustainable living in the United Kingdom. According to the United Kingdom Government, transporting food to and around the United Kingdom produces around 19 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. It’s the same thing as about 5.5 million cars.

But what can you do to reduce the number of food miles in your weekly grocery store? First, making a variety of choices in the supermarket can help. This includes choosing locally grown options wherever possible or choosing seasonal fruit and vegetables instead of those grown overseas. The second way to do this is to shop locally. Most cities in the UK have at least one local weekly market where you can buy fresh products from local farmers and producers. This will help you reduce food miles quickly while enjoying fresher, locally grown foods.

10.Recycle, recycle and recycle

You must remember your three R’s when you try to live more sustainably: reduce, reuse, and recycle. We’ve been looking at reducing things like food waste and car use. We’ve also discussed the reuse of water and all the bargains you find in your local charity shop. Recycling is the third R to live sustainably, and for many, it is the easiest one to achieve. The UK has a fairly well-developed recycling system, but only about 45 percent of all household waste is still being recycled. You can, however, help to improve that figure.

Most household recycling is done by your local council through the collections on the curbside. These usually happen weekly or fortnightly, depending on your board. Towns and villages of all sizes also have recycling centers where you can recycle items such as clothes, shoes, and glass bottles. They are often found in supermarket car parks or in the vicinity of public services such as libraries and leisure centers. What and where you can recycle, however, varies between the local authorities.

Sustainable living has become part of the Corporate Social Responsibility of most Real Estate Companies also. For more information on that take a look at our Rating pages for Real Estate Investment Companies.

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