One year since the UK’s first lockdown, research by Bulb – the green energy company – reveals that two-thirds (65%) of Brits have picked up non-eco-friendly habits during the pandemic, including buying fast fashion, ordering takeaways and leaving devices plugged in.
The research also found that half of Brits (49%) made impulse purchases they now regret with some of the weirdest including alpaca manure fertiliser, a false beard, a horse and plastic fruit.
The top 10 unsustainable habits that have risen during lockdown are:
- Excessive screen time
- Ordering takeaways
- Leaving devices plugged in
- Buying unnecessary items
- Leaving lights on
- Increased food waste
- Eating red meat
- Excessive water consumption
- Buying fast fashion
- Buying single-use plastics
According to the research, Brits have revealed they have fewer eco-friendly habits since the pandemic began largely because of being preoccupied with the struggles of lockdown (30%).
But as restrictions ease, more than half of Brits (51%) have said that they are committed to getting their green credentials back on track post-lockdown. They put this down to: wanting to change their habits for future generations (22%), being worried about the impact of the climate crisis on the planet (17%), and having been able to reflect and re-evaluate life choices during the pandemic (14%).
The top green routines Brits plan to keep up as we open up include: cooking more at home and eating out less (33%), shopping less (31%), walking instead of driving (26%), and eating less meat (16%).
Shaunagh Duncan, Sustainability Lead at Bulb, said: “We’ve got a unique chance to make our post-lockdown lives greener than ever so it’s great to see Brits want to get back on track and become more sustainable. Our Carbon Calculator can help you understand your carbon footprint and make it simple and affordable to go carbon neutral.”
Here are Shaunagh’s top tips for how to become more eco-friendly in everyday life and reduce your carbon footprint post-lockdown:
- Unplug devices: Unplugging your devices really does make a difference. Electronic items draw electricity from the socket, even when they’re turned off or on standby. And, until 100% of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable sources, this increases carbon emissions.
- Reduce water usage: You could save £25 a year just by shutting off the hot tap while you’re doing the dishes – buying a washing-up bowl will help. Also, we know that a bath looks pretty tempting after a long day, but if you can resist the call of the tub a couple of times a week and jump in the shower instead, you could save a tenner off your annual energy bill.
- Eco-eating: As restaurants and bars begin to open up again over the next few months, it’s important not to forget the good habits picked up during lockdown. If you opt to eat out once restrictions ease, then you could choose a restaurant that sources their food locally or has a plant based menu.
- Carbon-conscious cooking: And if you enjoy the knack of home cooking, there are a few hacks you can try to become more sustainable. For example, buy local ingredients where you can, as this reduces emissions created when transporting them to you. By swapping out red meat and experimenting with more vegetarian recipes, you can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 10%. And only use the amount of water you need to cook; anything else is wasted, and requires more energy to boil. Use lids when cooking, which traps heat to shorten cooking time, using less energy.
- Buy second-hand or quality clothes that will last: Pretty much all the clothes we buy have a carbon impact, thanks to the materials they’re made from, and the way they’re manufactured, distributed and sold. So buying less stuff in the first place is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Look for used or recycled items instead.
- Ditch the single-use: Some of the things we do every day can have a big environmental impact when we all do it together, for example, getting a coffee in a disposable cup, or grabbing a bottle of water on the go. These habits are easy to kick once you’ve got the right kit. We’d recommend using a KeepCup for your caffeine hit (they’re a B Corp like us, so we’re big fans). And Chilly’s are a popular water bottle for Team Bulb. More and more places will let you refill your water bottle for free. Try the Refill app if you need help finding a willing store.
- Try a Carbon Calculator: You can offset your carbon footprint by using Bulb’s Carbon Calculator tool. In only 3 minutes, answer a few simple questions about your day-to-day life, from the food you eat to the things you buy. With the calculator, you can find out the size of your impact on the planet, then offset it by funding carbon reduction projects around the world.
- Switch to green energy: Changing to a renewable energy supplier is the quickest, easiest way to go green. Switching has a big impact on your personal carbon emissions. And remember, by being with a renewable energy supplier like Bulb, you can shrink your carbon footprint by 3.2 tonnes of CO2 a year.