Eight ways to live sustainably (that you may not have thought of yet)

Many of us want to live more sustainably, but the problem can seem overwhelming. The climate change crisis was created by billions of tiny actions, so at Olio we believe that by the same logic, a billion more tiny actions should be able to get us out of it. That means you don’t have to make huge changes, but a few little ones can add up to make a big difference. The internet is overflowing with suggestions for living a more sustainable lifestyle, but we’ve rounded up eight tips that we think are easy to implement and less commonly suggested to help you get the ball rolling in your own home.

1. Have one ‘cupboard meal’ every week

We’ve all got perfectly good food sitting around in the cupboards — it just takes a bit of imagination to turn them into a meal. Take stock of what you’ve got and plan to cook one meal a week using only what’s in the kitchen. From the Italian classic pasta puttanesca, to a satisfying one-pot ‘fridge forage’, it’s amazing what you can do with a tin of tomatoes and a few rogue pieces of veg.

2. Understand what food labels mean

There are two types of people in this world — those who live by food dates and those who totally ignore them. But a lack of understanding can lead to a lot of perfectly good food being binned. Here are the facts: a ‘use by’ date is a health and safety date, but a ‘best before’ just indicates the date before which food is optimal. It can still be perfectly safe and delicious after that for weeks, months or even years after that.

3. Borrow, don’t buy

The average drill is used for less than 20 minutes of its entire life… and there are a lot of other items that, while necessary, get hardly any use: the cat carrier, the lawn mower, that really big saucepan on top of the fridge. By using Olio Borrow or simply befriending your neighbours, you can really save money and space in your home by agreeing to share a few necessary but rarely-used items.

4. Freeze your bread

24 million slices of bread are thrown away by UK households every day. As well as bread, crumpets, pancakes, wraps, pastries, cakes and all manner of other baked goods can be popped into the toaster or defrosted in the microwave directly from the freezer.

5. Give gifts mindfully

First, think about the type of gift you’re giving: can you buy second hand before you buy brand new? Or gift experiences instead of things? If you do need to buy brand new — ideally a last resort — opt for sustainable, small businesses and things made of natural materials that are durable. Doing a secret santa? Why not make it a charity shop, vintage or homemade-only gift swap? If you need a bit of inspo, Olio founder Tessa has an excellent round up of sustainable Christmas gifts here.

6. Move your money

Did you know that there are savings and pensions companies that are dedicated to investing into environmentally-friendly causes? This means you can have a positive impact with your earnings — and if you’re lucky enough to have investments, you can do even more good for the planet with them by going green. Check out Richard Curtis’ organisation Make My Money Matter.

7. Change your holiday plans

One of the most carbon-intensive things we can do is hop on a plane. And while travelling the world is a wonderful thing, maybe you can swap the faff of flying for a train ride, road trip or ferry once in a while. You’ll get to see more of the country, probably have a more comfortable journey, and massively reduce your carbon footprint in the process.

8. Rearrange your fridge

The way we typically organise our fridges doesn’t help us avoid waste. Instead of keeping milk in the door, keep it at the back of the fridge where it’s coldest, so you can extend its life. And rather than grouping food by type, put the items that are going off soonest at the top of the fridge, and those with the longest shelf life at the bottom. This way you don’t need to root through everything to figure out what’s in danger of going to waste.

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